The Path to Fitness

The path to Fitness is paved with a couple different stones.   Some of those stones are heavy and meant to be moved only a couple times a day and some are lighter and meant to be moved more frequently and faster.

The first stones we encounter along the way are heavy and meant to be moved only a couple times a day.  The movements we use to move them are meant to produce a lot of force while moving the weights as far as possible.  The first group of these movements are the Olympic Lifts.

The Snatch and Clean and Jerk.  The Snatch has been called the most athletic movement in sport and the clean and Jerk has allowed humans to lift over 500 lbs over head.  The only movement in which we have been able to do that.  These movements have the unique ability to both produce power and strength.  Provided your technique is sufficient, you will get stronger using the Olympic Lifts.

First, your power production will be improved by jumping.  Jumping with weight only makes that power production higher.  Jumping does a couple things:

  • Improves neuromuscular recruitment.  That means activating more neurons on your muscles.
  • Recruits more muscles and increase blood flow allowing for greater force production later in the workout.
  • Jumping with weight allows you to jump higher/farther without weight.

While Jumping is something that we always want to be able to do and jumping higher is just plain fun, there are other benefits to the Olympic lifts.   For just about everyone in the gym, improving flexibility and mobility would both help with performance and help you live a healthier higher functioning life.  By this, you will be able to do more and move better.  The olympic lifts, especially the snatch, will give you the tools to improve your movement.  We can use accessory stretching to aid with this, but with the goal of getting into better positions with the lifts.

Next segment, we talk about classic strength training and the movements we use.

– Dutch Lowy

Thursday S&C Workout:
SN pull+SN x1+1,
Goodmorning x6;

1k row then 12-9-6 reps of:
DB Push Press,
Box jumps

My … Hurts. Part II

The second type of pain is chronic pain. Chronic pain is sometimes caused acutely, but is not given enough time to heal or can be caused by over use, or poor movement patterns. You can see how fixing a movement patter would alleviate pain associated with a movement.

For example, if your knees hurt when you squat, maybe you are shifting too far forward into your toes and putting unneeded stress on your quads which causes strain on the patella tendon and over time will get inflamed and cause pain. This pain can be fixed with some time off and a correction of the squat.

Over use issues are also easily addressed once you figure out the movement that is causing issues. You can either modify the movement or balance it better so there isn’t quite so much tension around the area of pain.

Chronic pain caused by acute injuries can be fixed by taking some time off. The continual bombarding of an area of pain will only serve to make it worse over time.

Of course the decision as to whether an injury is bad enough to keep you from training is your call. I train with pain on a daily basis, but that doesn’t mean it’s good to do. I believe to perform at a high level you have to overlook a bit of sensitivity in your body, but if you aren’t interested in performing at high levels then maybe it’s a better idea to take some time off.

This video is one of my favorites and I have sent it to a couple clients already. It basically summarizes the above paragraph with one little shrug of the shoulders. The old guy in the video is a guy named Ivan Abadjiev, also known as “The Butcher.” He was the weightlifting coach for Bulgaria in his prime back in the 80s and 90s when they won countless olympic gold medals and so many world championships its comical. He created what is know as the Bulgarian Method of weightlifting where you train 2-3 times a day working to a maximum every session in either the Snatch, Clean and jerk, Front Squat, power snatch or power Clean. As you can imagine this would be quite demanding and he has seen his fair share of injuries. His response sums it up for me. If you can still do the movement, then it’s probably going to be ok…

Wednesday S&C Workout:
KBS x10,
Bent over row x8,
TRX knee tucks x10;

50 jump ropes,
200m row,
10 KB walking lunges,
200m row,
OH KB Carry x1,
200m Row,
KB suitcase Carry x1

Youth Weightlifting

Beginning in September, BlackBox will be starting youth weightlifting sessions. These will be open to boys and girls 11 years old and up. They will be $100/month and will last between 45min and 1 hour. They will start Tuesday, Sept 2nd and be ongoing on tuesdays and Thursdays at 430pm.

The value of learning the skill of weightlifting early in life will aid and assist young athletes in every aspect of their athletic career for the rest of their life. We have all said this, but if I had known what I know now as a youngster, I MIGHT have had a better chance at success in sports. This program is initially designed as a way to teach kids how to move better and know their way around a weight room as they get older and exposed to different coaches and training methods. The skills learned here will give them confidence in the way they move and train going forward.

The center piece of this program will be the Olympic lifts and refining technique. We will also use bodyweight exercises and single leg assistance work to create balance and quality movement. In the event that some of these kids want to compete in Olympic style weightlifting, we will most certainly support that!

If you are interested in getting started with this program in September, please call (817)841-8678 or email

My … Hurts.

Yea, mine does too.

Training is fun and rewarding and gives good results, but sometimes it hurts. Deciding whether that hurt is an injury or not is sometimes difficult. Deciding whether to take time off is even more difficult. Let me try to give some guidelines as to which direction you should take depending on how you got your pain.

First, Acute pain is usually not good. I am referring to pain that happens in a moment. For example, if you are running and you step off the sidewalk funny and twist your ankle, you feel pain immediately, this is not good and not something you want to train through. Swelling and pain usually follow and are signs that you should take some time off. Not just from the ankle, but from everything. The thing here is that swelling is a sign of inflammation and inflammation tends to be systemic (affecting the whole body).

So, training other body parts will likely only prolong your ability to heal the actual area that is injured. You can judge whether you have an acute injury by thinking about whether or not you can pinpoint the exact time an injury happened.

My recommendation for injuries like this (provided it’s not a broken structure like a bone or ligament) is to take a couple days/week off and let the inflammation subside, then test some easy low stress movements to see whether there is still pain or if things are getting better.

-Dutch Lowy

Monday S&C Workout:
Superset x3:
8 elevated pushups,
10 supine rows,
rest 90 sec b/t sets,
plank x3;

Round the World x2
1 min at each:
Sled push,
Jump rope


Day 1
Hang Pwr Sn x 3
Sn Pull from above the knee W/ 5 sec descent to knee x 3
FS W/Pause x 4

Day 2:
Pwr Cl+FS+ Pwr Jk x 2+2+2
Jerk x 2
Cl Pull x 5

Day 3:
BS x 6
3 sets of each exercise in order:
Pullups x max reps
DB/BB Bench Press x 12
Bent over DB/KB row x 12
Standing tricep extensions x 12
Shoulder flies x 8 each way

Day 4:
Sn Blocks x 2
Clean x 2
Cl Grip RDL x 4