Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Mobility Awesomeness

Pretty much everything Kelly Starret puts on youtube and his blog,, is awesome. Every once in a while, his stuff is super awesome. His most recent video definitely falls under the 'super-awesome' category:

A lot of lifters and athletes have very lousy ankles from years of hard running, jumping, and just the basic demands of their given sport. A general rule I like to follow is if you can't squat well, then you probably can't run well. And you definitely have bad landing mechanics. And probably just aren't a good person in general. Just kidding... but not really. So fix your f-ed up ankles and become a better human.

Solum Per Exitum.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Supplements Worth Buying: ZMA

Even though the verdict is still out on whether or not delivers on the whole "Test Booster, Brah!" marketing campaign the supplement companies are pushing; ZMA should be a part every athlete's (including ones without testicles) nutrition plan.

Zinc does some pretty awesome stuff in your body. The most impressive of which is how it helps regulate RNA and DNA metabolism. In other words, zinc helps to not only create new proteins but regulates exactly which new proteins to make. Some research has shown supplementing with zinc helps speed recovery from injuries. Also, zinc may have some serious anti-oxidant properties.

Magnesium is also important for the manipulation of RNA and DNA. Magnesium is one of the heaviest minerals we can ingest so our body uses it to fortify many important cells and cell structures. Also, magnesium is vital for the formation and health of ATP (in scientific terms, running out of ATP would put you up shit creek without a paddle).

One third of the humans on this planet have a zinc deficiency and half of all Americans have a magnesium deficiency. So, odds are, you will be able to benefit from a product that contains specifically these two minerals.

Like I mentioned before, ZMA is marketed as a natural testosterone booster. There is one study that confirms this claim and significant increases in testosterone and muscular strength were observed throughout an 8 week study done on a group of division I football players. Sounds good, right? This exact combination of zinc, magnesium, and b6 must be some secret x-factor some meatheaded-savant chemist developed and is now the legal magic bullet for all things related to strength and athleticism?!?!?!... or they got those results because the guy running the study also owns the lab where ZMA was originally developed... Oh. That sounds more realistic.

An interesting side effect of ZMA was noted in several studies:

Most subjects noticed increased sleep quality. No one is really too sure why this happens. I can speak from personal experience that I sleep like a baby when I consistently take my ZMA. Using some common sense and some basic metabolism, you could draw the conclusion that those subjects who experienced a deeper, higher quality sleep also had higher concentrations of growth hormone (GH releases in small, pulsitile rhythms when in deep sleep) after supplementation. No study has confirmed that, however.

You aren't going to take it and wake up like the Hulk the next day but ZMA may be a good tool to keep in your tool box. Hard training athletes should do everything they can to improve sleep quality to ensure adequate recovery between sessions and to do everything they can to not wake up and have a day like this:

It's good stuff. Go get Some.

Solum Per Exitum.

Research That Doesn't Suck: Protein

No. You are not eating enough protein. Yes. You should eat more. No. A high protein diet is not bad for you.

Just wanted to share some thoughts on a research article I read recently regarding a bunch of Korean bodybuilders that eat, on average, a little over 400g of protein a day. The USDA recommends that most humans should have only .8g of protein per kilogram of bodyweight. The mean weight of the bodybuilders was about 95 kilograms. Since I am American and have no idea what a kilogram is, that comes out to about 209lbs. According to the USDA, basically anything over 75-105g of protein a day will lead to renal failure, peeing out dragons, heroin addiction, unexplained teeth shifting, and whatever other made up conditions they pulled out of their ass.

To sum up the study, these guys are taking in over 4x to 5x the recommended amount of protein per day, are in excellent shape, aren't pissing out extra protein, aren't storing extra protein as fat, and don't have failing kidneys.

The moral of the story? Stop listening to that guy at the gym that tells you eating too much protein caused his spleen to compound rupture on the elliptical machine and start researching so you can make that guy feel like a dumbass the next time he opens his mouth.

Check out the study yourself right here:

Solum Per Exitum.

