Sunday, September 30, 2012

If you live in the Treasure Coast area of Florida - You can now be coached by Bob Whelan

Please visit and call 561-283 7309

Physical Culture
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Friday, September 28, 2012

A Year of Training at WST - By Michael Rhine

Originally posted on on February 15, 2003

Bob, I wanted to write an E-mail thanking you for the last year at Whelan Strength Training.

As you know, I started off tipping the scales at a blob-like 320 pounds. I came to you wanting to lose fat and gain muscle. (Like a lot of people, I guess.) That was in early February of 2002, and since that time...sticking to your advice...I have dropped to a low weight of 275.

From where I started, dropping 45 pounds might not seem like much. Until I add that I have roughly doubled (or more) the poundage of all of my core exercises. So much for the "you can't lose fat and gain muscle at the same time" bit, right?

I can remember struggling to pump out a few reps at 180 pounds on the Hammer Strength Chest Press. At my last workout I did reps at 300 pounds for two sets.

I can remember having 0 -- yes, NOTHING -- on the Tru-Squat and not being able to finish my sets. My last workout was at 140 pounds, and I have gone as high as 165.

I can remember having 180 pounds on the Hammer Strength Deadlift. As a birthday "accomplishment", my last workout I got through 5 reps with 500 pounds loaded up. (I didn't think I was going to make it on that last rep, the encouragement you provide is key!)

I have learned a few important lessons in the time I have been working with you, Bob.

You know I keep records of my workout and non-workout I feel, how much energy I have, how I am eating, my sleep hours, my mental state, and so on. Well, looking back over a year's worth, some clear patterns emerge. Here are four of the most important:

1. What I eat the day before my workout plays a huge role in my energy and strength levels. Keeping a log -- including energy and strength levels -- it becomes very easy to see what is working and what is not. If I didn't keep track of it, a low energy level might seem like "chance" or "just a fluke" instead of something I have done to myself, can take responsibility for, and can change.

2. I start thinking about my best workouts days ahead of time. I think about how I can't wait to rumble down the stairs of WST again, how strong I will feel as I get there, how every lift makes me feel stronger and more energetic, and how easy it will be and how great it will feel to break my records from the week before.

3. When I am lifting, it is important to "be here now." In other words, when it comes time to put my hands on the bar and lift a weight, it needs to be the only thing on my mind. Not the next set, or the next minute, or walking out the door. Think of a man in a life-or-death situation who has to act -- and act decisively -- in a 100% congruent manner to even have a chance of survival. That is the attitude that accompanies my best lifts. Literally nothing else exists for me at that time other than the weight and my will to overcome it.

4. There are moments in every workout where character is forged. Those moments where I think there is no strength left to do another rep, and still push through one more. Or when I do not feel good, am tired, or would rather be somewhere else...and still get through a workout and put every ounce of energy into it. In the beginning, there were many more "giving up" moments than there were "pushing through it" moments. And one of the most valuable things I have received in my time at WST is that pushing through pain, fatigue, or other distractions has become the norm. The kicker is, that benefit spreads throughout my entire life. Not just in the weight room.

Thanks for everything Bob. And here's looking at another year of you kicking my ass, and me loving it.

Michael Rhine Reston, VA

P.S. When I started at WST, I was wearing XXL or XXXL shirts. When clothes shopping, the thing I had to look out for was whether the shirt was big enough to accommodate my stomach. Nowadays, I still wear XXLs. But the problem is no longer my stomach. The shirts I used to wear when I was 320 -- and many XXL shirts now -- are loose around my stomach but look like I am wearing spandex on my shoulders and arms. Around the holidays, I even split the sleeve of what had been one of my favorites shirts because of how much muscle I have gained in my upper body. This is a good problem to have, I think. :-)

Physical Culture
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Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Bench Press Tips - CB Athletic Consulting

Some good information on the Bench Press. Click Here

Physical Culture
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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Senior Resistance Training - By Jim Bryan

Originally posted on on March 19, 2003

1. Determine any "Range Of Motion" (ROM) problems or limitations.

2. Determine any contraindicated exercises or movements.

3. Determine Max Heart rate and monitor closely.

4. Never hold breath while training! Breath at a comfortable pace.

5. Always warm up prior to resistance training.

6. Don't train on an "empty stomach" Eat a couple of hours prior to training.

7. Never grip equipment tightly while exercising. This can raise blood pressure.

8. Always maintain control of exercise equipment. Never heave, throw, or drop equipment during exercise. Proper raising and lowering is important! Form is Function. If the weight stack is banging your not in control!

