Miscellaneous Miscellany Monday: Bar Speed, Introverts, Charlie Weingroff Seminar

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1. One of the funniest conversations I ever had in the gym happened like two years ago when one of our football guys – who’s since become a great friend and is now in law school – was prepping for an “open” NFL Combine.

Having had a successful collegiate career and even spending some time playing professionally overseas in Europe, he decided to give it one last “horrah,” and try to hook up with a team through a handful of open tryouts.

One day while testing his 1RM in the bench, he missed at like 325 lbs. After racking the weight, he stood up, looked at me, and started asking what went wrong:  did he jump up in weight too fast?  Did he lose his arch? Maybe he didn’t allow enough time to supercompensate? Was it because it was Thursday?

I shrugged, looked at him point blank, and said:  “dude, it was too heavy.”


There was a split second of crickets chirping – maybe even a slight fear that he’d end up punching me in the mouth for saying something so candidly – but then we both just started laughing out loud.  Even elite athletes tend to over analyze things.

Regular Joe’s aren’t any different. Almost always, the answer isn’t quite as complicated as you think it is.

I say all of this because there’s one aspect of training that I feel many trainees fail to grasp: BAR SPEED.

Whenever I watch a trainee struggling with hitting their reps on any given exercise, or worse, miss a lift (which, admittedly, is something I try to avoid as much as possible), almost always, it’s due to lack of bar speed – or just being fast in general.

Put another way:  it’s a lack of telling themselves to be explosive.

A great example is when I start working with a new female client and I have her perform a standard push-up.  More often than not, it’s really sllllloooooooowwww. For some reason – whether it’s because someone told them to do so, or they read it somewhere – they feel they need to “grind” out reps in order to work the muscle harder and to feel the burn.

As a result, technique falters, and many will struggle to hit five solid reps. Possibly worse, some will think they’re doomed to do nothing but “girl push-ups” (knees on the floor) till they’re blue in the face

I think that’s a bunch of BS.

Conversely, once I tell them “stop flaring their elbows out FOR THE LOVE OF GOD,” to focus on being a little more explosive, and to push themselves away from the floor as quickly as possible, many are surprised to see they can bang out numerous reps like it’s their J.O.B.

One simple cue, and we automatically increased the level of awesomeness.

Likewise, the same can be said when I coach some of our high school athletes through squats.  Once we have proper technique nailed, I try to instill in them to be FAST.  Even if the weight is heavy and it feels like there’s a Volkswagon on their back, so long as the INTENT to be fast is there, that’s all I care about.

So, bringing this little conversation full-circle, when in doubt, if you find that you’re missing reps:

  • It could very well be that the weight is too heavy.  Take some off.  Just a thought…….
  • More likely, though, it’s probably just a matter of following this simple equation:

Put weight on the bar+ lift it with some purpose = good things will happen.

BE FAST!!!!!

2.  I’m a self-described introvert at heart.  Contrary to popular belief, being introverted doesn’t mean you’re shy, or anti-social, or the Unabomber.  Rather, what it means is that, at times, you gain much of your “energy” from doing things on your own.

I THRIVE off of this.

While my job predicts that I’m “on” much of the time, which is great, I LOVE my job; by the end of the week you’re more apt to find me staying at home with a container of Ben & Jerry’s watching Notting Hill in the local coffee shop or bookstore catching up on some reading than at the local bar.

I crave some down time where I can just sit back, chill, and not have to listen to Rage Against the Machine blaring in my ears.

Having said that, below is an excellent TED talk by Susan Cain titled The Power of Introverts.  If you’re an introvert (and even if you’re not) it’s 20 minutes I feel is well spent.

3.  Charlie Weingroff is coming to my old stomping grounds!!!!!

My first job in New England was back in 2005 where I worked in Ridgefield, CT as a trainer at the Ridgefield Fitness Club.

Without getting too sappy, I look back at my time there with fond memories because 1) it got me the hell out of central NY, and 2) I was able to grow as a professional and understand what it was like to work in an environment with like-minded individuals.

As it happens, they’re going to be hosting a one-day seminar with the one and only Charlie Weingroff, which should be a great opportunity for those in the CT and New York City area (it’s only like a 45-60 minute train ride) to go and get their learn on.

Here’s the dealo:

Date:  April 6, Friday, 12-8 PM

Cost:  $255 early bird by 3/17, $295 regular.

Description:  In this seminar, Charlie will discuss the evidence-based approach to motor control skills acquisition as it relates to corrective exercise. Charlie will also discuss the most contemporary approach to corrective exercise within the context of the Functional Movement System. This class will focus on corrections for the non-painful client or patient.

Contact Info:  Ridgefield Fitness Club, Ridgefield, CT:  203-431-7796

I’m hoping to attend myself, and if I do, you can bet that I’ll get my revenge for the Kenny G incident.  Yes, I’m talking to you Mike Subach.  Oh yes, I’m talking to you. (sorry everyone, inside joke.)

