Try 100s on for size

Try 100s on for size (Not a Pilates exercise)

Once upon a time I was doing Crossfit at Crossfit 702. Owner/Coach Jared Glover had us do a WOD consisting of “For time: Run 1 mile, followed by 100 benchpress reps @ 135/95”. I remember him asking us during warmup, “What do you think will be the hardest part of this WOD?” We all waffled on the answer. We started, i ran the mile in 7:10 and began the benching. 20 reps, then 15, then 12, then 7, and so forth, sitting up and panting in between sets. Ultimaltely the WOD was completed in sets one 1 with big gulps of air taken in a slumped sitting position. I don’t remember my final tme, but what I do remember that it was the breathing was the hardest part of that WOD…Unequivocably. Also, the bemused look on Jared’s face at our pathetic answers earlier. Smug bastard.

Ditch the Hypertrophy set/reps scheme.
Whenever I’ve had a few days layoff from training and or I’m too sore, or bored I like to throw in some 100s. Sometimes with an aerobic component first such as burpees, or skipping, but many times just at a machine at 40% 1 RM. Seated cable shoulder presses, hack squats, cable rows…anything with a machine to help keep it safe (this is a fatiguing workout). Throw a few compound movements together to shock the muscles/tendons back to life after the time off. I like the tried and true push/pull combo plus a leg exercise. See yesterday’s post.
It also does wonders for sheer muscle hardness.

Know this…GNC, Target, Walmart, Walgreens selling bogus herbal supplements, NY charges

Know this…

GNC, Target, Walmart, Walgreens selling bogus herbal supplements, NY charges

File photo

More than half of American adults take some kind of herbal supplement, spending an estimated $30 billion a year in the belief that the supplements have some kind of healthful effect. And, of course, consumers think that what’s in the bottle is what the label promises.


But New York Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman says that belief is too often misplaced — and yesterday announced that GNC, Target, Walmart, and Walgreens were allegedly selling store brand herbal supplements that either didn’t contain the labeled substance or contain ingredients that weren’t listed on the labels.

In a letter to the companies, Schneiderman demanded they immediately stop selling store brand supplements including Echinacea, Ginseng and St. John’s Wort.

Schneiderman said DNA tests by his investigations found that just 21% of the test results from store brand herbal supplements verified DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels — with 79% coming up empty for DNA related to the labeled content or verifying contamination with other plant material.

“This investigation makes one thing abundantly clear: the old adage ‘buyer beware’ may be especially true for consumers of herbal supplements,” said Attorney General Schneiderman. “The DNA test results seem to confirm long-standing questions about the herbal supplement industry.”

Poorest showing: Walmart

The retailer with the poorest showing for DNA matching products listed on the label was Walmart. Only 4% of the Walmart products tested showed DNA from the plants listed on the products’ labels.

Schneiderman said that the alleged mislabeling not only cheats consumers out of the substances they thought they were buying but also exposes them to unknown ingredients that could be hazardous.

“Mislabeling, contamination, and false advertising are illegal. They also pose unacceptable risks to New York families—especially those with allergies to hidden ingredients. At the end of the day, American corporations must step up to the plate and ensure that their customers are getting what they pay for, especially when it involves promises of good health,” Schneiderman said.

The DNA tests were performed on three to four samples of each of the six herbal supplements purchased from the New York stores. Each sample was tested with five distinct sequence runs, meaning each sample was tested five times. Three hundred and ninety tests involving 78 samples were performed overall.


Photo: GNC

Six “Herbal Plus” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Garlic. One bottle of Saw Palmetto tested positive for containing DNA from the saw palmetto plant, while three others did not. The remaining four supplement types yielded mixed results, but none revealed DNA from the labeled herb.

Of 120 DNA tests run on 24 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 22% of the time.

Contaminants identified included asparagus, rice, primrose, alfalfa/clover, spruce, ranuncula, houseplant, allium, legume, saw palmetto, and Echinacea.


Photo: Target

Six “Up & Up” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Valerian Root, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Three supplements showed nearly consistent presence of the labeled contents: Echinacea (with one sample identifying rice), Garlic, and Saw Palmetto. The remaining three supplements did not revealed DNA from the labeled herb.

Of 90 DNA tests run on 18 bottles of the herbal products purchased, DNA matched label identification 41% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, French bean, asparagus, pea, wild carrot and saw palmetto.


Photo: Walgreens

Six “Finest Nutrition” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

Only one supplement consistently tested for its labeled contents: Saw Palmetto.

