Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Squat Depth

I hear lots of people always asking, "How high/low should my box squat box be?", or "If I'm free squatting, how deep should I squat?"

First of all, you need to be aware of what is legal depth for the federation you lift in (if you compete). If you don't compete, know that a "good" squat is parallel, meaning top of the thigh at the hip is even with the top of the knee. For the athletes I work with, I'm not a huge stickler for squat depth. If someone is obviously too high, then we correct it. But we're not judging a powerlifting meet, so if their box height is a 1/2 inch high, I'm not going to go berserk over it. After all, athletes are athletes, not powerlifters. So my main concern is squat technique and getting them stronger.

Having said that, your training should be based around that squat height. Sometimes squatting lower, sometimes higher. The majority of our max effort training consists of using a box that is lower than or at parallel. However, we will do some "overload" type training that would allow us to use a heavier weight be anywhere from 1-4 inches above parallel.

If you are using dynamic squats, you should always be at parallel or one inch below. Keep this consistant.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Tips Manual

Check it out. Dave Tate and the rest of us Q&A'ers on EliteFTS.com have all contributed to help put together this Holiday Tips Manual. For a minimum donation of $10, pick one up. ALL proceeds go Make-A-Wish. This could be a great gift for someone that is sorta new to the whole working-out thing.

Contributers include:

Dave Tate—Founder of Elite Fitness Systems; renowned speaker and author and professional powerlifter
Mike Hanley—President of Hanley Strength Systems, LLC and Owner of The Training Studio in Morganville, NJ
Jim Wendler—Senior Editor and Sales Manager of Elite Fitness Systems
The Thinker—Parts Unknown, but a student of Soviet and Eastern Bloc training methodologies.
Alwyn Cosgrove—International Tae Kwon-Do champion; Renown personal trainer, writer and motivational, personal training and business speaker
Zach Even-Esh—Personal trainer and operator of Underground Strength Coach
Jim “Smitty” Smith—Strength Coach with the Diesel Crew
CJ Murphy—Owner and Head Instructor at Total Performance Sports
Shelby Starnes—Nutritionist at Troponin Nutrition
The Angry Coach—When someone is this angry, you learn not to ask
Brian Schwab—No. 1 ranked powerlifter at 148 pounds; WPO Lightweight Champion
Marc Bartley—Owner of Total Gym in South Carolina; One of the premier powerlifters at 275 pounds
Chad Aichs—WPO competitor in the super heavyweight division; Holds AWPC records in all three lifts and the WPO three-lift bench press record
Julia Ladewski—Sports performance coach and No. 1 ranked female powerlifter at 132 pounds Matt Kroczaleski—One of the top powerlifters in the world at 220 pounds; 2006 WPO World Champion Scott Yard—Top bench press and world record setting powerlifting competitor
Chris Clark—Super heavyweight division competitive powerlifter
Justin Harris—Owner of Tropinin Nutrition and the reigning Jr. USA Super Heavyweight Bodybuilding Champion.
Jeremy Frey—Head Strength and Conditioning Coach at the collegiate level; champion powerlifter
Scott Cartwright—Competitive powerlifter who has achieved Elite status in both the 275- and 308-pound weight classes
AJ Roberts—Director of Personal Training and Youth Fitness at a health club in Owensboro, Ky.; Ranked among the top powerlifters in the world in two weight classes.
Jason Ferruggia—Renowned strength and conditioning specialist in the New York/New Jersey area; has trained more than 700 athletes from over 90 different NCAA, NFL, NHL and MLB organizations
Rob Pilger—Known for producing winners and champions in several sports; people seeking fat loss and lean muscular gains have enjoyed much success with his methods
Mike Szudarek—Elite-level powerlifter in the 220-pound weight class; serves on the advisory board for the American Powerlifting Federation.

Get your copy here!!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

We've been MIA...

Julia here... Sorry for the lack of posting lately... things have been crazy. With a bathroom remodeling project finally finished and trying to get the house in order for the baby (due in January), we're back.

Just a few things I've been thinking of lately that I thought I'd share.

1. Why don't I use my kettlebells more often? That's right... they sit all lonely in the corner. I don't know if I just forget about using them or what. But there are SO many things you can do with them. And I love using them with my athletes. It's easier to teach than an Olympic lift and really teaches them how to use their hips explosively. Cleans, swings and snatches are a staple, but I also like to use them for single arm presses, tricep extensions and even overhead lunges.

2. Why don't I do my hip mobility more often? I used to do it religiously... before every workout and sometimes even on my off days. When I got pregnant with my daughter, I fell off the wagon and since then, my hips ache more, my back hurts more and my hamstrings are always tight. I admit it... I've been lazy. But don't underestimate how important this can be.

