Archive for December, 2010

“Enough talk!!!”

Posted in Articles, Athletes, Competition on December 16, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

“Yes! Let this be our final battle!” – Skeletor

Well all good things come in 3s, Lord of the Rings novels, Godfather movies, Amigos, Caballeros, Filer brothers, etc. So today we have reached the conclusion of our look into the science behind lifting. In part 1 we have looked into muscles fibers and part 2 we looked at  some of Z and Beastmode’s lift results to see if any of this science really does work. Now let us piece it all together…but lets look at one more lift HIGH REP SQUAT.

Remember the reason behind this article was the epic squat off between Tom Platz and Dr. Squat so lets look at some high rep squat numbers.

Our Guerrillas start with a max rep 335 squat test.

At 335 lbs Beastmode hits 14 reps
While Z digs in again to barely scrape by with 17 reps.

Impressive but the margin seemed to not give the satisfaction of the original squat off. So we turn to our Old Country Squat Combine aka 225 for max reps. There Beastmode throws up 30 reps, Z turns in 45 reps.

Again not quite the amazing result it that we saw from Platz and Dr.Squat. So what are we left with. Z throws down a new max, the Volume difference is set when Z climbs under 245 for 50 reps. This difference is more akin to the difference we saw between our two atheletes on the 1RM back squat. Also this result paired with 1RM is very similar to what occurred between Tom Platz and Dr. Squat.

So we have results in varying lifts from Z and Beastmode, what have can we deduce. Beastmode has the greater 1RM in back squat by a considerable margin. Going off of this result alone it appears that Beastmode has a greater propensity of Type IIb muscle fibers, the fibers used for the greatest explosion. This is not to say that Z does not have Type IIb fibers, just that it seems so far that Beastmode has more or built his up greater so far. This conclusion is strengthened by the next exercise we examined, the 500m row. A very tough sprint like distance on the erg and again Beastmode pulls ahead. The variable of weight does play a factor with this exercise result more so than the 1RM squat,  but still it appears that Beastmode has a greater propensity of Type IIb fibers than Z.

The overhead squat has a large discrepancy between our lab rats in favor of Z but more so than the other exercises done other variables such as shoulder flexibility and coordination could impact our final result. Because I am choosing to put this result to the side as a wild card exercise and maybe not the true indicators of muscle fiber breakdown.

Finally we took into account two more endurance based exercises, the 2k row and the volume squat. The 2k rows times are very close, again similar to the the 500m results. Something to remember also is that Z is the lighter athlete and won this exercise which is specifically impacted by weight. This tells us that Z’s muscles fibers are better accustomed to endurance based exercise than Beastmode. In particular it would appear that Z has a good deal of Type IIa fibers, that mix of fast and slow twitch which works best in intermediate events where power is needed over a period of time. That result is only further supported by looking at the volume squat numbers. This was not air squats they were doing, these were back squats with decent loads. Z came ahead of Beastmode by 3 in the 335 lift, a margin of victory similar to the 2k time trial.  At this time we could hypothesize that Z may have had a slighter greater propensity of Type IIa fibers B U T when you also look at the 225 and 245 rep marks by Z it is fair to say that he HAS more Type IIa fibers (or has trained the shit out of them).

So there it is, using some simple lift results we have gotten a basic framework of two athletes muscle fiber breakdown. I hope you all enjoyed reading this as much I had writing about this interesting topic. Remember, training can help alleviate muscle fibers discrepancies to allow you to reach your goals. If you are that runner who wants a massive squat do not give up. Just remember while slaving away with the iron that if you are having a hard time reaching that power clean goal, don’t blame the weight, blame your parents.

Posted by: Nickay

Dont Forget to check Wednesdays post and start submitting photos for Guerrilla Lifting, Get Some…

“You’ve never heard of Chaos theory???”

Posted in Guerrilla Lifting on December 14, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

“Fight Club was the beginning, now it’s moved out of the basement, it’s called Project Mayhem…”

It’s that simple. It all has to start somewhere. It’s like the idea that a butterfly flaps it’s wings in Hong Kong and it causes a Tornado in Kansas. Where did it all start for you?

For me it’s easy to pinpoint. Tire flips in the drill yard, after that bicep curls were dead to me. My friend Sky once said something similar with his beginning, “I wonder if I can push my van up this alley…”

Where did your path in all of this start?

Was it in a basement power cleaning metal? Are you still in that basement? Have you ever tried to make a kettlebell out of rebar and a bowling ball (true story)? Maybe you’re just the only one in your gym that cares more about squats than muscleups. Here at Old Country we like to think of keeping strength training grass roots. Basements, fields, tracks, gyms  in warehouses with no heaters: it’s all what we like to consider Guerrilla Lifting.

