Do you prioritize your back?
It’s the leading cause of missed gym time and lifts around the world. Whether you like it or not you will eventually hurt your back again!
Here are the facts. Eighty percent of folks experience back pain that keeps them from training. Ninety percent of that group aggravates their back. I’m embarrassed to say that I can count myself in both groups, doubly and I’d bet the farm you could too.
In my opinion avoiding being part of either group does not have to be a hard or complicated process. By adding some simple progressions, varying up the exercise prescription, and systematically attacking different regions of your back you can easily make everyday back day.
When I talk about attacking different regions of the back, I am talking about the entire trunk, pretty much the frame that your neck, arms and legs are attached to. Think of it as a steel cylinder. In order for that cylinder to be strong each of its parts must be strong. Those parts being the top (thoracic spine), bottom (pelvic floor), front (abdomen), sides (obliques) and back (lower lumbar).
The Dead Bug progression below focuses on strengthening and stabilizing the front, or abdomen, while also placing the lower lumber in its happiest place to accomplish most tasks. The Dead Bug, and its variations, are in my opinion the gold standard for all things trunk. If, for the rest of your training life, the training gods, spirits of the woods, iron lords, your gut biome, or whatever you find comfort in believing controls the universe, said you could only do one trunk drill, Dead Bugs would be a safe bet.
I picked up Dead Bugs in 2009 while attending the CrossFit Football (CFF) trainers course. In a recent conversation with Tex and Luke, from CFF, I was happily surprised to hear that they are still prioritizing Dead Bugs. I have also discussed Dead Bugs with Zach Long (the Barbell Physio). Check out his dead bug scale ups here.
The progression below is where I spend my time when warming up, working my abdomen and I think you should too. No other series of exercises will give you more bang for your buck.
I would suggestion doing one of these exercises EVERYDAY for the next month, yes everyday. There are five so you won’t get bored. The other thing you can do for variety’s sake is change up the prescription.
Simply alternate working for an accumulation (start with 5 minutes) of time and/or completing a set set number of reps (start with 50).
Folks using this sequence as a warm up, try running, biking, rowing or jumping rope to build a sweat on breaks. If those number are too big or too small work with time ranges and reps that allow or 3 to 5 sets.
Those folks who have a few minutes post workout can do the same but take out the monostructural work and add some isolation work like dips, curls, pull ups, rows, single leg work, or get ups for sets of 8-12 reps.
Those looking to build a complete workout can easily add both. One of my favorite bonus training routines is to accumulate 20 minutes in a hold and alternate between monostructural and isolation work.
Gang, training your trunk everyday just takes you, making it a priority. I can guarantee that if you do, you’ll spend more time training and less time laid up!
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For more in depth explanations and videos , check out the original article here :
Tracy Weaver (53kg Masters) :
Laura Woodward ( 48kg Masters) :
PFP Barbell has had an awesome year so far! We have had over 10 athletes compete for the first time, a ton of PRs, and an a group of lifters who have grown immensely . Our entire team has bought in and supports each other. We have an awesome group of people who train hard, performs well, and has a ton of fun doing it. As I have been looking back at the year so far , I began to think...what makes PFP Special? I have a few thoughts :
Join the PFP Barbell Team!
The PFP Barbell club works hard every week to gain strength and improve their lifting technique. This past weekend, several of our athletes competed at Project Lift in Columbus! Although a very hot and sweaty day in a non air-conditioned gym, everyone did incredibly well – a few PRs and 18/20 lifts made for all 4 athletes!
Maggie Duer, a weightlifting coach here at PFP – lifting in the 69kg weight class, Ashley Davis competed as a 75kg weightlifter, Derek MacDowell – a 69kg weightlifter, and Maghan Lunsford competed for the first time as a 69kg weightlifter from East Coast Gold weightlifting!
First up was Ashley – her first snatch was at 45kg, which she made look easy. She hit her second attempt at 48kg, which looked even stronger than her first! Ashley pushed hard through her final attempt with a good lift at 51kg!
Ashley was followed by Maghan who hit the same numbers and also went 3/3 in the snatch. For her first meet, she looked like a seasoned veteran with a great fight to hit all of her lifts.
Later on, towards the end of the session came Maggie’s turn. She opened her snatches at 54kg. Her lifts progressed through each attempt, and after making her first lift, her snatches only looked cleaner during her second and third attempts at 57 and 60kg. Great technique earned 3/3 for snatches for Maggie!
Next up was Derek to start off the snatch session for the men. He power snatched his first attempt at 47kg. After a 2-minute clock, Derek followed himself with a second attempt at 52. His second snatch attempt got away from him, but he finished strong with his best-looking snatch at a strong 60kg!