3. How much is life really going to change with 2 kids? I've heard the transition from 1 to 2 kids isn't bad... it's the 2 to 3 kids transition that's tough. Let's hope that's the case. My daughter will be 20 months when the baby is born, so I'm hoping that she adjusts quickly (as opposed to an older kid who has been an only child for 3 or 4 years). Either way, life will be hectic as it already is. Good thing I have a garage gym to escape to....


Monday, September 15, 2008

Deadlifting tips

If you pull conventional.

If you are weak off the floor turn your toes out for more leg drive but a harder lockout.
Push your knees out to the side.
Line in the bar with the top of your quads before you pull.
Know what eyelets line up under the bar so you can be consistent.
Drive your heels thru the floor.
Pull the tension out of the bar.
Pull back not up when locking out the weight.
Use your weight as a counter balance.
Let your upper back round some.
Use your belly to push off your legs
It should be hard to get to the bar if you have enough air in your belly.
It is okay to start with your head down.

If you pull Sumo.

Squat the weight up.
It will be slow off the floor keep pulling.
If you tend to lose your balance turn your feet forward some.
Push your knees out.
Start with you head up.
Keep your torso upright.
Pull back.

Other things to try or think about

Deadlift off mats
Go heavier for speed pulls (60-70%).
Low box squats work great.
Deadlift against bands will make you work.
Close stance box squats will build the start of your conventional pull.
Ultra wide deadlifts will build the start of your sumo pull.

Monday, August 11, 2008


Next week starts our deload week and it is usually needed by time we get to the end of our third week. We deload every fourth week but in the past I have taken a deload week as I felt it was needed. With a planned deload I feel we can plan our training better and get more out of the same training. When I did not plan for the deload I ended up randomly deloading and miss an important workout that I needed.
For our deload weeks we always cut out the CNS work but keep the muscular work high. We also use these weeks to work on our conditioning, rehab injuries and do some things we might not usually do for powerlifting training. We also have rep contests like kettlebell snatches, 100 glute ham raises in as few sets as possible, Power b jack me ups and other fun stuff.
If you do not use a deload in your own training or with your athletes I highly recommend it. If you are unsure what to do start by cutting your volume to 50% of your normal workload. If you need to get away from your traditional stuff try getting outside for a playground workout or just pull the sled. We find that we are ready to get back to lifting at the end of the deload. As long as your work load is lowered you should be fine. If you are looking for more information about deloading you can check out the links below.

Eric Cressey - The Art of the Deload

Jim Wendler - Deload to Reload

Eric Cressey - The Prehab Deload

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

playground workouts

I ran into a video of these guys on http://www.straighttothebar.com/. These guys are truly amazing.

Get past this guy talking for some great action.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Home gym helper

If you have a home gym like me or a small training studio you might be on a budget and can't get everything you want right away. Here are some items you can pick up at your local hardware store or make with lumber. I live near a big chain hardware store and most of this stuff can be made pretty cheap and will last a long time.


My main platform is eight foot by eight foot. I have some anti-stress rubber mats on the floor underneath to keep the wood dry. The mats I am using have holes in them so when it does rain and gets into the garage it can dry quickly. These are $20 for a 3x3 mat. After that was done I added 2 layers of plywood. One layer runs vertical and the other horizontal. Lastly I have carpet on top that is about $.45 a square foot. This is usually replaced every year.

Box squat box

I did not make this but as you can see its pretty simple. A bunch of 2x6's alternating directions each layer. Then a square of plywood on the top and bottom. This is nice and study but it is a pain to move.

Multi-purpose platform

This little platform started out as a place for our shorter lifters to put their feet when using the lat pulldown but we found other uses as well. We now use two as a platform for handing off when benching and we also use them to elevate our glute-ham-raise. These were made with scraps we had left and are one of the most useful items.

Bench boards

If you are looking for a bigger bench press then board pressing should be in your recipe. We use a 1/2 board all the way up to a 5 board. Pretty simple to make and again very cheap. If you do not want a lot of boards lying around make a one, two, three and stack them if you want a four or five board. Make sure you use 2x6's and not 2x4's they are easier to control and easier to keep in the middle of the bar.

Most of this stuff is pretty simple but can save you some money in the long run.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Computer problems

If you have noticed I have not posted in a while. Our computer had some problems and needed to be fixed. I am now back online but have lost all of my favorites. If you you are like me you are always looking for new information or something that might help you with a workout in the future. Well in trying to locate all of the sites I used to visit I fugured I would pass them along to you as well.


I am still building my list but this is a good start.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Pregnancy Training

Yesterday was Fathers Day and I hope everyone had a great day. In January I will be blessed with another child. So today is about basic training for pregnant females. Most of the items listed below are guidelines from doctors and for the general population. My wife is able to get away with more due to her past training. Make sure any female who is going to workout while pregnant follow all her doctors orders.


