Updates from September, 2015 Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jim Wendler 5:04 pm on September 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Robert Downey Jr. Delivers a Real Bionic Arm 

      When he’s not kicking ass with Bartisu as Sherlock Holmes, Robert Downey, Jr. is making this kid’s day.  It’s gotta be powerful to have the ability to have that kind of positive effect on someone’s life.
  • Jim Wendler 10:00 am on September 2, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    5/3/1 for Athletes 

    The Truth About Sport Specific Training I get asked how 5/3/1 can be adapted for athletes. It’s a legitimate question, right? Surely the needs of the performance-driven athlete would be different from the guy who just wants to be bigger, stronger, and more awesome in general. But regardless of the sport you’re playing on the [...]
  • Nikki Shlosser 1:13 pm on September 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Posture: An Easy Way to Up Your Performance 

    By Pavel Tsatsouline, Chairman

    What do the above photos of top performers in three totally different sports have in common?


    • What would happen to the sprinter if she were slouched over?—A waste of her remarkable muscle power.
    • The full contact karateka’s devastating spinning kick would turn into a harmless wobbly spinning top.
    • The archer would not be able to align her structure for a perfectly stable shooting platform.

    In a great majority of athletic events and real life tasks a ramrod straight posture, or at least its approximation, greatly improves the efficiency. So get your carcass rebalanced.

    Don't Row Yet

    A common recommendation for improving posture is to row. Yet you can row until you are blue in the face but, unless you have excellent thoracic mobility, you will fail to balance out your development and could get hurt in the process. Does it make sense to load a movement one cannot perform without extra load? Would you put a barbell on the shoulders of a person who cannot do a single competent bodyweight squat?—The answer, of course, is no. By the same token, if you are unable to open your chest up with no external resistance, you should not be rowing with weights.

    First: Soft Tissue Work

    You need to overcome the fascia’s and other tissues’ internal resistance first. Various soft tissue work will help. So would a stretch with a yoga block. Lie down on the floor with a wooden block the size of a brick under your upper back. The block is strategically placed at a specific spot to ensure that you are stretching where it should. You need to hang out there for a long time to allow your shortened tissues to ‘ooze’ over the block. The head is supported by a folded towel that limits cervical extension and let one hang out longer. Many minutes later slowly roll to your side rather than sit up. There are subtleties to this. You are well advised to see a yoga expert.

    Abby Clark, SFG demonstrates the drill and comments: “While resting on the yoga block take a moment to make sure your rib cage is stacked over your hips. While you press your rib cage down make sure that your pelvis is not tucked underneath and that your low back is touching the floor. Now that your ribs and pelvis are in the correct position you can relax your arms down on the ground while diaphragmatically breathing to deepen the thoracic spine opener.”

    Kettlebell Drills

    Two powerful posture improving drills from the SFG curriculum are the kettlebell arm bar and the windmill. An excellent complex of posture enhancing exercises with a light kettlebell is featured in the recent DVD by Gray Cook, Dan John, and Lee Burton, Essentials of Coaching and Training Functional Continuums.

    Then: Strengthen the Position

    Once you have sufficient passive flexibility to have good posture—you can assume the posture, you just cannot hold it long—it is time strengthen the right muscles. This is where rows and such come in. But chances are, you will not even need to bother with rows and will get the job done with the kettlebell ultra basics alone, the goblet squat and the one-arm swing from Kettlebell Simple & Sinister. The goblet squat forces you to raise your chest and the swing pulls the shoulder blades together and extends the entire posterior chain, from the base of your skull to your heels.

    A little attention to opening yourself up will go a long away towards getting more speed, strength, precision, and endurance out of your muscles—with no added effort. As a martial arts master said, "Posture is balance and balance is power."

  • Jim Wendler 10:00 am on September 1, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Why I Hate Joe DeFranco 

    (2015 Update: I wrote this article 8 years ago and I still can’t believe it’s been that long. This is one of the funniest articles I’ve ever written and am glad a friend of mine brought it up recently. I had totally forgot about this gem and all the crap that went into that weekend. [...]
  • Jim Wendler 12:54 pm on August 27, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    The Blowhard Test – Are you a Blowhard? 