After a short intermission the athletes were on to their clean and jerk session.
First up, Ashley and Maghan! Maghan opened her 1st attempt with a strong 60kg. She easily powered her clean and finished with a crisp hard punch in her jerk. Ashley followed suit with her first attempt also at 60kg, which looked like a piece of cake (or the cookies that decorated her customized weightlifting belt). On Maghan’s second attempt, she fought through to earn a good lift at 64kg. Ashley followed with a strong lift at 65kg. Both ladies had fought hard and were attempting their heaviest lifts of the day. After a hard fight, Maghan pressed out her jerk at 68kg and missed the lift. Ashley gave her final effort at 69kg but also missed her lift. Both Ashley and Maghan went 5/6 for the day! Maghan totaled her first meet at 116. Ashley increased her previous total at 110 to 116 for a 6 kilo PR total! Great job ladies!
Nearing the heavier lifts of the session, Maggie opened her first clean and jerk with an easy lift at 70kg. After an even cleaner second attempt at 73kg, Maggie was ready to take her final attempt of the day. So far, she had made all of her lifts and was only just getting started. She smoked her final attempt at 75kg!! This was one of her best technical lifts of the day – smooth and sharp. Maggie finished the day with a PR total at 135 – an 11kg improvement from her previous total. Not only was this Maggie’s first “comeback” meet after a few seasons off, she also won best female lifter! Way to go Maggie!!!!
To end the day for PFP, Derek heated things up for his clean and jerk session. He opened with a good lift at 70kg, followed by making his second attempt at 75kg. Derek attempted a PR for his 3rd lift, which was his best looking clean and jerk of the day at 81kg! He went 5/6 in his attempts and ended with a PR clean and jerk and a 133 PR total! Awesome job Derek!
Our athletes at PFP continue to inspire and amaze us. Looking forward to our next weightlifting event this weekend so stay tuned!
When USAW announced the American Open Series I was a little skeptical. At the time I was coaching a couple lifters , but for the most part my own lifting was far and away my number 1 priority. I had qualified for Nationals every year I competed and didn't "see the point " of holding a meet like this with a lower entry total. To be perfectly honest , as an athlete , I wasn't not big on "participating" , I skipped my first nationals because I wasn't in an A group ( I should have went and gotten the experience ) . It seemed kind of silly to me . All of a sudden people were calling themselves "National Lifters" after competing in an AO Series meet. I just didn't understand.
Then last fall we got a new lifter in our gym. Dom had been coming in to train for about 2 weeks when he informed us that he had signed up for the AO3 in Grand Rapids and all of his friends backed out and he needed some help in the back . Maggie and I jumped at the chance to help. Grand Rapids is a cool city, Dom is a great guy, and we had never coached anyone but me at a bigger competition. I was still skeptical. How would the meet go? What was the point? Then we got there and I finally "got it" . The entire experience was incredible . Dom was in the D group , that was our competition , win his group. I can't remember how he placed, but I do remember the experience. We had to run the back like a national meet . It was fast paced, and we had to really had to be smart with how we ran the back . Most importantly ... it was so much fun!
After we got back we were starting to understand the importance of the AO Series , but we still didn't quite" get it". It was really fun though so we encouraged all of our athletes that qualified to sign up for the AO1 at the Arnold in the spring . Link Here:)( www.pfpbarbell.com/blog/pfp-barbell-arnold-classic-recap).
We had a similar experience as we did with Dom the first time. Fun , competitive sessions, big meet atmosphere , and high pressure. Afterwards is where the magic happened. Our athletes left the meet INSPIRED. They wanted to get back to the gym and get better. Most of our athletes are new and just qualified for the meet and lifted in the first sessions . These folks were hungry to get better and to make progress. The rest of the weekend they asked how they could get better. Then they got back and got to work!
As a gym we have been getting our athletes ready for the AO2 in Philly . For most of them this will be the longest they have trained for a meet. As a coach this will be the longest I have trained athletes for a meet . 20 weeks of hard work and trust in the program, themselves , and their coach . As a new coach coaching new athletes the AO Series give us something to work towards. Not everyone who picks up a barbell is destined for nationals. But it allows us to strive to be better than we were yesterday, gain experience, and make sure we are maximizing our potential . The AO series has helped give our gym a focus, a cause, and a goal that most of our athletes can reasonably attain.
Will we develop some national level talent, I am sure! But we will continue to make the AO Series a big freaken deal at PFP Barbell because.. it is ! Not one of our athletes goals and aspirations or more important than another. We want to light a fire in the belly of each athlete that walks into our doors . We will always celebrate and encourage every person, every accomplishment, and every PR , to stoke that fire and to become their best selves. Weightlifting has changed our lives and these events help share those life changing experiences that made us fall in love with the sport.