Views on here are up 5 times from where they were a couple months ago and we wanna know where you guys (yes, you) are from. How do you train? Where do you train? Do you travel a lot? Do you have to bootleg workouts at strange gyms or have you ever done tabata rock slams ’cause it was all you had? Show us.

We’re starting a new category here on Old Country. We will be accepting picture submissions from readers from both in and out of the gym to put up on the site. Show us how you do your Guerrilla Lifting. It doesn’t have to be in a garage, it could be anywhere you get your swoll on. We’ll take some artistic liberties with it and post it along with a link to your gym, website, training log, or just give you a shout out.

Here is a teaser in case you were wonder what your picture could end up looking like:

E-mail your photos to

Remember to include your name, location, a link to your gym/blog if you want it to appear with your photo. Feel free to send stories with your photo.

We’ll be regulary posting Guerrilla Lifting pictures of our athletes. This one was taken at our home gym during our third Caliber Cycle.


We’re currently in the third week of our fourth edition. Here is the recap of CC Fourth Edition week 2.
To see our program visit the OCS Training Log.

Posted by: Z

“Iron Man. That’s kind of Catchy. It’s got a Nice Ring to it…”

Posted in Articles on December 12, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

The flood gates have been opened and guest writers keep submitting articles to Old Country. Today’s submission comes from a good friend, our very own Dr. Tri.

I consider myself quite a student of the game. But sometimes your peers have a way with words that leaves iron jockeys like myself speechless. I was going to break the wealth of information that Mike “Dr. Tri” Ross gave me into multiple articles, but instead I allowed our kettlebell hippie Margaux to condense the article down into one post. You can download Dr. Tri’s original article in its entirety by clicking here. It’s quite the read for anyone who takes their endurance training seriously. But for the for our everyday Guerrilla, we have the highlights below:

GogO’s Notes on Dr. Tri’s: “Caliber Cycle is the MOST Important Piece of Ironman Triathlon Training”

Let’s talk fulcrums…
You and I are going on a journey to sophomore year of high school. You are in physics with Mrs. Frackinboring, who’s desk is just close enough to the blackboard that her tweed-clad hinder gets covered in chalk every time she turns around. Like Ebenezer Scrooge and his Christmas ghosts, you’re asking me why I’ve brought you here. It’s because, my dear friends, Fulcrums. Kick. Ass.

Basic Mechanics
Fulcrums and you: they have a lot in common. If a fulcrum could squat, you betchur ass it would squat the house. Not only does a fulcrum have to support its own weight, it has to support the weight of the stuff hanging off of it, particularly its lever(s). When those levers start moving, the fulcrum better be strong and sturdy or shit’s falling apart.

Many of us remember operating our first fulcrum-based mechanical system: the teeter-totter. If you were like me, a peculiarly dense 6 year old, you learned the rules of physics pretty quickly. Lemme tell ya, I could put some serious torque on that fulcrum. Hmmm Torque… anyone? Anyone?
torque = the length of the lever x the weight on the end of it
… roughly.

The further the weight gets from the fulcrum, the more force it exerts on it.

Why is this important? Because we tend to overlook how important this physics stuff is to our training, be it strength/endurance/whathaveyou. Overlooking all to often leads to injury. No likie. So listen up.

Basic Biomechanics
Toss “bio” in front of it and suddenly we’re talking business. Are you ready for this? Your body is a system of fulcrums and levers. I don’t know about you, but my mindhole was just blown. Let’s take a closer look.

Our bodies are a “Functional Fulcrum Group” (FFG for acronym enthusiasts). We’re not just four levers (2 arms and 2 legs) attached to a central fulcrum… we’ve got all kinds of bones, joints, muscles, and ligaments going on. When we create force at the end of one of our levers, we stabilize our FFG and create movement. You still with me? Check this out:

When we take a step, we our hold our FFG (fulcrum) stable and press against the earth (force) with our leg (lever). Your average 180lb non-adult male is cranking out 3-7 times his body weight depending on if he’s walking, jogging, or running from a rabid animal. That’s a lot of force for just one step. While strength, neck girth and ham volume is important, we’ve got to start considering durability… especially for endurance/marathon/Ironman training.

Dr. Tri: “We’re looking at roughly 45,000 to 50,000 steps in a marathon… The ability to withstand this force over a period of 3 to 4 hours becomes paramount in order to just finish the race, let alone excel at that distance.”

Fulcrum vs. Core
Dr. Tri: “We must briefly delineate the difference between the ‘F’ and the ‘C’ word.”

