10 February 2013

Honoring Your Mentors

I have always liked learning and asking questions, as you have guessed by reading this continual journey.  Over the years, most of my teachers were in school settings, others were indirect via music and magic (sleight of hand, not the card game) and others were my own family.

The best of my teachers didn't mind my questions and they often answered them in ways such that I would think critically and form my own opinions and ask my own questions.  Others did not like my questions or were unable to answer them in a productive way.

For instance, in the second grade.  I was seven years old, and my teacher was a sexy young Italian.  She was the type of women who if I were a teenager, and she tried to seduce me, I would never tell a soul.  She always leaned over the desk and often times her cleavage would thereby become exposed.  I always asked for help on my class work, whether it was needed or not.

Mrs. Ippolito had a friend who would always come in to the class, and they would chat.  Being somewhat of an attention whore and caring about my education at a young age, this irked the ever living shit out of me.
So, Mrs. Ippolito and Ms. Fernandez always talked.  In one such instance, they talked about a previous weekend wherein they had rented a second rate flop with Kurt Russell and Ray Liotta called Unlawful Entry.  So for about five minutes, which in seven year old kid time seems like 8,834,845 years, they talked about this interrupting the math lesson.

Shortly after Ms. Fernandez left, we resumed our math lesson and we were handed our class work. Before I started the class work, while the rest of the children were silent, I walked up to Mrs. Ippolito and said, "Mrs. Ippolito, I think you spend too much time talking to Ms. Fernandez."  Being as young as I was, I couldn't articulate how I felt--namely like I was getting ripped the fuck off, which is absurd since it was public education and you can potentially always be getting ripped--but at any rate, I did the best I could with my abilities.

Mrs. Ippolito flipped right the fuck out and said it was none of my business what they talk about or for how long.  Being seven, I left it at that.

In her class, for those of us who got to school early, we were allowed to go to stations and play games, usually math puzzles or some such stuff.  I always enjoyed that.  At one point, Mrs. Ippolito was meandering about making sure we weren't gouging our eyes out with scissors, or whatever the hell kids at seven years of age do, and I walked up to her to ask her if I could go to the particular station that had a puzzle a liked--a rectangular box, that you fill with squares that contain partial shapes, and at the end, if you did it right you made a particular shape shown on the outside of the box.

She told me no. I got pissed and asked why, and she lost it again and told me not to question her.  So, not being able to argue rationally, I let it go.

Another time, about a year later I was 8.  I had been recently baptized by my cousin, who also happens to be a priest.  He also lifts, and is insanely jacked for a 62 year old guy.

As an aside before all the jokes come in, he has never been transferred for any 'transgressions,' and he never molested any altar boys.  For a guy who has been a priest for god knows how long and is as devoted to Catholicism, he is a pretty smart guy and has his head on straight and is generally a thoughtful guy.

However, I fell from any kind of a belief in a deity because when I asked my cousin who created God, all he could recite from the Catechism was the belief that God had simply always been.  This didn't make sense to me because the Catechism states that "without the Creator, the creature vanishes."  I started a lifelong spiritual questioning that continues to this day, based on that one instance.
One of my absolute favorite albums and something to remember Tampa by.
So though his answer was unsatisfactory, it was most likely the best thing for me, since I never stopped asking questions.

Fast forward to later in my life, when the people at the Dragon Door forums got absolutely butt hurt when Adam T. Glass, and others started posting regularly about biofeedback testing and Gym Movement, I started to question how an insanely strong guy like Adam was now looking younger, leaner and getting stronger than hell.

This questioning leads to Frankie, who taught Adam the protocol.  In religious terms, Frankie would be the magus figure.  The magus decided to speak.  What I am going to include here is a ten part series (all brief, so don't get all butt hurt about the length) where Frankie talks about his questioning process.  It's my way of honoring a guy who can fish for himself and teach us how to do so.  And it will save you the trouble of waiting.  Here it goes:


There you have it.  I know the posts are collectively long, but I waited since August to read the whole series, just so I could learn more about a more recent teacher in my life, thereby saving all of you the suspense.  If you want to check out more of Frankie's writing, go here, and here. 

I hope you enjoyed this as much as I did.
More enjoyment before you go.

07 February 2013

How the fuck do you deadlift (conventionally)?

I've never talked much about this particular subject, as I assumed it was not rocket science--you pick it up and set the goddamn thing down.  However, people do some weird shit.

First, it's not a clean. So don't bother with that shoulder blade squeezing bullshit, and dropping into a parallel squat.  The shortest distance between two points is a line, and if you drop down and deadlift as if you were doing a clean, you probably won't be able to put as much ass into it and you are making the line longer than it needs to be.  The Lift Big Eat Big folk explain it well.

In short, let your thoracic spine do whatever the hell it's going to do.  Also, you might experiment with slightly externally rotating your feet so you can put more ass into it, which I think they mention in the previous video.

Another thing most people like to stop from happening (though it occurs naturally in most of us) is dorsiflexion.  Go walk up a staircase.  When your foot ascends to the next step, your ankle joint moves.  This is called dorsiflexion and it happens all the time.  It even happens when you deadlift, because your knees go forward.  It also happens when you squat--sometimes to a great extent.
Bet his coach is super disappointed because his knees tracked over his toes.
In a deadlift (or a squat) too much of this could lead to an inefficient lift, or some stress on the knee.  So figure out how much you need to keep your deadlift as efficient as possible, but do not fear it.  We are supposed to be able to point and flex our feet.

The variables regarding how much one should are highly individual.  If you have size four feet, and a two feet long shin, your knee will go over your toes severely, and you will look like one weird sonofabitch.  How high your hips start will affect this too. 

Christine keeps her hips fairly low and has a little bit of dorsiflexion.
I am taller, my knees definitely go further and create more of an angle at the ankle joint and my hips are higher. 
And the third example is still different in terms of thoracic extension, dorsiflexion, hip height at the start and even how close the bar is to the shins at the start (which is something you'll wanna fuck around with to make the lift efficient with respect to your body).

For another nuance, pay attention to your grip if you deadlift with a staggered grip.  It is very hard to tell in my video, but my left hand (the pronated hand) is even with the knurling--index finger is right before the smooth.  However, the pinkie of my right hand is about an inch or an inch and a half away from the end of the knurling.  Not real symmetrical, I know, but I hit a 60lb PR in a year that I was injured and didn't deadlift much so I think I might be on to something. 

If I were to match it up to where my right pinkie and left index finger were both even with the end of the knurling, the bar itself wouldn't be in a straight line.  I don't know if anyone else experiences this, but it is certainly worth noting and tinkering with in your free time.

Lastly, your history might dictate an asymmetric foot positioning.  Think about your own history and figure it out.  I still can't figure out why I have to turn out one foot slightly more and keep it an inch behind the other foot, but really it only matters because I am curious.  What matters is that it doesn't fuck my body up and the deadlifts feel easy all the time as a result.

Hopefully, this will give you some ideas to play with.  If you test something and it doesn't jive with what I described, that's cool. It just means your needs are different than mine.  Maybe you do need more thoracic extension in your life.  What tests well trumps the aforementioned.  Play with it.  Nobody got good at deadlifting overnight--except maybe Ed Coan.