Won’t you help me sober up

Growing up it made me numb

And I wanna feel something again

– – – – – – – –

Some people will tell you of the far reaching, extremely beneficial effects of floating in body-temperature saltwater in a sound controlled tank allows the body to be completely comfortable. This sensory deprivation, of course, supports the immune system, promotes relaxation, better recovery, pain suppression, releases beneficial parasympathetic (relaxation) hormones, and unlocks the doors of perception to expand consciousness itself.tank

So, what we should all be doing for better health and performance is periodically depriving the body of all sensory input.

Some people will tell you of the far reaching, extremely beneficial effects of cold water immersion.  There’s even a cold guru who runs barefoot marathons through the snow and sits in ice for nearly two hours. This total body confrontation with the cold, of course, supports the immune system, promotes circulation, better recovery, pain suppression, and releases beneficial sympathetic habituation, and your mindset.

So, what we should be doing for better health and performance is periodically embrace the discomfort, exposing  ourselves to incremental amounts of specific stress.

… … …

Ok. So which one is it?

What the literature says:mud

Despite much funding in product design and marketing, there is very little on the benefit of sensory deprivation beyond what would be expected from placebo effect. The mind is powerful, and we tend to believe what we WANT to believe.  Sure, it feels good to chill out for a while and not attend to anything.

On the other hand, the literature points to legitimate beneficial effects on the immune system (by measuring various “antioxidative defenses” such as T lymphocytes and red blood cells). Full body cold water immersion and cold air chambers also resulted in increased metabolic rate (caloric demands just to maintain body temperature). It reliably produces a sustained increase in norepinephrine, which substantiates the long-term pain relief touted by cold gurus. Cold has also shown promise for those with chronic fatigue syndrome, chronic heart failure, and even some types of cancers.

What I think:

In the grand scheme of things, most of this is -probably- nonsense. Most of us these days are indeed far too comfortable for too long. Do not get me wrong. We should be supremely thankful when we do not have to endure slavery in exile, long and barren winters or marches through the snow to achieve independence from tyranny. But for many modern American lives, I think that comfort, and our quest for it, is killing us at worst and making us numb at best. Some NEED their air conditioners while others complain when the temperature drops one centigrade below what we’re comfortable with.  But really…

We. Are. Fine.

Or we would be if we weren’t accustomed to so much comfort.

We work and live and drive in climate controlled environments. For many of us, even our time exercising involves machines/crutches and televisions and not even a little bit of dirt. We should not wonder why life stress, physical and mental, perturbs us.

What we should do about it:

There is nothing “natural” about complete sensory deprivation. Unless, of course, we’re talking about the miracle of sleep, which is free. And yet we seldom take enough advantage of that offer.

Extreme discomfort is unnecessary at best. It’s life threatening at worst; a classic example of how trying to be extremely fit and healthy can kill you. We do know that ice therapy immediately after intense training limits the beneficial adaptations involved with inflammation and recovery. If you did not hear that, please know that ICING AFTER A WORKOUT ACTUALLY RESTRICTS YOUR GAINS. 

But I think that an intentional dose of discomfort is Juuussst Right, precisely what’s required to help keep us healthy with immune system blah blah blah and mentally sober. I mean, look at typical children. They play and laugh and don’t feel the weather and go all day. I want to hang on to some of that vitamin Don’t Grow Up for as long as possible. Even if the benefit is a package deal of keeping a youthful mindset, or plain placebo, so be it!


One moderately extreme discomfort per month and one moderately fair discomfort per week…yeah, that seems about right.

-That’s why I jump into the lake or stream when I get a chance. Even moderately cold water feels like a shock treatment to me. But I still do it. This is called “Getting The Month In” and it does wonders for your mind. **Know your limits and systematically apply the stress. You’re not setting any world records, so always error on the side of caution.

-That’s why I try to train (and train others) outside once or twice per week if possible, rain or shine, so long as conditions are not dangerous. An hour outside in the beautiful and the ugly weather. The discomfort itself is the benefit…getting the full dose of your exercise session. Breath in those gnats for extra gains.

Floating may feel relaxing for a while. There are certainly worse things that you could do with your time. But in the end, I really do not think that our own health, wellness and fulfillment can be found inward. Sensory deprivation offers practically nothing in terms of loving God and others. Even moderate discomfort makes the mind and body more resilient, capable, and even grateful.