Keep your heart rate under 140 bpm.

The doc says no squats. (Julia still does them but lowers the intensity quite a bit). This is due to the softening of connective tissue to prepare for delivery.

Lying on the back to do exercise is also a no-no. Certain positions can restict blood flow to the fetus. Do more incline and overhead pressing or dumbell press on a stability ball.

As far as exercise goes there is not much to avoid. Listening to your body is key. Julia actually improved her bench press and within three months of delivery was setting personal bests.


For this Julia consulted with John Berardi. He had alot of good information and I think it made all the difference. Julia gained only 22 pounds and after giving birth, was actually down about six pounds from where she started. I think most women are fooling themselves when they get pregnant and think it's a free pass to eat whatever they want. This makes it much harder after delivery and also sets up the baby for problems in the future.

No caffine

No artificial sweetners

15 servings of fruits and vegetable (10 veggies and 5 fruits). John said this would be difficult, so get a juicer. Making juice each day with fruit that is close to going bad and alot of greens made it much easier for her to get all the recommended servings everyday.

Avoid processed food. This was a little tougher for Julia. For about six weeks she could not stand the smell or sight of meat. Finding things to eat during this time is a little difficult but soon passes.

A pregnant woman only needs an extra 250 calories a day. Not much - just a snickers.

A woman who is breast feeding will need almost 500 more calories a day.

A fetus will drain away DHA and ARA from the mother. A premium fish oil will help the mother to not feel so tired and drained.

There you have it. The nutrition is much the same as you might recommend to a normal person trying to lose weight but with a few more calories. The training is the same with less intensity and a few positions to avoid.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Rolling up a frying pan by a woman!

pulled post

It was brought to my attention that my last post forwarding so called cancer research from John Hopkins was a hoax. I have since pulled the post and apologize to everyone for my lack or research in the matter. I will not let it happen again in the future. I apologize once again.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Making adjustments to max effort training

For those who do not know me most of my training is Westside based. I was fortunate enough to get to visit Westside Barbell when I first started powerlifting. I continued to visit every month and at one point I was there for six weekends in a row. I followed the basic template and did a max effort single every week. Now about seven years later I have made a few changes to my training.

I have found that I would do a certain lift and not come back to it for a long time. Then if I did not get a record, I would be disappointed and question my training. I found it hard to gauge if I was doing the right things week in and week out to make my lifts improve other than testing in my powerlifting gear. My bench for instance has always been a week point. With very long arms, I must do the right things or it suffers severly. I have tried doing the same exercise two or three weeks in a row but some exercises I could do for three weeks and some I could only do one before I stalled.

So this is how I set up my training over the last 12 weeks. This will look pretty vanilla but you should be able to get the idea. There are also a few things you will need to know.

I have been lifting weights for 17 years so I now feel a deload week should/needs to be added in to stay healthy and keep my mind/body fresh.

I do two main exercises. Thefirst exercise listed was done with the prescribed reps and the second exercise was done for sets of 3-5 for a couple of hard sets.

The first three weeks all max effort exercises were triples. Some exercises were done for singles if it was hard to do reps (like rack pulls).

Every fourth week we did a dumbbell press for three sets to failure on dynamic day and an exercise we do not normally do for a hard set of six on max effort day.

The second cycle doubles were done and the third cycle all singles.

This got me a raw bench pr (I do not normally train for a raw bench increase).

Here is how it would look.


1 - triples (floor press, cambered bar bench)

2 - triples (3 board, suspended lockout)

3 - triples (reverse green bench, 4 board)

4 - rep work, max 6 Illegal wide bench, goodmornings sets of 12, sled work

5 - doubles (same exercise as week 1)

6 - doubles (same exercsie as week 2)

7 - doubles (same exercise as week 3)

8 - same as week 4 - try to beat rep record

9 - singles (same exercise as week 1)

10 - singles (same exercise as week 2)

11 - singles (same exercise as week 3)

12 - new deload exercise

We kept the same assistance exercises for each 4 week cycle. Starting during the deload week.

On the other two days speed work was done and heavy supplemental exercises done second.

My upperbody work went very well and my lower went as well as possible while trying to deal with a knee problem. I am starting a new 12 week cycle and will see how this continues to evolve.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Kettlebell coaching

Here is a link some videos of Jeff Martone talking about kettlebell swings, Turkish getups and some kettlebell juggling. He has some good coaching points and breaks down each into small easy to digest chunks.


Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Live strong day

I think almost every person has a relative or friend that has/had cancer. Today is Live strong day. There are a number of events going on nation wide today. To learn more about Lance Armstrongs foundation visit the website www.livestrong.org.