Come train with the best Weightlifting Coaches in Pittsburgh !
Are you an athlete with the Olympic style lifts in your workouts?
Are the lifts holding you back in your functional fitness goals?
Do you want to learn a new sport where you can compete and thrive ?
If you answered yes to any of these questions , PFP Barbell has your solution!
Why 1-on-1 ?
Click the link below to schedule your first appointment:
or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
About Coach Tom :
Im not going to lie this picture of my really bothers me. There is more Tom in this picture than I would like. As proud of my growth in the sports of weightlifting over the past few years , I am significantly less proud of the growth of myself ...in my singlet . After USAW Nationals this year I knew something needed to change.
Recently I went to the doctor to get some testing done..In the last few years, I have accomplished a ton of things both personally and professionally . One area that I let slip was my health and body composition. I have put on 30-40lbs and I was convinced that there was something wrong with me. I had "tried everything" , super restrictive diets, abstaining from alcohol, intermittent fasting , RP templates , the list goes on. For the past 6 months or so I have prepped most of my meals, workout out consistently , and have eaten more mindfully than ever before.The problem was is that I continued to gain weight throughout the year as well.
I was planning on competing at USAW Nationals in the 105kg (231lb) weight class. About a month out I was still about 8kg over and realized that if I did make weight , that my performance would suffer. At the recommendation of my coach I stayed in the 105+ Class. I had the best meet I have ever had , hitting competition PR's in all my lifts and increasing my total by 16kg in the process. I placed 7th place for the second year straight at nationals . I also hit another PR , I weighed in at over 116kg(255lbs) . The frustrating part for me was that in my normal weight class(105kg ) I would have had the opportunity to finish as high as 2nd if I would have just taken care of what I had to with my diet.
When I got home I was angry. I thought I had done everything I could, but nothing worked. I decided there had to be something wrong with me . I went on WebMD and convinced myself that I had Hypothyriod that was causing my weight gain. It couldn't possibly be the combination of stress, life changes, lack of sleep, etc. This couldn't be my fault, I am a fitness professional , this is my job, and I couldn't possibly be to blame . So I went and got tested. I have never wanted to have a medical condition so bad in my life. This would vindicate me , alleviate me of any personal responsibility for making into my weight class, those feelings of guilt for my less than ideal body composition would go away. This was the reason , I was sure of it.
Then the tests finally came back . I found out, I have a perfectly healthy thyroid. My situation was 100% my fault. What the heck was I going to do now?!? I decided to do what I should have done in the first place. I finally took some responsibility for my situation. The reality was that I need to be more disciplined, eat less, workout more , and recover like a champ. It is time to stop going through the motions and get to work . I've spent months feeling sorry for myself , now with my excuses gone I have no where to look buy inside. Time to be an example to my clients and athletes .
One week down and I have lost a few pound and all of my excuses I've got about 10-15kg(22- 33 lbs ) to lose , it wont be fast, it wont be easy, and it wont be fun. Time to lead from the font in EVERY aspect of my training and lifestyle .
About Coach Tom :
On Saturday, Aug. 18, 2018 (8:00 AM) - Sunday, Aug. 19, 2018 (2:00 PM)
PFP Barbell will be hosting the USAW L-1 course !
Mike Mckenna from http://www.mckennasgym.com/ will be teaching.
SPORTS PERFORMANCE COACHING COURSE - This introduction to weightlifting training is open to anyone 17 years of age or older. The scope and sequence of this course includes the teaching progressions of the Snatch, Clean& Jerk, and all associated movements. Participants will gain knowledge and experience of programming of training for both competitive weightlifters and for athletes using the weightlifting movements for strength and power development as it applies their chosen sport. The course includes theoretical classroom, and practical hands-on portions. Course duration is over 2 days, typically Saturday and Sunday, and lasts approximately 13-14 hours. This course is applicable for Strength & Conditioning/Sports Performance, Health & Fitness and beginning level competitive Weightlifting Coaches. In compliance with our USOC accreditation, the free online Athlete Development Model training and exam is required to receive your Level 1 Sports Performance Coach Certification.