This is obviously an opinion piece. Please do share your perspective.

creek jump

Plyometrics versus “Agility and Conditioning”

…in which I justify all the jumping on and over picnic tables, which are far better than standard gym plyo boxes, but that’s another story. 

winter 2016 053

Most people think that running, jumping, and agility training all necessarily go together. Around here it’s common to hear it as one word.

“We’re doing speednagility.”

But they are not all one in the same. I mean, go ahead and look up the internet’s definition of agility.

“The quality or state of being agile. Nimbleness and dexterity.” 

Getting in shape for the season, getting faster at sprinting, and improving agility are related, but are in fact fairly different pursuits with different training methods. For example, it is entirely possible (and common) to have an athlete with  favorable conditioning and footwork on an agility ladder, but with very average acceleration and top speed sprinting ability.

Likewise, activities like P90X circuit style jumping and intensely jogging a mile (for conditioning) do very little to improve an athletes ability to achieve faster sprinting and change of direction (unless he/she is very out of shape to begin with). Skipping through an agility ladder or over cones will improve brain coordination to the feet in those precise drills. I like these type of activities done briefly as a warm-up. But they will do little to improve sprint and change of direction abilities.

So why do I call my own training “Plyo Friday” rather than “Speed and Agility Friday?” What’s with all the jumping when most athletes are NOT primarily interested in basketball or high jump?

I’ve written a few entries on what does actually improve a given athletes peak speed and change of direction, these being

  1. Good static and dynamic alignment (all moving segments stacked optimally to work together to produce movement).
  2. Adequate range of motion (controlled mobility means not being too tight, but not too flexible either).
  3. The ability to quickly generate a lot of force into the ground (per body weight).

Athletes should work on developing these and then, THEN work on being agile in the demands of their sport. I’ve seen kids who can hardly walk and chew gum at the same time get on a BMX bike and demonstrate extravagant nimbleness and dexterity. The point is that “good agility” is fairly event specific.

Fall2015 076

The best way to work on alignment, controlled mobility, and force generation capability is through specific targeted resistance training. You could say that we are getting the athlete stronger. But you could also say that we’re using resistance and specific cues as a tool to literally change how the athlete  interacts with the environment. Once they are on track toward improvement in the three points above, we have to practice application. The best way to apply these attributes to athletics is through sprinting, plyometrics (think jumping type drills), and working on lateral movements and change of direction yes, agility). So that’s exactly what we do on Plyo Fridays. Here is the anatomy of a Plyo Friday:

  1. We warm up (I’m attempting to do a better job of not skimping on functional mobility warm ups).
  2. We perform a series of plyometric jumps: tuck jumps, bounding, lateral hops, and depth jumps on one and two legs. Jumps are not just for basketball players. They make excellent use of GRAVITY, one of our greatest and most overlooked tools for truly improving speed and agility. A large part of being fast and agile has to do with synchronization and timing of body segments to control landing forces, achieve a controlled stretch of muscle and tendon (called SSC, short for stretch-shortening-cycle) and efficiently roll that SSC into the next powerful movement up and out, in various directions.
  3. We sprint with work on form, starts and stops, and peak speed with plenty of rest between sprints.
  4. We run some grinding intervals, push the car, or do an obstacle course for general athleticism, conditioning, and/or plain fun.

Next we break each of these down further:

-Warm-up includes activities to work on dynamic alignment, balance, and basic movement patterns (such as single leg hip hinge, deep squat, skipping, lateral and rotational lunging, etc).

-Jumps! Tuck jumps and box jumps are great because they require a powerful and synchronized total body effort. The ankles, knees and hips perform powerful triple extension while the arms are being thrown up, the trunk is extended, and a fraction of a second later the anterior muscles must perform a rapid folding together of the torso. Tuck jumps are done forward and laterally, on two legs and one at a time. They qualify as “functional core” movements far more than you think, making non-weight bearing abdominal exercise unnecessary.

Depth jumps (and practicing good quality on jumping and landing) are critical because they are a great way to overload the movement and train the brain for pre-activation.  Careful though, as these are fairly taxing and should only be performed after normal jumping and landing form is achieved.