The remaining five supplements yielded mixed results, with one sample of garlic showing appropriate DNA. The other bottles yielded no DNA from the labeled herb.

Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 18% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, rice, wheat, palm, daisy, and dracaena (houseplant).


Photo: Walmart

Six “Spring Valley” brand herbal supplements per store were purchased and analyzed: Gingko Biloba, St. John’s Wort, Ginseng, Garlic, Echinacea, and Saw Palmetto.

None of the supplements tested consistently revealed DNA from the labeled herb.

One bottle of garlic had a minimal showing of garlic DNA, as did one bottle of Saw Palmetto. All remaining bottles failed to produce DNA verifying the labeled herb.

Of the 90 DNA test run on 18 bottles of herbal products purchased, DNA matched label representation 4% of the time.

Contaminants identified included allium, pine, wheat/grass, rice mustard, citrus, dracaena (houseplant), and cassava (tropical tree root).

Sketchy to begin with

Consumer advocates said they weren’t surprised by the results.

“The evidence for these herbs’ effectiveness is sketchy to begin with,” said David Schardt, Senior Nutritionist of the Center for Science in the Public Interest. “But when the advertised herbs aren’t even in many of the products, it’s a sign that this loosely regulated industry is urgently in need of reform. Until then, and perhaps even after then, consumers should stop wasting their money. Attorney General Schneiderman has done what federal regulators should have done a long time ago.”

“This study undertaken by Attorney General Schneiderman’s office is a well-controlled, scientifically-based documentation of the outrageous degree of adulteration in the herbal supplement industry,” saidArthur P. Grollman, M.D., Professor of Pharmacological Sciences at Stony Brook University. “Hopefully, this action can prompt other states to follow New York’s example and lead to the reform of federal laws that, in their current form, are doing little to protect the public.”

The Attorney General’s investigation follows a study conducted by the University of Guelph in 2013 that also found contamination and substitution in herbal products in most of the products tested. As was said at the time by a spokesperson for the University of Guelph, “The industry suffers from unethical activities by some manufacturers.”

The study also found that more than half of Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Class I drug recalls between 2004 and 2012 were dietary supplements. Class I recalls are reserved for drugs or supplements for which there is a “reasonable probability that [their use] will cause serious adverse health consequences or death.”

Know this…The 3 keys to obstacle course racing success Andrew Read


Obstacle course racing (OCR) is growing in popularity year-on-year. With this growth in participation comes an increase in the number of people training specifically for OCR events. However, I often see three big mistakes when it comes to their training. Let’s look at what these errors are and how to avoid them.

The 3 Biggest OCR Training Mistakes

The three biggest holes I notice in OCR training boil down to running, loaded carries, and grip training. These issues are also right up there in terms of mistakes that cost people the most time on race day.
1. Running
The first and worst mistake you can make is to forget it’s a running race. Don’t look at all the obstacles and think you only have to run half a mile between each and think to yourself, “well, I can run 800m, so this will be easy.” Because if you plan to do well, you still need to run the entire course, which could be as much as half marathon distance (13.1 miles.)
2. Loaded Carries
At the World Championships held on the weekend, the guys doing the crazy Ultra Beast (30 miles of torture) had to carry two 50lb sandbags uphill. I’ve heard it was absolute carnage with people just dropping the bags and walking off the course. I’ve heard accounts of up to 25% of the field quitting because of that one obstacle.
But it’s not just sandbag carries, either. There are often bucket carries at Spartan events – in fact, it’s one of the obstacles you’ll find at nearly all the races. In Australia they use massive 120lb deadballs, which are difficult to pick up with wet, muddy hands, and even more difficult to carry the distance required.
3. Grip Work
The third mistake, grip strength, is one of those things that everyone seems to think they have enough of, right up until the point they find themselves doing thirty burpees for falling off the monkey bars. In a long race, with rope climbs, Tyrolean traverses, Hercules hoists, loaded carries, and heavy drags your grip takes a pounding. And the fatigue of distance running amplifies how easily fatigued your grip will become. 
Here’s how I recommend you train each of these areas to prepare for race day.


