It’s been about 2 weeks since the aftermath of Dave “Iron Tamer” Whitley’s workshop over in Manhattan and now that the dust has settled and the smoke has cleared only the truth of the workhop shall remain…and the truth is that this workshop was EPIC!!!
So anyone that knows me personally and how I work professionally to put it bluntly even though I consider myself a student of the iron game…I know what’s up. A basic workshop wouldn’t impress me and even though Dave and I are friends if I didn’t like the workshop I wouldn’t give it a thumbs up… I would just keep quiet.
So when I go to a workshop, or buy info relating to training or nutrition it has to pass 2 different screens.
Is it applicable to my own training ie, will it make me stronger? Is it something I can use with my clients?
The answer to both questions in this case is “yes”. When it comes to the techniques of strength I like to consider my form pretty well dialed in so if someone is able to pick up something I didn’t, it can potentially be a game changer for both myself and my clients. This happened with both my swings, and my getups. My swings, I wasn’t floating enough. My getups, my stance was too wide which was making me disconnect from my chiseled abs (lol). What does that have to do with my clients? Well one thing that Dave also pointed out was that monkey see monkey do. If my clients are mimicking me then if I do something that’s not optimal, then so will they. It’s a method of training called ideomotor training and if they watch you and your form is good then it will make their form good too. If it’s bad then it will make your form bad too (and that’s another reason you shouldn’t watch the Biggest Loser…it’ll make you a $hittier trainer and athlete through ideomotor training) One thing I also noticed about my own movement was during the primal move stuff, I can’t crawl backwards without seriously thinking about it before hand. Something that came out with my rotary stability test from the FMS. Other things that we covered, using target swings for accurate measurement, using swings along with heart rate to train yourself to provide a panic stimulus in a controlled environment (translates directly to performing strongman stuff)
Now the people in the seminar, well it turns out one of my loyal blog readers was in attendance (yeah you know who you are), there were some advanced trainers some of whom I’m friends with on facebook, and there were some people who had never touched a kettlebell before in their life. Every single person there improved their technique and learned a whole bunch of cool stuff to apply to their own training programs as well as their clients.
The way the subject matter was presented…well I think it’s one of the reasons Dave and I are friends, this stuff is serious stuff but that doesn’t mean you can’t have fun with it. Dave teaches the stuff with just enough technical jargon to let you know that he’s not just some hick from the sticks that likes to pick up heavy stuff. He’s a very smart dude and it shows with his laid back teaching style. There is a reason he is recognized as a master instructor and for a long time was the most popularly reviewed kettlebell instructor in the former (and true) RKC. I would compare the quality of it to any of the dragondoor workshops that I’ve attended…which is saying A LOT. Dragondoor lost a great instructor there (a long with a lot of other ones including the Chief and yours truly when my time expires…I am strongfirst baby)
And to close off the workshop the two of us did a strongman performance for the attendees. We rolled up frying pans, bent steel bars, nails, horseshoes and I bent steel with my nose (something I save for special occasions only). It was special because it was the opportunity to perform next to the guy that pointed me down the path of the instructor, AND the path of the performing strongman. Strength and awesomeness in stereo.
First things first, happy New Years my blog readers and friends!!!
A while ago there was an infomercial going around about kettlebell training called Kettleworx. I refrained from writing about it partially because it wasn’t worth my time, I didn’t want to bring more exposure to him and because sometimes I am better at writing then others and was saving it. I waited as long as I could and then I saw this video.
Please note it hurts me to put that video up here…physically hurts me, like when I have the beast up overhead…wait no the beast at least brings me pride and joy.
So in this particular video Shanahan is claiming to be a “badass kettlebell trainer” or “kick butt kettlebell trainer” and wishes to be listed as one. Here let me show you what a badass kettlebell trainer is like with some other videos of some true badass kettlebell trainers.
Here is Brett Jones
And here is the Iron Tamer Dave Whitley
That’s the world of badassery where I come from…not that my opinion represents the official opinion of Strongfirst or RKC or any other thing I’m affiliated with…these are my opinions and mine only…and opinions are like @$$holes…they $hit on things.
