2012 Ironmind Meet

at Ironworks Gym in Creswell, OR

2013 Strength Visions Calendar

Got yours?

"Outstanding work of art... The photos used are great and the arrangement of them makes it more unique... I hope all those who train with weights appreciate the effort you put into producing this special calendar." 
- Tommy Kono, Olympic U.S. World Champion Weightlifter 

"It's beautiful and fantastic. You have a great eye for capturing the essence of strength and power." 
- Jim Schmitz, USA Weightlifting Coach

Xmas Play 2012

2013 will be lucky...

The Why We Love Weightlifting Video Project

Attention weightlifting enthusiasts everywhere: I am launching a video project about YOU. Check out the starter. I've been working on this for a couple of years. I invite voices from all levels in the sport. Contact me to arrange an interview or for details on how to submit your own raw clips. Let's see just how big we can help this love grow.

Strength Rituals - call to support an important project

Exciting news! Strength Rituals is a new website from Chip Conrad featuring his new online show - Strength Rituals. This show will interview physical culturists and spread their word to the world. Check out the video and please consider throwing a few shekels to this admirable project. Goal is to raise $10,000 in 43 days.

Zen Funnies

Starting to collect these...

Tommy Kono's home gym

This is Tommy Kono with a photo of his old humble home gym, where he made himself into a world champion Olympic weightlifter and bodybuilder with records unrivaled to this day. So, does your 24-Hour Fitness have towel service?

Taken at Bodytribe Fitness in Sacramento Aug. 2012


There is nothing so sure
as feeling your own strength.

There is nothing as thrilling
as seeing strength grow -
either your own or
that of one you love.

Strength is overcoming obstacles.
Defeating yourself before you begin -
That is weakness.

Victory at Redwood Empire Championships

The long-sought 60KG clean and jerk! First place in masters women! Competed alongside Jim Schmitz and Chip Conrad. Hung with Butch Curry and still more awesome Bodytribers. Hit the beach after and saw the Golden Gate bridge for the first time. A great experience all the way around!

Kat Ricker takes First Place in Masters Women on July 7, 2012 at Plaza Park in Cotati, California

2012 Oregon State WL Championships

It was a good meet.

I'm older than you think

From the book Venus with Biceps

Learning the Turkish Get Up

It's been a while in coming, but I'm finally starting to get the hang of it!

Great excerpt from post on recovery vs. resting, from whole9life.com

Recovery 101

You don’t get fitter when you are training. Whether you CrossFit, or Zumba, or swing kettlebells, or run marathons… you get fitter when you are recovering from that training.
Being committed to recovery means that sometimes you don’t train hard, even if you really want to, and even if everyone else is doing it.
A commitment to recovery may mean that you take ice baths sometimes.
It means that when all you want is pizza and a beer, you choose a nutritious meal instead.
It means that you put away the computer/TV/smartphone/video game and go the heck to sleep.
It means that you spend some intimate time with your foam roller, lacrosse ball, stick, ice pack, or other self-care tool/torture device.
It means that you watch and learn from Kelly Starrett getting his supple leopard on.
It may mean that you seek out a reputable practitioner of your preferred therapeutic approach: massage, Rolfing, acupuncture, chiropractic care, naturopathic or functional medicine.
It might mean that you use your noggin’ and take a pass on a race or competition that really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of Your Life and Health.

2012 Freak Show

Great experience at the Freak Show held April 28 at Aberdeen High School in Washington. Thanks to Mike Cook for guest coaching me the day of. I may have broken ground in Washington - John Thrush himself allowed me to use the 20KG "men's" bar! Ear to ear, baby! I overnighted and found a great little seafood place on the bay - ate two Halibut dinners the night before. The meet was combination weightlifting and powerlifting - organized, well run and lots of competitors. A prime rib dinner followed for all competitors! Mike and I both took away Samurai swords!

Sugar Ray Leonard Interviews Freddie Roach

Procioceptors and stability training

Read an article a while ago arguing that training on unstable surfaces (like Bosu stuff) denies training the procioceptors and fails to train the body for the real world of stable surfaces. Can anybody help me find info on this perspective?

It makes sense. Whose upper body strength would you have more faith in - someone who trains with one-armed handstands, or someone who pushes into a balloon? In sports, you train for the sport you play. If you are a weightlifter, would you train for tennis? Sure, there may be some carryover benefits, but overall, there's little direct benefit for your weightlifting. In life, it's the same. Our bodies are made for a world that is constructed of solid surfaces and solid resistance such as gravity.

I can see how attractive the idea of instability surface training is. I was into it when it was hot in the '90s. You figure if your stabilizers are firing, they must be developing. But that's only true to a point. They, or rather your body, seeks a task to master and develops accordingly. If you are training for the task of standing still on a wobbly ball, that's one thing. But if you are training for a task which you will perform on a stable surface, like most tasks on earth, then your body may be using a lot of energy firing off stabilizer responses it cannot employ for the goal task. So it's either a waste of energy, or a shotgun approach that may land a few hits, or both. The procioceptors are denied practical training in this environment because of its artificial construction. Their purpose is to give you a sense of self, where your body is, where your limbs are... That's built from a reference point. Without the reference point, they simply cast about.