9. Use a weight you can comfortably handle for 10 ---15 repetitions. When that weight gets easy…….raise the weight a little next workout.

10. Work all major muscle groups from largest to smallest.

11. As your ability increases, decrease rest periods.

12. Once in an exercise position, don't move or "fidget around" to gain leverage advantage. Concentrate on the exercise and do it properly. Have trainer explain proper "Free weight" movements.

13. If an Exercise Machine has a "seat belt" Use it it's there for your protection.

14. Drink plenty of water as you workout. Don't withhold water on purpose!

15. If you become dizzy during a workout quit training! Notify Trainer or Gym personnel.

16. Gradually increase intensity!

17. Re read number four.

18. Be very careful on lockout during pressing or pushing movements.

19. Seniors should be able to workout safely and without fear by paying close attention to how they feel during and after exercise.

20. Final note: Seniors shouldn't feel bad about feeling "singled out." These guidelines apply to all.


Train smart-Train safe---Train on a regular basis

Physical Culture
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Monday, September 24, 2012

The Foundation of The HIT Strength System - By NSPA Staff

Originally posted on on May 20, 2003

The foundation of the High Intensity Strength Training System is the "perfect repetition". The HIT "slow controlled rep" will minimize momentum and maximize muscle tension, which in turn will produce optimal strength gains throughout the entire strength curve for the targeted (primary) muscle(s) performing the lift. In our opinion, the rep is the single most important component of any strength training system and is the most overlooked by most clients and coaches. If we were to randomly pick one hundred general weight lifters any where in the country and ask them to describe the "perfect rep" we would receive 100 different explanations. Most of them would have no specific guidelines or requirements and would explain that they really never gave it much thought or attention. The point is that most trainers do not have specific guidelines that describe the difference between a good rep and a bad rep, let alone the "perfect rep". In addition, all non-HIT trainers tend to focus more on how much weight is lifted regardless of form and good technique.

The HIT strength training system has been recognized as the only strength system that clearly defines the difference between a good rep and a bad rep. The HIT strength system has specific guidelines for performing the "perfect rep" in order to maximum strength results and does not except anything less. In fact, the HIT "perfect rep" protocol is supported by scientific muscle physiology principles as well as field-testing by thousands of successful clients over the last three decades. Learning how to perform the "perfect rep" is challenging and takes a great deal of discipline, concentration and practice. Our experience is that once the clients allow themselves to change their lifting style and try the HIT "perfect rep" they will never go back to their old lifting habits and techniques.

Once the client masters the HIT "perfect rep" they will feel the difference between their old technique and the new technique. In fact, when the client performs the "perfect rep" they will experience each rep becoming more difficult and much harder which indicates greater muscle fiber involvement (recruitment). The slow controlled rep will challenge the client's ability to not cheat and maintain perfect form. Eventually, the client will perform sets to MMF with perfect rep form. Our clients always tell us they feel this burning sensation deep into the "bone" and neurologically reach a momentary quivering and shaking. This type of physiological response maximizes muscle fiber recruitment, and dramatically increases strength. Performing the "perfect rep" and reaching the deepest inroads into the muscle during both the positive and negative aspects of the lift can only maximally experience if the client has the drive and ability to push himself to that level of intensity. The HIT system is only as effective as the effort and level of intensity put into each set and is directly related to the client's tolerance for muscular discomfort. In addition, the HIT system emphasizes the negative (lower the weight) aspect of the lift where greater muscle degradation (breakdown) can be achieved. Many strength systems do not emphasis the negative aspect of the lift and this is a huge mistake when trying to achieve maximum strength gains.

It is common for a client to go through a learning curve while learning to perform perfect reps and perfect sets to MMF. In fact, some clients with weight lifting experience will push themselves to the point of nausea (oxygen debt) during their first few HIT workouts. This response is a little different than what they are used to, but is normal for someone learning HIT for the first time. It is the body's way of responding to high intensity anaerobic work with minimum recovery. The body will adapt (GAS: general adaptation syndrome) to the physical stress with positive strength gains, greater recovery capabilities and increase anaerobic threshold. Eventually, the client will learn to fully appreciate that they are only as strong as the last "perfect rep" to absolute momentary muscular failure (MMF). The client will understand why the HIT strength system requires them to exceed their past reference for muscular discomfort while taking their strength training to another level. The HIT system will empower the client to reach their peak physical potential.

Executing the "Perfect Rep" 1) Once the client is in proper body alignment begin moving the weight with a slow and controlled concentric (positive) contraction using only the targeted (primary) muscle(s). The goal is to reach the end of the full range of motion of the targeted muscle(s) within 2 to 3 seconds.