2 Day Course:
Includes certification as USA Weightlifting Sport Performance Coach upon successful completion of online Sports Performance exam and Athlete Development Model exam
Click here to register:
Any questions email : email@example.com
1.Name: Gerald Haynes
2.Weight Class: 77kg
b.Clean and Jerk: 109kg
4.Favorite Lift: Snatch
5.Least Favorite lift: Overhead Squat
6.How did you get into Weightlifting? I could only make night classes at a crossfit box, which happened to be the olympic lifting class. There I realized crossfit had too much cardio and weightlifting was way more fun.
i. Place in a meet
ii. 100kg Snatch, 120kg Clean and Jerk and 230 total PRs
iii.Become more involved in the weightlifting scene
i. Masters Nationals
ii. (Serious) Injury free
iii.Have my own personal training space/gym
8.Favorite Food: Fresh Steelhead Trout
9.If you were a superhero who would you be? Nightcrawler from X-men
10.Interesting fact about you? I performed in Carnegie Hall with the Purdue Symphonic Band.
*As part of East Coast Gold, PFP Barbell will be reposting some of the amazing content from eastcoastgold.org/ this article was originally posted here:
and was written by Coach Phil Sabatini
The short answer- NO! In order for you to make the adaptations necessary for strength development, you must undergo performance suppression.
Training is nothing more than:
Performance Suppression (Feeling and Performing Poorly) + Recovery (Long Term and Short Term) = GAINZ ! (Translation of that Suppression into an Adaptation)
So many times throughout a training cycle and leading up to a meet, I hear athletes say “I’m getting weaker” or “my program isn’t working, I need to try something different”. During those times, as a coach, it is so important to educate the athlete on WHY they are feeling and performing poorly.
The biggest mistake an athlete can make is to abandon the current training program during these times.
Very often, the athlete will confuse this Performance Suppression with the thought that they are actually getting weaker! Light weights feel heavy- those same weights that were once squatted for multiple reps have become nothing more than a heavy single. Technique has become inconsistent- there are more misses at submaximal weights. It’s a very difficult for athletes to accept this, as they have been busting their ass to get better! So, instead of seeing it through and allowing the adaptation to take place, they abandon the program and put emphasis where it doesn’t belong, resulting in an incomplete or inadequate stimulus. For example, an athlete’s clean and jerk is suffering during this time, so the athlete will stop squatting as much and cut back the volume to “save” their clean and jerk because it got weaker. The end result, clean and jerk stayed the same.
The goal of a training cycle is elicit a compensatory effect from a stress- You suppress performance, there is recovery, and the result is an adaptation and supercompensation.
Supercompensation is a heightened state of performance due to the body working so hard to recover from stress. When the stress is lifted, that same recovery effort is still active, resulting in a performance that is above the previous baseline.
Simply put, the longer the suppression, the longer the necessary recovery time in order to fully see the intended adaptation. In a long term training cycle (12+ Weeks), although there may be planned periods of rest (deload), performance still may stay in suppression for a longer period of time. This is both good and bad;
The Bad – The athlete will feel and perform poorly for a longer period of time, which results in frustration, second guessing, and lack of motivation.
The Good– The adaptation will be much greater once sufficient recovery is obtained. (MORE GAINZ!)
Short-Term Supercompensation for Overeaching or Competition
The same principles that are applied to a long term training program are used in the short term.
Overreaching is a planned acute bout of overtraining within a training cycle. Personally, I like to start long-term training programs with a 2 week overreaching period. This is followed by a week of recovery which results in a short term supercompensation effect, which results in higher performance during the “grind” of training. The thought behind this is that an increased performance will result in a greater adaptation.
Another short term use of the supercompensation effect is at the tail end of a peak for a competition. As the athlete recovers to prepare for competition, a typical week leading up to the meet may look like this:
Day 1 – 85%
Day 2 – 90%
Day 3 – 75%
Day 4 – 70%
Day 5 – Competition
The importance of the high intensities (85% and 90%) early in the week is to elicit a short-term effect, timed perfectly for the athlete to be in a state of supercompensation on meet day. The heavy lifts will slightly suppress performance one last time, just enough that 2-3 days of recovery leading up to the competition will result in a heightened state of performance. Want to show up on game day? Lift heavy early and recover!
In closing, coaches should educate and encourage their athletes to continue to grind through the suppressed levels of performance. Assure them that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if they continue to push through it, the adaptation will be much better. Discourage the displacement of energy in order to overcome the thought that they’ve actually gotten weaker!
Athletes should trust the coach and program, but not be afraid to ask questions to fully understand the training. This will make the tough times more manageable and keep the motivation and energy where it should be- on the focus of the program. If the focus is to increase your leg strength, don’t be too concerned with your snatch and clean and jerk feeling off. Stay the course and think long-term!
Come join PFP Barbell and the 2018 Men's and Women's National Champion , East Coast Gold Weightlifting Team!
Email: Tom@pittsburghfitnessproject.com to get started!
Coaches and Athletes will be contributing to this blog. We will be discussing lifting tips, smashing goals, and much more.