Sunday, August 18, 2013

Gainer's Gourmet, Part Four


Italian Chicken

3 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts
1/2 cup Italian Salad Dressing
Black Pepper

1) Marinate the chicken overnight.
2) Bake for approx. 45 minutes at 350 degrees.

Per Breast: 
Calories - 327
Protein - 54
Carbs - 2
Fat - 10

Island Chicken

3 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces

3 Tomatoes, cut into wedges
4 green Onions, chopped
1/2 cup Parsley, chopped
2 Garlic cloves, minced
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1/4 cup white wine Vinegar
1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
1 tbsp. Oil

3 tbsp. Oil
1/4 cup packed brown Sugar
1 cups Water
3 tbsp. Ketchup
Approx. 6 cups cooked Rice

1) Marinate chicken overnight in a covered casserole dish.
2) Heat oil in skillet, add brown sugar. Gook until sugar melts and begins to bubble.
3) Add 1 cup water, stir and cook until sugar dissolves.
4) Add remaining water and ketchup, stir well.
5) Add sugar mixture to chicken in casserole dish, stir well.
6) Bake at 375 degrees for approx. 1 hour.
7) Serve over rice.

8 servings, each with about:
Calories - 386
Protein - 25
Carbs - 48
Fat - 10

Baked Chicken

2 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, cut in half
2/3 cup Italian Bread Crumbs
1 Egg, beaten

1) Wash and pat-dry chicken.
2) Dip in egg.
3) Dip in bread crumbs, covering well.
4) Bake on a buttered cookie sheet or oblong glass pan at 350 degrees for 20 minutes, flip, then bake 20 minutes more.

2 servings, each with about:
Calories - 509
Protein - 64
Carbs - 36
Fat - 11

Tomato Chicken with Brown Rice

2 boneless, skinless Chicken breasts, chopped into bite-size pieces
1 can Italian style stewed Tomatoes
1 bell Pepper, chopped
1 Onion, chopped
1/2 cup red Wine
1 tsp. dried Basil
1 tsp. dried Oregano
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
Pepper, a few dashes
1 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese

1) Mix all the ingredients except the cheese in a casserole dish.
2) Sprinkle the cheese on top.
3) Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes.
4) Serve over cooked brown rice.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 471
Protein - 34
Carbs - 58
Fat - 6

Chicken Enchiladas

2 Chicken breasts
28 oz. can Enchilada sauce
1 Onion, chopped
1 cup shredded Jack Cheese
1 6oz can sliced black Olives
1 4oz can diced green Chilis
9 corn Tortillas

1) Boil breasts, about 40 minutes.
2) Cook, then shred or chop meat, removing skin and bones.
3) Pour a generous amount of sauce in a skillet and heat.
4) Dip tortillas in sauce on both sides, don't leave in the sauce too long or they'll be too soggy to roll. Use tongs.
5) Place a generous amount of chicken, some onion, and chilies in tortillas.
6) Pour any remaining Enchilada sauce, chicken, and chilies over the top.
7) Top with black olives and Jack Cheese.
8) Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

5 servings, each with about:
Enchilada sauce not included in breakdown
Calories - 319
Protein - 26
Carbs - 24
Fat - 12

Chicken and Biscuits

1 whole Chicken breast
1 tbsp. Butter
2 Celery stalks, diced
3 Carrots, sliced
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1/4 tsp. Thyme
1 can Cream of Chicken Soup
1 cup Chicken broth
10-serving container of Pillsbury biscuits
or make your own

1) Boil chicken until done, about 40 minutes. Remove to cool. Save broth.
2) Saute celery and carrot in butter about 4 minutes, add garlic, thyme and pepper and stir well.
3) Remove grease from broth (skim off with a spoon) and add 1 cup to veggie/spice mix.
4) Stir in soup well.
5) Remove chicken meat from bone (discard skin), chop and add to soup mixture.
6) Pour into a casserole dish, top with uncooked biscuits.
7) Bake at 400 degrees for 15 minutes.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 426
Protein - 21
Carbs - 42
Fat - 19

Turkey Meatloaf

2 lbs. ground Turkey
2 Garlic cloves
2 Eggs
1/4 cup Parsley
2 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese
1 tbsp. Capers
1/4 tsp. white Pepper
2 slices of stale wheat Bread

With food processor:
1) Make bread crumbs out of bread, fairly fine, remove.
2) Process garlic, eggs, parsley, capers and pepper until well blended.
3) Mix all ingredients together, use your hands.

4) Mince garlic, chop parsley, capers and wheat bread.
5) Mix all ingredients (same technique as above).
6) Bake at 350 degrees for 1.5 hours.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 414
Protein - 51
Carbs - 11
Fat - 20
Cranberry sauce can be used to make a glaze for turkey meatloaf.

Turkey-Meatball Sandwiches

1 lb. ground Turkey
1 Egg
1/4 cup Bread crumbs
1/2 Onion, chopped
1 tsp. Italian seasoning
2 tbsp. vegetable Oil
15.5oz jar of your favorite spaghetti sauce
1 cup Mozzarella, shredded
1 small loaf French Bread

1) Mix turkey, egg, crumbs, onion and seasonings together.
2) Make into medium size meatballs (or oblong patties).
3) Cook in oil until browned and done (check the middle for pinkness if in doubt). Add any crumbles to the sauce.
4) Cut the French Bread down the middle lengthwise, pull out some of the white bread to make a shell if desired.
5) Put a little sauce in the shell, top with some cheese and warm in oven slightly.
6) Top bread with turkey, sauce and more cheese.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 531
Protein - 38
Carbs - 42
Fat - 25

Southwestern Style Stuffed Bells

3 red bell Peppers
1 15oz can Chili
1 lb. ground Turkey
1 tsp. Chili Powder
Fresh Corn cut from one corn on the cob
Cayenne Pepper to taste
1 cup Jack Cheese, shredded

1) Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise and clean out seeds and stems.
2) Brown turkey, drain.
3) Add chili, corn and spices to turkey and stir well. Add cayenne to taste.
4) Stuff bell halves with chili mixture.
5) Place in pan, stuffing up, and top with cheese.
6) Bake at 325 degrees for about 30 minutes.

