Thursday, July 31, 2008

Starting Up Again

Whether you have taken some time off of training or have never trained before, it can be confusing to determine where to start. You may also find that you are working with people in this very situation and feel frustrated that you can not have them do the "hardcore" exercises that you wish. This doesn't mean that you start doing a 12-week "corrective" program.

Rather, there are many ways to progress into a specific exercises. The chin-up is a great example. While many like to use bands to help progress through chin-ups, the truth of the matter is that bands provide the wrong strength curve. Therefore, people really don't progress as quickly. Using suspension training with the Jungle Gym we can create a series of progressions that are more specific to chin-up training.

That is why I created the L.I.F.T. System (loaded integrated functional training). The concept was developed after examining what my clients spend most of their time training with and how we got them to certain goals. In this week's video I go through an introduction of the L.I.F.T. program and how to get started. It is amazing that these three pieces of equipmet really can replace a whole gym and are fun to train with!

You can also read my article on the L.I.F.T. System at the link below:

Intro to the L.I.F.T. articles

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Hard Core Going Mainstream!

This is blowing my mind! We are breaking down the walls of nonsense training everyday. It seems as each day goes by we are getting into the mainstream and showing people that hard work can be fun, challenging, and most importantly...result producing! This past week we have had some big time promotions going on!

Mike Mahler gives us a big plug at

Click on the link below to see Mike's Killer Sledgehammer and Ultimate Sandbag Program!

People are also realizing the sandbags can produce amazing fat loss! Arnel Ricafranca of has become a big fan of our sandbag program and is promoting it as a key component to making great fat loss progress.

More importantly, Arnel demonstrates you can get real results training at home!

So, to thank all of you for your support over the years, I want to give you a free e-book of my 10 favorite sandbag workouts! Click on the link below to download it for free!

In Strength,
Josh Henkin, CSCS

Sunday, July 20, 2008

I Hate Excuses

There is a big difference between unrealistic dreams and challenging goals. Sometimes they are a fine line, but helping people reach their goals no matter how big or small can be very inspiring. On the flip side it is just as heartbreaking to watch people to be self destructive. A highly popular video that can't be played enough says it all...

Why bring this up? It is almost getting depressing to read training information on the internet nowadays. Ten years ago when I first began reading this new media for training information I could not wait to read an updated version. New updates meant new training information, at that time everything seemed new. The industry had yet to catch up with this new outlet for information. As the years have passed it has saddened me to see that now training information had fallen into "who's system sucks more" and "why you can't do this lift it is dangerous".

It becomes almost paralyzing to read such articles. And yet in the past few years the strongest people I have met are probably those that have read the least of these "must reads". Sure, we can all benefit from sharing and learning new ideas, but not at the expense of not trying to be innovative ourselves. This past year especially I have had the pleasure of meeting some great lifters that probably could not tell you about the motor neurons, the weakness of the labrium, or anything such as these. What they can share with you is how to be extraodinary.

In fact, it has made me think back to the past few years for myself. My life has changed greatly and so have priorities. However, I was inspired myself to look back at some videos over the past few years when fear wasn't as strong even for myself.

This isn't to say that learning is a bad idea. Obviously quite the opposite, with some great new ideas I have learned this year I find that I can almost still accomplish those same lifts even though I haven't been training them specifically. However, I find myself taking a break from the whole internet training side. Some may think that is odd or unprofessional, but in the upcoming weeks I hope to expose the contradictions that causes more useless debates and less on training.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Are You Up For The 100 Yard Challenge?

Today I was fortunate enough to speak with Monkey Bar Gym creator, Jon Hinds. Jon is one of my favorite people to speak to because he doesn't have to reference elite athletes results to prove his system works, rather he tells me about the incredible results his 40+ clients get. What makes for high level results? Check this video out of Jon and his friend at the age of 45 climbing down a flight of 34 stairs, oh, on his hands!!

