“Seek opportunities to show you care. The smallest gestures often make the biggest difference.”
John Wooden

Saturday, January 24, 2015


Coach Mark Rippetoe talks strength training, functional fitness, and more.

January 2015

With a 622-pound squat, 396-pound bench and 633-pound deadlift, Mark Rippetoe wasn’t the strongest lifter in his day. That said, his knowledge has resonated with athletes for nearly 40 years. A strength coach and author of "Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training" Rippetoe believes that a barbell is the only tool you need to improve sports performance, pack on muscle, and get super strong. Check out what “Rip” has to say about “functional fitness,” and how to become a  stronger, more advanced lifter.
Muscle & Fitness: What defines a novice, intermediate and advanced lifter?
Mark Rippetoe: Somebody that’s really strong can’t get much stronger easily but somebody who’s never trained before can get stronger quickly. A novice hasn’t progressed very far towards their physical potential and can recover from the stress of one workout in 48-72 hours. By recover, I mean the body adapts to a specific overload event (the workout) in order to be able to lift more weight in the future. You’re only a novice for about 6-8 months then you’re intermediate. Strong and adapted to stress, now it takes heavier weight and more volume to overload, and recovery from heavier weights and more volume takes 5-7 days. An advanced athlete will likely be a competitive weightlifter and it may take a month or more to accumulate and  recover from the stress of an overload.
How many exercises should the intermediate lifter be doing per workout?
People trying to be strong need to use eight exercises their entire career. We select exercises based on their ability to use the most muscle mass over the greatest effective range of motion. We don’t balance on Bosu balls with one foot behind us and one in front with 10-pound dumbbells in our hands because that doesn’t cause adaptation to occur. It’s not hard enough.
What is the best way to get conditioned while trying to build strength?
Although a novice gets in better condition by getting stronger, there’s a role for conditioning in the post novice athlete. The Prowler is the most useful conditioning cool because it doesn’t have an eccentric component and therefore doesn’t cause inflammatory soreness response.
Is there a role for direct ab work for core strength?
Weighted situps can be a productive exercise for somebody who has never hurt their back. If you tweak your back, avoid situps and back extensions forever. Conventional wisdom is that by doing situps and back extensions we strengthen our core, but I would ask you to reflect upon situps and back extensions versus a 500-pound deadlift for the strength of muscles that keep the spine still.
What role does sports specific training for a competitive athlete?
There should be no attempt made to make strength training look like your sport because that waters down the effectiveness of the exercise you’re trying to do to obtain strength. There is no such thing as sports-specific strength training. The most efficient way to acquire strength is the way you acquire strength. Then, practice on the field with the movement patterns in which you use the strength as applies it to the sport.
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Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Dick LeBeau's career built on close relationships

Troy Polamalu and Dick LeBeau
There has to be a good reason Dick LeBeau wants to continue coaching, why, at 77 and having just been pushed out by the Steelers after a long run, he wants to go to a new team and start over.
The easy guess is LeBeau is afraid of what comes after football. Joe Paterno had the same fear. Paterno knew that longtime coach and friend Bobby Bowden had said famously many times, "After you retire, there's only one big event left." He also knew that another legendary colleague, Bear Bryant, retired in December 1982 and died in January 1983 at 69.
There's also the competition factor. Anyone who knows LeBeau will tell you he will do anything to beat you. He loves to try to outwit offensive coordinators who have all the advantages because of NFL rules that are designed to promote high-scoring football. He has been doing it for years and years, decades and decades. You can't get that thrill, that sense of satisfaction when it happens, anywhere else.
But there's more behind LeBeau's plan to keep coaching. He will tell you the best part of his professional career is the relationships he has made over 56 NFL seasons as a player and a coach. No one has been more respected, more revered, more beloved in the game. It's hard to walk away from that. How do you walk away?
"I've been blessed," LeBeau said a few years ago. "The players are like family to me. What more could a man ask for?"
The players lovingly call LeBeau, "Coach Dad." Before each morning meeting, he would tell them, "Men, this is a great day to be alive." They believed it, at least in part because he was standing in front of them. That's the gift LeBeau has, even more than his knowledge of defensive X's and O's, which is vast. As longtime friend Bobby Knight put it in a 2006 interview with the Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac, "He captivates your attention." LeBeau's players want to excel, not just for themselves and the team, but for him. They don't want to let him down. They will do anything for him. Literally.
"If he tells us to jump off a cliff, I believe we would do it," former defensive end Aaron Smith once said. "If he tells us to do anything, we do it because we know it's the right thing."
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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

