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July 2007

The Best Way To Do Your "To Do's" - EVER


When you've got unfinished business rattling around in your head, it just kills your energy, which in turn has a tendency to kill your workouts, not to mention your nutrition plan. AGAIN: Effective training takes place within the context of a successful life.

I found a way to use two GREAT services, together, in a way that will make your to do list as easy and seamless as an Apple computer:

1) Sign up to GooToDo, an online to do list that allows you to e-mail your to do's to an online interface. You can get a free 30-day trial, after which you pay only $3/month.

2) Get a Jott account for free. Jott allows you to make phone calls to your e-mail inbox, where you can view your message as text, and/or listen to a recording of it.

Now here's where it gets cool: Jott allows you to have multiple contacts. So once you've signed up for both services, add "to do" as a Jott contact. Then, when you call in your personalized Jott 800-number, you'll hear "Who do you want to Jott?"

You answer "To Do." Then you speak whatever it is you'd like to add to your to-do list, and within 2-3 minutes, it'll be there on your GooToDo to-do list

4 Reasons Why I Think Undulating Periodization Sucks


Yeah, yeah, undulating periodization is as hot as David Beckham lately... except... I don't know anyone who uses it.

There are only so many ways you can organize your training when you need to develop more than one or two motor qualities:

1) Train all necessary qualities in successive "phases," which might last anywhere from one to six weeks per phase. This is known as "linear" periodization. For example, you might work on increasing muscular hypertrophy for three weeks, then maximal strength for three weeks, and then strength-endurance for three weeks. Linear periodization sucks so bad on so many levels that no one really uses it, and I remain to be convinced that anyone ever used it. The main problem of course, is that by the time you're in your third phase, the quality you worked so hard to develop in the first phase has all but evaporated. It's kinda like studying German in 9th grade, Spanish in 10th grade, French in 11th grade, and Italian as a senior. Every year you start all over again, despite the fact that you never get anywhere.

2) Train all neccesary qualities at all times, but in seperate workouts (undulating periodization) Borrowing from the previous example, on Mondays you might train for hypertrophy, then you'll train for maximal strength on Wednesdays, and finally, strength-endurance on Fridays. It's kinda like "spirit week" at my daughter's school- on Monday it's pajama day, on Wednesday it's hat day, and on Friday it's twin day. Undulating periodization does serve one purpose however, as does spirit week: it alleviates bordom.

That said, I have four fundamental problems with the undulating approach:

• No one actually trains this way. Probably because:

• If you can only use one rep bracket per workout, you're limited to performing many exercises only once per week. As an example, let's say that on hypertrophy day you perform 5 sets of 12 with 90-second rests. For maximal sterngth day you use 6 sets of 2 with 3 minute rests. And on strength endurance day you use 4 sets of 25 with one minute rests. Using this approach, how often can you perform the most valuable lifts, such as snatches, front squats, pistols, deadlifts, push presses, and chins? Answer: once per week. Not enough, even for maintenance purposes. Further, if you're a strongman or kettlebell enthusiast, how often can you perform tire flips or kettlebell snatches? Again, once per week. If you never want to make any progress, that's a perfect frequency.

• When you do "mixed" workouts, late high-rep sets benefit from the previously performed low rep work. OK look- I know everyone says that mixing different motor qualities is inherently evil and all that, but I actually see a synergistic benefit in working heavy to light over the course of a workout- emphasizing nervous-system work early in the workout actually facilitates hypertrophy and/or endurance training later in the workout. And consider this: if you start your endurance training after maximal strength or power training, it's like you've got a head-start, thanks to the fatigue accululation you've already induced.

• Almost every athletic event or physical task starts fresh and ends fatigued- so why not train that way? When you think about it, it doesn't matter if you're talking track and field, tennis, skiing, badminton, or powerlifting- you start off fresh and finish off tired. The aformationed events differ only in extent. This might be the least-appreciated aspect of the specificity principle when I think about it.

Which leads us to the final, best, and arguably only way to organize your training:

3) Train all neccesary qualities at all times, training every quality in every (or at least most) workouts. I've already pointed out the benefits of this approach by picking apart the other alternatives, but perhaps the best argumant for this approach is that everyone trains this way.

At least everyone ends up there, eventually.

Inbox Zero by Merlin Mann

Successful training takes place against the backdrop of a successful life.