      After seeing this latest tabloid piece in Men’s Health, I thought it would be wise to help people identify a blowhard.  These are some of the worst kind of people as they are know-it-all’s, queens and have rarely done anything of use.  Are you a blowhard or not?  Take this test and see where [...]
  • Nikki Shlosser 2:07 pm on August 25, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    A Tip for “Making Space” in the Squat 

    By Jason Marshall, Senior SFG

    Screen Shot 2015-08-24 at 5.24.55 PM

    Memories of my first kettlebell certification with Pavel back in October, 2007 are still branded in my mind as a reminder of how green I was when I took on this challenge. Part of my ‘green-ness’ was my ignorance of how my own body was moving through space and how to get my brain to tell my appendages what and when to do something. Many phrases were used copiously throughout the weekend that made absolutely no sense to me at the time. For example: “make space in your hips,” and “spread your hip bones apart,” and “make your femurs longer.” I was still trying to figure out the difference between a squat and a hip hinge. Ah, the good old days!

    Since my completion of that course, I have tasked myself with spreading the message of strength and quality movement to open minds and ears that are willing to hear. In doing so, I’ve found it necessary to make the message simple and quickly transferable. The following is a visual, or intrinsic cuing, that I’ve used in helping my students understand those aforementioned phrases I wasn’t able to process early on.

    Think of your femurs as being on sliders rather than being hinged on a single pivot point. The intent is to think that they can be shifted away from the pelvis, “making space for the hips” on these imaginary sliders. Think of pushing out against a force that’s trying to collapse your legs inward, “by spreading your hips bones apart” at the spot where your front pants pockets would be.


    Imagery of ‘Single Pivot Point’…not the image we want.

    Before - Imagery of Sliding Femurs Out and Lengthening

    Before - Imagery of Sliding Femurs Out and Lengthening

    After - Imagery of Sliding Femurs Out and Lengthening

    After - Imagery of Sliding Femurs Out and Lengthening

    Also, imagine the femurs can “get longer” from the center of the bone. If the femur was divided equally in half, they could be “stretched” forward and backward.

    Obviously, the bones in your legs don’t have the capability to move like this, but the mental focus and intent of the imagery really sets the hips for a proper squat. Try it out and let me know in the comments section if it worked for you or your students.


    • Make Space or Pry Your Hips Open
    • Push Out Against Hip Pockets
    • Slide the Femurs Away from the Pelvis (Rather Than Push Knees Out on a Single Pivot Point)
    • Make the Femurs Longer from the Center of the Bone

    Even better: a video explanation.


    Jason Marshall is the owner of a performance training studio in Lubbock, Texas called Lone Star Kettlebell. He earned his Bachelor of Science in Exercise and Sport Science from Texas Tech University in 2001. He is currently a Senior Instructor within the StrongFirst organization. He also holds a Certified Personal Trainer designation from the National Academy of Sports Medicine. Jason trains athletes and students of strength from all walks of life ranging from many different populations for fat loss to improvement in movement quality for a better life. Jason has been involved with competitive athletics via many sports since his childhood. He is still competitive as a drug-free, unequipped powerlifter, with competition bests in the 181 lb weight class of; 463 – Squat, 319 – Bench, and 617 – Deadlift. Jason can be contacted by email for coaching and consultation via email at jason@lonestarkettlebell.com.

  • Jim Wendler 10:00 am on August 24, 2015 Permalink | Reply

    One More Seminar Story – Dave and Me 

    I recently wrote an article for EliteFTS detailing some of the amusing times that Dave Tate and I experienced doing seminars.  I’m still humbled by all the people that came out, although it was noting like the amount EliteFTS get today. Still, it was great to have an audience willing to trust us and learn.  [...]
  • Jim Wendler 12:50 pm on August 23, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Rippetoe Gem – Finger Banging the Squat 

    I’ve been asked some great questions such as “How do you push a Prowler?” or the ever popular “Can you sign my ebook?”  It doesn’t surprise me anymore but that doesn’t mean I can’t laugh.  Most of you are familiar with Mark Rippetoe, he being the author of Starting Strength.  Every so often I go [...]
  • Jim Wendler 12:02 pm on August 21, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    S.V.R. II and Water Torture 

    One of the favorite 5/3/1 set/rep variations from the Beyond book was S.V.R.  I believe this new version greatly improves on the original S.V.R.  Like always, I experimented with a few different options and found that the new version is superior and I’m always looking for ways to make it better. One of the mistakes [...]
  • Jim Wendler 3:04 pm on August 20, 2015 Permalink | Reply  

    Advice to Football Players 

    This article originally appeared at EliteFTS: you can read it here. Note: I’ve updated a few things to fit my current mood of hate towards the misinformation being thrown at kids by ignorant adults. 1. Don’t worry about your bodyweight – too many kids want to gain too much weight too quickly. Just train, eat [...]
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