It is difficult to achieve quick and forceful  (powerful!) interaction with the ground  if the athlete has weakness of the trunk and legs or has a reactionary strategy of ground impact. By the time the athlete reacts to hitting the ground, it’s too late. Learning pre-activation is critical! That is, anticipating the next foot impact/interaction with the ground, activating the appropriate muscles and movement patterns while they’re still in the air.

Here is a good example of a depth jump, and series of broad jumps for pre-activation strategy.

First, notice how Ryan is able to easily tuck jump onto the table. Very impressive for an 11 year-old. Next, when he drops down to the ground, he is challenged to control his body mass and immediately explode up into the next jump. He does a great job making it over the “hurdles.” But I’d like to see him, in time, float and have a faster and softer interaction with the ground. This is not easy, and should not be done for hi repetitions in any athletic population.

A good verbal cue for depth jumps is “When you’re in the air, you know the ground is coming. Get ready for it. Reach for it and control the landing rather than crashing into a heap.”

Pre activation is absolutely a learned skill, and the fastest, most powerful athletes are able to do it subconsciously.

-Sprinting usually involves a little work on starts and change of direction. We do a few warm-ups and then timed sprints. There is NOTHING that gets a human to run with absolute full effort more than drawing a “line in the sand” and breaking out the stop watch. Week in and week out, athletes get to witness the fruit of their labors through observing their sprint times fall. Did you know that doing a handful of ~60-yard repeats at absolute max effort can be fatiguing and adequate for “conditioning?”

-Lastly, the conditioning portion depends largely on whether or not the individual has intense games or practices coming up in the next day or two. We keep the craziness and fun/showboating within tight limits when the athlete is in-season or making a run at something outside of Plyo Friday ; )

Everyone leaves Plyo Friday feeling tired but outstanding, sensing the gains to the depth of their Awesome Bucket.

And the Bonny Lane picnic table, tire, small stretch of grass, and dead-end roadway keep churning out top performer after top performer…


Here is Cort and I at work a few years ago.

**WARNING: Most of the moves illustrated in the video are moderate- to high impact. Going at them without a proper build-up and form is likely to result in joint sprain or muscle strain.

15 Moderately Successful Physical Therapy Marketing Techniques

I see an awful lot of ads for physical therapy companies and their services. It’s no surprise that I would take notice and be a bit sensitive about it.


Some of the ads are great. They’re interesting, informative, or plain entertaining. I stand behind most of how my employer markets our services. Follow us here to easily see what we’re doing.

Other physical therapy marketing techniques are either ‘meh or plain embarrassing. They’re clearly under the influence of Dale Carnegie and his contrived ways to fake friendship and manipulate people. I’m far more Wendell Berry than Dale Carnegie, but that’s another essay. These days, many PT marketing techniques make me feel like when you have new guests over for dinner and the dog drags it rear end across the living room rug.

Yep, that’s my profession. My calling. I’m on of them…but not the same. We’re not selling pizzas. Most of us are not in it to build an empire. And we’re not magical beings that are your every answer in all circumstances.

– – – – – – – –

“I believe that the community – in the fullest sense: a place and all its creatures – is the smallest unit of health and that to speak of the health of an isolated individual is a contradiction in terms.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays
So without further ado, here are 15 long, drawn-out, backwards and moderately successful techniques to market your physical therapy services.

***My parents and grandparents taught me very little business sense. But they had a role in teaching me every one of the principles listed below. Some of them I have miles to improve. Each point above is absolutely true in the sense that I’ve lived it. And yes, “got business” out of it.