Firstly, you need to run. If you aren’t yet at the stage where you can run the distance non-stop, you need to work on that before you worry about how fast you can cover the distance. If you’re using an obstacle race to get up off the couch (the precise reason Joe de Sena founded Spartan in the first place) then please follow my walk/run plan to get started.
If you’re able to run the distance continuously, I’d suggest a plan that has four different runs plus an extra day in it. The four runs are:
  • Easy aerobic
  • Intervals
  • Hills
  • Long run
The extra day is for sandbag or pack work, but done walking. The week should be structured with the long run (up to two hours) on Saturday, with the sandbag or pack work done on the following day. Don’t be shy with the time for the pack day – go up to four hours.
Your legs will be tired after both of these days, so the next run will be Tuesday and be an easy aerobic run up to an hour in length. Don’t push the pace on this run, and don’t worry about hills  – just an easy, flat run to shake the legs out.
The interval run is best done on a track. Something like 20 x 400m on a three-minute-interval will work well. Or 10 x 800m on six minutes. Make sure to warm up and cool down for this one as it will lead to some serious soreness, so give your body the best chance to fight it off.
Finally, the hill run fits well on a Thursday. I like doing this on a treadmill so I can moderate the incline. My favorite hill session is five sets of 1km above race pace at 4-5%, followed by 1km below race pace on flat so you can recover. The average of these 2km is your target race pace. Again, make sure to warm up and cool down before this, and don’t be fooled by this as it is still at least a 12km run.

Loaded Carries

Loaded carries need to be in every training session. If you’re not used to doing them you need to spend considerable time on them to gain proficiency at it. As an example of how efficient you can get at them, I recently had eight minutes to get off an airplane, get to the long-term car park, and then to the pet hotel my dog was at before they shut for the night. I grabbed both my carry-on bag and my girlfriend’s bag (it is easier to be balanced) and took off running through the airport, to the car park, and to the car. This was a ten-minute walk done in three minutes.
Now, I won’t lie, I was spent – my grip was fried, my traps were burning, and my lungs were heaving. But I got it done and we picked up our dog. If you plan to be truly Spartan -ready you will need to build up to loaded running (but that’s probably an entire article right there).
Don’t make the mistake of only doing farmer’s walks with easy-to-handle implements. Use overhead walks, rack walks, and sandbag carries. Load yourself asymmetrically and use odd objects. For Spartan you need to be ready for anything.

Grip Training

Finally, grip needs to be addressed. Some grip endurance will be handled with the loaded carries. Some more grip endurance will be taken care of with normal strength work, such as pull-ups and deadlifts. But what you need is high rep work to develop massive amounts of grip endurance – enough to last you the many hours you may be on course. A short set of ten reps isn’t going to do it.
This is a great place for two different types of grip work. High rep swings, both with a kettlebell and with clubbells, will help develop great grip endurance. I’m talking about sets of twenty-plus reps, and maybe even as high as fifty per set. Because clubbells are closer to brachiation than kettlebells are, they may actually be superior for grip development.
The other big thing that is going to develop grip endurance is hanging off objects. If you can vary the grip used, that will work even better. If you can hang off tree branches, stair railings, and the like you’ll wind up with a far better overall grip.
If all you have access to is a pull up bar don’t fret, as you can still change the grip each set. You can fold a towel over the bar to thicken the grip. You can drape the towel over the bar and hold onto the hanging ends. You can hold the bar with hands you’ve deliberately made slippery (putting soap in the hands is a favored strongman grip training method) and do hangs. For more fun, soap the hands and then do some kettlebell swings. Make sure no one is standing right in front of you when you do though.
Focusing on these three things – running, grip, and carries – will take care of your OCR plan.


Know this…Machines v Free-weights

New Study Pits Barbell Squats Against Leg Press Machine

“There is simply no other exercise, and certainly no machine, that produces the level of…muscular stimulation and growth…than the correctly performed full squat.”

– Mark Rippetoe

Mark Rippetoe’s quotation from Starting Strength is a timeless reminder of how to prioritize strength training. If you want to be strong, ditch the machines and pick up a barbell. Rippetoe based this statement on his experience with countless athletes. The evidence of experience is powerful, but until now it’s all we had to support the idea that free weight exercises provide better results than machines.


Know this…When in Doubt, Do Front Squats

This is one of my favorite strength training mottos (along with “perfect practice makes perfect” and “fast sh*t is still sh*t”). I’m not here to have a debate about whether front squats are better than back squats. You just need to accept that they are. Just joking. Kind of.

Know this…Butter Is Back

Know this…Butter Is Back

there’s just no evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. (In fact, there’s some evidence that a lack of saturated fat may be damaging.)

from the NYTIMES mar 25/14

Julia Child, goddess of fat, is beaming somewhere. Butter is back, and when you’re looking for a few chunks of pork for a stew, you can resume searching for the best pieces — the ones with the most fat. Eventually, your friends will stop glaring at you as if you’re trying to kill them.

