Saturday, April 29, 2023

A Few 'Old School' Success Principles - Message from Rich Sadiv

In my experiences as the head performance coach at Parisi Speed School Fair Lawn, I regularly receive questions related to my overall coaching philosophy. These discussions often gravitate around a central theme: the concept of so-called “old-school” training methodology in a modern setting. 

This approach can be jarring for athletes at first, as they aren’t always used to these enduring principles – usually through some lack of prior exposure. The reality is that many coaches subscribe to a fully modernized training mentality, implementing various trends and bodies of research as they emerge. While aspects of this approach are inevitably important, I also strongly believe in structuring training on timeless fundamentals related to both the training itself and the necessary behavioral adaptations required to maximize output. 

In this sense, the “old-school” term really isn’t necessary; quality training is quality training, and throughout the years, that has boiled down to time-tested values inextricably tied to competitive success. 

One of these values is adherence, which is sometimes that is easier said than done. That said, regardless of your sport or goal, you should be firmly committed to your purpose and beliefs – and compromise will actually come naturally. Trust me; as you probably already realize, there are a lot of people out there trying to make you do something you don’t want to do. A lot of times, these people are your friends – not really sure how. But regardless, you should approach these situations prepared to make necessary sacrifices to bolster your ability to achieve long-term success and balance. 

Adherence is a value I not only instill in my athletes – but practice daily in my own life. For instance, I stopped drinking alcohol 35 years ago – not a drop – and I felt it would be better to have clearly defined boundaries and eliminate any grey areas. I felt it was better to go all or, in his case, nothing. The strategy has proven to be very effective for me – not just with drinking, but with a lot of things I have either eliminated from my life or, on the flip side, that I have gone all in on. People would almost take it personally that I wouldn’t take a drink, almost get angry with me. I would finally end up saying, “ I don’t tell you not to drink, so I would appreciate you not telling me to drink.” I think the message has gotten across as people in my inner circle stopped being so persistent.

Another so-called “old-school” fundamental is routine. Through the years, I’ve developed a lot of positive routines; my most beneficial is getting up way earlier than I need to. What I found is it’s the only way to truly control time. Once you step out of your front door and start your day, you are at the beck and call of what the day brings. My day starts off at 3:00 AM with a large black cup of coffee. It’s just me in my rocking chair and my thoughts. No emails, no voicemails, no one looking for me. It gives me a great opportunity to review the past day, plan the current day, and sight my mind's eye on the future. 

Timeliness is also crucial in this regard. I cannot stand tardiness; it’s a quick path to bad habits and complacency, and I actively work to eliminate such tendencies in those I train. You could argue that all other training aspects revolve around being on time.

By fostering and developing such foundational values, athletes are better equipped to turn off the outside world, properly focus on their goals, and proactively put the necessary steps and training approaches in motion. These are facts that even many modernized, supposedly “new-school” methods actively put in motion – even if they aren’t fully aware of it. In almost all cases, success cannot advance beyond flash-in-the-pan unless these crucial commitments are made early and often. 

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Saturday, April 15, 2023

Forty-Six in Six Minutes - By Jim Duggan

Four years ago, on April 6, 2019, the Iron Game lost one of its finest people, with the passing of Dr. Ken Leistner.  Quite often, when we lose someone special, the years that pass seem to play tricks on our sense of time.  There are times when it seems like only yesterday when we received the sad news.  Other times, is seems like it happened decades ago.  Yet four years is not a long period of time.  I think that the pandemic which began a year later kind of changed the way we all deal with the passage of time.  

     This year, perhaps due to the lifting of restrictions brought on by the covid pandemic, Kathy Leistner decided to hold a special challenge in an effort to honor the memory of one of the great figures in the world of strength, and additionally to raise money for the Dr. Ken Leistner Memorial Scholarship at Logan University.  The challenge was called “46 in 6 Minutes,” and was developed by Kathy along with Steve Weiner.  The idea was pretty simple: 46 reps of Trap Bar Deadlifts ( with bodyweight) to be completed within 6 minutes.  “46” comes from the date of Dr. Ken’s passing ( 4/6) and the challenge was open from the beginning of the month until Sunday, April 9.  