Per bell half: 
Calories - 275
Protein - 25
Carbs - 19
Fat - 12

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Twenty-Five

Click Pic to ENLARGE


Anxiety presents a special challenge. When mild, it may be handled by an intentional shift to slow, deep, abdominal breathing. When this seems too difficult, an alternative is to shift intentionally to a fuller thoracic breathing (charging) and begin some muscular exertion. Through the expirational and muscular discharge of physical activity one can process much of the energy charge, leaving one in an easier position for then centering. In a contest, for instance, if one feels anxious, and centering breathing and a mantra do not seem to be working, perhaps some fast pacing would help, followed by centering breathing. And, of course, after the first lift one has usually processed sufficient energy that only a little centering breathing is needed, if that. If anxiety is a too frequent or too severe problem, the lifter is well advised to seek the consultation of a psychotherapist.

Returning to the bio-energetics of lifting, there is an optimal level of charge for the task at hand. A warm-up set of an exercise requires less of a charge than does a later, heavy set. A maximum lift begs for even a greater charge. So, an undercharge presents a problem. The solution to this problem is to build a higher charge through appropriate breathing. 

It is also possible to lift while overcharged. And this, too, presents a problem for the lifter. The solution is to lower the energy level by doing some centering - appropriate breathing, muscle relaxation, and, if necessary, the other methods covered.

This phenomenon of an optimal level of arousal is worthy of future exploration. In psychology, it is known as the Yerkes-Dodson Law. In a now classical experiment by Yerkes and Dodson in 1908, it was demonstrated that people performed best with an intermediate level of arousal, with performance suffering with either a lower or higher level. Many subsequent studies have been done, investigating a wide range of arousal levels and a wide variety of performance tasks. In general, the evidence shows that for a given person in a given situation there is a level of arousal which supports maximum performance; with a level of arousal which falls short of that optimal zone, or exceeds it, performance is less than maximal. Furthermore, the more complex the performance task, the lower the optimal level of arousal. 

So, in scientific terms, the relationship between arousal and performance is curvilinear with optimal performance at an intermediate level. The more complex the task, the more the peak of performance curve shifts towards the lower end of the arousal axis. 

The Yerkes-Dodson Law has some very important implications for lifters. In applying it to the world of iron the following implications emerge.

First, there are individual differences in optimal level of arousal based on the difficulty level of that task, for that individual. For example, a given powerlifter may find the squat to involve more difficult coordinations than the bench press. For that lifter, then, the optimal level of arousal for the squat will be lower than for the bench press. If, in preparation for squatting, he were to charge to the level that is optimal for bench pressing, his squat would suffer to to a disorganized or inefficient performance. An overcharge, remember, is uncentering.The overcharged lifter's coordination and timing are off, and his awareness is clouded. On the other hand, if this lifter bench pressed with the level of charge which would be optimal for his squat, he would be undercharged and not put out a maximal exertion.

Second, the more one practices the performance, the easier it gets. This is a truism, but it has special meaning in the context of the Yerkes-Dodson Law. As the lifter practices to the point of overlearning his performance, then it becomes automatic, or nearly so. Timing and coordination do not, then, require as much attention. Awareness can be focused on other things. Therefore, the optimal level of arousal is raised, and one can perform with a greater charge of energy. The result is a stronger performance. Simply stated, a higher charge will increase performance on an overlearned task.

Third, there are differences in the optimal level of arousal for different lifting tasks based on their skill complexity. As a generalization, for instance it seems clear with respect to timing and coordination, a well choreographed posing routine is more complex than is Olympic-style lifting, and in turn, Olympic lifting is more complex than powerlifting. So, the optimal level of arousal is lowest for posing, higher for Olympic lifting, and highest for powerlifting. 

Fourth, it is vitally important that the lifter know himself well enough to be able to judge when the charge experienced is optimal for the performance about to be undertaken. This may be one of the crucial differences between a really good competitor and a so-so lifter.

Keep in mind that charging is a faster process than centering. It takes only a few seconds of forced thoracic breathing by a well-centered lifter in order to build a high charge of energy. If overcharged, however, it may take several minutes of muscular relaxation, use of mantra, and slow diaphragmatic breathing to once again feel centered. But, again, knowing one's self will allow a fine tuning of arousal levels through the creative use of charging and centering techniques.


As a side note, I want to comment on some of the styles of psyching up for a lift. Two of the most dramatic which I have seen, and which have become fairly popular in powerlifting circles, are screaming and having one's face slapped. Screaming required forced thoracic breathing. And, it emphasizes the exhalation phase. So screaming can be a good way to charge. I believe that it is the exhalation-emphasized, forced thoracic breathing which is the most important aspect in this method of getting charged. The sound may, of course, add to the adrenaline rush. Face slapping can also get the adrenaline flowing. I personally find that getting mad doesn't help my lifting. For me, getting mad is uncentering, and distracts from my lifting concentration, coordination and timing.

Several writers of the iron world have observed that most highly accomplished lifters build their charge in a manner that shows almost an outward calm. They tend not to scream, yell, growl, or have their faces slapped. The charge is building inside to the point of

a precisely timed

optimal explosion

 Ultimately, the style of psyching up is a pragmatic and esthetic choice. Find what is effective for you, and what seems right. Importantly, though, practice your style of charging and centering. Practice these techniques until you can count on them when you really need them.

That being undercharged will lower one's performance is obvious and smacks of common sense. But, to really know and understand the dynamic of a lowered performance because of being overcharged requires some experience and careful observation. Especially in a competitive situation, one can observe the results of being overcharged. Once in a contest I remember psyching myself up as far as I could before my final clean & jerk. I rushed to the bar . . . cleaned it quickly . . . recovered . . . and tossed it over my head . . . backward. As it crashed to the floor I hardly knew what had happened. I was so overcharged that my awareness was impaired and I totally missed the groove of the jerk. My explosion of energy was certainly adequate, but it was not controlled, not focused, and as I said, definitely not in the groove. A "blind rage" is perhaps the ultimate of arousal, but it's just that - blind.

I have discussed at some length techniques of centering and charging. A important as these are for the lifter, they are an incomplete sequence, bio-energetically speaking. Two additional elements are required.