Did what you just read make your day? Ruin it? Either way, you should share it with your friends and/or comment below.

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Plus, get a copy of Tony’s Pick Things Up, a quick-tip guide to everything deadlift-related. See his butt? Yeah. It’s good. You should probably listen to him if you have any hope of getting a butt that good.

I don’t share email information. Ever. Because I’m not a jerk.

Comments for This Entry

  • RS

    Tony, A friend sent me the link to the Susan Cain talk last week; Like you, I highly recommend watching the video. Regarding bar speed, I lucked up by reading A LOT of Chad Waterbury early in my training career, and he preaches incessantly about bar speed and its benefits. I've noticed that when my speed falters, my technique is not far behind.  RS

    March 12, 2012 at 11:27 am | Reply to this comment

  • Rees

    Is this different from the deal he did at IFAST? 

    March 12, 2012 at 12:47 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Marianne Kane

    Tony, I just have to say thank you for posting this video! OMG this has made my day. As a introvert myself this has actually amazed me - I'm normal after all :D And not just some boring/quiet/awkward person who breaks into a sweat at being asked a question in public, or the thought of being the centre of attention at a party LOL - I need time to collect my thoughts and only speak when I have something to say dammit!  I realise starting a video blog seems to go against this, but like Susan explained - it's about taking the spot light even though every bone in my body is shouting "HIDE!".  Even becoming a nurse seemed to go against my natural instinct to hide from view, a bit like Susan becoming a Lawyer. I'm so glad I listened to this.  Cheers Marianne

    March 12, 2012 at 1:10 pm | Reply to this comment

    • Anonymous

       Glad you liked as much as I did Marianne. I just bought her book, Quiet, which goes into more detail on many of things she covered in that short presentation.  You should check it out!

      March 13, 2012 at 8:47 am | Reply to this comment

      • Marianne Kane

        I pre-ordered it on Kindle last night :-) It mustn't be out in the UK yet. 29th March it will be sent to my Kindle, and I can't wait to read more about this.   Thanks again.  M

        March 13, 2012 at 9:03 am | Reply to this comment

  • Alicia

    In my own non-trainer-only-veteran-enthusiast experience I have noticed some generalities with the average Joe and Jane lifter.  The average Joe equates mastery of an exercise with weight amount and speed while most average Jane lifters equate mastery of an exercise to exquisite form.  A dude will drop down and give you 40 strong, fast push-ups with the last 5 displaying a less-than-tight core and with elbows aiming West and East.  Average Jane will spend more time getting in perfect position, then s l o w l y coming down until her nose touches the mat, then up just as slow all the while keeping a great, tight body line.  However, her super slow reps mean she only does 10.  Same thing under the weights.  Average Joe will squat a heavy load, not necessary more than he can handle, but that make his last few reps pretty ugly.  Average Jane is hyper-focused on head up! elbows down! hips back! knees out! that she is under the bar for 10 seconds before a squat is executed.  Combine lack of speed with her fear of losing perfect form for even one rep and it's no wonder progress is hard to make. I think there is something to be said for gently reminding Average Joe to watch his form now and then and not to sacrifice too many reps at the expense of form, AND for reminding Average Jane that if she wants to hit squats at x1.5 bodyweight that getting it done uglier rather than prettier still counts.

    March 12, 2012 at 1:24 pm | Reply to this comment

  • InNeedofWeightLoss

    Article for fat people?

    March 12, 2012 at 4:27 pm | Reply to this comment

  • J.B.

    I'm 2/3 of the way through the book. It's fantastic. Great for both introverts and leaders/teachers/coaches who need to learn to communicate with them.

    March 13, 2012 at 2:05 pm | Reply to this comment

  • Niumt2009

    Thanks Tony! Explains a lot about my family. Passed it on to my sis-in-law, so she can tell my nephew's teacher. Looking forward to reading her book.

    March 14, 2012 at 7:50 am | Reply to this comment

  • Fredbaskin

    Law student, eh? Started thinking about that future job yet? May I make a suggestion? Check out JD Match in between the papers and exams. I work with JD Match and it’s a great step for any law student looking for an AmLaw firm job and a little weight off their shoulders. http://bit.ly/z4afND

    March 14, 2012 at 2:09 pm | Reply to this comment

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    [...] Exercise of the Week: 1-Arm Dumbbell Floor Press – Eric Cressey (Guest Blog: Ben Bruno) Miscellaneous Miscellany Monday: Bar Speed, Introverts, Charlie Weingroff Seminar – Tony Genti... Exercises You Should be Doing: Half-Kneeling Band Overhead Shrug – Tony Gentilcore Foam [...]

    March 17, 2012 at 10:42 am | Reply to this comment

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