My wife was able to contribute to Lift Strong a project created by Alwyn Cosgrove. He had cancer not once but twice! He fought and won both times. Now he is giving back. I get nothing from this but the satisfaction of trying to give back myself. This is a collection of over 800 pages of fitness information donated by some of the top fitness professionals around. Alwyn includes his personal emails and notes of his battles with cancer and much much more. Its only $25. Don't go out to eat this week and buy the cd instead. Here is the link again in case you missed it www.liftstrong.com. All Proceeds go to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society.

Saturday, May 3, 2008

This is a maximal effort!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

45 things to do with a weight vest

This is pretty straight forward. Here is a list of things you can do while wearing a weight vest. I do not recommend do any of these the day before a heavy lower body workout.

  1. Go for a walk.

  2. Play tag with your kids.

  3. Do your whole workout with it on.

  4. Clean your house. You gotta do it anyway, might as well kill two birds with one stone.

  5. Drag the sled

  6. Push or pull the prowler

  7. Farmers walk

  8. Walking lunges

  9. Box jumps

  10. Chin ups

  11. Push your car

  12. Safety squat bar squats (pull it down in front so it sits up higher. Go light for higher reps)

  13. dips

  14. Blast strap push-ups

  15. Kettlebell work

  16. Tire flips

  17. Backward med ball throws

  18. Anything on the ramp

  19. Keg Carries

  20. Sandbag shouldering

  21. Bear crawl

  22. Atlas stones

  23. Fat man rows

  24. Calf Glute Hams

  25. Back raises

  26. Tornado ball

  27. Hit a heavy bag

  28. Hit a speed bag

  29. Sledgehammer swings

  30. Running stadium steps

  31. Hang for time

  32. Barbell complex

  33. Turkish get ups

  34. Burpees

  35. Plank

  36. Side Plank

  37. Ab wheel

  38. Cut your grass

  39. Wash your car

  40. Play basketball

  41. Ride your bike

  42. Rollerblade

  43. Ab work

  44. Shovel snow

  45. Jumping jacks

There you have it. If you have any others you would like to add let me know.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Eating good on $30 a week!

With the economy slowing down and gas prices going up, that mean things are going to get more expensive. Everyone needs to eat, and you can eat good for $30 a week. Most people spend $30 a week at restaurants or at the bar. Plan well and eating healthy is not as expensive as you think.

I usually shop at several different stores during the week depending on what I need and what is on sale. If you do your homework and budget well, you will be able to accomplish this and not feel as pinched when you leave the store. Here are a couple of things to help you make this work.

Plan your attack. Look at the sale papers and make your list.

Go to a farmers market. You will get fresher produce for a lower price because it is local (less travel = less gas) and you are supporting your local economy.

Get creative. You will be limited on what you can buy on $30 a week but with some creativity in the kitchen, you can come up with some different recipes.

This list is assuming you have some spices and other items but these will cover all if not the majority or your daily calories.

This list is for the month.

Item - # needed - cost/per - store where purchased

frozen vegetables - 20 bags - $1 each - local chain grocer

apples - 2 bags - $8 each - Sams Club (10# each)

quick oats - 1 can - $1.50 - Aldi

Whey Protein - 1 bag - $31 - Sams Club (6# bag)

Boneless/skinless Chicken breast - 10 lb - $1.99/LB - Local chain grocer

Eggs - 4 dz - $1.50/dz - Sams Club

Peanuts - 2 cans - $2.50/each - Local grocer

Pasta - 1 box - $1.00 - Local grocer

Pasta sauce - 2 cans - $1.00/each - Local grocer

Potatoes - 1 bag - $2.50 - Local grocer

Jif peanut butter - 1 jar - $3.00 - Local grocer

Cheese - 1 block - $1.79 - Aldi

Ground beef 90% lean - 3 # - #2.25/lb - Sams Club

Rice - 1 pound - $.50-$.75 per pound - local grocer

Now before you email me to tell me what is not in there and what should be taken out. My point is that eating better is not as expensive as you think. People make excuses all the time about how eating healthy is expensive. That is because what they are buying is not healthy. Yes a good steak is expensive but so is shelling out $2.50 a box for crackers that is going to do nothing but make you fatter.

As you can see this is a very simple list and some items could be interchanged. My point of this was to prove that you do not have to spend an arm and a leg to eat good food. Now for the final breakdown. The total cost was $117.97 so you have $2.03 for what ever you want.

These are the daily averages.

Calories 1756

Protein 149 g (33%)

Carbs 153 g (28.5 g fiber) (34%)

Fat 63 g (32%)

It is that simple. Save some money and eat good.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008


Welcome to The Iron Edge!

This blog will be dedicated to lifting, sports training and everything in between. Check the blog daily for tips, pictures, videos and training info.

You can also visit www.LadewskiStrength.com for other articles, products and a monthly email newsletter.