Next: Grounding, and Discharging.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Twenty-Four

Several layers of muscles support the pelvis, which are also involved in forced exhalation; they connect between the ischium (sit bones), the pubic bone, and the coccyx (tailbone). These muscles are the pelvic floor muscles. Visualize a diamond shape—the sit bones along the side points of the diamond and the pubic and coccyx bones along the front and back points. During forced exhalation, the muscles that align and attach along the points of the diamond engage, pull together, and provide support for the position of the pelvis. This muscular contraction becomes more apparent while practicing the breathing plié exercise (page 48). Now, when practicing efficient breathing with plié, the upward phase of the plié coordinates the exhalation with engagement of the deep core and the pelvic floor . . . 

an excerpt from "Dance Anatomy"
by Jacqui Greene Haas

Explore how to use imagery to improve your confidence, and youll discover imagery conditioning programs that will lead you toward better alignment, safer movement, increased fitness, and greater joy. Further, you'll examine how to apply this understanding to your discipline or training to improve your performance.

More on
Centering, Charging,
Grounding, Discharging

An interesting breathing situation exists when one is anxious. The anxious breathing pattern is a fast thoracic pattern, but in the absence of muscular exertion. Also, the inhalation is emphasized. The exhalation and the pause following the exhalation are de-emphasized, giving anxious breathing its characteristic shallow, rather gasping quality. 

To get a feel for the anxious breathing pattern, so as to recognize it and distinguish it from the natural costal breathing during exertion and the intentional costal breathing used to build a high energy charge, try the following. Take quick, small, gasping breaths high in your chest. Exhale only slightly, without pause before inhaling again. Emphasize the inhalation. Do this for half a minute or so and see how you feel. Having just done this myself, I feel short of breath, my heart is pounding, and I feel uneasy. In a word, I feel anxious.

So as not to remain anxious, and to show how efficient and effective intentional slow, full abdominal breathing can be in getting centered, use this pattern of diaphragmatic breathing for a couple of minutes.

Relatively speaking, regardless of the pattern of breathing, be it costal or diaphragmatic, the inhalation is the charging phase of the breath cycle, while the exhalation is the discharging phase. That is, as I inhale, I take in the oxygen-laden air to support my metabolism. And, as I do so, my muscles tense for action, again, relative to the phase of exhalation. As I exhale, I let out and let go. In the context of thoracic breathing during exertion, the letting go is forceful. I blow the air out of my lungs, and exert a muscular effort. The exhalation phase of thoracic breathing gives support for maximal muscular exertion. If I am doing thoracic breathing to build an energy charge, I make no muscular exertion as I forcefully exhale. By charging with each inhalation, but not discharging through muscular exertion, I build and build the energy charge either until I am ready to discharge through muscular exertion or else I become overcharged. In the context of abdominal breathing, my letting go means the relaxing of muscular tonus, rather than muscular exertion. Recall, that in the previous chapter when I gave directions for savasana (corpse pose), I repeated several times - Each time you exhale you can relax a little more. Each increment of relaxation is realized on the exhalation. And, with each exhalation the discharge equals or exceeds the charge. Thus, greater and greater relaxation is achieved.

So, inhalation is charging (low charge in the case of diaphragmatic breathing, high charge in the case of costal breathing). And, exhalation is discharging (muscular relaxation in the case of diaphragmatic breathing, muscular action in the case of costal breathing during exertion). When charging with intentional, forced costal breathing, the discharge accompanying the exhalation is far less than the charge accompanying each inhalation, and thus the build up of a high energy charge. [Did Joseph Curtis Hise look into much of this, and experiment to find what resulted? We can't know with much certainty, and that's truly a shame. History unrecorded is a history soon unknown.]

As was stated so beautifully in Zen in the Art of Archery, breathing in binds and combines, holding the breath makes everything go right, and breathing out loosens and completes by overcoming all limitation.

It behooves the lifter to understand well the bio-energetics of breathing. By knowing this, he is better able to center himself, and build a high energy charge intentionally, in preparation for a hard set, a limit lift, or a demanding posing routine. 
An understanding of the above material makes it clear that the organism's healthy bio-energetic process is a dynamic one, constantly flowing between periods of quiet relaxation and muscular exertion, as intentionally influenced by periods of charging and centering. When relaxed, one can charge, in preparation for muscular exertion. When left with an excess charge after muscular exertion (overcharged), one can move toward relaxation by means of centering, and do forth.
On anxiety, and 
Optimal arousal levels.  


Sunday, August 11, 2013

Gainer's Gourment, Part Three


Macaroni and Salmon

2 slices stale wheat Bread
1 Garlic clove
1 tsp. fish Seasoning
2 tbsp. Butter
2 cups cooked Pasta elbows (1 heaping cup dry)
1 can salmon, drained and cleaned (discard any skin or vertebrae)
1.5 cups Milk
2 tbsp. Parmesan cheese

1) Process or blend bread, garlic, fish seasoning and pepper until bread-crumb consistency is reached.

2) Toss in melted butter until thoroughly coated.

3) Layer pasta elbows and salmon in a casserole dish.

4) Pour milk over evenly.

5) Sprinkle seasoned bread crumbs over.

6) Sprinkle with Parmesan.

7) Bake at 350 degrees for 50 minutes.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 434
Protein - 30
Carbs - 38
Fat - 17

Cheesy Baked Fish

2 oz. sharp Cheddar
3 slices stale wheat Bread
1 Garlic clove
1/2 tsp. fish Seasoning
3 tbsp. vegetable Oil
1.5 lbs. firm white Fish (Icelandic Cod or Halibut, for example)

1) Wash fish and pat dry, cut in wedges a bit larger than fish sticks.

2) Process or blend first four ingredients until a bread-crumb consistency is reached.

3) Dip fish pieces first in oil, then in crumb mixture.

4) Place on cookie sheet, sprinkle any leftover crumbs over the fish.

5) Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes.