Anyways despite what makes a true badass trainer isn’t what they can do but what they can get others to do I’ll follow along…Ryan Shanahan if you can perform what I can do…even though you are bigger than I am I’ll give you your props. If you can’t you have to say “I am a tool” on your videos.
Anyways here is the my review of kettleworx.
I managed to get my hands on a copy of kettleworx because one of my clients happened to have one. It was a gift from her husband who in the fog of half sleep saw an infomercial promoting it, knew she liked kettlebell training and bought it for her. Thoughtful guy but he was the victim of marketing…like so many which is one of the things that fuels this blog.
Anyways the last I checked the heaviest kettlebell that kettleworx lists is 25lbs. My girlfriend (she’s new btw…hot and smart too) after training with me just 2 times was using the 26lbs kettlebell for getups and the 44lb one for swings and didn’t bulk up and look like a man like Shanahan claimed a while back…and used kettlebells heavier then the badass Ryan Shanahan.
Anyways my client who gave this to me was using the 53lb kettlebell for getups…more than twice what kettleworx uses. So does kettleworx work? Probably not…even if you can get through the cheese of the video…which brings me to my next point.
Beyond the bad training info, beyond the light kettlebell which btw if the ball weighs as much as the handle defeats the purpose of using a kettlebell…the production is awful. With an annoying grin Shanahan will say something to the effect of “Now we are going to do swings for 60 seconds” which stops after 40 seconds or something to that effect. Thank goodness because those swings are awful and shouldn’t be performed by anyone regardless of how light the kettlebell is.
Now he also claims to have the most popular kettlebell video on youtube…you know how? It’s because the thumbnail that goes along with it has a scantily clad woman on it…which because men tend to be horn dogs automatically generates tons of views.
Now on his website under the frequently asked questions, he says that proper technique is essential to kettlebell training. Well I agree with him here, unfortunately neither he nor his anorexic looking models demonstrates it and with weights to light to generate any kind of reasonable training stimulus. Now admittedly there are different styles to kettlebell training but despite him claiming to be the global leader in kettlebell fitness (b.s.) his technique doesn’t resemble the Strongfirst/RKC technique which is internationally recognized as the gold standard of physical training with kettlebells nor does it resemble AKC or IKFF technique (the gold standards of kettlebell lifting sport). So what makes this guy’s technique correct? Well he claims it so I guess it is /rolls eyes. Remember there is no licensing board when it comes to this stuff and anyone can claim anything on the interwebs.
Anyways it’s difficult to get past the sheer cheesiness of it and I guess he is trying for a new market by trying to make himself seem hardcore or whatever… I find it hard to think of anyone as hardcore when they are doing rowing in a video and saying things like “uh oh there’s a shark, we have to go faster”. Well I suppose hardcore is something that can be claimed…if it’s earned but it takes more to be a badass then wearing mma style shorts with a skull on it and having a dummy wearing a ski mask in your garage.
So Shanahan, are you going to rise to the challenge?
Now one of my resolutions for the year is to provide an alternative instead of just criticizing. You know to actually provide something of value instead of just trashing something. So, since the market was originally for fat loss, and now for becoming a “badass” I’ll refer you to another badass kettlebell trainer by the name of Geoff Neupert.
Geoff Neupert has a kettlebell fat loss product named kettlebell burn and it realigned how I design my programs. He has a section specifically dedicated to strength and it will make you stronger and the fat falls off faster.
If you need 20 minute workouts he has another one called kettlebell express (sorry I don’t have the link but I do have the ebook). I’ll admit I haven’t field tested express like I did burn but I know Geoff, I trust Geoff and I know his stuff delivers as promised. He’s a coach first and and internet marketer second which is more than I can say for most people promoting via the net.
