Prehabilitation is a form of preventative training that aims to reduce or avoid the incidence of injuries. The following series is a dumbbell circuit for shoulders that can be added into your prehabilitation program. The focus of this series is to minimize bilateral shoulder imbalances, activate the lower trapezius muscles, and stabilize the rotator cuffs. This series, in combination with a well periodized program, can strengthen your shoulders and ultimately increase the amount of weight you lift on your compounded movements.
Showcasing Team Norway, this is one of my favorite powerlifting videos. It covers footage from various World Championships and symbolizes a "play clean" attitude. Although, one of the odd things about this video is that Norway's strongest powerlifter and World Championship bronze medalist, Carl Yngvar Christensen, doesn't make the reel. I'm hoping to get enough footage of Canadian athletes this year to make a Team Canada version.
Almost one year ago, Tom Nicholls, a Canadian National Team member and powerlifting world champion, suffered a near death car accident. At the time, Nicholls was in his second year of stock car racing and ran head into the wall at the Halifax Speedway. He was air lifted to the hospital, where he spent 13 days in the ICU. Nicholls suffered a head and neck injury, which caused bleeding in his brain and a fracture to his C1 vertebra. Due to the swelling in his brain, Nicholls had a seizure while in emergency and went into cardiac arrest. The next day, while in ICU, he had two more cardiac arrests. While the doctors were performing CPR, they broke three of his ribs, which ended up fully puncturing one lung and partially the other.
Throughout the year following the accident, the Canadian Powerlifting Union banded together to raise funds for Nicholls' family. It was an unprecedented demonstration of support as six clubs from coast-to-coast hosted deadlift competitions where all proceeds went to help Nicholls recover from the accident.
This past weekend, the Canadian Powerlifting Union witnessed a special and awe-inspiring moment when Nicholls returned to the platform to compete at the Novia Scotia Provincial Championships. Nicholls lifted in the raw division, achieving a 235k squat, 190k bench press, and 250k deadlift. Nicholls' journey from the accident to competing once again is an unfathomable spectacle of the human spirit and will to overcome adversity. Powerlifting, like all sports, is much bigger than the numbers on the platform, or the scores at the end of the game. It is stories like this, that despite all odds and rationale thinking, that success can be realized with an unbreakable passion and dedication in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Welcome back Tom!
Other noteworthy performances from the Novia Scotia Provincial Championships include John MacDonald, a 120k lifter, successfully bench pressing 265k. MacDonald also took the National record (278.5k) for a ride, and although the weight was lifted, he only received one white light. There are a few lifters, myself included, who will be attempting the 120k National bench press record in 2013. The record is set to be broken, the only question is by who and how much!! You can check-out MacDonald's lifting below:
For full results of the Novia Scotia Provincial Championships, click HERE.
I'm upset with how powerlifting is portrayed in the media, with the proliferation of meatheads, the blatant use of drugs, and lack of Canadian content. There is an overflowing amount of powerlifting images and videos on the internet that don't represent what actually happens on the ground level in regular gyms with regular people. For some reason the most popular media images of powerlifting are those showcasing meatheads. I'm not sure if this is because meatheads are more saavy with social networking, and therefore gain more exposure to broader audiences; or if the public enjoys consuming garbage information, like a tabloid magazine; or if there is a general naivety surrounding the world of powerlifting. Regardless, there is a vast majority of athletes who don't get the credit they deserve because they are shrouded by perpetual images of the meathead powerlifter.
The truth is that the majority of powerlifters are not meatheads. Unfortunately, though, the majority of powerlifters lie beneath a minority of low-browed, big-headed, and drugged-up losers. Using an iceberg as a metaphor. The tip, which is visible to the public, represents the culture of meatheadedness, the drugged-up uncultivated loser. On the other hand, the base of the iceberg represents a diverse group of talented drug-free athletes that are just as strong, if not stronger, than the meathead, but receive little recognition. In fact, to find the most elite drug-free powerlifters on the internet takes an incredible amount of digging and searching. The sites pumping up the meathead character as the ideal form are almost always the sites that include any content resting outside the purview of the International Powerlifting Federation (IPF); the premier league for competitive drug-free powerlifting. Unless someone is a seasoned competitor in powerlifting, and has witnessed the various shades of the sport, it is hard for the general public to know what is or isn't good information, or to be able to discern who is or isn't a good ambassador.