     The idea of performing 46 reps in the trap-bar deadlift in less than six minutes is something that Dr. Ken would have wholeheartedly endorsed.  High repetition deadlifts were something that was foreign to me until I joined Iron Island Gym in the Winter of 1992.  As a competitive powerlifter, anything over 5 repetitions was considered “high reps.”  It did not take long for me to realize that I was wrong.  Wrong in my idea of what constituted high reps, and very wrong in not realizing the benefits of high rep Deadlifts and Squats.  The popular saying “Live and learn” definitely applied to me because I soon learned to embrace the idea of training in a high-intensity fashion.  It certainly helped to improve my powerlifting, as well as my overall strength and conditioning.  And, of course, meeting and training with Drew Israel and Bob Whelan and reading The Steel Tip and Hardgainer magazine,  certainly helped win me over to the idea of high reps on the basic movements.  

     Even though it’s been more than thirty years since I first trained at Iron Island, I still like to use high reps for my Deadlifts from time to time.  At various times throughout the year, I will do multiple sets of ten reps, or more recently, one set of twenty.  For a change of pace, I’ve been using my Farmer’s Walk implements to simulate dumbbell Deadlifts.  

     I distinctly remember reading an article in The Steel Tip about doing dumbbell Deadlifts for high reps.  The increased range of motion, coupled with the high reps, make for a brutal exercise.  It’s definitely not for the faint-hearted.  And, since my Farmer’s Walk handles  weigh in at 70kg each, they’re heavy enough to make for an effective workout.  Since they’re heavy enough on their own, the fact that I don’t have to use plate makes for a very low starting point.  I actually prefer the increased range of motion.  I’ve often done Trap Bar Deadlifts off an elevated block as per the Finnish Deadlift routine, which I wrote about a couple of years ago.  The Farmer’s Handle Deadlift provides a similar effect.  

     If I could offer one piece of advice, it would be this:  Don’t cheat the reps by using a trap bar with raised handles.  This has become something of an obsession with me.  I see so many videos of people bragging about their deadlift, then you see them lift with a bar with raised handles.  Obviously, the raised handles make the movement much easier.  And incidentally, you are NOT performing a deadlift.  You are doing a PARTIAL deadlift.  Don’t cheat yourself by making the movement easier.  Dr. Ken would often say that that which makes the exercise more difficult is more effective.  Lift with a full range of motion.  You will make better gains in strength as well as feel better about yourself.

     Back to the “46 in 6” Challenge.  Unfortunately, I was unable to make it to Kathy’s house to do the lift in person due to my work schedule, but I definitely wanted to honor Dr. Ken and participate. I chose to do in on April 6, and I was lucky that the weather cooperated and I was able to do it outside.  Even though I weighed in at 225 Lbs., I decided to lift 231 Lbs for my challenge.  Six pounds mean very little, but 231 is a significant number for me.  Engine 231 is the company to which I am assigned as a Captain in the NY City Fire Dept., and I wanted to honor my company as well as Dr. Ken.  So my goal was 231 Lbs for 46 reps in less than six minutes.

     After a brief warm-up, I loaded my thick-handled trap bar and set my watch.  I wanted to break the forty-six reps into segments depending on how I felt.  I did 17 reps right away, and they felt pretty good.  I then rested for about forty-five seconds and banged out another 16.  I was still feeling pretty good, and I knew I would make the required number of reps, so I rested for another forty-five seconds or so.  I did 14 reps to finish the challenge.  By the time I checked my watch, it was just under five minutes.  Challenge complete.  Incidentally, I realize that the reps added up to 47.  That was intentional, I wanted to do an extra rep for good measure ( lest anyone think that I don’t know how to count!).  

     There were a lot of participants in the “46 in 6” challenge, and some very impressive performances.  Dr. Ken’s influence was so far-reaching that it is difficult to imagine just how many people he has inspired over the years.  I know that I am still benefitting from his knowledge and wisdom.  My collection of Hardgainers, Steel Tips, High Intensity Newsletters, MILO magazines, Powerlifting USA magazines will ensure that I have access to his words of wisdom for many years to come. 

      If you want to donate to a worthy cause, as well as honor one of the all-time strength figures, consider donating to the Logan University’s Dr. Ken Leistner Memorial Scholarship.  The best way to honor Dr. Ken is to remain strong and commit ourselves to being the best we can possibly be, and to answer the call to excellence.  And some high rep Deadlifts wouldn’t hurt!

Editor's Note: Great article Jim!

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Sunday, April 9, 2023

Improvement in Training and Life - By David Sedunary

When I was a young man growing up my Father gave me good street smart advice, none of this woke advice you hear and see today, which makes one near vomit with the thought of it .I believe the best piece of advice my Father gave me was : “Never stop trying to improve yourself son.” Improvement means “The state or process of improving.”

Firstly determine yourself what your major goals are in life, they can vary from when you are young to when you get older. My goals now that I am approaching 72 years of age are vastly different from the goals I had in my twenties and thirties. But I must say indirectly I was achieving or attempting to improve myself even way back then.