Lately I’ve been getting called by a company called US Marketing Advisors who promises to get my offline business website ranked for certain keywords (even though I’ve asked them repeatedly to not call me…ever but hey they didn’t listen so I don’t feel bad calling them on it). Anyways when they called I listened to their spiel and noticed it has a lot in common with some of the marketing tactics used by the marketers on some of these marketers that you see on late night tv and when you are a business owner, everyone is after your money, just like they are after your money as a consumer.
Now keep in mind what I am relating to you is my own experience as I remember it and may not be the most accurate reflection of what actually transpired but I’m remembering it to the best of my ability.
So I get a call “Good evening Eric how are you?” I’m doing well how are you “I am great Eric thank you for asking, I was on the website and found you on a generic landing page Eric blah blah blah”
note when I hear my name repeated multiple times like that with a girl who I’m not “friendly” with if you catch my drift…it immediately sets off red flags. But I try to be fair and listen to the spiel because opportunities come often and you never know if it’s going to be good yada yada yada.
So they go through their thing talking about how a generic landing page isn’t going to be as good as the service they provide and redirect me to some Top SEO’s website who’s name escapes me at the moment where they are listed as being one of the top SEO things in the country. They they show me the one who’s website they found me on where they are not listed as one of the top seo things in the country. And they proceed to tell me how they can solve all my hopes and dreams when it comes to business by getting me ranked well on google and that they are the ones to do it. They also tell me that I have no incoming links on my website which I know is bs because I put them there myself.
What they don’t know about me is that I know a fair amount about SEO (that’s search engine optimization if you aren’t aware of that). If you find me on the first page of google that’s why. At the same time I recognize sales process’ because that’s the nature of the business I am in and I can see similarity.
So first things’ first…they compare themselves to the competition and why they are superior.
Look in this Shake Weight commercial at around the 15 second point. “Ordinary weights isolate the muscle in just one direction while the shake weight blah blah blah” Comparing themselves to the competition.
Then it’s time to establish credibility with vapor research. In this video this happens at the 50 second point where they talk about it being science fact established at some university. In the case of this company that’s when they redirect me to that Top Seo’s website. The question is who really owns the website and are they being non partisan. For all I know whoever is selling me on that owns the website themselves. They call it vapor research because when you look for it…it mysteriously disappears.
Then comes the iron clad guarantee which happens at around 1 min and 30 seconds. US Marketing Advisors also offered a guarantee also…but only after I’ve fronted enough money to nearly make me bankrupt. How should I know they’d even honor it? Maybe they would but what am I supposed to do in the mean time? It wasn’t something I was willing to risk.
Now normally in commercials they’ll use something called the scarcity principle where they say it’s for limited time only. Similar principle was used on me when they tried to tell me it’s a limited time offer and if they go with another trainer that I will lose this “incredible opportunity”. After telling them 3 times I’m not interested and they keep trying I hang up because it’s wasting both of our time.
Now since then I’ve gotten multiple calls, even after telling them to put me on their do not call list. I guess the scarcity thing isn’t real after all. Just like in the infomercials you have to buy now or you’ll lose that special discount yada yada yada.
Now what does this have to do with you? Well you follow my blog which tells me you are both interested in topics of strength and fitness and that you trust the things I say…or at least are entertained by my writing style. Essentially watch out for some of the tricks that other use but keep in mind not all things are bad. There’s a handful of good stuff out there and part of the purpose of this blog is to separate this from that so you can either follow my recommendations or learn to have a lens of your own. Anyways that’s it for today.
Eric Moss over and out
About a week or so ago the New York Times had written an article about why women can’t do pull ups. As you can imagine this put the fitness community in a bit of an uproar and before I write up my response here is the article in quotes.
(This column appears in the Oct. 28 issue of The New York Times Magazine.)