2) At the end of the positive phase the targeted muscle(s) must perform a distinct pause according to the following types of movements:

"Double jointed pull movements - perform a distinct "isometric" squeeze for ? to 1 full second and the client should focus on increasing the tension of the targeted muscle(s) while performing the "isometric" squeeze.

"Double jointed push movements- perform a distinct pause at full extension while keeping muscle tension and avoiding the joint from locking out.

"All single isolation movements - perform a distinct pause for 1/2 to 1 full second at full range of motion.

The distinct pause will show complete control of weight and will ensure maximum fiber recruitment through the full range of motion.

3) Do not allow the weight to drift backwards into the eccentric (negative), not even 1/8 of an inch! If the weight drifts or travels back into the negative phase prematurely, then the weight was too heavy or there was too much momentum during the positive contraction phase or the client may not have focused 100% on isometrically squeezing or pausing the targeted muscle(s) at full contraction.

4) After the distinct pause at the end of the positive phase of the lift begin the controlled decent of the negative contraction of the rep. It takes less effort and fewer muscle fibers to lower the weight than it does to raise the weight. In fact, the negative part of the rep is approximately 40-60 percent stronger than the positive part due to increased muscular friction and not working against gravity.

5) There are two ways to increase muscle fiber recruitment during the negative part of the rep: 1) increase time of tension and or 2) add more resistance. For practical reasons we suggest slowing the negative down which will in turn increase the time of tension. The negative should take between 3 - 4 seconds.

6) During the transition from one rep to the next there should be a distinct pause while keeping the targeted muscles under constant tension. It is a common mistake not to pause during the transition from negative to positive. Many clients automatically cheat by bouncing the weight off the body or weight stack in order to perform pre-stretch recoil. This produces unnecessary momentum, which reduces muscle recruitment. It can also cause soft tissue damage (trauma) to the joint.

7) Transition from one rep to the next will take practice for some clients to perfect. The goal is to stop shy of full extension of the elbow, shoulder, or knee to avoid any reduction of muscle tension. Hold in this position for a ? to 1 second then slowly start the next contraction.

8) The client must understand that the same muscle(s) are used to raise and lower the weight. Both positive and negative phases are important for maximum strength to be achieved. However, the negative phase has the potential to create greater strength and hypertrophy.

9) Constant breathing is essential for maximum results. Breathe consistently throughout the entire set. Constant oxygen transport to the brain and heart are essential. Two methods of choice: 1) breathe out or exhale, during the positive phase and breathe in or inhale, during the negative phase or 2) constantly breathe with deep even breaths.

10) It is highly recommended for all clients to use a stopwatch when first learning how to perform the "perfect rep". Time the entire set from start to finish. This will enable the client to divide the number of reps performed by the total time of tension and then figure out the average rep speed. The goal is a minimum of 6 seconds to 8 seconds per rep.

During the "perfect rep" the joint should never be traumatized at the completion of either the positive or negative phase. Full range of motion can be achieved without hyperextension or an uncontrolled "lock-out" of the joint. If muscle tension is decreased at any point it is recommended to stop short of full range of motion. In addition, if the perfect rep is performed through the full range of motion, improved flexibility can occur in the targeted muscles.

The perfect rep protocol is used during power lifting competitions across the country. It demonstrates to the judges that the client is in complete control of the weight and that the target muscles are performing the lift without excessive momentum and bouncing the weight.

The "perfect rep" facilitates 100% accountability and reliability of strength gains throughout the full range of motion. Record only the number of perfect reps completed. Do not count reps that are not perfect HIT reps or have been assisted by a spotter during the positive phase of the lift.

Quality of the Rep

The client must understand that the quality of each rep is far more important than the quantity of weight being lifted. The HIT rep focuses on the targeted muscles versus a full body lift. The average non-HIT lifter completes a full rep in approximately 1 - 2 seconds. The HIT lifter will complete a full rep in 6 - 8 seconds. The time under tension for the HIT lifter is 3 to 4 times greater and has cumulatively greater overload through the full range of motion. This produces balanced strength within the target muscle(s) that cannot be produced if the rep is using excessive momentum which creates a muscle imbalance within the targeted muscle.

To gain maximum strength and power from the HIT system the client should never sacrifice perfect form. It is all too common to watch clients focus on how much weight they can lift using their entire body, with no concerns regarding their form or the technique used to isolate the targeted muscles of the lift. A great example of this would be the way a non-HIT lifter would perform the Olympic free weight bench press (bench). It is common to find a client perfecting the art of cheating while trying to move more weight. The focus of your clients training should be to isolate the primary muscle in the movement. Allowing your clients to cheat on a lifting movement causes the workload to be moved off the primary muscle onto surrounding muscles & joints not involved in the lift. Focus of training is paramount to muscle isolated work so that the muscle you are targeting gains maximum strength through the full range of motion.