Don’t get it twisted. These aren’t the same. Core training is focused on the abs and obliques, which doesn’t mean you’re pumpin’ power to your fulcrum.

Dr. Tri: “This is akin to preventing injury of your triceps by training your biceps.”

The biceps’ not always gonna be around to make sure the triceps doesn’t get shoved in a locker with a nosebleed and no lunch money. Better to train the triceps to prevent injury on its own.

Myth (1): “Training the abs and obliques will help to tighten the midsection and stabilize the back as a whole.”

Truth by Dr. Tri: “Not only is this NOT supported in research; it is not supported by biomechanics. This is where the distinction between ‘Core’ and ‘Fulcrum,’ or Functional Fulcrum Group (FFG), is very important.  In the human animal, the primary movement of the lower half of the body is forward and the primary FFG muscles that support this movement are the low back, glutes (butt), and hamstrings.  These muscles work primarily to stabilize the trunk while the legs propel us in a forward motion.  Our local Caliber Cycle favorite motion, the squat, is also a primarily ‘forward’ type motion.  It is dependent on the FFG muscles stabilizing the torso (plus 265 or more lb’s), while we lever with the legs into an upright position.  Training any other muscle than the low back, glutes, and hamstrings is not effectively training the FFG.”

Myth (2): “A flexible spine is a healthy spine”.

Truth by Dr. Tri: “This has not resulted in lower occurrences of injury rates and is NOT supported in research. Any excess flexibility of the FFG will increase the risk of injury and decrease performance.  A flexible FFG is not a healthy FFG.  It will ultimately fail under any sort of repetitive load. In fact, the research has shown in numerous cases that increased flexibility is not optimal when levering against the FFG especially in runners who use their levers over extended distances.”

The moral of the story is this: don’t do crunches. Squat.

Methodology of Optimal Endurance Training

Dr. Tri Gettin' Some.

Dr. Tri: “The first step that most people take, and are advised by most endurance coaches, when training for a marathon or Ironman triathlon is to begin building up their ‘base mileage’ to prepare themselves for the long hours of running, biking, and/or swimming that lie ahead.  The rationale is to prepare their legs (or also their arms if triathlon training) for the ultimate race day, as well as increase their ‘cardiovascular’ fitness.  For many reasons, including improper training of the FFG, this is the worst first step they can take.”

ixNay on the aseBay ileageMay…

There are two major pieces of the cardiovascular system:
Uno: Cardiac Output of Heart (get oxygenated blood to the muscles)
Dos: Aerobic Fitness Capacity of Muscles (train muscles to use that oxygen)

Oxygen-rich blood is fuel to our muscles. We gotta make sure our hearts are pumping around more oxygen than our muscles will ever want.

Dr. Tri: “Training should first and foremost start with building up the cardiac output and thereby guaranteeing optimal supply of fuel. Beginning the training with aerobic capacity training of the muscles will only increase their demand for fuel and run the risk of never having an optimal supply from cardiac output.”

The goal should be to train increase your cardiac output BEFORE increasing fitness capacity of the muscles. Why teach your muscles to house entire 15 pound prime ribs when all your heart can pump out is a 4 pack of hot dogs?

Brace yourself for another acronym…
The SAID Principle (Specific Adaptations to Imposed Demands)
AKA (oh! there’s another one) “Specificity of Training”

Training Cardiac Output = Training of the FFG
Trainging Aerobic Capacity = Training Levers (arms/legs)

SAID can present a problem in that we get too strong for our own good. Our levers overpower our fulcrum because we can generate more force with our massive quads that we built doing isometric leg presses at the YMCA than our FFG can handle. This is a quick ticket to Dr. Tri’s office repairing an injury. The solution? Train the FFG first.

Training the FFG means working for an iron lower back, ass and hams.

Dr. Tri: “Being able to withstand heavy repeated fast loads on the FFG results in tissues that easily withstand the relatively lower intensity loads that are applied from the lever arms/legs during endurance activities… studies by our favorite Japanese researcher, Dr. Izumi Tabata, have found that high intensity training is most optimal for training cardiac output.”

Dr. Tri: “To summarize, we can see that the first step in Optimal Endurance Training is to train two aspects, the Functional Fulcrum Group of the biomechanical system and cardiac output of the cardiovascular system.  This ensures that later on during training and ultimately on race day, when we need to focus on levering for hours and hours, and are training the aerobic capacity fitness of those lever arms/legs, that the system is durable enough to withstand this levering while also supplying enough oxygen-enriched blood/fuel for the levering muscles.
Once the FFG and cardiac output are trained to a high enough level, then we can transition training over to lever arm/legs and aerobic capacity training.  This will decrease the risk of injury as well as keep the system at its most optimal level of performance capacity.  Any break from this specific training methodology will only result in imbalances in the biomechanical system, as well as, the cardiovascular system.