Although I'm speaking broadly, because there are many great role models in powerlifting that are drug-free and lack meatheadedness, I am still concerned about the minimum amount of exposure these athletes get in the mainstream. As a result, I am starting a blog series called "WHO IS", where periodically I will showcase a drug-free Canadian athlete that has achieved sporting excellence and may not have been recognized with the attention they deserve. At the end of the day, the real unsung heros don't get fame, glory, or money. They don't gain prestige, status, or popularity. They simply do it because pursuing strength is not a means to an end, but sufficient in and of itself.
Please stay tuned for the first "WHO IS" spotlight on Alberta's Keith Banner. Banner is veteran in the sport of powerlifting, and at the age of 53, he is one of the greatest raw squatters in the history of Canada and can stand toe-to-toe with the best in the world. Where is he on the internet? Other than right here, virtually nowhere.
Jonathon Leo, 120k+ team USA athlete, breaks a world record and achieves the best pound-for-pound lifter award at the World Bench Press Championships in Lithuania. Jon first stepped onto the World stage in 2011 and his journey to this point has built up over the past year, winning US Nationals, the North American Championships, and the Arnold Sports Festival. Check out the video of his 360.5k bench press that puts him at the top of the World:
Two Canadian athletes need your support. The unfortunate reality for most Canadian athletes is that they have to pay their own way to compete. The two girls featured below, Rachel Siemens and Rhaea Stinn, have both qualified for elite International competitions this summer, in Olympic weightlifting and powerlifting respectively, and are seeking sponsorships opportunities. Get to know these incredibly strong girls by reading their biographies, and then see the links provided at the bottom to find out how you can help them in their sporting endeavors.
How can you support?
Both of these girls have started online fundraising campaigns to help alleviate the cost of travel to these competitions. The online platforms allow both these athletes to accept donations through PayPal or credit card. Any support will help, whether you donate money, or share this post with others. Please see the fundraising links below to donate.
I can't help myself when there is an opportunity to talk about Brad Gillingham's success. Brad is a 5-time IPF World Champion and a 12-time US National Powerlifting Champion. Brad boasts 12 IPF World Records with highlights being a 400k (880lb) deadlift. Due to his overall powerlifting success, in particular his world class deadlift, Brad is continually invited to showcase his talent on the pro deadlift circuit. Recently, Brad competed at the Empire Pro Deadlift Classic in Spokane, Washington. Brad admittedly told he wasn't going to taper for this event because his eyes were set on the World Classic Powerlifting Championships in Russia this June. However, even in the midst of hard training, Brad was still able to pull off the highest weight lifted of 365k (804lb). Brad reflects on the Empire Classic and details his training moving toward the World Championships:
I have competed in this show the past three years and each year it gets bigger and better. I am only four weeks out from the IPF Classic World Championship in Sudzal, Russia so I did not try to peak for this event, but decided to use the competition as a heavy training day. With the IPF Worlds being the focus event I didn’t feel like I could afford to take any break from my heavy training, so I trained heavy the week of the event. At the Empire Classic I lifted RAW and was able to pull 804 for the win but did not have enough energy that day to complete my last attempt with 848.
With just 4 weeks of training to go before I compete in Russia these next couple weeks are critical. I have changed up my deadlift training a little this time and have been pulling 1 set of 8 every other week instead of 1 set of 5. This week I have 8x705. This will be a huge confidence builder if I can make this set.
Check out the following highlight video of the deadlifts at the Empire Classic:
The 2013 IPF World Bench Press Championships are already underway, taking place in Kaunas, Lithuania. At the completion of the event, I will write a blog to detail some of the most inspirational lifts, and by the look of early results, it's shaping up to be a record-setting week.
Although this year I qualified for the World Bench Press Team, I decided to decline my invitation. One of the unfortunate realities of sport is that the majority of athletes pay for their own way to compete. Since this year I decided to continue my forays back to school to complete a Master's degree, I simply didn't have enough funds to finance the trip. So, I thought I would provide a quick reflection on the year's past when I've been privileged to attend three World Championships, and also detail my summer competition schedule.