4 servings, each with about:
Calories - 379
Protein - 45
Carbs - 10
Fat - 17


3 tbsp. Butter
3 green Onions, chopped
1/2 Onion, sliced
1/2 lb. Mushrooms, sliced (about 2.5 cups)
1 Garlic clove
1 tbsp. Parsley, chopped
1/4 cup dry white Wine
Juice from 1/2 Lemon
Fish Seasoning
3 red Snapper filets (about a pound)
2 Yams, peeled

1) Put yams in water to boil, they take about 45 minutes, until a fork penetrates easily.

2) Saute onions, mushrooms, garlic and parsley in butter a few minutes.

3) Add wine, lemon juice and seasoning, simmer another minute or so.

4) Push veggies aside and add Snapper, cook until the edges turn white, then flip and cook until fish turns white and flakes apart easily.

5) Serve fish and sliced yams topped with mushrooms and broth.

2 large servings, each with about: 
Calories - 647
Protein -63
Carbs - 44
Fat - 23

Tuna Casserole

16 oz. egg Noodles
1 12.5 oz. can Tuna, drained
1 can cream of mushroom Soup
1 cup Milk
2-3 Celery stalks, sliced
10 oz. frozen Peas
1/4 tsp. Thyme
Pepper to taste
2 tbsp. Wheat Germ
2 tbsp. Parmesan Cheese

1) Put on a large pot of water to boil.

2) Warm soup in saucepan, stir in milk.

3) Add celery, peas, thyme and pepper to soup.

4) Cook, and drain noodles well.

5) Spread noodles into a buttered glass oblong pan (9x13)

6) Flake tuna evenly over noodles.

7) Pour soup mixture over noodles and stir to coat.

8) Sprinkle wheat germ over the Parmesan.

9) Bake at 350 degrees for 20-30 minutes.

7 servings, each with about:

Calories - 396
Protein - 24
Carbs - 52
Fat - 10

Tuna Tortillas

1 can Tuna, drained
2 tbsp. sour Cream
1/2 Avocado
1/4 cup Salsa
34 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese
3 whole wheat Chapatis (like tortillas only thicker)

1) Mash tuna and sour cream together well.
2) Mash avocado and salsa together in separate bowl.
3) Heat chapatis in warm oven.
4) Divide tuna, avocado and cheese evenly into chipatis.
5) Roll into burritos, heat and warm.

3 large servings, each with about:
Calories - 443
Protein - 40
Carbs - 27
Fat -21

Tuna Melts

1 can Tuna, drained
1 sweet Pickle, chopped
1/4 cup Mayo
1 Tomato, sliced
1/2 Avocado, sliced
9 thin slices Monterey Jack Cheese
3 slices wheat Bread, toasted

1) Mix tuna, pickle and mayo well.
2) Layer toast with tomato and avocado.
3) Mound tuna mixture evenly over tomato and avocado.
4) Top with cheese and broil until golded.

Per Slice:
Calories - 627
Protein - 48
Carbs - 18
Fat - 42

Vince Gironda's Tuna Salad  

1 can Tuna, drained
1/2 Cucumber, peeled and minced
1/2 Onion, minced
2 stalks Celery, minced
1/4 tsp. Garlic powder
1/4 cup mayo

1) Mix well.
2) Try serving this with sliced tomato, avocado or on a salad.

3 servings, each with about:
Calories - 300
Protein - 31
Carbs - 5
Fat - 19



Friday, August 9, 2013

Planning a Training Program, Part Eight

Pre-Contest Preparation

In order to prepare the lifter for competition conditions there should be some attention to the varying training conditions as the contest approaches. The lifter should accustom himself to different views. In the club he is usually on the same spot facing the same way all the time. In competition he may be put off by the size of the hall, or merely because it looks different. The Iron Curtain countries are great believers in changing training conditions in club, facing lifters sometimes the opposite way and when possible working out in a different place. This sort of variation can be carried further. Sometimes at contests the competitor is called to lift before he is fully warmed up or else before he is mentally prepared. At other times, because of failures by previous lifters and further attempts at the same weight, he may be delayed more than anticipated. This could upset lifters. In Kiselev's work on training for competitive conditions he advises variations in timing between lifts and even during the lifts. Thus confidence can be built and the lifter develops the ability to go early or late in competition without an adverse effect. Taking this to the ultimate, the pauses at the chest in the clean & jerk can be varied in case of an unsettling action in the clean. 

Finally, the increases between attempts should sometimes be varied for similar reasons to those mentioned. A few variations go a long way so once the principle has been established and included periodically, guard against overdoing it. It is most effective in the later stages of the skill phase - don't waste it!

Tapering Off

This is of tremendous importance and a fairly clear pattern can be observed during the preparation for major international tournaments although there are notable exceptions to this procedure. Suffice to say that this is in keeping with the methods adopted by the winners of current world titles. When calculating tapering off schedules, I prefer to work backwards from the contest as this helps to put the system into clearer perspective. 

The last two days should be rest. This does not mean lying in bed all day but there should not be any more hard work or even long walks. The most that should be done is a little strolling around in a restful atmosphere - not in busy places or shopping centers. A few mobility exercises are permissible but these should be of a gentle stretching nature rather than vigorous.

The last workout should be two days before the contest and you can snatch  to almost starting poundages - work up to 5-10 kg. below your first effort on the platform. Anything else done during the workout should be of a 'tinkering' nature and with light weights.

For all tapering off workouts, and the last few full workouts, all lifting should be timed to assess the minimum recovery time needed between warming up lifts so that you can accurately time your pre-contest preparation at the event. It is also recommended that the pre-contest limbering up free exercises and light weight warming up routine be included in the last dozen or so workouts. The third and fourth days before the contest will include medium workouts where the total tonnage is quite low but the individual poundages are of medium intensity. Starting poundages must not be tried butt there may well be singles with poundages approaching these.

The fifth day before the contest is the last chance to try really heavy poundages and the aim should be to go right up to starting poundages; if this goes well, some extra attempts may be made. This should be the last attempt to better starting poundages on this lift. Jerks from the rack, however, may be done with top training weights. Heavy singles are needed to work to a peak and a lifter peaking too slowly can have the peak brought forward by more heavy singles - likewise guard against too many, as this will put a lifter over the top of a peak. Singles take much more out of you mentally than repetitions, a fact which must not be overlooked in planning recovery times and workouts. 