  1. First and foremost, find a geographical area and commit to it. Love the land. I have a hunch that this is especially rewarding (more than financially) if you settle on a place in the inner city or very rural countryside where nobody else wants to be.
  2. Hire local help where you need it. Take the car to the small garage owned by the guy who lives nearby. Know the folks at the pizza shop by their first names. Not to make them feel important or to make you think that they think that you think that someone made an impression on someone. Do it to be a decent human. And it’s a lot more fun to share a story while you wait. Eventually, they will offer you a glass of wine and not mess up your order.
  3. Go to your primary care physician and “represent.” By this I mean a consistent life of wellness, and NOT how much you know about physical therapy, medicine, or (especially) alternative medicine. They will hear about your abilities as a PT soon enough, and a sense of humility regarding the entire human body (not just the musculoskeletal system) will shine forth like the sun. Annual physicals will be awkward.
  4. Don’t pick up golf in order to meet doctors and other big shots. Do what you love and be open to helping and learning from others who pursue similar interests. You’ll make a handful of lifelong friends this way.
  5. Don’t try to be an interesting person. Try to be genuinely interested in the world and in others.
  6. Practice your “elevator speech,” sure. But perfect the art of active listening.
  7. Have an on-line presence. Talk about your work and business, but not exclusively. Be a friend, throw your hat in the ring. Don’t be a jerk or get overly involved in divisive subjects.
  8. Serve the community without an agenda. Before five minutes have passed, people will ask where you live and what you do for work. In five months or years, they will be coming to you with medical questions. Some of them you’re unfit to address, but you know that your trusted.
  9. Spend time learning about that activity or sport that seems to keep popping up in the clinic, whether or not you like it. Pretty soon you will probably learn to like it or at least appreciate it. Who knows, one day you may spend most of your weekends actually glad to be driving your children to it.
  10. Show up at your clients competition or event. Not with a handful of business cards, Dale Carnegie, but because you’re interested in seeing them in action. Your performance in Netflix Marathons and Fantasy Football will definitely suffer.
  11. You MUST be a perpetual student and enjoy it. If not, you’re either inexperienced or obsolete. Take the courses because you want to learn, not just to fulfill CEU requirements. Read the books by day and the articles by night, again because you want to. Process what you study and filter it through your unique real life experience. Where and when you can, put that into writing or speaking.shoes creek
  12. Know that the customer is not always right. But you do need to learn something from every single criticism received. On the one hand, you need to closely watch for patterns. They are a clear indication for some serious course correction on your end. But on the other hand, do not try to please every person every time. Doing so may be good for business, but it will leave you with sleepless nights, an ulcer, or worse.
  13. Go for the assist. When it comes to marketing, getting an assist is even better than scoring the goal. So establish a handful of trusted complimentary services. MDs, pain management specialists, personal trainers, massage therapists, etc. Make those connections, fitting the right person to the right service. Call them. Do tell your clients to mention who sent them. It’s a genuine win-win-win.
  14. Deliver the goods. At the end of the day, you must provide a service that is worth the time and cost involved with peoples lives. You may have an advanced CNP (Certified Nice Person), but there’s absolutely no substitute for competency. Do not mistake this for “Get everyone better” because that’s not realistic. Sure, most people will achieve drastically improved function and less pain with physical therapy. But even those who do not ultimately fulfill their goals can and should have a great experience. At the very least, they should have learned a lot…about what may be ruled out as the cause of the problem, ways they can help manage the problem (if not successfully address it), or connections to others (#12 above).
  15. Did I mention that this marketing model is not scalable? There are no pathways or sales funnels. This is probably no way to build a corporation. These marketing methods will not provide a huge salary, especially given today’s healthcare environment.
    Student loans will suck the life out of you. But you will be part of a community of people you care about and who care about you, and you will lean on each other for help. In the end, you will have many interesting stories and laughs to remember, and some joy as well. It will work out. Well, it should. I mean, who knows. My story unfolds. You’re listening to a guy who doesn’t mind driving an ’04 Honda to work or eating peanut butter and Jelly twice a day.


“The world has room for many people who are content to live as humans, but only for a relative few intent upon living as giants or as gods.”
Wendell Berry, The Unsettling of America: Culture & Agriculture
“The difference between a path and a road is not only the obvious one. A path is little more than a habit that comes with knowledge of a place. It is a sort of ritual of familiarity. As a form, it is a form of contact with a known landscape. It is not destructive. It is the perfect adaptation, through experience and familiarity, of movement to place; it obeys the natural contours; such obstacles as it meets it goes around.”
Wendell Berry, The Art of the Commonplace: The Agrarian Essays

Spectacular Small Machine

Yesterday I noticed a spectacular machine racing across the front interior of my van. It functioned something like a small hovercraft drone.

Only a few millimeters in width and roughly a centimeter in length, the machine moved for three and a half hours, the entire duration of our journey, back and fomonsters and menrth across the windshield. Simply watching the frantic pace was exhausting. Imagine running a marathon on a 40 foot wide treadmill, also moving laterally while pressing your forehead against a pane of glass. The machine was equipped with landing gear which also allowed for multidirectional movement. But this was not the preferred method of navigation, and was only deployed for seconds before returning to flight.