Physical Culture
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Sunday, September 23, 2012

Keg Lifting 101 - By Dan Cenidoza

Originally posted on on May 29, 2003

Keg lifting has become a weekly event for a few of us here in the suburbs of Baltimore. No matter rain or shine, we still manage to get together on the weekends for a little strongman prep. What started out as something new has become a reason in itself to look forward to the upcoming weekend. Though the focus of this article is lifting kegs, we also include other exercises such as the farmers walk, sandbag training and soon to incorporate the truck push/pull.

It began with Dinosaur Training. Until then I hadn't considered or even thought of lifting kegs or any odd objects for the purposes of gaining strength, I figured barbells would do the job. Truth be told, I didn't quite see the value in making awkward lifts, only the potential drawbacks, which could be quite dangerous. Nevertheless, we eventually gave it a try and our training has never been the same since. In probably our sixth consecutive week, we're still discovering different techniques and new ways to lift our 15.5 gallon drum. What started as clean & presses has now taken on many variations to the original intention. Each workout we're constantly improvising, trying new techniques, new lifts and new holds. In addition to having an exhaustive total body workout, we have fun!

I've outlined a few of the lifts we've developed in our training, in no particular order. The length of a persons limbs will influence how difficult the lifts are. For example, a basket squat will be much more difficult for someone with shorter arms. Don't fret however, the harder the lift is the more satisfying it will be when you master it.

Regular grip clean and press - with the keg lying on its side, simply grab the rims nearest to you and have at it. Be careful! Cleaning the keg in this position will cause the contents to slosh towards you and if not prepared, will knock you over and maybe knock you out. This is one of the more dangerous lifts and is good to have a spotter standing behind you. To be successful in cleaning the keg, and to avoid it putting a dent in your face, you need to have strong abs and strong wrists. You may find that you have to "take it to the chin" as we say. Try a continental clean first, where you bring it to you waist in one motion and to your shoulder (chin really) on a second motion.

Mixed grip clean and press - this lift is done so in a fashion that will minimize sloshing. By gripping the keg with one hand on the bottom far side rim and the other hand on the top near side rim, while the keg is on its side, this will cause the keg to be held at an angle when it is raised overhead. In this position, it is much more manageable to clean the keg as opposed to the regular grip.

Hug clean - with the keg lying on its side, stand with it in between your legs. Reach down and bear hug it. You may need to roll it back and forth a bit to get a good hold. Once you've wrapped your arms around the keg, bring your hips down, pull it close to your body and use your leg and back power to stand upright. From this position you can walk for distance or hold for time.

Mixed grip shoulder - using the mixed grip, take the keg directly to one shoulder. Repeat for the other side. You can also do squats in this position.

Basket squats - using a regular grip, deadlift the keg, squat down and rest it on your knees/legs. Carefully position your arms under the keg so it's resting on your biceps and forearms. Stand up while holding the keg in this position. Have your partner watch your form to ensure you're not rounding your low back.

Back squats - using a regular grip, press the keg overhead and briefly rest it on the top of your head. Carefully position the keg behind your head, resting it on your traps. Now squat. To make the exercise harder, lower the keg down between your shoulder blades. Use your arm and lat strength to hold the keg in place while you squat. You'll find that you're forced to keep your torso upright, as the keg will be pulling you backwards.

These are some of my favorite exercises to do with a keg. This is by no means a complete list, I have left plenty of room for you to improvise and create your own exercises to do. Lifting various objects can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very dangerous. I wouldn't recommend this to beginners, only those who have built up a solid foundation and are used to handling heavy weights. Don't expect to be able to clean a 200 pound keg just because you can clean a 200 pound barbell though. Like anything else, start light and work your way up. The important thing is to work hard and have fun. Get a couple of your buddies to come over and just have at it. The neighbors will love you for it!

Physical Culture
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Sunday, September 2, 2012

The End of an Era - Whelan Strength Training in DC

Whelan Strength Training in Washington, DC is now closed for good after 22 great years. We had our last workouts on Friday 31 August. I am moving to South Florida, (Port St Lucie & Fort Pierce area). I kept a lot of my basic equipment and will still do a part time training business from my garage. If you live in the area and would like to be a client, give me a call. My new number is (561) 283 7309.
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