The Secret to Raising Smart Kids

HINT: Don't tell your kids that they are. More than three decades of research shows that a focus on “process”—not on intelligence or ability—is key to success in school and in life
Jan 1, 2015 |By Carol S. Dweck
A brilliant student, Jonathan sailed through grade school. He completed his assignments easily and routinely earned As. Jonathan puzzled over why some of his classmates struggled, and his parents told him he had a special gift. In the seventh grade, however, Jonathan suddenly lost interest in school, refusing to do homework or study for tests. As a consequence, his grades plummeted. His parents tried to boost their son's confidence by assuring him that he was very smart. But their attempts failed to motivate Jonathan (who is a composite drawn from several children). Schoolwork, their son maintained, was boring and pointless.
Our society worships talent, and many people assume that possessing superior intelligence or ability—along with confidence in that ability—is a recipe for success. In fact, however, more than 35 years of scientific investigation suggests that an overemphasis on intellect or talent leaves people vulnerable to failure, fearful of challenges and unwilling to remedy their shortcomings.
The result plays out in children like Jonathan, who coast through the early grades under the dangerous notion that no-effort academic achievement defines them as smart or gifted. Such children hold an implicit belief that intelligence is innate and fixed, making striving to learn seem far less important than being (or looking) smart. This belief also makes them see challenges, mistakes and even the need to exert effort as threats to their ego rather than as opportunities to improve. And it causes them to lose confidence and motivation when the work is no longer easy for them.
Praising children's innate abilities, as Jonathan's parents did, reinforces this mind-set, which can also prevent young athletes or people in the workforce and even marriages from living up to their potential. On the other hand, our studies show that teaching people to have a “growth mind-set,” which encourages a focus on “process” (consisting of personal effort and effective strategies) rather than on intelligence or talent, helps make them into high achievers in school and in life.
The Opportunity of Defeat
I first began to investigate the underpinnings of human motivation—and how people persevere after setbacks—as a psychology graduate student at Yale University in the 1960s. Animal experiments by psychologists Martin Seligman, Steven Maier and Richard Solomon, all then at the University of Pennsylvania, had shown that after repeated failures, most animals conclude that a situation is hopeless and beyond their control. After such an experience, the researchers found, an animal often remains passive even when it can effect change—a state they called learned helplessness.
People can learn to be helpless, too, but not everyone reacts to setbacks this way. I wondered: Why do some students give up when they encounter difficulty, whereas others who are no more skilled continue to strive and learn? One answer, I soon discovered, lay in people's beliefs about why they had failed.
In particular, attributing poor performance to a lack of ability depresses motivation more than does the belief that lack of effort is to blame. In 1972, when I taught a group of elementary and middle school children who displayed helpless behavior in school that a lack of effort (rather than lack of ability) led to their mistakes on math problems, the kids learned to keep trying when the problems got tough. They also solved many more problems even in the face of difficulty. Another group of helpless children who were simply rewarded for their success on easier problems did not improve their ability to solve hard math problems. These experiments were an early indication that a focus on effort can help resolve helplessness and engender success.
Subsequent studies revealed that the most persistent students do not ruminate about their own failure much at all but instead think of mistakes as problems to be solved. At the University of Illinois in the 1970s I, along with my then graduate student Carol Diener, asked 60 fifth graders to think out loud while they solved very difficult pattern-recognition problems. Some students reacted defensively to mistakes, denigrating their skills with comments such as “I never did have a good rememory,” and their problem-solving strategies deteriorated.
Others, meanwhile, focused on fixing errors and honing their skills. One advised himself: “I should slow down and try to figure this out.” Two schoolchildren were particularly inspiring. One, in the wake of difficulty, pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips and said, “I love a challenge!” The other, also confronting the hard problems, looked up at the experimenter and approvingly declared, “I was hoping this would be informative!” Predictably, the students with this attitude outperformed their cohorts in these studies.
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