It is permissible to do quite a lengthy workout and include some light squats and pulls in addition to the competitive lifts but this is the last occasion on which these will be done. Make sure that straps are used for the pull as research has shown that the grip 'drops off' considerably with effort and a reserve of strength should be built as competition day approaches.

These are the vital days before the match and the true tapering off period. The sixth day before the contest should be a rest day, unless for some reason (such as travel arrangements) the tapering off procedure outlined has to be adjusted. 

Flexibility in Lifting

Because weightlifting has traditionally an image of strength and power, and being a sport which attracts men who are well endowed with these characteristics, other very necessary physical attributes are apt to be overlooked. Clearly, power is of prime importance; the need for speed and agility in the two classic lifts is also recognized and training should be geared accordingly. It is my belief, however, that the need for flexibility is still very much neglected. Shoulder mobility, of course, is a very obvious necessity for squat-style lifters, but that is where many people stop.

They see the importance of supple shoulders but overlook the necessity for supple back, hip, knee, and ankle joints. Modern lifters must regularly work every major joint through its full range, with active and passive stretching of the muscle groups. Similar exercises should also be an integral part of every warming up program as this will have a beneficial effect on subsequent lifting. A full and detailed description of the many interesting and advantageous mobility exercises is outside the scope of this book, but it is well within our present remit to draw attention to the advantages of good flexibility and the results of a lack of suppleness.

If shoulder mobility is lacking, the chances of holding the bar correctly and comfortably overhead in maximum attempts is greatly reduced and the failure rate greatly increased. A supple spinal column will allow the upper back to be vertical although the lower part of the spine is not directly under the weight, so spinal mobility is essential.

The person with good flexibility of ankles, knees, and hips will be able to assume a very good low position to receive the weights; some junior lifters give fine examples of what can be done with good mobility.

The need for mobile ankles is not well-known and needs greater attention. The ability to steeply incline the shins forward, well in advance of the toes, gives a much better position by reducing the tilt of the pelvis, which in turn reduces the lumbar curve.

Those who have not got this flexibility resort to compensating maneuvers. Typical of these is the device where the feet are spread wide and toes turned out as the lifter goes into the low squat. Both these maneuvers have the effect of reducing the size of the lifter's base, and this lack of flexibility of the ankle joint reduces his chances of success. Adding a very high hell to the lifting boot, as some lifters do is not the answer as this prevents the lifter from fully utilizing his strength - for example, it reduces the amount of work which can be done by the calf muscles during the pull.

An old-fashioned fault, now largely eradicated, was the tight lacing of high-ankle boots designed to support the ankle joint. Far from helping the lifter this restricted ankle movement, and it is significant to note that the disappearance of high-ankled boots coincided with the popular emergence of modern squat-style lifting. While ankle mobility is necessary in split-lifting, this style is not do demanding except on the ankle of the forward foot during a snatch.

This short resume is only an example of how flexibility of a single body part can affect competitive lifts and I have deliberately chosen the ankles to illustrate the point as they have a less obvious connection with the snatch than do the shoulders or back. It is hoped that all lifters will accept the view that joint mobility is of considerable importance and will include ankle flexibility exercises as an integral part of their training program.

Next: Lifting Techniques.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Not Just Pumping Iron, Part Twenty-Three

 The Significance of Speed . . . 
and Methods to Develop It

Centering, Charging
Grounding, Discharging

Being "centered" is as important as it is difficult to put into words. It is an experience, which once know, is easily recognized by its occurrence or non-occurrence. When centered, one feels alive, free from distracting tension, and able to focus on whatever is of interest. Thus, the act of centering involves enlivenment through adequate breathing, relaxing, and concentrating, without effort. 

Before moving into the pragmatics of breathing techniques, I believe some further philosophical framing of the experience of being centered is in order. This philosophical understanding will put the techniques in a context which will give them greater meaning.

Our experience in the world involves three dimensions, namely - 
time, and 
That is, we experience ourselves - 
in a physical place
at a particular time
with a particular level of awareness.

We locate ourselves as "here", as opposed to "there". 

The space dimension involves the point where I am as contrasted to my left, to my right, in front of me, behind me, above me, or below me. I am "here", as opposed to all the other places "there".

We also locate ourselves "now" as opposed to "then". This dimension of time involves the ever-moving moment of the "now" which moves from the "then" known as "before" toward the "then" which is known as "after". Thus, "past" and "future" form the poles of the time dimension. 

Awareness forms a dimension from vague or cloudy to precise and clear. And, awareness involves my sensory systems. Thus, awareness is based on my embodiment, my existing as an organismic being. 

In summary, we might then say that the parameters of existence are 
extension (space)
duration (time), and 
embodiment (awareness). 

Admittedly this is quite abstract. But, bear with me a little longer and you will see some very practical applications of this material to the bodily act of lifting weights.

Although I exist at a particular place, at a particular time, and with a particular level of awareness, it is possible for me to diminish the vividness or "realness" of that existential moment. We as humans are able to cloud our awareness through a myriad of psychological mechanisms, as well as through chemical means. We are also able, through fantasy, to leave the present time and present place. Fantasy is of immense importance to the lifter, as I have shown in previous chapters. However, one can get lost in fantasy, moving without consciously intending to, into a world of fantasy. Such intentional "daydreaming" can decrease one's effectiveness in the here-and-now.

I am centered when I am in my body in the here-and-now. When I am centered, I am at my most powerful and my most effective, in the actual world. Think of these things. If I have psychologically left my body and gone off in fantasy, my awareness is not with what is actual, and whatever movements I make are not guided by full awareness and attention. I can be effective in the world only to the extent that I am here and now and embodied. The less I am here, the less I am now; the less I am embodied, the less powerful and effective I am. I cannot do tomorrow's workout today! I can rehearse a workout. And this rehearsal can be of great value. But, the rehearsal is not tomorrow's actual workout; it is my having an intentional fantasy in the here and now. My dealing with the actual, physical reality can only take place in the actual, present time and place. In some ways this seems so obvious. But even if it is a truism, it is easily forgotten or ignored in actual training.

Let me emphasize -

For this reason I want to explore some methods of becoming centered.

