Tag Archives: shankle weightlifting snatch crossfit clean jerk weightlifting

Size verses Strength

On the podcast this morning, we got on the topic of how muscle size relates to strength.  Many do not realize this, but size of a muscle is very, very closely related to the strength of the muscle or amount of tension that muscle can produce.  So why aren’t the biggest bodybuilders the strongest athletes?  Well, strongest at what?

 

This is an interesting question and the answer is part physiology, and part physics.  The physics part is pretty straightforward.  The human body applies strength through a system of levers, or bones.  The arrangement of these levers is just as important to how much force can be applied in any movement as the amount of tension the muscles involved can generate.

 

Let’s look at an example.  Donny Shankle is a pretty strong guy.  He also has an extremely long spine as a proportion of his height.  For a lifter proportioned like Donny, flexion/extension of the torso is always going to be difficult.  If you have trouble imagining why this would be, imagine you tried to hold a 1 meter stick with a 10 pounds attached to the end perfectly vertical.  Not too hard, but now imagine you tried to hold it at a 10 degree angle.  What about a 45 degree angle?  The 1 meter stick represents Donny’s spine, or the spine of anyone built like him.  Imagine how much easier it would be to hold the stick either at either angle if it was a 1 FOOT stick instead of 1 meter.

 

This is why Donny is a superior front squatter, where the torso is kept very close to vertical, a reasonable back squatter where the torso has a moderate forward lean, and a terrible deadlifter where the torso developes lots of forward lean.  Do you ever wonder why the world record holder in the squat rarely also holds the record in the deadlift?  Same reason.

 

Luckily for Donny, he chose a sport (weightlifting) that utilizes the body God gave him very well.  But the reason why the biggest muscle isn’t always the strongest has a physiological basis as well as a physics basis.  The weightlifting snatch and the powerlifting deadlift at first glance would seem to be very similar lifts.  Yet one regularly leads to the development of pretty big muscles, and one rarely does.  Now I love Weightlifting as much as anyone, and more than most, but let’s be honest.  A big snatch doesn’t automatically mean big muscles.  Developing a big snatch is as much about speed as it is about strength.  Applying force at high rates of speed is a neural adaptation more than a muscular one, and developing motor patterns is more important to snatching big than big muscles are.

 

Bodybuilding and weightlifting are two activities at opposite ends of the spectrum, and powerlifting is somewhere in the middle.  But just as you will never see a 500 pound bench press and a 5 minute mile done by the same person, you will never see a 20 inch arm and a 200kg snatch by the same person either..   Some things are just mutually exclusive.


CrossFit Pi

CrossFit Pi in Exeter is  the most spacious and well equipped gym I have seen in a long time.  The owner Martin Uttley studied at Brunel University and was a high level rugby player before opening his gym.  I am not sure what I like best about this facility, the coffee dispenser, or the platforms!  But I do know that it is far nicer than most CrossFit facilities in the USA and both Martin and his staff seem to be great coaches and totally dedicated to making this facility the best that it can possibly be.


Tuesday, October 27th

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This has been a difficult week of training.  I have a 2k C2 Rowing contest on Saturday, so I have been trying to put in some extra work on the rower, but still keep up with my running.  This means for a while I was getting up early to do intervals (frequently 10ea 500 meter intervals with 1 min rest between) then running at lunch, then doing more rowing at night.

I am done with that part of my training at this point, so no more really high volume stuff.  At this point I am just rowing in the morning, and running at lunch.  Only two more days of that, actually, as I will not row or Thursday or Friday of this week, although I might still run on Thursday.   I am actually pretty nervous about the Rowing competition Saturday with Veronica (Jareds GF).  Something like this is so different than what I am used to that I really have no clue how to peak for it.  I have been rely;ing on my friend Jim Storch to help with that, but doing something this different is still a bit scary.

I included a picture of my new running shoes with this blog.  Since I am running around 3 miles a day now, I have to buy few shoes about every 4 weeks.  Anyone who knows me will know how hard it is for me to buy new shoes that often.

But, once this rowing thing is over I am leaving for the OTC for the pre-worlds camp, will be there for 2 weeks, then it is on to Houston for the world championships to watch Travis Cooper, Jared Fleming, Caine Wilkes, and Holley Mangold compete for Team USA.

Once that is over, it will be back to my normal boring life.


Rowing and more rowing.

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After my 5k run on Sunday, I woke up Monday morning and decided to give a 5k row another shot.  I managed to do it in 20 min and 12 seconds, a pretty decent PR and very close to my goal of 20 minutes flat.  I believe that I am going to have to do some intervals this week, because it would be very hard mentally to keep doing hard 5k’s every day.  I think 10ea 500 meter intervals might work!


Another 5k.

I ran my second 5k this morning.  My time was 34 minutes and 22 seconds, which is a little slower than what I wanted.  It is a little faster than my last race, but I was aiming for something a little closer to 32 minutes.  Oh well, it is about a minute and a half faster than I have done before, and in a few weeks I am sure my next one will be better.

The race was in Uptown Charlotte, and started right in front of the Nascar hall of fame,as you can see in the picture.  That is Kasey Kahne’s car behind me, and the race raised raised money for Novant Health Hemby Childrens Hospital.

I need to focus more on my rowing for the next couple of weeks anyway.  I challenged Veronica (Jared Flemings girlfriend) to a 2k rowing contest last night.  I plan to continue running 2.5 miles every afternoon, but for the next couple of weeks I am going to row a 5k each morning before work.  The race is supposed to happen on Halloween day.

I really, REALLY want to beat Veronica.

 

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A little rowing.

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I have really been concentrating on running lately.  I just ran my first 5k a couple of weeks ago, and I am planning on another one next weekend.  On top of that, I just had my bike tuned up, and have started riding it to work which has been a change of pace and actually made me a little sore for a while.  But we had a weekend seminar at MDUSA this weekend, and it has been raining lately and between getting up about 3o min early for the seminar and the rain,  I did not run or ride this weekend.  I probably needed the rest but this afternoon I was feeling a little lazy so I decided to try and row a good time for a 5k.

My old PR for a 5k row was 21 min 15 sec, and  today I rowed a 5k in 20 minutes 42 seconds.   I stuck pretty close to a 2.o5 pace the whole way, and I definitely think a 20 min flat 5k is doable at this point.  In fact I think if I went back to rowing a 5k once a week for the next 2-3 weeks it wouldn’t be that hard.

I guess I will see this weekend if all this cross training pays off with a new 5k running PR…

 


Sept 15th 2015

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This is the first digital watch I have owned in years.  As soon as I got done with my first 5k, I got the itch to run faster.  So yesterday I went out and invested in a new digital watch to help me keep track of my times more accurately.

Since I ran the 5k I have been doing a quick run every morning of about 1 mile, followed by a longer run later in the day of about 2.5 miles.  I don’t go that fast in the morning, but in the afternoon I have been getting steadily faster over the past 7 days.  The day after I ran the 5k I ran the 2.5 miles pretty slow, it took me roughly 40 minutes.  Definitely more of a slow jog than a run.  But I ran the distance faster every day, and yesterday I ran it in 24min and 25 seconds.  That is below a 10 min mile pace, and that milestone is what prompted me to go out and buy a new digital watch.

My friends know how tight I am with money, and they will understand how big a deal this was to me to prompt me to go out and buy something like a new watch.

I am now anxiously awaiting my second 5k, and hoping to complete it with a pace of less than 10 minutes per mile!