Results matching “Bird”

Rest between workouts - Test articles

Resting upThe rest series continues with Blaine looking at rest between workouts. The main argument :

Given enough rest the muscle fibers will be stronger than the ones that you tore. Given too much rest your body will decide that it does not need the extra muscle mass and will begin to break the muscle fibers down again.

The article also briefly looks at the idea of cross training (use of a different sports' workout style in your training) - particularly on the scheduled rest days.

Next up: Fuel and rest

Maxalding video - Test articles

Otto ArcoVia the Diesel Crew comes a great video find [streaming, 28.5 mb .avi via KeepVid] of the Maxalding founders, Max Sick and Monte Saldo. The video also showcases the talents of Edward Aston, Eugen Sandow and Otto Arco (pictured). A rare treat.

For more early physical culture goodness, take a wander over to Early French Culture Physique photography. Some excellent pictures there.

Working out in the heat - Test articles

Turning up the heatWhen I was at school on particularly hot days I can recall hearing a few of the kids saying 'if it reaches 40 (104°F) we all get to go home'. Either they were just making it up, the teachers loved the heat, or the temperature never got that high. (Interestingly, my father remembers people saying the same thing whilst he was at school. Same result.)

What do you do workout-wise when it gets this hot? The short answer is: don't. If you're drowning in sweat from simply sitting in front of the TV, imagine what you'll be like after a few sets of squats.

Your options, then are simple:

  1. reschedule things a bit and work out in the cool of the evening or morning
  2. alter your workout environment

Work out in the evening

Usually this is the option I take (although the high temperatures lately have remained throughout the night), and the biphasic sleeping makes it all the more easy.

If you're lucky enough to receive a cool breeze in the evening, make the most of it and take the workout outdoors. Kettlebell, sandbag and sledgehammer training is all great. One thing to note - avoid those PRs. It's going to be hard enough anyway.

Alter your environment

There are several ways to do this, and most of them assume you have control over the room (such as in a home gym). If you don't, there are still a couple of things to keep in mind.

  • Cool down the room. Switch on the air conditioning, the fan or open the window. Whatever you do, keep airflow in mind - don't bury yourself in a garage with the door closed. Especially if there's no window in there.
  • Tone down the music. In high temperatures (especially if your body isn't used to them) your heartrate will be higher than usual - approximately 1bpm per °F above 21°C/70°F [1]. Rather than increasing it with the usual dose of metal, try something a little more soothing. Just this once.
  • Decrease the humidity. Extreme humidity has just as much effect on the body as the high temperature. Lowering this will have a noticeable impact; using a refridgerative dehumidifier is the most common solution.
  • Relocate. Find an air-conditioned room or a shady area outdoors. Outdoor workouts are great in any case.

Heavy kettlebell training - Test articles

Parts listWhen it comes to the typical home gym, it's usually a matter of getting down to the basics. Have you ever considered expanding that setup a little with your own lifting platform? Climbing wall? Stones for Strongman training? To find out how to construct these and much, much more, read on:

Big Steel - Building a thick dumbbell handle
Tom Black

Making wooden handles for your dumbbells. You'll find more great stuff on Tom's article page including notes on the construction of a plate-loading sledgehammer and a modified adjustable gripper.

Brian's Strength Training site

Equipment for Janda Sit-ups and other fun things.

Bryce's site

Everything from bars to a belt squatting setup.

Building a Lifting Platform (Ironmind)
Randall J. Strossen

Now all you need is a set of bumper plates.

Building Your Own Set of Atlas Stones
Jason F. Keen

Making stones using an old - but effective - recipe of plaster, cement and water. And a couple of inflatable balls. A similar article appears at Body Results.

Crossfit Forum - Equipment

Some good discussion on the ins and outs of equipment, both store-bought and home-made.

Edgewalls - How to Build a Home Climbing Wall

Construction of a bouldering/traverse wall.

Fred the Head

Plastic shopping bags, pipe, a tennis ball and of course lots and lots of duct tape.

Gruntbrain's Grotto

A forum for DIY gymrats everywhere.