One of the most powerful methods for centering is through focusing on one's breathing. We have already explored how breathing deeply and slowly into one's abdomen, with slight pauses after each inhalation and each exhalation can be calming and relaxing. Such calming and relaxing can be centering when one is tense or nervous. Tension in the muscles and chatter in the mind move one off center, not to mention introjected negative messages. To center, therefore, may involve the stopping of introjected negative messages, stopping mental chatter, relaxing the muscles, and the use of an affirmative mantra. Methods for doing these things have been presented previously. In addition, and central to the act of centering, is the slow breathing, low in the abdomen.

Not only can focused breathing be a path to a relaxed centeredness, but it can also lead to a state of high energy. This latter state is of immense value for the lifter, in training, and even more so in competition. To understand how this works, I will delve into the bio-energetics of breathing.

As a starting point, think of yourself as an energy system. As an embodied being, you take in nutrients, metabolize them, and thus provide energy for work and materials for growth and repair. Your energy is provided by your nutrition as it is transformed by your metabolic fires. Like the damper on a wood burning stove, your breathing regulates how much oxygen is available and, therefore, how hot and how fast the fuel is burned.

So, as breathing is altered to provide a greater supply of oxygen, one creates a higher charge of energy. One can breathe in a manner which is analogous to a closed damper, an open damper, or an open damper with a bellows pumping in air, depending on the organism's requirements. It is this latter way of breathing which charges the organism with energy.

Let us consider the biomechanics of breathing. Normal, relaxed breathing is an involuntary rhythmic activity controlled by the autonomic nervous system. On the average, when one is awake and relaxed, one takes 14 to 18 breaths per minute. This amounts to 20 or 25,000 breaths each day. One of the fascinating things about breathing is that one can override the autonomic control and make breathing a conscious, voluntary activity. By doing so one can determine, within a certain range, both the rate of breathing and its depth. In normal breathing there is a smooth, rhythmic action which involves the entire length of the body. Inhalation consists of an outward movement of the belly as the abdominal muscles relax and the diaphragm contracts. The chest expands. The pelvis rocks slightly so that the sacrum moves back. At the same time the neck arches back, slightly. So, on inspiration there is a slight arching back of the entire torso, reducing the distance between the cranial and sacral ends. When deep and full, this wave of inspiration can be felt from the head to the pelvis, and even down to the feet. After a brief pause, this wave is reversed. Thus, on exhalation, as the diaphragm relaxes, the abdomen moves back in place from its protruded position and the chest relaxes from its expansion, with the arch taken out of the neck. On expiration the cranial-sacral distance is increased. There is a brief pause, again, as one breathing cycle is completed.

What I have just described is abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing. Let us consider this type of breathing once more, from a somewhat more technical point of view. The diaphragm is a dome-shaped muscle attaching to the ribs and separating the thoracic cavity from the abdominal cavity. In its contracted position, the diaphragm flattens out, lowering the peak of the dome toward the abdomen. Therefore, when the diaphragm contracts, there is an increase in the vertical diameter of the thoracic cavity, and thereby a reduction in the intra-thoracic pressure. Since the air pressure outside the body is then greater than the air pressure inside the thoracic cavity, the result is an inflow of air through the nose or mouth. On exhalation the diaphragm relaxes to its more dome shaped position while the recoil of the stretched costal cartilages and stretched lungs and the weight of the thoracic wall increase the intra-thoracic pressure. With the air pressure greater in the thoracic cavity than the air pressure outside, air is forced out the nose or mouth. In normal, quiet respiration, then, inhalation is active (the diaphragm contracts), and exhalation is passive (the diaphragm relaxes).

Once again, it is this abdominal or diaphragmatic breathing which characterizes a calm, relaxed state. In that state, abdominal breathing will take place automatically, without one's attention and without conscious control. Therefore, when one wants to bring about a calm, relaxed state, it is this type of breathing which one can do, intentionally. To center, do slow, deep, abdominal breathing.

The other pattern of breathing is one of forced respiration, known as thoracic or costal breathing. In thoracic breathing the external intercostal muscles and several synergic muscles actually force an expansion of the rib cage. They literally pull the chest into an expanded position. With this expansion of the rib cage, there is, of course, a reduction of the intra-thoracic pressure. Now, with a greater relative air pressure outside, air rushes into the lungs through the nose or mouth. Once again, as was true for abdominal breathing, the phase of inhalation is active, involving the contraction of the muscles. In thoracic breathing, however, the phase of exhalation is also active. The abdominal muscles, internal intercostal muscles, serratus posterior inferior, and quadratus lumborum all contract, thus reducing the size of the thoracic cavity, and squeezing the air out. In thoracic breathing the chest pumps like a bellows, sucking air in and forcing it out.

Thoracic breathing is natural and automatic during strenuous muscular exertion. When one is exerting physically, abdominal breathing with its passive phase of exhalation is too slow to provide for an adequate supply of oxygen. What is needed is forced breathing, the pumping of air provided by the active inhalations and exhalations of thoracic breathing. This allows for a more rapid exchange of oxygenated and de-oxygenated air, bringing in oxygen and expelling carbon dioxide.

So, as one moves from a state of relaxation and quiet to a state of muscular exertion, one's breathing will naturally and automatically shift from abdominal breathing to thoracic breathing. As the organism requires a faster supply of oxygen, it will make this shift in the pattern of breathing without requiring any conscious intention to do so.

One can intentionally shift to thoracic breathing when one is not making any muscular exertion. Try that in a moment. Stand up. Take five rapid thoracic breaths. Make each inhalation as full as possible, and each exhalation as full as possible. Suck in the air and blow out the air. Be sure to pause, momentarily, at the end of each inhalation and at the end of each exhalation. Do this, now . . .

What body sensations do you feel? What I just experienced as I did this intentional forced breathing was as follows: an "aliveness" in my hands which quickly spread up my arms, over my shoulders and chest, and over the rest of my body; a sensation of heat; an increased vividness of vision; a feeling of alertness. In a word, I was charged. I repeated this demonstration, taking 10 breaths. This time, in addition to what I had experienced before, I became lightheaded. The conventional medical term for that latter experience is hyperventilation. The bioenergetic description is overcharged. To use a metaphor, in the first experience I was like a revved up motor, whereas in the second experience I was over-revved.