While the pull-up has been used by everyone from middle-school gym teachers to Marine drill instructors to measure fitness, the fact is that many fit people, particularly women, can’t do even one. To perform a pull-up, you place your hands on a raised bar using an overhand grip, arms fully extended and feet off the floor. (The same exercise, performed with an underhand grip, is often called a chin-up.) Using the muscles in your arms and back, you pull yourself up until your chin passes the bar. Then the body is lowered until the arms are straight, and the exercise is repeated. The Marines say a male recruit should be able to do at least 3 pull-ups or chin-ups, but women are not required to do them. In school, 14-year-old boys can earn the highest award on the government’s physical fitness test by doing 10 pull-ups or chin-ups: for 14-year-old girls, it’s 2.
To find out just how meaningful a fitness measure the pull-up really is, exercise researchers from the University of Dayton found 17 normal-weight women who could not do a single overhand pull-up. Three days a week for three months, the women focused on exercises that would strengthen the biceps and the latissimus dorsi — the large back muscle that is activated during the exercise. They lifted weights and used an incline to practice a modified pull-up, raising themselves up to a bar, over and over, in hopes of strengthening the muscles they would use to perform the real thing. They also focused on aerobic training to lower body fat.
By the end of the training program, the women had increased their upper-body strength by 36 percent and lowered their body fat by 2 percent. But on test day, the researchers were stunned when only 4 of the 17 women succeeded in performing a single pull-up.
“We honestly thought we could get everyone to do one,” said Paul Vanderburgh, a professor of exercise physiology and associate provost and dean at the University of Dayton, and an author of the study. But Vanderburgh said the study and other research has shown that performing a pull-up requires more than simple upper-body strength. Men and women who can do them tend to have a combination of strength, low body fat and shorter stature. During training, because women have lower levels of testosterone, they typically develop less muscle than men, Vanderburgh explained. In addition, they can’t lose as much fat. Men can conceivably get to 4 percent body fat; women typically bottom out at more than 10 percent.
So no matter how fit they are, women typically fare worse on pull-up tests. But Vanderburgh notes that some men struggle, too, particularly those who are taller or bigger generally or have long arms. This is related to an interesting phenomenon: if you compare a smaller athlete to an athlete who has the same exact build but is 30 percent bigger, the bigger athlete will be only about 20 percent stronger, even though he has to carry about 30 percent more weight.
“We’re a combination of levers; that’s how we move,” Vanderburgh said. “Generally speaking, the longer the limb, the more of a disadvantage in being able to do a pull-up. I look at a volleyball player and wouldn’t expect her to be able to do a pull-up, but I know she’s fit.”
Ok now that you’ve read that, nothing taken out of context since I pretty much just copied and pasted the article and put it into that block quote thingie on wordpress allow me to show you the world I come from before speaking on theirs.
(the epicness of Melody made it here once again)
Now I’d like to point something out, yes I am aware that women do generally have a harder time then men and that some people are better built for certain things then others. Me being 5’7 am unlikely to be playing pro basketball anytime soon for example…but that is neither here nor there.
First I am aware that they are probably trying to generate a bit of controversy with their title (and hey I am no stranger to controversy after all if you’ve followed me for any reasonable amount of time), but I’d like to point out a couple flaws that I saw in the article…I’m not in the mood right now to go digging for the exact studies so I’ll just take her word for it.
Before I proceed any further the official stance of StrongFirst™ is that we aren’t saying that anyone else is wrong…it’s just that we’re right. So hopefully I won’t step on any toes of professionalism here because it is relatively early in the morning.
Now first and this goes with a lot of different studies not just the ones quoted here, the programs that they use to try to determine certain things are well…stupid is a word that comes to mind but I won’t use it because I am trying to be a good boy since so far I’ve been good enough to make it onto Santa’s nice list for a change. So let’s go with “flawed” instead since it’s a bit more diplomatic (double points since being diplomatic was one of my new years resolutions this year…and going strong)
In this article it says that they focused on exercises that focused on biceps and lattissimus dorsi and did cardio to lose body fat. Seriously? Seriously? Good grief Charlie Brown. You focused on strengthening up all the different parts and hoping that the whole will come together as a result of it? How about if you want them to do pull ups, have them practice pull ups?