Judo America

Building a spring loaded mat. Superb.

Lean & Hungry Fitness - GHR

If you've ever considered the idea of having your own Glute-Ham Raise, take a look at this. While you're there, check out the home-made slammable medicine ball (based on instructions [.pdf, 1.21mb] from Pierre Augé).

Mission Specific Industries

Free instructions for building squat stands and plyometric boxes.

PE Digest - articles

Some great articles here, including Make Your Own 200m Track [.pdf, 204kb]

Plans for a home-made squat rack
Bill McBride

What more could you want?

Olympic Bar Measurements

Want to know the exact dimensions of that bar you're about to transform? They're all here.

Old Dude's Garage Photo Page

Photos of various home-made equipment.

TGIF: weekly round-up - Test articles

Viktor SotsAnother hot week on here Straight to the Bar (quite literally - it was up to 37°C(99°F) yesterday). If you're new here, you might enjoy these :

The Rest collaboration with Run To Win's Blaine Moore continued, this time looking at the use of pulse rate to determine break length.

The Biphasic Sleep Experiment concluded, and I've switched to biphasic sleeping permanently now. Find out why.

The exercise lists kept on growing, with a look at the Kettlebell Sots Press, the Serratus Crunch and the Hang Clean.

Video inspiration came in the form of this great find by Tom Furman of Physical Strategies. Tom's piece on the 'Manassa Mauler' Jack Dempsey was also a great read.

The Strength News Podcast got underway. If you missed it, grab the first episode while it's hot.

Paul AndersonThe Hang Clean is a deceptively simple exercise. As you'll no doubt have ascertained if you've ever watched someone attempt one, timing is everything. Actually, a bit of practice doesn't go unwanted either.

I began doing these as part of my journey to the Front Squat. On reflection, however, that may be the wrong way around. If you already have enough flexibility to use a Clean Grip in the Front Squat, performing front squats is a great way to get used to the final stage of the Hang Clean.

What exactly is a Hang Clean?

If you're sitting there thinking 'this is great, but I'm not quite sure what a Hang Clean is', a bit of video [.avi, 298kb] will help out. Basically it's a power move which involves lifting the bar from just above knee height to shoulder height.

Performing the Hang Clean

The Hang Clean is generally broken into four stages. These are :

Leith Darkin - Starting position

Begin by deadlifting the bar (conventional stance and double-overhand grip). Bend knees slightly, lean forward (bending at the hips, keeping back straight) so that the bar is just above knee height.

NB: keep the elbows pointed along the bar so it's possible to pull it close to your chest.

2. Pull

This is essentially a Power Shrug (sometimes called a Hang Jump Shrug). Drive the hips forward and shrug the bar straight up (keeping the arms straight). Rise onto the balls of your feet.

A great tip here from Coaching the Double Knee Bend [1] :

When coaching this, it is advisable to get the athlete to think about the shrug initiating the triple extension in the legs: Whilst this is the reverse of what actually happens, if the athlete attempts to consciously "Jump & Shrug", the reality of our experiences has seen the "shrug" component of the movement coming too late in the sequence, and rather than continuing the upward movement of the bar after the jump, it comes when this vertical movement has ceased.

3. Catch

This is where the timing really plays a role. Once the bar is as high as your Power Shrug will take it, bend the arms and lift it even higher. At the same time, bend the knees and get the elbows under the bar; catching it on the front of the shoulders. You should now be in a quarter Front Squat position.

4. Front squat

The easy part - stand up. It's just the final part of a Front Squat.

To return the bar to the ground, just bend the knees and straighten the arms; lowering or dropping it (if you have bumper plates and a lifting platform) under control.