Performance Nutrition: Kill-Proof Your Body

If you are looking for quick and easy tips to get ripped, shredded, and sport that ever so desirable six-pack, chiseled out of stone physique then you've come to the wrong place. Go do Paleo and Fran yourself to death:

Don't get me wrong, I am not knocking CrossFit at all. The dieting and programming works for the purpose of their competitions. I am, however, leery of a sport whose unofficial mascot is a dying clown that just prolapsed his colon and shit out a kidney:

Anyway, this post is not about CrossFit. This post is about performance nutrition to maximize sport performance and weeding out the plethora of bad information that athletes are being fed (pun intended). I can't even count how many times a day I get this: "How do I get rid of this gut but still get bigger... but not not too much bigger, I don't want to get bulky and look like those freakshow body builder guys. Actually, I don't wanna get bigger, I just want to lean out... but, you know keep the muscle I've got... you know. I just want to show off the muscle I've got but, without getting bigger."

I don't know where this comes from. The media? Pro athletes? Actors? Actresses? It doesn't matter. What does matter is this weird, misdirected quest for what most people perceive as the 'perfect body' has spilled over into the world of sports nutrition. It has made so much of an influence that I hear strength athletes bitching about their love handles after they just squatted a personal record.

Now, I am not saying everyone needs to get fat and awful. I am saying just the opposite. Every athlete should only be concerned with one singular variable throughout their entire sporting career: Efficiency.

Most of the time, the most efficient body type is not one that mimics a borderline anorexic. We, as a society, have been conditioned to accept that aesthetics are the number one determining factor of whether or not an individual is an 'athlete.' They could perform terrible on the field or in the competition, but at least they look good while they stand in last place and get a participation trophy.

"But what about (insert jacked professional athlete here)?" It's their job. They get paid to play. If it were your high paying job to be a physical specimen, you would probably be pretty good at it too. Also, most of these guys/girls were born with a 12-pack, superior genetics, and were brought into this world running a sub-4.5 40 yard dash. A prime example of this is a guy who has been wrecking his opponents for a long time. Here is a picture of Vernon Davis...
... when he was in high school.

I am assuming those reading this are part of the other 99.9999% of the Earth's population so here are some Performance Nutrition tips based off of some common questions that I get.

I can't gain weight, even though I eat a lot.

This is more common in younger male athletes and basically all male strength sport enthusiasts. My first recommendation is always the same... the JM Blakely diet:

Breakfast: Got to McDonalds, get at least 4 breakfast sandwiches, get 2 packets of mayo for each sandwich, and eat it all.

Lunch: Go to a buffet (Chinese food is best) and eat as much food as you possibly can in 20 minutes. Seriously, load up like 5 plates, get a stopwatch, and eat for 20 minutes straight. If you stop eating, you aren't trying hard enough.

Dinner: One large pizza with whatever toppings you want, meat encouraged. Before you eat the entire large pizza in one sitting, dump a bottle of olive oil on top of it.

For those keeping score, this is about 11,000 calories and a carb/fat/protein split of 33/33/33... the extra 1% is the added awesome-ness eating like this will bring to your life.

The first thing people say is "Well, I don't want to get fat." Well, then you don't really want to gain weight. Diet and eating programs that offer lean gains without adding any fat to your skinny bony frame are just trying to sell you something. Want to know why people get RIPPED on P90X? Because the diet plan that goes along with it is borderline starving yourself to death. The intense training that goes along with the program causes Excess Post Exercise Oxygen Consumption for up to 36 hours after the training has ceased. Coupling that with the anorexia like eating plan that goes along with it and you get SWOLE. The problem is, anytime you lose any fat you look better. When you lose a lot of fat, like when you are starving to death, you look like your muscles have gotten bigger. This shit is not rocket science. It's MUSCLE CONFUSION!!!!!

Muscle needs calories to grow. More muscle than you currently have needs more calories to grow. If you want to get bigger, eat more. Time it out to take advantage of the natural biorhythms we, human beings, have developed. Ever wonder why you are heavier in the winter time? It's not because it's too cold to go jogging (please tell me you don't jog), it's because we are genetically programmed to store as much as possible when the weather gets colder. This is from thousands of years of hunting and gathering. Simply, we couldn't go out and hunt for food in the cold weather. So, as a result, even with tombstone pizza's and McDonalds available, we still get fatter to survive the winter.

So, to recap: you don't have a fast metabolism. You just aren't eating enough. It's easier to store the foods you are eating in the winter so go nuts with your eating and training during the coldest months of the year. Are you a numbers person? Dammit. Ok:

Protein: Shoot for 1.5g to 2g per pound of body weight a day. Sounds like a lot? See. You aren't eating enough. Split this with your carbs and fats and shoot for a 33%/33%/33% distribution. A lot of people will say eating 33% fat is high. As long as it's good fat, fat doesn't make you fat. Carbs do. Which brings me to the next scenario:

I've tried everything and can't get ripped!