So, when the lifter wants to raise his energy level in preparation for lifting, he can take several big, fast breaths, breathing costally. To charge, do fast, full thoracic breathing. 

Next: More on Centering, Charging, Grounding, and Discharging.

A Result Producing Triceps Program - Bob Green

Click Pic to ENLARGE


Choose a size-building movement and do it separately. Do 30 reps for the 1st set to to set the muscle up. Do 4 more sets heavy with weight increases and then drop back down and pump out another 30 rep set. Finish up with a superset.

A) Triceps Pullover Press (see space age illustration) - 

Lie back on a flat bench with your head off at one end. The barbell (a cambered bar works best) is pulled over from the floor, but as it reaches forehead level start to press or extend it upwards using the triceps. As you are completing the movement raise the head slightly to facilitate a follow-through. 

During the 4 heavier in-between sets, finish off each set with burns. Do these by lowering the bar down to the pec line. Keeping the elbows out wide, press up 3/4 of the way for as many more of these partial reps as possible.

6 sets, do 30 reps the 1st set. Add weight each set for the next 4 sets, doing progressively lower reps. On the 6th set pump out another 30 rep set with a lower weight.

B) Super Set: Triceps Dip and Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension.

Triceps Dip - Don't just go up and down mindlessly. This is a futile and insensitive way of doing an exercise. We're not concerned here with how many dips you can do, but with how much stimulation the triceps get. To perform this type of dip, assume a grip close to the body, feet held slightly forward. As you lower yourself let the elbows "roll" out wide. When you push up, apply the pressure to heel muscle of the palm and push in. When you press up, "roll" the elbows inward until they lock.

Lying Dumbbell Triceps Extension - Use two dumbbells and lie on your back on a flat bench that is slightly propped up at one end with a box. Your head should just hang over the elevated portion of the bench. With your elbows stationary, lower the bells down at forehead level by moving just the forearms as you would in a lying French curl. The dumbbells, however, allow greater latitude of movement. Extend them back up at forehead level. Don't let them travel downward to shoulder or neck level because this will take away much of the triceps action. Once you have mastered the basic movement here, try turning the dumbbells outward as you extend upwards. This will bring about a more intensive contraction of the medial and outer triceps heads. An interesting variation is to do this lying back on a preacher bench (the flat arm rest portion), or on a 45 degree incline bench. I do feel the variation on the low inclined bench is the best, though.

To recap: 

Pullover Triceps Press - 6 sets, 30 reps, first and last sets, burns on the 4 middle sets.

Triceps Dip - 3-5 sets, 8-10 reps, supersetted with
DB Lying Triceps Extension - 3-5 sets, 10-12 reps.

When trying to add some size to your arms you are going to have to pay some attention to diet. I've talked with Bill Pearl and Reg Park in the past, and they both agree that you must put on a little bodyweight at first to make significant gains in size on the arms. This doesn't mean that you are to go out and turn yourself into a human blimp so that your arms will grow. It means that your diet should be liberal in all the proper nutrients. 


Friday, August 2, 2013

Gainer's Gourmet, Part Two


Eggs & Squash

2 whole Eggs
3 Egg whites
2 tbsp. Butter
3 chopped green Onions
1 Zucchini, sliced
1 yellow crookneck Squash, sliced
1/4 tsp. vegetable Seasoning
1 tbsp. grated Parmesan Cheese

1) Beat eggs and egg whites.
2) Saute veggies in butter and seasoning until slightly cooked.
3) Lower heat slightly.
4) Pour eggs over veggies, cover and cook until set.
5) Sprinkle Parmesan over the top.
6) Fold one side over  the other.
This is where things might not go too smoothly.
Don't worry about it.
It'll taste the same!

2 servings, each with about: 

Calories - 257
Protein - 14
Carbs - 9
Fat - 19

Spinach Scramble

1 lb. Ground Beef
1 Onion, sliced
2 Garlic cloves, crushed
5 eggs
1/4 cup Milk
10 oz. frozen Spinach, thawed and drained
1/2 cup shredded Cheddar
1/2 Avocado, sliced

1) Beat eggs and milk together.
2) Brown and drain beef, onion and garlic.
3) Pour in egg mixture, let it cook for a minute or so.
4) Add spinach and stir in
5) Continue cooking, stirring occasionally until done.
6) Serve with sliced avocado.

4 servings, each with about:

Calories - 537
Protein - 47
Carbs - 11
Fat - 34

Scrambled Eggs with Cream Cheese and Bacon

6 Eggs, beaten
4 oz. cream Cheese, cut into small cubes
Bacon, fried crisp enough to crumble

1) Pour eggs into heated non-stick or oiled skillet
2) Cook until almost done.
3) Add cream cheese and bacon bits, stir together well.
4) Serve when eggs are done and the cream cheese begins to melt.

2 servings, each with about:

Calories - 456
Protein - 24
Carbs - 5
Fat - 75

Crunchy Egg Salad Sandwiches

5 hard-boiled eggs
1 dill Pickle, chopped
1 stalk Celery, chopped
2 tbsp. minced red Onion (about 1/4 onion)
2 tbsp. Mayo
1 tbsp. white wine Vinegar
Salt & Pepper
6 slices bread, lightly buttered

1) Mash first six ingredients together thoroughly.
2) Salt and pepper to taste.
3) Divide filling into three sandwiches.

Per sandwich:

Calories - 360
Protein - 15
Carbs - 25
Fat - 23

Deviled Eggs
6 hard-boiled Eggs
1 tbsp. Mayo
white wine Vinegar
Salt, pepper, paprika

1) Cut eggs in half lengthwise.
2) Pop yolks out into a bowl.
3) Add mayo, about 4 splashes of white wine vinegar, and salt & pepper.
4) Mix thoroughly, spoon mixture into whites.
5) Sprinkle with paprika.

2 (3 egg) servings, each with about:

Calories - 266
Protein - 19
Carbs - 4
Fat - 19

              Empty out 1/3 to 1/2 of one of these then mix in this

to top it up, if you like.