Most situations demand you not simply to stabilize, but to push off. It's the combined development of these stabilizing forces and prime movers which delivers the most complete benefit. So when the instability craze emerged, it did address a need: the industrial fitness complex had created a population with developed prime movers but relatively underdeveloped stabilizers. Now what we're seeing, unwitting as it may be, is the next stage of development: the return to multijoint exercise (Oly weightlifting, Crossfit, old school strength training) on solid surfaces (the floor, the ground, the platform) using unstable sources of resistance (free objects or freeweights). This is the best of both worlds, and you can't argue the results. This is the strongman of old, of now, of the future. Call it classic for a reason. It won't go away. The simplest, most practical, real-life training in the world is picking something up and moving it.

But I'd like to track down some solid research on this. Any help appreciated.

Here's a good one. This study compared folks doing overhead presses on balls vs. benches, with both dumbbells and barbells.

Kohler JM, Flanagan SP, Whiting WC., Department of Kinesiology, California State University, Northridge, California. J Strength Cond Res. 2010 Feb;24(2):313-21.

From the abstract - "The results showed that as the instability of the exercise condition increased, the external load decreased... The findings provide little support for training with a lighter load using unstable loads or unstable surfaces."


Another good one.

The use of instability to train the core musculature
Behm DG, Drinkwater EJ, Willardson JM, Cowley PM, School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, NL A1C 5S7, Canada. dbehm@mun.ca Appl Physiol Nutr Metab. 2010 Feb;35(1):91-108.

From the Abstract - "While unstable devices have been shown to be effective in decreasing the incidence of low back pain and increasing the sensory efficiency of soft tissues, they are not recommended as the primary exercises for hypertrophy, absolute strength, or power, especially in trained athletes. For athletes, ground-based free-weight exercises with moderate levels of instability should form the foundation of exercises to train the core musculature. Instability resistance exercises can play an important role in periodization and rehabilitation, and as alternative exercises for the recreationally active individual with less interest or access to ground-based free-weight exercises."


Not all instability training devices enhance muscle activation in highly resistance-trained individuals.
Wahl MJ, Behm DG., School of Human Kinetics and Recreation, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John's, Newfoundland, Canada. J Strength Cond Res. 2008 Jul;22(4):1360-70.

From the abstract - "These results indicate that the use of moderately unstable training devices (i.e., Dyna Disc, BOSU ball) did not provide sufficient challenges to the neuromuscular system in highly resistance-trained individuals. Since highly trained individuals may already possess enhanced stability from the use of dynamic free weights..."

PR'ed at Elite Performance Center meet

Competed in the first-ever Olympic-style weightlifting meet held in tandem with an APA powerlifting meet at Elite Performance Center in Portland. The great news is, I hit a longtime goal of a competition snatch of 45KG. I've hit it in training from time to time, and not anytime recently, so to get it at the meet was great. Our meet was unsanctioned, but there were witnesses! :-)

The meet was crazy, and just because of that, it's one of my favorite meets I'd done. We were the cool sideshow to the largest powerlifting meet in the NW. It was fantastic exposure for WL. Most people there had never seen Oly WL before, and they found it fascinating. We had people asking us questions. By the end, we had more people watching our little hemmed-in platform – with no sound, no warm-up space, no timer or timekeeping – than the bench up on the main stage. It was a great experience for all of us. We had a great supportive and cooperative vibe going on - We had to. We did warm-up lifts in between attempts, on the single 6 x 6' platform. We had just one Oly bar, and one powerlifting squat bar, which is what I got stuck on. The small bag of chalk ran out with my clean and jerks. Also keep in mind how different the environment is between powerlifting and Oly WL - powerlifting likes the audio stimulation at high volume; generally you can hear a pin drop in WL meets. So to thrive under those conditions, we all did very well indeed.

It was judged on Sinclair with an age coefficient; I took second for women, but there were only three of us :-) Got a Starbucks card.

Thanks, Nick Horton of PDX Weightlifting and EPC for making this meet a reality. ... And I got to see the legendary Chris Duffin squat!

Mighty Kat Home Gym in Newberg Graphic

Made da papers this week...

Mighty Kat Home Gym article

Dual Powerlifting & Oly Weightlifting Meet in Portland

This is gonna be good.

D'Art at EPC

Elite Performance Center will be hosting a big event Saturday, March 31st - Portland's first-ever combined Olympic-style weightlifting and powerlifting meet. The powerlifting will be APA sanctioned. The weightlifting meet, run by PDX Weightlifting, will not be sanctioned. While this is going on, I will have a photo installation on the walls. It will be there for five weeks total - see the dates above.