The machine must have used a relatively enormous amount of energy, and the battery life was absurd. My van required replenishment midway through the trip, the cell phone was connected to a gasoline engine through a charger, and I snacked on an apple and a handful of Cheez-Its. But the machine maintained nearly perpetual motion with no observable energy intake. I cannot exactly describe the mysterious process in which this was accomplished. I once heard a story about combining specific ratios of certain elements and subatomic particles, the cycle whereby electrons are lost and gained. But phhsshh! All that packed into this device? That is magic talk.

The machikrebs cyclene was quite determined to achieve…something. Its motives, or who was operating it, were not readily apparent. It seemed to have been programmed with motion detection algorithms that also rendered it keenly sensitive to changes in air pressure. But did this intelligence have a choice in any matter?

When we arrived at our destination, given our history together, I thought that it would be a shame for the machine to remain in the same pattern. Past experience has shown that these do eventually stall out and permanently settle on the dashboard. Maybe the machine would achieve its goal or at least be a part of the energy chain that eventually moves larger machines like vans, phones, and humans.

With the freedom to decide, I reached up and shoo’d it out the door.

The Slow, Bone-headed Way to a Huge Deadlift

This essay also known as, “Hey Bob can you write a program to get my dead lift up?” deadlifts

What makes me an expert at dead lifts, other than liking deadlifts?

I wrote this because being a strong dude plus personally experiencing my unscientific study of N=1 means that I know everything there is to know about dead lifting :). But really, there are more than a few good dead lifting resources out there. I don’t claim expertise in power lifting. My forte is more in the realm of using weight training to stay healthy and be awesome outside of the gym (sports performance and rehabilitation). But since more than a few people have asked the question…

I never lifted with an official bar (better grip and spring), wearing an official belt (assistance), in an official meet (strength culture and context). But even without these small but important advantages, I have managed to accrue these dead lift credentials, most of them with video proof:

600 lbs X 1, while weighing slightly under 200 lbs (> triple bodyweight is pretty rare).

500 lbs X 10 continuous reps

405 X 20 continuous reps

315 pounds for over 100 reps in about 30 minutes.

Yes, this is surely part of the reason why my injured right hip has suffered additional wear and tear.

I’ve also coached many folks through dead lifting over double body weight.

Presently, I’m not at peak strength but can probably manage 80% or better of the numbers listed above. Last week, at the age of 41, I easily dead lifted 405 X 10 reps.

First, here are a few principles:
ASSUMPTION 1 : You’re access to equipment and space, work ethic, and ability to follow instruction are not in question.

ASSUMPTION 2 : You’re form is dialed in. This article is not about How to Dead Lift. This is an over view and guide about how to increase your dead lift. Before following any of this advice, you must spend plenty of time learning how to groove the hinge that uses nearly every muscle in your body in a concerted effort. For training purposes, form comes first. When you’re going for a one-rep max PR (this should be infrequently), your form may break down to some extent. This is not acceptable for regular training and repetition. But for one effort, it’s usually no problem.

ASSUMPTION 3: You have some perspective. You need to know that being able to fairly easily lift twice your body weight is a good goal for most people, and will provide huge advantages out on the playing field. But triple body weight deadlifts, and some of the other feats mentioned above, are not needed for sports outside of weight lifting. They are extreme and awesome but not necessarily healthy.

Consideration 1 – Loading versus Time Under Tension

Believe it or not, lifting as much as you can for one rep is absolutely not the best way to drastically increase how much you can lift for one rep (at least not for a while). You probably need to spend a long time consistently dead lifting weight that is relatively heavy for you but you can handle with perfect form. If 315 pounds is your estimated 1-rep max that means multiple sets of around 275 – 300 pounds for 3 to 5 reps. This is heavy but totally within your power to repeatedly crush and feel taxed but not at all drained. You do need to lift heavier weights and practice pulling heavy singles (like >90 % of your 1 rep max), but give it at least 8 weeks before you increase the load and cut reps.

Appreciate the inverse relationship between load and time under tension. Heavy loading (like one rep for max effort) does wonders for improving the nervous system. But the time under tension is insufficient to stimulate muscle growth. Lighter loading (like something you can handle for 8 to 12 reps) provides plenty of time under tension, but the load often isn’t heavy enough to really cause the nervous system adaptations and muscle tearing and rebuilding process that causes optimal total body neuromuscular efficiency.