In business, it's common to think that only similar businesses are your competition. But ANYTHING that prevents people from buying your stuff is competition.

Similarly, in life, anything that prevents you from training or eating right is "competition."

That includes e-mail. As Merlin points out, your time and attention are finite, but people's demands on your time and attention are infinite (mostly thanks to e-mail).

So if you finding yourself overwhelmed by e-mail, or if you use your inbox as a to-do list, it'll be well worth your time to watch this exceptional presentation.

Muscles Or Motor Qualities?

The Overhead Squat-Lunge Develops A Host Of Athletic Qualities, Not Just Muscles

(Filmed at Charles Staley's Bed & Barbell, Queen Creek, AZ)

I always used to get the oddest questions when people saw me performing Olympic lifts.

Actually, I still do.

I specifically remember one particular workout "back in the day" at the Dutchess County YMCA in Poughkeepsie (yes, there really is a Poughkeepsie!) New York.

I was mid-way through a power clean session when a well-meaning but hapless inhabitant of a nearby Smith machine asked "Hey- could you tell me what muscle that works?"

"Ya know when you're, say, on a football field, and someone throws you the ball, and you sprint and catch it?" I replied


"It works that muscle."

You could almost hear the gears turning as this poor guy's brain went into overdrive to comprehend my unexpected, albeit sarcastic answer.

All of which leads me to today's question: Why is it that people choose exercises almost solely on the basis of muscle-targeting?

Why is it that no one seems to recognoze that exercises should be selected primarily for their ability to allow the expression of motor qualities?

After all, muscles will be put to work anyway, so why not seek higher ground and focus on motor abilities and athletic qualities?

A few examples to consider include:

• Ovearhead Squats and Planks for core control.

• Kettlebell Snatches for scapular stability.

• Cleans Pulls for explosive power

• Glute-Ham-Gastroc Raises for posterior chain integration and muscular power

• Farmer's Walks for anaerobic strength and lactic-acid tolerance.

Now all of these exercise examples will collectively build enviable slabs of lean tissue on nearly every muscle on the body, but they accomplish an even greater purpose: they build athletic functionality on every level. In other words, they foster improved movement capacity.

The alternative approach (muscle targeting) is an inferior approach. A program consisting of Leg Curls, the Pec Dec, Crunches, Preacher Curls, and Leg Presses may promote muscle growth, but not movement mastery. Isn't it time to move past the "bodyparts" paradigm of modern-day fitness thinking into the realm of skilled athleticism?

Why Do A Plain 'Ol McPushup When You Could Do...

Renegade Rows:

An under-appreciated and very valuable upper-body drill, performed by STS Intern Nathaniel Goodwin. On the "row" portion, focus on scapular retraction/depression, and maintain a rigid, straight torso throughout. Power Block or hex dumbbells are best, although adventurous types may try it with standard round dumbbells.

"T" Pushups:

Another under-appreciated and very challenging (especially with additional weight) pushup variation:

Practical Restoration Measures with Bill Hartman

Bio_bhartmann I recently read this interesting post about practical restorative measures on Bill Hartman's blog. It struck a chord in me so I asked Bill for an interview for our regular Coaching Community conference call on July 11th. If you'd like to listen in or ask Bill a question, call Juliane at 800-519-2492 to get in on the call.

PS: One of the best purchases I ever made was Inside-Out: The Ultimate Upper Body Warm-Up, which Bill co-created with Mike Robertson. If you've suffered with shoulder issues (as I have!) This DVD could save you big-time.

Role Of Core Strength In Sports Performance: New Study

S_wkoutball_2 While the importance of the core and methods of training and assessing it have been largely publicized, few studies have quantitatively demonstrated core strength's role in strength and performance; and none have tested strength and power athletes, such as football players. This study is one of the first to specifically look at the correlation between core strength and athletic performance.

Why Can't We Grow New Body Parts?

Alan Russell studies regenerative medicine, a breakthrough way of treating disease and injury by helping the body to rebuild itself. He shows how engineered tissue that "speaks the body's language" has helped a man regrow his lost fingertip, how stem cells can rebuild damaged heart muscle, and how cell therapy can regenerate the skin of burned soldiers. This new medicine comes just in time, Russell says -- our aging population, with its steeply rising medical bills, will otherwise (and soon) cause a crisis in health care systems around the world. (Recorded February 2006 in Monterey, CA. Duration: 19:37.