So, bring on the Caliber Cycle Training in the dark days of this winter, if you plan on running, biking, or swimming, during the relatively sunny days of next summer.”

Article by: Mike “Dr. Tri” Ross
Article writeup by: GogO
Posted by: Z

“This is what happens when an unstoppable force meets an immovable object…”

Posted in Articles, Athletes on December 9, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

This is part two of three of an article on the science behind lifitng (yes it was orginally a two parter but we are having too much fun). Our last article dealt with a look into muscle fibers after discussing the “Squat Off” between Tom Platz and Dr. Squat. Now we will take that the knowledge and apply it to real life atheletes in our gym. And since I am a superfan of the Star Wars movies I give you…

A tale of two guerrillas 

Name: Tim “BeastMode” Preston
Height: 6’1
Weight: 225
Squat: 500


Name: Zach Filer
Height: 6’0
Weight: 205
Squat: 415



The two atheletes, Z and Beastmode, are of somewhat similar size like Dr. Squat and Tom Platz and one squats more than the other. This is perfect. Tim squats much more than Z for 1 RM, but why? There is the “Oh well he’s just really strong” argument, but that is a cop out. We should want to understand the reason behind the answer, not just regurgitate the answer out.

Is it because Beastmode is slightly bigger? Does that twenty pounds and one inch really matter that much? In some sports it does, some sports it doesn’t. The slight size discrepancy is not enough of answer to satisfy true students of the iron game, we need more. So let’s look at our two “specimens” like how our friends in Canada look at lab rats and test their performance.

We already have the results for the 1RM in back squat, what other tests can we examine to judge their performances? Let’s go with a quick brutal test of metabolic capacity. The dreaded 500 Meter Erg time trail.

500 Meter TT Results

     Z: 1:24
     BeastMode: 1:22

Some would say that this test is an equally excellent measurement of raw power output, especially considering neither athlete was a rower (or has amazing rowing form). We see a slighter discrepancy in the results than the 1RM back squat but 2 seconds on the rower is more than it seems (a future article will go more in depth on that later).

Now we have two different work efforts measured: squat and sprint row. “Well what about the endurance aspect?” you may ask. Our program is primarily strength and conditioning oriented. As a coach I respect once said, “If you were to get locked up tomorrow, could you handle yourself?” Well that’s a very good question. Let’s humor that question… about 90% percent of fights don’t last longer then those row times. But let’s say it’s one nasty slobberknocker of a brawl, it might last longer and we need to know how our atheletes will handle this situation. Since our guerrillas aren’t interested in some kind of run, we again place them on the rower, this time for a 2K time trial.

2K TT Results

     BeastMode: 6:55
     Z: 6:52

Well now… Now the numbers have switched in favor of our lighter athlete. We now sit 2 to 1 on the score card (our larger athelete having the superior one rep squat and better time in the shorter of the two work capacity measurment). Let’s test one more 1RM  before we get to the real meat of this article. Again we’ll look at the squat, but this time we’ll look at the overhead version.

Overhead Squat 1RM Results

     BeastMode: 235
     Z: Well…

Impressive, most impressive. Now we’re tied, just what we were looking for. We have a good amount of date here to make our final conclusions on but it looks like we got one thing left to do, squat til your nose bleeds.

To be continued in Part 3: “The Squat Off…”

Posted by: Nickay

“I’m here to do two things, chew bubble gum and kick ass…”

Posted in Articles on December 7, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

“And I’m all out of Bubble gum…”

This monday we started our second week of Caliber Cycles fourth edition. Russian volume training, clean pulls, front squats, kettlebells, and Wendler bulgarian split squats still to come.

You can check the Training Log to see what the programs up to or just watch this recap from last week….

Posted by: Z

“I am all that is man!”

Posted in Lifestyle, Profiles on December 5, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Here at OCS, we attempt to identify those who embody the OCS lifestyle, be they professional atheletes, gym warriors, or characters from popular culture.  We look for and identify them because 1) they are an inspiration  and 2) they lead to interesting and oft funny discussions. There are many places we have sought for and found such people but this man amongst boys is probably the weirdest to date (and remember we recently honored a Filipino superhero in Captain Barbell. Who is Captain Barbell? Who indeed).