That’s why the magical formula for actually increasing YOU is to achieve between 10 and 20 total reps, usually over 3 to 5 sets of somewhere around 80 to 85% of your 1-rep max.

Consideration 2 – REST:

Also – you definitely need to recover better. Ensure at least 2 days of recover from any intense leg or back work prior to your regular dead lifting day. Really, recovery is everything. You will often have to temporarily let go of some other physical pursuit or interest in order to truly make room for optimal recovery.

Consideration 3 – ACCESSORY EXERCISES:

Should include chin-ups, row variations, and squats. Some big lifters swear by glute-ham raises but I’ve never done them. Getting your lats and hips strong is key. But again, rest from these at least 2 days prior to dead lift day. You need to squat, but not so intensely that it interferes with recovery for dead lift day.

Consideration 4 – FOCUS YOUR EFFORTS:

This goes along with recovering better (above). But simply cool it with conditioning. I’m not saying to be lazy or go Sumo. But you MUST understand that exercising for specific, focused performance is not the same as exercise for what our culture is obsessed with – namely aerobic fitness and weight loss. Exercise for the sake of creating energy balance (burning calories) is a time-consuming, labor intensive, and recovery hindering endeavor. Get leaner by adding muscle to your frame and eating relatively clean, not through burning calories through “cardio.”

It’s such a basic idea, but one I see poorly handled quite often. A focus on strength means that you will save the “leaning out” or weight loss or what-have-you for another time after you are a dead lift beast. Eat like a human that needs to support intense exercise and growth. Not like a skiddish bird that runs on fear.

Consideration 5 – Learn from those before you:

I had my first go-round with dead lifts at the age of about 24 right after graduating from college. That ended after five (or so) months when I experienced a fairly significant lower back strain (and likely disc herniation) while trying to dead lift 365 pounds.

It was a while before I went at it again. By 30 years of age I could pull 405 fairly easily but I was focused on squatting very heavy and for high reps. At the age of 34, after a two year dead lift sabbatical and no preparation, I threw 405 on the bar and hurt my back severely. About 6 months after that I decided to build back the correctly, as if I were training a client. 405 came back easily and then increased to about 455. At the age of 35, after a long cycle of regular heavy training, I was able to eek out 500 lbs for one rep.

At the age of 36 I tore my right pectoral muscle and then about 9 months after that broke my left hand. I was able to keep my hips and core strong through an emphasis on squat variations. By my 37th birthday I was back to dead lifting around 475 for reps. I once got 500 for 5 reps.

Then…THEN…something profound happened. I started to actually listen to someone else. My friend Matt Hunter said I still was not recovering well enough. He said I should practice more single reps, even with relatively less weight, and build it up. He said I should cycle intensity rather than pushing my limit with 4 heavy sets of 3 to 5 reps each and every week. So, at his advice, when I was due to push some jumps in loading, I backed off the intensity of sprint/plyo training. I quit squatting intensely, made squats into a DL accessory rather than a main event. I squatted hard but not like I prefer to be ground into the floor.

I committed to eating a lot. I thought this may cause some weight gain and I would have to accept at least a little softer middle. But I gained only around 5 pounds and noticed no real difference for better or worse in my abs. So 10 weeks before hitting my 600 pound goal, dead lift days looked something like this (not including warm-up sets):

Week 1: Four sets of 500 X 5
Week 2: 500 X 3, 535 X 1, 535 X 1, 555 X 1
Week 3: 500 X 5, 535 X 3, 555 X 1, 555 X 1
Week 4: 500 X 5, 535 X 1, 555 X 1, 565 X 1
Then I would take a week of lighter work such as 4 X 5 with 315, or light single leg dead lifts. Scale the numbers down by 100 or 200 pounds if you need to.

At one point I hit 565 X 2 and 585 X 1, took a de-load week, then gradually pushed it back up over four weeks in the above manner.

Did I mention that this requires patience and a lot of awfully hard work?

On PR day I wore my PR shirt and after warming up pulled 500 X 1, 535 X 1, 565 X 1, put a good song on and pulled 600.

[Below image is precisely how you feel after a quality dead lift session.]