That the worm is turning became increasingly evident a couple of weeks ago, when a meta-analysis published in the journal Annals of Internal Medicine found that there’s just no evidence to support the notion that saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease. (In fact, there’s some evidence that a lack of saturated fat may be damaging.) The researchers looked at 72 different studies and, as usual, said more work — including more clinical studies — is needed. For sure. But the days of skinless chicken breasts and tubs of I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter may finally be drawing to a close.

The tip of this iceberg has been visible for years, and we’re finally beginning to see the base. Of course, no study is perfect and few are definitive. But thereal villains in our diet — sugar and ultra-processed foods — are becoming increasingly apparent. You can go back to eating butter, if you haven’t already.

This doesn’t mean you abandon fruit for beef and cheese; you just abandon fake food for real food, and in that category of real food you can include good meat and dairy. I would argue, however, that you might not include most industrially produced animal products; stand by.

Since the 1970s almost everyone in this country has been subjected to a barrage of propaganda about saturated fat. It was bad for you; it would kill you. Never mind that much of the nonsaturated fat was in the form of trans fats, now demonstrated to be harmful. Never mind that many polyunsaturated fats are chemically extracted oils that may also, in the long run, be shown to be problematic.

Never mind, too, that the industry’s idea of “low fat” became the emblematic SnackWell’s and other highly processed “low-fat” carbs (a substitution that is probably the single most important factor in our overweight/obesity problem), as well as reduced fat and even fat-free dairy, on which it made billions of dollars. (How you could produce fat-free “sour cream” is something worth contemplating.)

But let’s not cry over the chicharrones or even nicely buttered toast we passed up. And let’s not think about the literally millions of people who are repelled by fat, not because it doesn’t taste good (any chef will tell you that “fat is flavor”) but because they have been brainwashed.

Rather, let’s try once again to pause and think for a moment about how it makes sense for us to eat, and in whose interest it is for us to eat hyperprocessed junk. The most efficient summary might be to say “eat real food” and “avoid anything that didn’t exist 100 years ago.” You might consider a dried apricot (one ingredient) versus a Fruit Roll-Up (13 ingredients, numbers 2, 3 and 4 of which are sugar or forms of added sugar). Or you might reflect that real yogurt has two or three ingredients (milk plus bacteria, with some jam or honey if you like) and that the number in Breyers YoCrunch Cookies n’ Cream Yogurt is unknowable (there are a few instances of “and/or”) but certainly at least 18.

Many things have gone awry with the way we produce food. And it isn’t just the existence of junk food but the transformation of ingredients we could once take for granted or thought of as “healthy.” Indeed, meat, dairy, wheat and corn have become foods that frequently contain antibiotics and largely untested chemicals, or are produced using hybrids or methods that have increased yield but may have produced unwanted results.

The best current answer to that: It’s possible to eat as much meat as we do only if it’s grown in ways that are damaging. They’re damaging to our health and the environment (not to mention the tortured animals) for a variety of reasons, including rampant antibiotic use; the devotion of more than a third of our global cropland to feeding animals; and the resulting degradation of the environment from that crop and its unimaginable overuse of chemicals, soil and water.

Even if large quantities of industrially produced animal products were safe to eat, the environmental costs are demonstrable and huge. And so the argument “eat less meat but eat better meat” makes sense from every perspective. If you raise fewer animals, you can treat them more humanely and reduce their environmental impact. And we can enjoy the better butter, too.

Know this…Maximal Fat Loss, Minimal Equipment

Maximal Fat Loss, Minimal Equipment

stolen from by Dan John   01/28/14


Here’s what you need to know…

• The better you get at an exercise, the less effective it becomes as a fat-burner.

• Combining ground-based exercise like push-ups or planks with kettlebell swings can make for a fast and effective fat-burning workout.

• For a complete program, mix planks or push-ups with sprints of various distances.

There’s a funny thing you start to notice about exercise and fat loss: the better you get at the movement, the less effective the exercise becomes for burning fat. We can see this odd phenomenon in every discipline, from performance to group aerobics – people slowly getting chubbier and chubbier as they continue to train.

It comes down to efficiency, or lack of it. You see, fat loss exercise has to be inefficient.

There’s a simple way to rediscover the joys and sorrows of inefficiency and it’s literally at your feet – it’s the ground. If you get on the ground and then get off the ground, you’ll stimulate a lot of fat loss. It’s really quite surprising. As such, I present the following fat-loss combos, each designed around kissing the good Earth.