This isn't just a circus trick, such feats demonstrate great control of the core, upper body strength and stability, as well as strength endurance. I really consider this type of strength functional as Jon can also snatch two 97lb kettlebells
, not too shabby!

What were some of the highlights of our conversation?

-All training must stem from proper alignment.

-This postures should be able to be held for 1 minute and they are active postures, not just static.

-Stability, strength, power can be adapted to any fitness level and is an appopriate and necessary progression for any fitness individual.

-Bands are ideal for power training and can create immense levels of power used properly. Jon dominated the NFL combine 225 bench press test after only using his power push-up 2 system.

-The Jungle Gym is such a powerful tool it led Jon's Mom at 78 to do her first chin-up and helped one of Jon's trainer's Matt go from being unable to perform 1 pistol to 81 in a row at 6'5!

-The Power Wheel was designed as a more functional training technique for the NFL combines rather than the bench press.

-Speed and power dominant athletics, not necessarily maximal strength.

-Contrasting bands and sandbags can give you the best of accomodating resistance and "dead weight" training.

Much, much more. Hopefull I will be able to post the interview soon. However, Jon has a new challenge....

The Challenge!
If you can go 100 yards straight walking with you feet on the Power Wheel you can win over $300 of product from Jon. Just send in your video and if you make it under 2minutes you wil be part of a very exclusive club. Check out the video of Steve Maxwell performing the challenge.

Click Here to Read More of Jon's Programs

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Better Performance, Less Back Injuries

I hate making things so much more complicated than they have to be. While science is terrific, many often use it solely to make their systems sound more advanced than they actually are. For some time I believed one concept was pretty well founded in both research and application, that would be rotational power.

Why concern ourselves with rotational development? If we look at most sporting actions they require proper rotational development. Even at some subtle levels, it is rotational strength and power that determine success in activities such as punching, throwing, swinging baseball bats, hockey sticks, golf clubs, throwing kicks, balls, and a host of other movements. Without it success at most sports would be greatly hampered.

However, even if you don't play a sport rotational power is very important. The most common way to injure the low back is to bend over and twist. This places the greatest stress on the disks of the low back. Yet, this tends to be a very common position in every day activities. So, it would be naive of us to neglect training this component. The idea of avoiding such things only makes us more prone to getting injured when we actually do it in real life.

As our mantra goes, "real life fitness", we want you to be able to be dominant in your sport, or enjoy the sport of life. Incorporating some of these movements will take you a long way to enhancing your rotational power.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Lunges vs. Squats The Great Debate!

If there is one thing the fitness and sports performance industry is not short of that is controversy and debates. The best part of most of them is there is not right answer. Typically the answer lies somewhere in the middle and more importantly on the individual and their goals.

One of those classic debates is should one spend more time lunging opposed to squatting. The lunging group will argue that lunges are more functional as we spend more time on one foot performing tasks rather than in a squat. The squatting group will argue that there is no more fundamental and functional exercise than squatting. Who is right? You guessed it, somewhere in the middle.

There are hundreds of research papers demonstrating that squatting does have a very positive carry over to power and speed development. Now, there may be an "optimal" level of strength to attain in the squat, but one can not argue the effectiveness. Unilateral work, i.e. lunging, is interesting as the recruitment pattern within the body is slightly different and there are obvious benefits as far as dynamic stability and flexibility.

The end result? Use both!! However, I do find that people will rarely spend time maximally developing their lunges. Often they are throw in exercises and people neglect training maximal strength or power. In the video below I demonstrate how beneficial various lunging progressions with the sandbag can help all these qualities.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Fighting Holiday Fat!

4th of July might be almost as abused as the winter holidays. The amount of greasy, fatty, and fried foods along with alcohol can be quite impressive by some individuals. Hopefully getting it out of the system and seeing the impact of the crazy weekend makes one very motivated to train! Yep, Monday seems to be New Years resolution day most weeks. Well, instead of jumping on the treadmill or the elliptical I have developed a system of training to help burn fat. Our sandbags seem to be a perfect vehicle for this training.