I will turn this over to strength enthusiast, self-proclaimed professional dumbbell curler, and, most importantly, toned Paul Bocian:

I don't know who the 'boys' are but, this guy is JACKED!

Just in case there's anyone left who didn't kill themselves after watching that, which I would completely understand if you did, I will continue with my gettin' ripped plan.

The only thing that matters in regards to burning fat is controlling your insulin. People will argue this saying "but a calorie is a calorie, you need to eat less!" Ok, here is an experiment you can run on yourself: Eat 2,000 calories in fruit loops everyday for 6 months. If you are still alive at the end of the 6 months, switch to 2,000 calories of lean meat and veggies everyday for 6 months. Which one makes you feel better? Which one makes you look better? There will be a very big difference.

Anyway, your body has natural daily circadian hormonal rhythms. Insulin is lowest in the morning, highest in the evening for normal healthy people. Common sense/human metabolism tells us that when insulin (anabolic) is low, cortisol (catabolic) is high. In other words, training your ass off on an empty stomach (food elevates insulin when you eat it) first think in the morning takes advantage of the ideal fat burning conditions in your body. I am not talking about plodding along on a treadmill right after you wake up. I mean do a Tabata, push a heavy sled, load up a barbell and do some sort of interval training, hop on a spin bike and go 15 second sprint/45 second rest for 20 minutes, whatever. It just has to be hard and you should feel like you are going to die when its over. So, how should you eat the rest of the day? Much like the recommendations above except shoot for 1g to 1.5g of protein per pound of body weight, then split up your macronutrients 33/33/33 based on that protein number.

Sounds about the same as the gaining weight plan, right? Well, here is the difference:

You are only allowed to eat carbs after you train. On days you don't train, you don't eat carbs and you split protein and fat 50/50 to make up for the caloric deficit.

The next obvious question is: "What are my good choices?" This is easy, imagine the food pyramid. Now imagine dumping gasoline all over it and lighting it on fire.

With that out of the way, here is your new food... umm... triangle?

Protein: Meat.
Carbs: Anything without gluten or sugar. Veggies don't count and you should eat 50 cups a day.
Fat: Healthy oils, nuts you aren't allergic too, and natural peanut/almond butter.

What About Science?

A lot of people are going to read this and start going nuts over whatever research is popular this month. Whatever eight week study some jerk-ass in a lab coat did in a laboratory sponsored by whatever company will yield the greatest cash benefit based on the tampered with results.

He just cured cancer with Splenda... at Splenda Labs... in Splenda, Arizona... his name is Dr. Splenda.

Well, here you go:

I am running a life long experiment on how I can kick the most ass before I die. An eight week, eight month, or eight year study under controlled conditions will not be able to tell anyone what is good for anybody in regards to sport, health, and life performance.

Are my recommendations perfect? Not by a longshot. Are they a good guideline for people who have failed with other plans? I have no idea. I am just sharing what I have seen work for myself and others I train/train with. So, before you start sending me mail bombs and burning diet books in my front yard, keep in mind these are helpful guidelines. Theres are not the end all, be all, x-factor of whatever you are training for.

Take Home Message

The keyword in the title of this post: Performance. Performance in life. Performance on the field or on the platform. Performance to not be that asshole that has to ask how the grilled chicken is prepared when you go out to eat with a group of friends.

Here is what you should do, regardless of what diet you follow or what your goals are: Eat a ton of real food. Meat, veggies, fruits (I don't understand how people can stomach them though), and water. Doing this most of the time will allow you to splurge every once in a while without ill-effects. Personally, I eat pretty clean about 95% of the time. Maintaining my petite 280lb frame requires 2 or 3 triple baconators every now and then. But, because the rest of my life is in check, my blood work is perfect, my cardiac enzymes are perfect, I am not a lumbering un-athletic fat guy, and my performance in my sport (powerlifting) is always improving.

You are what you eat. So, don't eat like a weak, fat, idiot.

Solum Per Exitum.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Lower Leg Positioning For Mind/Bar Bending Squats

This never stops being funny:

The second attempt went a little better:

Well he made it out alive. I wish there was a third attempt video but no one on Earth is so stupid as too... oh, shit:

He is way too fit to ever get hurt lifting weights so don't worry, he will be fine.