Admittedly getting to that initial hump of the single pull up can be a tricky process but there are ways to do it, isometric holds in the various positions of the pull up, dynamic isometric style work and that sort of thing, but trying to strengthen individual muscles is where strength training and bodybuilding differ. For one thing Central Nervous System does more than just recognizes which muscles to fire off but it also patterns which muscles to fire when and that sort of thing. That’s why movements must be practiced and that’s why FMS checks movement to make sure it isn’t dysfunctional.
On top of that a common cause of people not being able to do pull ups is weakness in the core. Watch a person who has a hard time doing a pull up and they’ll flail around on the bar like a fish trying to free itself from a fisherman’s hook. In gymnastics there is something called the “hollow position”. The hollow position keeps your body stiff as a board so that you can move it around the bar safely, effectively and gracefully. Their programming didn’t appear to have anything that did anything for the abs…in fact from what I saw steps were taken to try to remove this from the equation even though it’s a variable that can’t afford to be overlooked. I’m not sure what their version of a modified pull up is but I get this hunch that it doesn’t transfer over to the pull up. I found that putting bands under the feet doesn’t really either unless steps are taken to modify it even further.
And cardio to lower fat to try to do more pull ups? Come on now…First of all cardio is a very inefficient way of losing body fat and if cardio isn’t programmed in properly can literally rob you of your strength, which is exactly the thing that should be avoided when doing a study on strength like this one. Get Strong First and yes that includes strength mobility/stability too From the Strongfirst site:
Until one becomes “entry level strong,” e.g., a strict bodyweight military press for men or strict pull-ups for women, no priority other than strength can be justified for a healthy athlete. Science and experience have taught us that any athlete, even in ultra-endurance sports, who has not built a foundation of strength will fail to reach his or her potential. Strength has been compared to a glass that can be filled with other qualities; the larger the glass, the more endurance, sport skill, fat loss, etc. it can hold.
Just get stronger…think of the body as a whole. Remember a pull up and all of strength training is more then just your biceps and lats and whatever excess weight is on top of that, It is the ability to make your body work as a single, coordinated unit that crushes its enemies, sees them driven before them and hears the lamentation of their women (in this case it’s women who wished they could do pull ups)
And one more thing, besides the physiology and all that mumbo jumbo strength training starts in the mind. Unfortunately do to societal mores and that sort of thing women are given easier physical tasks in gym class…girl pushup for instance. A lot of them will go through life feeling the inferior of the 2 sexes and that’s a shame really. A strongman’s way of looking at things, it starts with the belief that you can do something, the action step of doing it and the determination to say it’s going to happen, because I friggin said so. Don’t use being weak as an excuse, don’t use being female as an excuse. Get Stronger end of story.
Societal beliefs and institutionalized definitions create a “weaker” sex, not genetics. Break the belief, discard the definitions. Weakness is a myth perpetuated by those who profit from their illusory domination. Defy the tyranny of their definitions of your secondary status, and reclaim your power. – Scott Sonnon
Oh and I expect better from you next time NY Times
oh and that’s chins with 3 fingers per hand on the bar, from 3 women who CAN do pull ups…one of them being 51 years young. Sometimes the iron sisters make better men then men. Photo courtesy of LeanBerets.com
Almost exactly a year ago today I met a man who would become very influential in the man I am now. At the time my marriage was hanging on by a thread and was basically over and I went to the strongman dinner even though at the time my heart wasn’t really into it because of everything that was going on in my personal life. The Iron Tamer Dave Whitley even noticed that there was something off about me though he commented on it after I essentially updated him on what was going on after the fact. I’m about to share a story that I always enjoy telling people and that is how I got involved in the strongman world going from fan to student/practitioner/performer and that involves my teacher, NJ’s Superman Greg Matonick. It’s a story about never knowing where life would lead you and also that when the student is ready the master will appear.
