Friday, August 23, 2013

Beginning Weight Training - Setting Up the Program, (Part I) - By Jay Trigg

One of the most frequently asked questions in the gym, internet training Q&A’s, and magazine articles is: "How does one set up a training program if one has never lifted weights before? How can I ensure that I will utilize the correct exercises and intensity when I train?" While the question seems easy enough to answer, many great minds in the "weight training world" have pondered this question at great length, and have come up with many different answers to the question. There are as many different answers as there are styles of training. Depending on who one asks, the initial routine can take on many forms and functions. A beginning trainer working with Dr. Leistner would certainly train differently than one working with Brooks Kubik. And Bob Whelan might train a new person much differently in some respects than Steve Baldwin or Andrea Rippe. Yet, undoubtedly, all trainees would stand the same chance of success in making the desired physical and mental changes no matter which of the above trained them. All of the above have proven themselves to be effective trainers and are well educated in the field of exercise and its application. So, it isn’t a particular style of training that is necessarily more effective, but rather it is the construct and application of a training regimen that tends to prove successful over time.


Beginning trainees come in all sizes and shapes. From 17-year-old high school athletes needing some weight and strength to make the varsity squad, to guys and gals in their mid-20’s who want to "get buff". 40-year-old executives who want to lose that "executive spread", as well as improve their health and self-image, all the way to 50-year-old women who want to attack the aging process before it attacks them.

The first perspective is to address your (and my) attitude towards the trainee. Often we enter a relationship with a "newbie" somewhat prejudiced to their individual goals and desires. If my number one goal is to press a water filled keg overhead with one hand, while closing the Captains of Crush #4 gripper in the other hand, and my trainee wants to "look good on the beach this summer", my attitude can get in the way of his training. While his goal is not my goal (or at least my primary goal, now that I am married), his goal is not a bad one. What he is saying is "I want to have a body that is healthy, muscular, and fit". Sounds like my goal, as well. Only my priorities are different in achieving that goal. So if we assume that all trainees, or serious ones anyway, are looking to improve themselves physically we should be all right. We just have to understand that their goals and aspirations may be different from ours in the physical realm.

The second perspective is to look at the needs, limitations, and abilities of the trainee. Generic training advice is often the worst training advice. It fails to address specific needs that the trainee may have. With a new trainee, it is best to first evaluate the limitations they may have. It is not safe to assume that everyone can safely squat, especially on the first day. Nor is it safe to assume that anyone can do barbell curls, or even leg extensions. The better thing to do is to speak at length with the trainee about specific physical problems and concerns they may have. Obvious is questions about injuries and surgeries. Not so obvious may be discomfort in exercises done prone, exercises requiring a strong grip (rows, pulldowns) or exercises that require a rotation around a joint that is unusual for the trainee (grabbing the bar on squats for example). You don’t have to be a physiological whiz to figure these things out, either. Generally the client can inform you of specific problems they may have. You may also find out that with this knowledge you can easily adjust exercises, via positioning or performance, to safe and effective means.

It is also good to walk the client through every machine and exercise you have available to them. While this isn’t an "official workout", I treat it as one. I have the client warm up on a Schwinn Aerodyne for 10 minutes, do some light stretching, and we then use every machine and implement available. Utilizing light weights and low repetitions, we put each move through its full ROM, checking for constant feedback from the trainee. "Does this feel okay?" "Any pain or weird catches?" "How does that weight feel? Heavy, medium, or light? If I told you to do 15, could you do it easily or not at all?" By doing this we are insuring several things:
    a. The trainee knows we are concerned for their safety and comfort. They can be told that proper exercise will often be uncomfortable and even somewhat painful at times, but as well should know it will never be unsafe or prone to injury, and that the exercise chosen will be appropriate for their physical abilities and limitations.

    b. That we know the trainees state of mind. Women are often intimidated about entering a "man’s realm", especially if the other females they see present are fit and powerful. Men are often intimidated because they feel they are "less masculine" because they haven’t reached or maintained a state of physical fitness. Others, particularly young males, are more interested in doing a lot of bench presses soon, rather than developing a whole body. While some of these can be somewhat frustrating to deal with at times, it is our responsibility to educate and motivate the trainee. And this situation may be our first real look at how they view themselves, effort, and exercise.