As I put the finishing touches on the new Sandbag Fat Loss course, I want to discuss one of the principles that help tremendously. As many of you know by now, interval training has been shown to be far more effective for fat loss than steady state cardio. If you want to read more on this specific topic you can read my article, Interval Fat Loss Training Yet, sprinting and other forms of interval training do not seem realistic for many.

To get around having to be on cardio equipment or fight the elements, or bad running habits is to focus on big bang strength exercises. Our sandbags can be used for well over 200 drills and we can find a few to help that fat burning process.

This week I am discussing the value of density training and focusing on four exercises. I know, doing only four sounds insane! Hey, I didn't say these were four easy exercises. In fact, performing these four will hit every muscle from head to toe and everything in between. They focus on strength and power, mobility and stability. Watch this week's video on how to optimize density training to start burning off the hotdogs, beers, and other goodies you indulged in this past weekend!

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

A Lesson in Strength

I was so excited about last weekend's trip to Sorinex that I needed to digest some of the important lessons I learned. While I did attend for some business reasons, the result of my trip went far deeper than just making a great contact.

1. You don't need to train maximal weight every day to get strong. In fact, you can train maximal strength rather infrequently and still get scary strong. I remember first hearing about this through champion powerlifter, Ed Coan's training. Ed Coan was well known for careful cycling of his training intensities and was one of the top powerlifters for years.

I was speaking with "Big Tex" (Donnie Thompson's training partner) and he was referring to himself in making a classic strength mistake. Big Tex was explaining to me his challenges in learning how to consistently dominate a 400 pound stone in strongman competitions. He knew that strength was not a limitation as he had lifted loads far greater in training. The problem he said was his conditioning. During both a series and a long competition day he wouldn't have a lot in the tank to make it through to the final stone. Since he has incorporate conditioning drills and drills focusing on his speed he now has improved greatly without changing much of his maximal strength.

I found this true as well. For the past few weeks I had been working on not only improving my conditioning, but also correcting some imbalances and improper motor patterns I developed. The result was hitting a PR of 24 pounds on my kettlebell clean and jerk. Stone lifting with Big Tex I found the stone not only feeling relatively light not having any warm-up, but also I had better use of my hips and my fatigue was no obstacle.

2. Don't you dare use age as a limitation. In the video below you can see Richard Sorin at age 58 one-arm deadlift 405!! Richard never took any real break from training. He never saw age as a time he should decline in his training. In fact, many of the people training this weekend were well into their 40's and not just maintaining, but still making PRs. So, what is the difference?




Hard Work

Taking action in taking care of themselves.

3. Everything works! Yes, we have all heard this over and over again, but we still seem to want to be married to certain ideas. I don't think I have ever been in a room with Olympic lifters, Powerlifters, Strongmen, Field Athletes, and people that perform Crossfit all at the same time. The importance? You have to make sure the type of training that you are using matches your goals.

Yep, we all get sucked into our own personal biases. A great coach can discern when to use certain methods and hold off on others. I remember speaking with my good friend Geoff Neupert about his days coaching at Rutgers. Geoff is an excellent Olympic lifter, this would make most automatically think that all of his athletes did some form of the O-lifts. The truth Geoff told me, was that very few athletes every performed O-lifts and they had great success with other strength lifts like squats, deadlifts, dips, and pull-ups. A great example of knowing what will best benefit yourself or those that work with you.

4. Atmosphere, atmosphere, atmosphere...I know it is important, but it was reinforced so strongly to me this past weekend. I once heard that the best aspect of Westside Barbell is the atmosphere they create. I don't think on a normal day I would have pulled off some of my PRs, but being with very positive people that screamed to get you to your best made all the difference in the world. Watch for those training partners!!

For more inspiration check out the video done by Sorinex covering the whole weekend.