So, it basically took me 15 years to dead lift 600 pounds. Slow. Bone headed. Of course, you can quicken things up by maybe a decade. Or don’t learn from my mistakes, and plow your own slow, injury laden, boneheaded road to a big dead lift or injury.

Below is a template for an athletes who can dead lift around 340 and wants to get to 405 pounds.
That seems like a common sticking point for many folks. If your goal is 315 pounds, shift all the numbers down about 90 pounds. The outline has you dead lifting heavy only once per week. One other day of the week, be sure to get
1. 2 to 4 sets of moderately (but not too intense) squats and a powerful hinge move like dumbbell clean and presses, hang cleans, or simply lighter weight deadlifts with emphasis on speed of pulling off the ground.
2. Some mmoderately light single leg deadlifts (using dumbbells or kettlebells) in order to provide more of a stability challenge and iron out any asymmetries in the legs and core.
 Consideration 6 – A Templates
Week 1: Four sets of 300 X 5 (not including warm up sets)
Week 2: 300 X 5, 310 X 3, 325 X 1, 325 X 1
Week 3: 300 X 5, 315 X 3, 335 X 1, 335 X 1 (yes you are practicing singles even though you could probably single rep a little more).
Week 4: 300 X 3, 325 X 1, 335 X 1, 345 X 1
Week 5: 300X5, 320 X 5, 320 X 5, 320X 5
Week 6: 300x 5, 330 x 3, 330 x 3, 330 X 3
Week 7: 300 X 5, 330 X 3, 340 X 1, 340 X 1
Week 8: 315 X 3, 330 X 3, 345 X 1, 355 X 1
Week 9: 275 four sets of 5 (de-load)
Week 10: 315 X 5, 335X5, 345 X 3, 355 X 1
Week 11: 315 X 5, 335 X 3, 355 X 2 , 365 X 1
Week 12: 315 X 5, 335 X 3, 355 X 3, 355 X 3
Week 13: 315 X 3, 335 X 1, 355 X 1, 375 X 1
Week 14: 315 X 5, 335 X 3, 350 X 3, 360 X 3
Week 15: 315 X 5, 345 X 3, 355X 3, 365 X 3
Weeks 16 315 X 3, 345 X 1, 365 X 1, 385 X 1
After all of this, 405 X 1 should be relatively GUARANTEED!
Following dead lift cycles, I usually recommend taking a short time off deadlifts, or a cycle of focusing on some other activity or lift while maintaining a respectable amount of what you gained in the deadlift cycle. Then, come back to another dead lift cycle…shooting for MORE.

Pride goes before the fall

There are six things the physical therapist hates,

seven that are detestable to him:
inflexible hips,
       worn out shoes,

a recliner chair that encourages kyphotic posture,
       a forward head with no recourse

a person with poor balance
          yet goes to the gym and sits on machines.


Humans are generally poor at risk assessment. We tend to over emphasize areas with strong emotional connection whether or not harm is probable. For example, 30,000 Americans die per year in car accidents. But we fear shark attacks. The early death rate and costs associated with metabolic diseases (obesity, high blood pressure, and diabetes) are astronomical, with many of the causes being modifiable behaviors. But we fret about the opposing political party “taking over” healthcare.  Falls are the most common cause of visits to the emergency room. The 8 million fall-related visits per year compromise 1/3rd of all visits to the emergency room. Yet we spend hours debating whether we should be drinking coffee or tea.

Here are a few more statistics:

Every year there are 115 falls per 1000 adults over the age of 65 (and these are only the ones reported).
Forty percent of people over age 65 fall once per year, with ten percent of those landing in the hospital. Fifty percent of those admitted to the hospital are still alive one year later.
Most falls occur in the home and in older individuals with chronic illness or failing senses.

We should think more about having a resilient body. We should remember that age-related decline is inevitable. Avoiding falls is not only an issue of being careful. Ironically, there is good evidence that being too careful makes us more likely to become frail and suffer a severe fall-related injury.

As we age, we typically move less. A little at a time, over many seasons, we lose flexibility, strength, and sense of balance. We get banged up and the old injuries catch up with us. We usually do not think about losing our movement quality until very late in the game. Improving our ability to move well should be a top priority. What are the best ways to recoup what we can, and make our bodies more resilient for the inevitable fall?down stairs

Preparation is good. But I want you to exercise smarter. Here are the top 5 concerns for fall prevention and body maintenance.