Squattin' Better:

Had some thoughts while warming up for Dynamic Squats the other day. Here is a detailed explanation and an example of what your lower leg should be doing while you squat. Also, I included a little external rotation drill to help un-sticky-meat your lower leg:

Enjoy your new found squatting strength.

Solum Per Exitum.

Stop Walking Like a Dumbass

He could probably get it off just fine if he took the lollipop out of his mouth.

Take a good look at that picture. Most people look even dumb(er) when they walk. This goes on the list I have of about a billion things parents, teachers, and coaches never bother to mention while we are growing up. Especially in sports, being able to go in a straight line without blowing your ACL's out is fairly important when it comes to in-sport performance. Also, training for a team sport that involves a lot of moving around and running is a whole lot easier when you aren't in a wheelchair. Here are two awesome mobility wod's ( that will, hopefully, get you thinking about correcting your gait.

Pose Walking:

Sandals- stop being a dirty hippy:

That's all for this one. Fix your feet.

Solum Per Exitum... it's much faster in a straight line.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Loading Errors: Bench Press- Instant Increase in Your Press

For some reason, everyone loves bench pressing. Personally, I hate it. My arms are a mile long and I have the wrist complex of an 8 year old girl. This makes pressing heavy weight and constant progress very hard/frustrating. I don't care though because I have to bench due to it being one of Powerlifting's three disciplines. Also, I need to keep up my street cred with the local meathead gangs that wonder the streets at night:

See what I did there?

Regardless of my giraffe like physique, I bench press anyway and so do you and everyone you know, most likely... if they don't, de-friend them immediately, get your shit together, and start hanging out with decent human beings. Besides, if someone doesn't care deeply about their bench press, they are probably a communist.

Even with every ones love affair with the bench press most lifters do everything all wrong. Just a reminder of good bench set-up coaching cues:

-Shoulder blades retracted as hard as you can for the entire duration of your set. Once you think you are as tight as you can possibly get... get tighter than that.
-Keep your ass on the bench. Nothing awesome was ever done in a position that mimics a sick cat taking a shit.
-Guide the bar with your elbows, not your hands. Tuck your elbows slightly during the eccentric, press YOURSELF AWAY FROM THE BAR until the bar is completely locked out.
-Bar path (straight up or back over your face) is a very individual variable. Do whatever causes you to move the most weight.
-When set-up, drive through your legs, hard. Focus all of the tension in your body onto the top of your traps/back of your neck. This combined with keeping your scaps retracted should make it so someone could drive a freight train into your gym, crash into you head-on, and, once the disaster management team cleans up all the dead people that were on treadmills, you will still be in a strong pressing position. In other words GET TIGHT!!!!

The rest of this post is broken up into 2 videos. Both show corrections for load errors and will INSTANTLY put pounds on your press.

Part 1:

Part 2:

There you go. Hope this helped. Now there is no reason to not go smash some big weights.

Solum Per Exitum.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

"Solum Per Exitum"

Good information is a tool. Being well informed with good information can help you to build and maintain whatever it is you want out of life in the most optimal, logical way possible. Being well informed with bad information is more like a weapon of mass destruction that keeps detonating in your hands.

The Internet is filled with bad info experts that couldn't care less about you or what you want to accomplish. They are in the business of sounding just smart enough to confuse you into buying a book or a seat at a seminar. This blog is going to be a wealth of the best FREE information on sports training, strength training, conditioning, performance nutrition, sarcasm about the stupid shit people do, and just generally how to be a badass human being.

I started the death to fitness blog with a desire to help regular people with diet and exercise advice because of all of the crap that is spewed out on TV, in the news, and on the Internet. This blog will basically be a compendium of bad-assery. In no facet of life is there more bullshit than how to train optimally for any kind of sport competition or strength related goal. Here is a brief summary of the next 100 posts or so:

I am working on a ton of stuff for this and am very excited to get some serious information out that will actually help people.

In the meantime, something to think about... "Solum Per Exitum." This is the attitude you need to have and disposition you need to be in to read this information, understand it, and kick as much ass as possible between right now and the moment AFTER you have worked hard enough to be victorious. You need to be the kind of person to understand there is no quick fix or magic bullet. There is no easy way. The destination is greatness but the journey is a trip through Hell. "Solum Per Exitum" means "The only way out is through."

Getting some video together, getting some info together... feel free to comment on here or shoot me an email with anything you guys want to discuss in future posts. More soon...

Solum Per Exitum