The pinnacle of my success was realized when I achieved a bronze medal in 2010 and breaking, at the time, a Canadian National record. The sport of bench press is constantly changing, and with so many new lifters attending international events each year, the totals keep rising, providing steeper competition. So while I've achieved many successes in bench press, I realize that there is still more work to be done in order to continue to improve and be successful at the World stage. I think any athlete can testify that once you've achieved a personal goal, you're already setting new goals to strive towards.
For me, once I've reached the point where a goal is met, I have already shifted my expectations to the next level of performance. What this creates is a feeling of never being satisfied. Most of the time I think this feeling is what motivates athletes to continue to strive to new heights in their sport. If you're satisfied with your performance, you might not be willing to take risks, make sacrifices, step outside your comfort zone, or put in the work necessary to make progress. After all, the progress one makes in the pursuit of performing at higher levels is never an endpoint but rather a constant journey.
Goals start out as dreams; what you hope to do in the future if all the stars align. As an athlete, this means that the targets you want to achieve ought only be possible if you take all the necessary steps and sacrifices in pursuit of that goal. I like to call this goal setting the "best case scenario". Goals should be set with the best case scenario in mind; best case in terms of training, nutrition, rest, recovery, and so on. Since life never happens in best case scenarios, goals, at first, might seem out of reach. However, at some point in the pursuit of a goal, through hard work, passion, and sometimes stubborn commitment, the line between impossible and possible start to blend. This coalescing point is not a conscious awareness, nor does it happen suddenly. Rather, during the steps toward achieving the goal, foundations are being laid for new goals, which pushes the target further away from the original starting point. As the English poet Robert Browning said: "Ah, but a man's reach should exceed his grasp, or what's a heaven for?". So it's not that you achieve a goal, and then set a new goal; it's that while you're pursuing a goal, you're engaged in a continual process of goal adaptation. To the spectator, feats of athleticism seem spectacular, but for the person living and pursuing that goal, it's merely ordinary. From the athlete's perspective, they are always looking toward the next step in the chain of progress, looking beyond the target as they move closer. Importantly, never being satisfied, and reaching beyond what seems possible, are the qualities that build champions; this is true in sport, but also in life more generally.
So although I'm sitting on the sidelines this year, I've decided to budget a more affordable trip and compete this August at the US Bench Nationals in Atlanta, Georgia. This competition is an elite bench press contests, with a majority of the competitors being top ten in the World. I will be traveling with Pursuit of Strength Team Member, my best friend and training partner, James Bartlett. Part of traveling to compete is not only the sporting experience but also having an excuse to vacation. This competition will be the highlight of my summer training program, which I will be detailing over the coming weeks in future video blogs.
In the meantime, the following video is a look at my 10th place performance at last year's World Bench Press Championships, lifting 255k @ 112k bodyweight:
Christina has only been competing in Olympic weightlifting for less than a year, and this past weekend she lifted like a veteran at the Canadian Weightlifting Championships. Christina competed in the 63k class lifting 74k/163lb snatch and 90k/198lb clean and jerk, putting 6k on her all-time personal best. At the end of the day, Christina's lifting was good enough for the silver medal position; a feat that is rare, not only for a new lifter to the sport, but for athletes with many years of experience too. Although Christina is a self-proclaimed "crossfitter", Christina's future is bright in the sport of weightlifting, and she has already set goals for next year's Nationals. In the meantime, it's back to business and back to training as Christina is less than three weeks away from competing at the Canada West Crossfit Regionals, which is a grueling 3-day event that test all areas of strength and conditioning.
I am so proud to have coached Christina through her first year of weightlifting and Crossfit, and am excited for the many more successes that lie ahead.
Check out the footage from Nationals:
Over the last 5 months, Chris Hadfield, a Canadian astronaut, has been in command of the International Space Station. His regular videos, posted on the Canadian Space Agency website, feature the application of basic science in space exploration. His videos are typically created in response to questions on Earth, and with his easy-to-understand explanations, Chris has popularized science to a wide and diverse audience. His videos have been viewed millions of times and has earned him the title of "the coolest guy in outer space".
Now, Chris explains the importance of exercise in a weightless environment. On Earth, a proficient level of strength is required to partake in everyday activities such as walking and standing, but in a weightless environment astronauts lose muscle mass and bone density since no strength is required to support their weight. Astronauts lose about 1% of bone density per month in space and so finding ways to exercise is important to help combat this deterioration effect. Check out the following video to see how Chris deadlifts in space:
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