I had gone to the AOBS Strongman dinner as a fan of this stuff and wishing to be the one on stage. It’s a nearly forgotten form of entertainment that is starting to get a resurgance. I remember vividly sitting there as I am contemplating where my life was and what the next thing for me was and I see an older man turn to me and say “So is kettlebell training the only thing you are into or are you into bending steel?” I turn to him and say “Kettlebell training is the main thing I use for my strength and I tried to learn how to do the feats, I even have dvds but it’s still something I find myself unable to do. I don’t know where to begin except from there.”
“I can teach you. I taught him.” As he points to Chris Wonder Schoeck…a strongman approximately my size who bent some really thick steel bars earlier in the evening. Chris confirmed it and is also the star of the upcoming documentary Bending Steel.
“That sounds great but I can’t really afford to pay you anything.” I said. Trying to run a business and starting over from scratch is not easy and was something that had come up in marriage counseling.
“I won’t charge you anything.” This was a big thing and an example of the kind of guy he is. I don’t know exactly what he saw in me or what not but he saw something and wanted to teach me. Whenever I tried to pay him he refused it claiming that he enjoys teaching and shouldn’t be paid for it. I disagreed because he had something that was valuable and had bills he had to pay as well.
That was last fall that that conversation took place. I told him that I wouldn’t be able to train with him for awhile because I had to get my demons out of my head during my separation and that sort of thing. January 9th this past year would be my first official strongman introduction and would represent a new chapter in my life. The first thing we did was bent a steel bar into a fish shape…something that gave me the power to start my rebar to ribbons project. He also covered rolling up a frying pan…something that blew my mind the first time I saw it and with his instruction I was able to do it myself. I don’t remember how long it took for me to progress but it was his urging that got me to bend a steel bar with my nose…something that helped me generate over $1000 for St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital. Here is a picture he took of me the first time I bent a steel bar with my nose in his gym, something I never would have been able to do if he hadn’t been there for me.
For a very significant portion of this year that would become my Sunday afternoon. Go down to South Jersey and learn from the strongman. He would explain a feat to me, talk about the mindset and being an all around strongman (something that means basically being a good person all over) and I would do it while he watched with a bit of pride. He never even really asked for recognition that he was my teacher until one day he had said “When it’s time to promote yourself contact the newspapers and tell them you just graduated the so and so academy for olde-time performing strongmen” and I had said “Why don’t I just tell them that I’m your student?” His humbleness had almost forbidden him from saying “I am the teacher of strongmen” but his track record proved otherwise. I was going to help him put together a school for up and coming performing strongmen, just like I was and still am. He had too much knowledge in him, too much talent at teaching, and too much of a desire to teach it to go on quietly like he had been doing.
Here he is in the news with another student Sonny Barry who is also his best friend.
I don’t know if Greg really knew how much of an influence he had on me or if I even knew but it was pretty apparent to all those around me. During my separation I had taken all the pictures that were up in my house and threw them in the Ex’s car and for months all that remained were empty hooks that had represented the emptiness of a past life I wished to forget. After awhile those empty hooks that once held pictures that I had no desire to look at started holding onto some of the steel that I bent which represented other things, things I wouldn’t have been able to do if he wasn’t there to guide me with his generosity and knowledge. This chapter, the chapter of the strongman I am not ready to close and I will not. It’s not what Greg would have wanted anyways. I am willing to teach which to honor him I will not profit on. I’ll talk about this more in a different post because I don’t want his teachings to die with him. I believe I was his last student which I am thankful for the time I had with him.
Greg was self taught in the feats and I’ll never be able to duplicate his system but maybe I’m not supposed to. I guess the next evolution is to teach the rest to myself based on the things he has taught me thus far. A big take away I got from him was that I can do it as long as I believe I can.
Rest in peace Greg. Living by a giving mentality as well as being as dedicating all your feats to the man upstairs I am sure you are up in heaven. When I start doing more shows I always want you to have the best seat in the house because no matter what I may say at the start of every show or who I dedicate my feats to will always be a tribute to you because without you I wouldn’t have been able to do it in the first place. You taught me that strength was limitless as was your generosity. Thank you Greg, I’m going to miss you.
Sincerely, forever your strongman student