Planning a Training Program, Part Seven

The Need for Heavy Poundages,
and Some Skill Phase Programs

We have pointed out the necessity for heavier weights and lower repetitions even if it means lessening the total amount of work. It could be argued that if it is easier to build strength and muscular endurance, etc., with heavy weights done for 5 or 6 repetitions then this should be continued. This system would work but we have seen that lower repetitions - doubles and singles - work even better for several reasons. High on the list is the fact that there is a psychological urge to handle heavy weights approximating to competition efforts as the contest approaches.

Secondly, it is a fact that lifts with light or medium weights do not repeat the patterns which are done with top weights no matter how skilled the lifter may be. In case this fact is disputed let me repeat the findings reported by Russian researcher Arootunyan in Theory and Practice of Physical Culture (1964). This was an analysis of dynamograms and mechanograms of lifters doing the quick lifts. The tests were on a wide variety of subjects - 14 of good club level, 36 first class lifters, and 32 Masters of Sport, which in the USSR means good international standard. The investigations recorded 2,460 lifts. There were five snatches and five jerks per subject with weights of 60-65% maximum, 70-75, 80-85, 90-95 and 100%. Each of the five lifts was performed one time every three to five minutes.

His findings were most interesting. The study of the jerk showed that with the heaviest weights the movement pattern was much more stereotyped: "There is a strong and deeper stereotype of movement, which does not appear with lesser weights."

Where the poundage was 70-75 and 80-85% maximum, there were different results in distribution of effort. There appeared to be a 'braking' in the lift which was not present when the competitor used top weights, although the best lifters could repeat the movement pattern more accurately with the lower weights than the lesser lifters could. Arootunyan concluded that this showed that the Masters of Sport and first class athletes had better developed 'muscular feel', or what our sports technicians would term 'kinesthetic sense'. The second and third class lifters had the proper stereotyping only in the heavier weights. These remarks deal with the jerk but the same picture was seen in the snatch. In top lifters the 75-85% weights do not permit the best technique and tempo.

It is highly recommended that for perfection the lifter must work up to maximum and near-maximum weights during training. 

I am indebted to the late John P. Jesse for the detailed information about his research as it shows how thoroughly the Russians treated the subject, and one can have confidence in the validity of the research.

Poundages in Assistance Work

In this phase you can use poundages which are actually higher than your best efforts in similar Olympic lifts, e.g. snatch and clean pulls. Not more than 5 repetitions should be done and most likely, with such heavy lifts, poundages will be less and the accent on sets rather than repetitions. Around 5-8 sets are common but seldom, if ever, should you go above 10 sets.

In such assistance work you should consider 90-100% of a similar Olympic movement as a medium-heavy weight; anything under 70% would be light.

These different loads are specifically mentioned as lifting must not continue heavy loads exclusively in spite of what has been said earlier regarding skill training. If you continue to push the 80-95% poundages you will go stale very quickly. Over-training is a great problem for dedicated trainees. A number of enthusiasts are scared to lower poundages in case they lose the progress they have made, but in fact it is by not lowering that they will go 'stale'.

Whether on assistance work or the actual Olympic lifts you must ease off every two or three weeks (the Russians advise a drop after 6-7 sessions, that is about two weeks' training under  their system).

There is one final point about poundages and repetitions in this phase which relates to the total tonnage used. We have stressed the need for increasing intensity but we must be careful that the tonnage is not increased too much. The problem need not resolve itself into merely juggling with repetitions and poundages, for a further aspect which must not be overlooked is that the number of exercises can also be cut. This will allow increased poundage without decreased volume in that schedule when it is felt desirable.

Some Skill Phase Schedules

In all the following schedules the poundages and increases depend a great deal on your personal standard. A world champion might start 90 kg. under his top lift but if you only do 70 kg. on the same lift then obviously you must adapt the poundages and increases accordingly. The suggestions provide a fairly average guide.

There is a different workout for each training session per week, e.g. Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Sunday. It is suggested that heavy try-outs be on Sundays.

Workout 1

Heave Jerks: Dip at start and finish, no foot movement. Start approx. 30 kg. below top. Work up in 5 kg. jumps as follows - 3, 3, 2, 2, singles to top training weight. Follow with 2-3 singles at this weight. Drop 12 kg. and do one single. Add 5 kg. and do one single.

Snatch Start: 30 kg. below starting poundage. Do sets of 3's and 2's working up in 5-7.5 kg. jumps to top. Do several singles (maximum of 6) with top training poundages.

Front Squats: 3 sets of 5 reps: light - medium - heavy.

Cleans From Hang: 4, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1.

Workout 2 
Power Snatch and Snatch: The procedure here is to power snatch the first few sets. When you need to dip, start full snatches on the next set. Do 6-7 sets of 2 reps, plus 3-6 singles, increasing the weight each set. Do 2 singles with top training weight.

Halting Dead Lift (straps): Hold for 5 seconds minimum then pull as high and as fast as possible. Repeat twice only.

Roman Chair Situps: Weight at chest. 3, 3, 2, 1.

3 Standing Long Jumps and 3 jumps to touch board.

Workout 3

Cleans: 3, 3, 2, 2, 1, 1, 1, increasing poundages. Drop 10 kg. 1 clean & jerk. Add 5-7.5 kg. 1 clean & jerk.

Heave and Sink in Split Position: 5 sets of 2 reps, 5 singles, increasing poundages in all sets.

High Pulls (snatch grip): 4-6 sets of 3 reps increasing weight in the first 3 sets only.

Front Squats or Lunges Squats: 3-5 reps; light - medium - heavy.

Snatch Balance Exercise: 3, 3, 3, 2, 2, 4-6 singles increasing in all sets except singles.

Situps: several sets of 10 reps. Weight behind neck.

Workout 4

100 Up (run on spot): 100 knee lifts, fast as possible for the last 20.

Jerks from Racks: 3, 2, 3, 2, 5-8 singles going as high as possible. Every effort should be made to go well above best clean.

Snatches: 3, 3, 2, 3 singles, to approximately 85-90% of best.

Push Press: 4, 3, 2, 1, 1, 1, increasing weight each set.

Roman Chair Situps: Several sets of 10 reps, weight behind neck.

Next: Pre-contest training, tapering off, and flexibility in lifting.

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