    c. That the trainee has some initial familiarity with the machine, implements, and exercises they will be using. Even if you never plan on using a leg extension with a trainee, knowing that they can use it and use it properly is insurance for the day they come in to train with a cast around an ankle. You also begin to get a look at some of the problems and technique issues you and the trainee will soon be facing in the weight room. Some clients move to fast, some let the weight stack fall too quickly banging the stack. Others can’t get the hang of breathing correctly, others are too cautious, and still others will get into orthopedicaly suicidal positions the moment you blink your eyes. It is better to find this out early and with minimally challenging weights, than to suddenly wake up to the fact that your trainee is inhaling as he comes up from the bottom of a heavy squat.

    d. The initial questions get answered quickly and appropriately. For example, if you don’t allow trainees to use weight belts or straps, this is the time to address this and why you don’t recommend them. If your philosophy is "sets x reps" on free weights and "’go til ya’ puke" on machines, now is the time to explain why you make that distinction and how it applies to the trainee. If you like "push - pull", or "duo-poly-contractile" explain to the client why that is good, and how it works. Also, this is the best time to explain to and show what muscle groups each exercise is working. Explain how the delts and triceps get a workout in the overhead press (and show them THEIR delts and triceps, not yours). Explain how the row affects lats, rear delts, and biceps. Give them enough gross anatomy so that they can make sense of what the exercises are for, and why in the world a stiff leg deadlift is a hamstring exercise, not an arm exercise.
This is the conclusion of Part I of this series. Part II will address exercise selection, special needs, and individualizing a "cookie cutter" routine (after all, you only got so much equipment, right?)


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Wednesday, August 14, 2013

IN SERVICE: PERVIS An Intense Summer of Strength Work Has Made Him a Gym-Dandy Player - Peter May


Boston Globe (Sports), Posted on NaturalStrength.com on January 18, 2000


November 25, 1997

There's a revealing sign above the entrance to Whelan Strength Training in Washington, D.C.: "If you train here,...you are not normal."

Call up the office and you hear an ominous message about commando-tough training, high-intensity stuff clearly not for the faint of heart or, for that matter, for the non-zealot.

Sounds like the perfect place for Pervis Ellison, huh? It was into this fanatical world that Ellison was thrust last summer, and things haven't quite been the same since. He is bigger, stronger, healthier, and actually playing regularly. The Celtics are reaping rewards after three years of on-again, off-again delays, malfunctions, and general chaos.

The Celtics sent Ellison to Whelan's with a simple instruction: it's time. If Ellison was ever going to be a Rick Pitino Celtic, he had to add weight, build muscle, and be ready to work as he never had worked before.

Bob Whelan oversees the shop that bears his name. He had heard all about Ellison and, as he put it yesterday, "I wasn't overly optimistic." His gym is for the maniacal and fanatical. Ellison didn't seem to be either.

But after nine weeks of brutally intensive workouts in which Ellison gained strength and 20 pounds, the results are starting to show.

Ellison is playing more confidently and, for the first time in years, he is pain free. His summer of hell under Whelan's whip and watch has turned into an autumn of emancipation and rebirth.

"It was a lot of hard work," Ellison said. "But I had tried so many different things that I thought this might help. And it has. For me, this is almost like starting over. I'm 30, but it's like for the last three or four years, I haven't really played basketball."

The reclamation of Ellison has been arguably Pitino's master coup. Any team in the league could have had him over the summer for nothing. Pitino wanted wall busters on his team. Ellison was not viewed as such.

In July, the Celtics' new strength and conditioning coach, Shaun Brown, brought Ellison over to Whelan's place, which sits across from MCI Arena in downtown Washington. Whelan, who grew up in Sherborn and is a diehard Celtics fan, was suspicious from the start.

"Pervis brought his agent along and I think he was a little nervous about the whole thing. I kind of babied him in that first meeting." Whelan said, "Then, after that, I hammered him. I absolutely killed him. I have this plastic bucket which almost everyone has used after one of my workouts. Pervis used it more than once."