Grounded to the Ground

When I evaluate training programs, typically two big omissions stare at me:

1. The lack of appropriate squatting movements.
2. The lack of loaded carries (just doing a farmer’s walk is enough).

The third area involves the kind of groundwork people are doing. Case in point, if Phil Maffetone is correct and 28,000 Americans a year die from falls or fall related injuries, then we should stop being so paranoid about peanut butter and focus more on tumbling.

Better still, groundwork training has minimal equipment needs. Let’s explore some basics.

Here’s a great workout. Stand up. Now, get to the ground and lie on your back. Repeat this for five minutes. Back in the day these were called grass drills, or up-downs, or “fun time,” depending on your school. My football coaches always told me that getting off the ground after being knocked down was the secret to success in football. Frankly, it works for life, too.

Currently, I’m doing a program from Pat Flynn where each session begins with five minutes of “naked Turkish get-ups,” which is just a formalized version of the grass drill. You can do them naked if you like, but in this case, the term “naked” means doing them without any resistance. Oddly enough, every day I find I move and feel better after the groundwork.

To really turn groundwork into something special, though, we need to combine it with other fat-burning modalities. For instance, if you followed the 10,000 Swing Challenge, you know all about one of the great furnace movements, the swing. Combining them with the push-up (or the plank, if you have issues) works great.

Here are my favorite combos. Be sure to just pick one for each training day.

Goblet Swing

Combo Option #1

Swings x 20 seconds
Push-ups x 6
Rest x 30 seconds
Repeat for 15 minutes

• Next workout, increase push-ups by 1.

Combo Option #2

At the top of the minute:

Swings x 20, push-ups x 10
rest the remainder of the minute
Swings x 20, push-ups x 9
rest the remainder of the minute
Continue until you hit: Swings x 20, push-up x 1

• This will take 10 minutes. To increase the workout to 15 minutes, simply start with swings x 20, push-ups x 15 (instead of 10).

• The next workout, do 21 swings each minute.

Combo Option #3

This option differs from Option #2 in that you don’t take any rest.

Swings x 20
Push-ups x 10
Keep the swings x 20 and 
Work down the Push-ups: 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1

Goblet Squat

Combo Option #4

Swings x 10, goblet squats x 10, push-ups x 10
Swings x 10, goblet squats x 9, push-ups x 9
Continue until you hit:
Swings x 10, goblet squats x 1, push-ups x 1
No rest!

Combo Option #5

On the minute:

Swings x 1 and push-up x 1
Then farmer’s walk the weight to the top of the next minute
Swings x 2 and push-up x 2
Then farmer’s walk the weight to the top of the next minute
Continue until you’re finished.

The Skinny

What you’ll quickly discover is that getting up and getting down, over and over, adds a metabolic hit that most don’t expect. For a complete program, mix planks or push-ups with sprints of various distances. This has to be done in an area with a fair amount of space, but both the push-up numbers and the sprint quality will degrade quickly.

We recently began exploring a new combination with one of my NFL clients. Equipment issues are minimal and they’re like the Litvinovs that I discussed years ago. It’s a deadlift for 5 reps followed by a bear crawl.

Everyone seems to be doing monkey aerobics and caveman cardio and the bear crawl is getting a bit overdone, but try this very simple combo. I’d suggest underloading the deadlift the first workout – back off to about two-thirds of what you think your 5RM weight should be. Do it for a few sets before worrying about the load. For the bear crawls, make it 20 meters. Since the deadlift load is relatively light, we can do more sets, up to 8 total sets.

Not only do the heart and lungs take a hit, but this combination leads to an odd kind of soreness that really has to be tasted to be understood.


Fat loss demands inefficiency. For a fat burning program that’s hyper-efficient and short on equipment needs, I suggest doing two days of the swing/push-up combos. Keep these at least two days apart from each other.

One day a week, get out and mix the push-up/plank with the sprints. Copy the old running tradition ofFartlek, which means “speed-play.” Start off with just one or two push-ups followed by an easy jog or even walk.

Mix and match the length of runs and intensity (the speed) of the running with the number of push-ups. Make it chaotic and just “play” with the two exercises.

Finally, one other day of the week, try the deadlift and bear crawl. Work up to 8 sets of 5 in the deadlift.

On to the Next One

None of these workouts last very long – rarely over 15 minutes – but you’ll never fully master them. Let the ground be part of your fat loss program.