  1. Make it happen.  Do something. The most commonly cited barriers to maintaining a regular exercise program is time and cost. But you’re not going to use those excuses, because this does not require a lot of time or special equipment! But it does require consistent effort and a willingness to be uncomfortable. So write 15 or 30-minutes into your schedule and treat it like an important meeting that your life depends on.
  2. Get off the exercise machines. Most gyms are packed full of various machines that have you sitting and guiding the movement for you. There is a time for these. But the far majority of us sit for too long, too often. Driving to the gym to sit on various exercise contraptions seems quite misguided, especially in light of the typical excuses (time and cost) for not exercising. Instead, try to perform exercises and activities that demand that you control the movement. Start with small movements and light resistance, and progress gradually. A little resistance and gravity is all it takes! We have all the gizmos and gadgets and apps, but at the end of the day we’re always still dealing with gravity, load, distance and time. You truly need knowledge more than fancy gadgets!
  3. Limit “dumb” exercise. By dumb exercise, I’m referring to activities that do not demand your attention and focus. Dumb exercise is sitting on a recumbent bike while reading a magazine, or using an elliptical trainer for an hour while watching television. These activities do have some benefit to our cardiovascular system, but they are limited in the extent that they help us train our balance sense, reactive abilities, strength and range of motion required in everyday living. So instead of 40 minutes churning away on an elliptical trainer, try 20 minutes with 20 more of total body strengthening and balance exercise. Sign up for yoga, tai chi, or a recreational sport or activity that demands body control, balance, and careful attention to learning something new.
  4. Don’t hide from your problems. If you are strong and stiff, you may want to find a safe and effective stretching program. If you are flexible and thin but frail, hit the weights or at least bodyweight calisthenics. If you have shoulder, back, knee or foot pain, don’t push through. But don’t quit! Find a professional who can evaluate and guide you through the problems before they get worse, limiting your function even more.
  5. Try this balance “sampler”. Here are a few of our favorite simple but effective beginner exercises that will help improve range of motion, balance, and functional strength. I did these in my home in order to show that they do not require a lot of equipment!


“Step-to balance” Stand a few feet from a wall or counter top, feet side by side. Practice stepping out and stopping, maintaining your balance on one leg. Try to stay tall and keep your hands near a wall or counter-top to “spot” yourself. Step back, feet together, then step out with the other foot. Repeat 5 to 10 repetitions stepping out onto each leg. IMG_9452









March march down and back near a wall our counter top, focus on driving one leg high and keeping the “down leg” hip straight and heel pressed into the ground. Pause with each step, front knee up and back heel down. When this is easy, try marching backwards or while holding some weight in each hand.IMG_9449








Nose Lean IMG_9446 Balance on one foot, approximately 8″ from a wall. Stay tall but lean your nose out toward the wall. Spot yourself with your hands near but not touching the wall. Reach your nose “out and up” but don’t face-plant! Return to tall standing on one leg. Do 5 to 10 repetitions on each leg. IMG_9448








Single leg hip hingeIMG_9439IMG_9440 Stand on one leg near a bench or chair. Stay on one leg as you push both hips back, folding at the waist but not rounding our back, to lightly touch the surface in front of you, then return to the tall posture (still on one leg). Progress this exercise by holding a light resistance in your hands to touch the surface in front of you, or reach to a lower target such as an 8″ step.





Side step over and under fence Step sideways down a hallway or along a countertop (somewhere that you can touch to lightly spot yourself from falling). As you step sideways, imagine that you literally have to pick up both feet over a fence, then step sideways while ducking under a fence. With each step you go over the fence, then the next step duck under the fence. Repeat this 5 to 10 times stepping to the right, then back to the left.

Poor balance and falling are usually not something that just happen, but comes from unaddressed injuries and years of accumulated loss of flexibility, strength, body awareness. So do not neglect the maintenance and repair of your body. Get to it. Feel free to email me if you have any questions or suggestions.





Fall Risk Awareness and Safety Precautions Taken by Older Community-Dwelling Women and Men: A Qualitative Study Using Focus Group Discussions/core/jig/1.14.8/js/jig.min.js



National Council on Aging Fall Prevention Facts



Falls in the Elderly by American Family Physicians


Falls among Adult Patients Hospitalized in the United States: Prevalence and Trends