Ellison had two one-hour sessions a week. Lest you think that is not a lot of work, Whelan says, think again.

"It takes most people who are in great shape three weeks even to adjust to my one-hour workout," he said. "You just go from machine to machine with time maybe to breathe and have a small cup of water. By the end of the hour, you've had enough.

"It's none of this toning, body-sculpting, shaping, male-estrogen, '90s, unisex crap." Whelan added, "It's an all-out, kick-ass workout. Blood and guts."

Whelan put Ellison on a diet, which included two cans of tuna fish a day. There were also two running sessions a week around the outdoor track at Catholic University, where Whelan was once the strength and conditioning coach. Those were drills designed by Brown. Inside the gym was Whelan's exclusive domain.

"Bob is crazy," Ellison laughed. "He's this military guy, and if you see any of those military movies like 'G.I. Jane,' those are the kinds of things he does. He had me walking around (in the summer DC heat) with a 150-pound bag of sand."

And that came AFTER the workout!!

"I have the bags all outside in an alley," Whelan said. "I call it Sandbag Alley. There are bags ranging from 50 pounds to 300 pounds. You have to carry them over a course that's about 250 feet long. And remember, this was outside in the Washington summer heat. It's brutal."
Whelan said Ellison was an excellent student. He hadn't had a name athlete come through his door before. But Brown had read about Whelan in a fitness magazine and the gym was near Ellison's summer home. Why not?

"I had heard and read that Pervis didn't work hard, but that was not the case with me," Whelan said. "Pervis worked his butt off. You have to. And we didn't cut him any slack with his knees, either. We told him to suck it up and then maybe he could be like Nolan Ryan and do some Advil commercials."

All of this would be immaterial, of course, if Ellison's basketball performance this season had been anything similar to the last few years. This is his fourth season with the Celtics and the first time he hasn't been hurt. There were the knees the first two years and then last year a shattered foot after a table fell on it. He played only six games.

There was a legion of skeptics, and Pitino was among them. During the summer, he said he looked Ellison in the eyes and said, "I just want to know if you want to play and are willing to pay the price. Because if you aren't, you can't play for me."

Now, Ellison has not only has paid the price, he has morphed from the poster boy for sloth and indifference into something approaching a folk hero last seen in the person of Marty Conlon. He doesn't mind throwing his new weight around. He is making good use of his fouls, which, alas, he still manages to accumulate with regularity. And he has made two huge blocks in each of the last two games that were result-determining plays.

How soon before we hear a Per-vis, Per-vis chant?

"When I start seeing some signs, then I'll know," Ellison said. "The fans want a winning team and they appreciate it when you put it on the line. They see you put the effort out and they appreciate that."

What we all know from the last four or five years is that Ellison has a well rounded, versatile game that can look utterly seamless when he's playing with confidence. There have been cameos in Boston, but mostly there have been too many DNPs, almost all because of injuries.

His main benefit now is defense and shot-blocking. His offense is basically stick-backs. Pitino is hoping to get 20-plus minutes a game, and the rest of the package, from Ellison.

"Before, when Pervis would get a pass, he would look all around for someone to pass to, including the coaches," Pitino said. "Now he's taking that shot. He's coming around. We thought he would and we are very excited about that progress because that's going to mean a lot for us."

Whelan thinks he has an explanation for the turnaround.

"He was drafted by Sacramento and they stunk. He came here [Washington] and they stunk. He went to Boston and they stunk. He had always been on bad teams," Whelan said. "It's different now. From what I can see, this is an organization committed to winning and keeping guys fit."

And for the first time in years, Ellison not only wants to be a part of something special, he actually can be a part of it. You wouldn't want all that abuse over the summer to have been for naught, now?


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Linda Jo Belsito Brings Home The Gold!

Video from Italy MWG 2013  Linda Jo: sets 10 MWG records and brings home the GOLD!!!!

Send a "Congrats email" to LJ: ljbbpowerof2@aol.com


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Thursday, August 1, 2013

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Bob Whelan

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