This is going to be a special event for all involved. If you're in the Portland area, don't miss it!

New USA Weightlifting logo

Behold! New this year (2012)

Down with the "women's bar"! A Rant

I'd like a shot at whoever came up with this women's bar nonsense.

The 15 KG weightlifting bar, or "women's bar," as it is more commonly known, provides a lighter weight alternative for beginners or anyone who may not be ready to wield the 20 KG bar.

This bar has a thinner diameter - 25 mm, compared to 28 mm in the men's, or standard, bar. Some versions are also shorter and have differences in knurling. This difference in diameters is dramatic!

Where does this notion come from that women have smaller hands than men? Some do, but not all. I'll bet not even most do.

The problem comes when this 15 KG bar is mandatory for women in competition. I own both bars, and I've competed both in meets which require women to use this bar and those which do not use this bar at all. The women's bar does not fit my hands. Using it is a handicap.

Not only is my grip hindered, the difference in weight distribution is tremendous when you snatch in the 40s. Think about what a dramatic difference the distribution of five kilos is when the total weight is 40 KG. If I were a physicist or mathematician, I could make a quantitative argument; but what I can say is the bar behaves differently at this weight. The loaded 15 KG bar needs a different trajectory, because it wants to fly away from me when I pull it the way I pull the 20.

I spent the past several weeks training with both bars and then the 15KG bar exclusively for a meet which imposes this bar on all women. Although I did become more adept with it in training, it didn't really pan out in competition. In competition, your body retreats to its most hardwired training, and for me, that's the standard bar, the one that feels good in my hands and behaves the way I expect it to in a lift. I take responsibility for my performance and I'm not looking to make excuses, but I know this bar affects my lifts, especially in the heat of a meet. I'm going to avoid meets which require that I use this bar.

If these bars are used in a meet, they certainly should not be mandatory. Nor should they be based on gender. That's ridiculous. In some elite meets, I understand that some men use the 15 KG bar. That makes sense if it is correlated to hand size.

If this bar is designed to fit smaller hands, then only those with smaller hands should be using it in a competition. If this bar is designed for lighter weight, then let's have 15 KG bars with the standard 28 mm diameter (there are such training bars - aluminum, just 15LBS). But if it is designed to address gender, then the philosophy is fatally flawed to begin with.

The solution is simple: change the structure of the meet so everyone on the 15KG bar goes first, and the 20KG bar goes second. Or do like we do in Oregon and don't allow 15KG bars at all. We're old school here.

Who benefits from the 15KG bar the most? Equipment makers and distributors. If the buyer is convinced they need a supply of two different kinds of bars, the seller can sell twice as many bars. Why do we have so many machines in the industrial fitness complex box gym model? Because equipment makers and distributors convinced everyone they needed to buy all this junk. If we compromise, ask who we are compromising for.

Our responsibility is not to equipment makers or salesmen, nor to the mostly men in charge who impose arbitrary rules based on flawed ideas. Our responsibility is to ourselves, to our communities, and to the lifts themselves, to perfect this experience as much as possible.

Here are a couple pictures of my hands after a few weeks of training with both bars. Because my grip is different - my fingers are curled well under my palms - it's screwing up my callouses. You can see a lower second row setting in on my palm, some new ones on my fingers, and the bigger damage - the longstanding callous on the side of my hand, between thumb and forefinger, split down to the pink meat. That smarts. Almost as much as having my performance compromised because I'm forced to use equipment that doesn't fit.

Come on, folks. If you have this bar in your gym and you want to use it in your meets, fine. But give us women the choice to use it or not.

Going Under

Doubt - It may lead you to confirm belief.
Question - It may lead you to understand.
Honor obstacles - For a set amount of time. Your strength to overcome them may gather.
Rest - So your energy may be restored.
Release control - To remember it is only an illusion.

Go under.
Shut out. Be silent. Give over. Lie in the darkness. Be weak for the moment. Incubate.

Emotion points you down to dwell where the mind and spirit can reset. Exercise your intelligence in these murky depths. Release your grasp so your muscles do not become rigid around an idea. You will be rigid when you are dead.

What comes from strength goes to strength. If you are on the right path and in fact strong in your footing, you will emerge renewed, enhanced and sure. Bank your embers to build yourself dynamic and hot, not a cold automaton enslaved to your higher ideals through rote and routine. Only then can you be free in your chosen path, and your fire will burn bright.

Dariotis Memorial 2012

Took 2nd Place in 63 KG with a 95 KG total today at this very large meet at Thrush Sports Performance Center in Sumner, WA. That's John Thrush mugging in the background in my blurry phone pic! Wish it was clearer! Impressive facility, friendly meets, lots of amazing lifters.

Not my best performance, but after a number of significant physical setbacks the past few months, I'm plenty happy.

Bottles in Window photo retrospect

The Nightlife

Bumper racks

My first wood project design.

That's how I don't roll!

New Year's Day haul from Goodwill