Where it often goes wrong

This takes a bit of getting used to (as I've been discovering lately), and there are a number of common mistakes to be aware of in the meantime. Things to watch out for :

  • If the starting position isn't right then the entire exercise will be less than perfect. The shoulders should be in front of the bar at the start, allowing the legs to perform the work initially.
  • Muscling the bar up with arms and back (this is my problem) rather than using the power of the legs and hips. This can be helped somewhat by practicing the individual components of the Hang Clean - the Clean Pull (from knees), High Pull (again from knees), Drop Clean and Front Squat.
  • Failure to catch the bar completely on the front of the shoulders. This is usually a flexibility issue, which should be addressed first.
  • Related to the 'muscling up' issue is a failure to drop low enough when catching the bar. This results in more upper back work, less leg work. Squat a little lower during the Catch phase.

Serratus Crunch - Test articles

Frank ZaneWhilst poring over Arnold Schwarzenegger's Encyclopaedia of Modern Bodybuilding this morning I noticed this exercise - the Serratus Crunch. And yes, it involves the chinning bar.

The Serratus (sometimes known as the 'boxers' muscle) is perhaps best thought of as the '3 fingers' on your side, below each arm. Its job is to hold the scapula (shoulderblade) against the thoracic wall (rib cage). The Serratus Crunch comes in two main forms, each of which is described below.

Hanging version
This is the one described in Arnold's book, and the one most likely to find a place in my own routines. Hanging from a chinning bar (using a shoulder-width, pronated grip), simply raise your legs directly to one side, and then the other. Lift them as high as possible, and try to keep the movement slow and under control.

Hot, Damn Hot - Test articles

DiversI think several years (6 in total) of living in the UK has lowered my idea of just what a hot day is. Much of the past two weeks has been above 30°C (86°F), and I find myself drowning in sweat much earlier in the workouts. Time to switch to evening workouts I think.

After reading Mike Boyle's piece Strong Athlete, Zero Injuries I've been contemplating the Front Squat a little more than usual. I decided to get comfortable with the Clean Grip first, so the Hang Clean's rapidly becoming my new friend. Now I just need to work on the technique (which currently resembles a reverse curl).

Stopped early due to sore wrists (which I imagine is simply from not being used to the movement)

Hang Clean 2×10@20/44, 2×10@30/66
Front Squat 10@30/66

Sore wrists again - switched to Hack Squat

Hang Clean 5@30/66
Front Squat 2×10@30/66
Hack Squat 2×20@60/132, 2×10@80/176


Pull-up (wide grip) 10@bw


Hack Squat 2×10@80/176


Chin-up 15,15,12 @bw
Hang Clean 4×10@20/44, 2×10@25/55, 2×10@30/66


Rack pull (3 holes, sumo) 2×20@60/132, 2×10@80/176
Suitcase deadlift 5@60/132 (each side)


Hack Squat 10@80/176
Total Gym work
Chin-up 2×5@bw, 5×3@+10/22

Kettlebell Sots Press - Test articles

Viktor SotsThe Sots press is a fairly recent (as far as these things go) exercise, named after great Russian weightlifter Viktor Sots (pictured). If you were watching top-level Olympic weightlifting in the early 1980s, chances are you've seen him on the platform.

Despite its relative newness, the Sots press is little more than a combination of two well-known exercises: the squat and the overhead press. It's a great mix.

Performing the Sots press

It's a fairly simple affair, consisting of 3 basic steps :

  1. clean the kettlebell
  2. squat down (as deep as possible)
  3. press the bell (still squatting)

Things to bear in mind

  • The 'squat down' phase is simply a Front Squat. Pull yourself into the hole using your hip flexors, rather than just allowing yourself to fall into it.
  • Once you're in the hole, make sure you're tight (particularly abs and glutes).
  • Maintain eye contact with the bell as you press it.
  • If you find the weight of the kettlebell too much, simply fall over and drop it. From a safety point of view, providing you have good stability in the squat, this is a particularly safe exercise. If your squat isn't up to par, don't even think about this one.


Punch Gym's Anthony DiLuglio demonstrates [.wmv, 3.2mb] the Alternating (or See-Saw) Sots Press in his latest newsletter. Well worth a look.

Further thoughts

The first step mentioned above - clean the kettlebell - is a relatively simple matter once you have mastered the Swing. If you haven't got to this stage, or you're not yet comfortable with the Clean, get to that point before trying this exercise.

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