Your goals maybe as follows: 

1.What am I going to do to strengthen my body?

2. What am I going to do to expand my knowledge, and

3. What am I going to do to Improve my health.

Once you have you goals written down or cemented in your brain, you separate them and work on maintaining or improving each goal the best you can. Of course, we are not robots, there will be days when you slip back, but one needs to continue to push forward at all costs, it is the only way to improve. The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Strengthen my  body:

People with a wrist of just over 7 inches, with a small or medium bone structure normally have been genetically made to bench Press 300 pounds, Squat 400 pounds and Deadlift 500 pounds. That is for 1 rep in good form, after about 4 years of consistent training twice a week or twice every 7 to 10 days and focusing on the basic exercises. There are some who like high reps and have squatted 285 pounds for 20reps , which may equate to 400 for 1 rep, there are lots of formulae’s around, but we all know when we have reached our limit and when the time has arrived to maintain and keep our muscle and strength for as long as possible.

 To improve one may not be able to squat or deadlift safely, so try machines, or do bodyweight squats in slow style taking 10 seconds to lower and 10 seconds to raise, after 15 or 20 reps you will want to lay down, and your legs feel as though you have just squatted 300 pounds for 20 reps.

Every time you train  challenge yourself not to go back, stay with the weight which is heavy for you , push and pull in  correct focus and form till failure,  for you.  When training add weight when you can, you may drop back in reps. Try slow reps,  normal reps, more or less reps, less rest between sets and exercises,  1 set or 2 sets and improve your form. “I can and I will “ you say to yourself  “Make Savage the Body and Civilize the Mind” you repeat as you train. Work your full body, never give in. You have made the effort to train effectively. That is improvement and one has made the time to strengthen our body.

Expand my knowledge:

What am I going to do to expand my knowledge, to help me spiritually, mentally, and physically? Turn off the main stream radio and television, do not watch the so-called television channels which feed your mind with bullshit and fear. Change to watching Joel Osteen, Jordan Peterson and Jocko Willink or similar renowned mentors and mentally strong Christians. Check out web sites on strength training the old fashioned way drug free , such as Bob Whelan’s Natural strength .com old time strong men, Stuart Mc Robert’s writings such as Hard gainer , Clarence Bass’s informative web site. 

Never forget Bradley J Steiner obtain, if possible, all his writings and philosophies, Brad was a treasure of knowledge, which is why he was called the Professor. I myself read an Australian produced magazine called New Dawn. I have been reading New Dawn for several years, and love it. Everyone should read it as it’s a treasure trove of information from all different sectors, such as health, geo- political to the  financial and the spiritual side as well.

Find time to read, highlight in the books words and paragraphs that stand out  to you, it is your book write what you want, and high light when you can.  Obtain your own book and write down words and sentences which influence you. Some classics come to mind by Napoleon Hill, David Seabury, Jordan Peterson, Denis Waitley, David Schwartz, Norman Vincent Peale, and one must never forget Life Principles Daily Bible by Charles F. Stanley. In these days when a growing number of “experts” are routinely exposed lying and deceiving the public, it is time YOU became the expert when it comes to expanding your knowledge.

Improve my health:

What am I going to do to improve my health? This can cover Mental, Physical and Spiritual health, the previous two goals I have covered include this last goal. By strength training twice a week or twice every 7 to 10 days, by completing a form of cardiovascular training is also going to help. Feeling strong and able is great for one’s mental health. What a fountain of youth strength or weight training completed correctly ,without damaging drugs is for you.

I feel great when I train and after training I sit and   say to myself 

“I have achieved my goal of strengthening my body and also I have improved my health, mentally, physically and internally. What one puts in ones mouth improves our health, no alcohol, no illegal drugs or cigarettes.

Eat whole food, eliminate man made products and sugar, drink water , not soft drink. Eat 3 meals a day and consume 1 gram of protein per 1 pound of body weight or at least consume over 150 grams of protein a day. If you eat like a  bird you will look like a  bird. Have a yearly checkup at your Doctors , ask for a blood test or blood picture , just to see how you are going internally. Get plenty of quality sleep and rest , put your feet up and meditate once a day for as little as 15 minutes . This procedure will revitalize you. While relaxing do a maintenance check on yourself, how am I going you say to yourself mentally, physically , financially and spiritually. Health is Strength, Muscles and Fitness , the three in equal balance.

Can I improve my health, strength my body and expand my knowledge? 

You bet I can.

Do not say Do.

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