Anyway I rediscovered this paragon of manliness while celebrating my sister-in-laws birthday entertaining my little princesa with my iphone . She is a free spirit and was not very happy just sitting there. I was told to show her  a certain video clip and instantly she was entranced. As I watch this video I too became entranced, the man at the focus of the clip was old country strong in almost every conceivable manner. He truly is all that is man. I text Z right away that we needed do a post on this intimidating specimen. Z’s response…

“If you post that I will pull it down right away”

I was hurt, I mean had I ever steered the Club wrong before. So I sought backup and found it in the form of Gogo. She agreed with me 100% percent that this person was not only OCS and deserved mention. I implored Z again to watch the video that he forgotten from our childhood and to see the light. So Z watched the video and upon further review realized the error of his ways and okayed the honoring of this great man. And so without further ado I give you…

Yes we are talking about Gaston, from Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Now I know what you are thinking, it is the same argument Z brought up “How the hell can a Disney character be OCS?” Well watch this clip with an open mind.

Let’s break this down.

“No one’s neck’s as incredibly thick as Gaston’s.” Hmm, that suggests Gaston likes neck work and heavy shrugs. This is a good sign.

“As a specimen, yes, I’m intimidating!” A little cockiness but it appears he backs it up, go on.

“For there’s no one as burly and brawny, As you see I’ve got biceps to spare, Not a bit of him’s scraggly or scrawny!” This guy is built like the Piz for crying out loud.

“And ev’ry last inch of me’s covered with hair.” Dios freaking mio.

“When I was a lad I ate four dozen eggs, Ev’ry morning to help me get large, And now that I’m grown I eat five dozen eggs, So I’m roughly the size of a barge!” Ok apparrently Gaston is hard gainer (48 eggs!) but he apparrently only is satisifed by consuming mass quantities of food with a soul. I am almost completely sold but I mean what else can he do…

“I use antlers in all of my decorating!” Thats it, ring the bell. It’s over. The only thing we didn’t find out is that nobody squats like Gaston but I think we all know the answer to that one.

Posted by: Nickay

And then we Sauna…

Posted in Articles on December 2, 2010 by oldcountrystrong

Here is a blast from the past repost for you guys. It’s funny when I first wrote this Old Country was pretty much a private thing between some friends. And now from the regular 80 some hits we’d get a post some days we’ll see 5 times that many views. This article came about because of  our love of  Squats and Saunas. – Z 

A small group of athletes in my gym have been following a six week Caliber Cycle that I designed for them that has its strength work based on Russian Volume training. The cycle has the athletes squatting and front squatting with a bulk of their sets falling close to 90-95% of their 1rm. As you could guess, mixing this program with additional metabolic conditioning and a number of Olympic-based skill lifts left their bodies in need of serious recovery.

Some downed fish oil, most guzzled milk, and we all tried to get as much sleep as we could. But early in my research on the RVT training, I stumbled across an interesting piece on recovery. It read (very Russian sounding to me) “on rest days take it easy, go for walks, stretch, box, wrestle, go to sauna….”

The list was comical to me. Walk -ok check. Stretch – sounds easy enough. Box? Wrestle? I found the Russians telling me to take it easy by boxing or wrestling – sounds very Old Country.

When I repeated this to Johnny (laughing as I did), he interrupted with  – “dude we should totally do that!”I rolled my eyes. Of course, John is a former DI wrestler and also a trained Mixed Martial Arts fighter and I could have guessed that he would think that sounded relaxing. But then he produced the idea that turned out more addicting to some of us than crack or Dancing with the Stars (hey! my Ma makes me watch it when I stop over for dinner.) “Let’s go to the Banya.”  “The what?” I asked. “The Russian bathhouse.” He answered.

Now having seen Eastern Promises and Red Heat, I was not to stoked to go get in a naked brawl with Viggo Mortensen. And having been to Vegas I’ve heard what “bathhouses” were. But John was all about it, and I always cave to the guy eventually. So after our Saturday squat session, a group of us backed up and headed to Seattle’s Banya 5.

The place was way classier than I imagined, and there was no Viggo or Arnold in sight. We got into our trunks, showered off, and hit the sauna. Instantly, I felt that John and I and the two girls we were with, were getting weird looks. For one, John told me to bring a beanie to wear in the sauna, and my beanie was (to put it lightly) RIDICULOUS. And, two of our female lifting partners who we were with, had bar marks across their collar bones from when we were front squatting earlier. Nothing like walking around with girls who look beat-up.

So we started in the sauna, which was hot. Of course there were some Russian guys in there speaking what else but Russian. John kept telling me to talk to them. I always get put on the spot for this because my great grandparents spoke only Russian. They were both born there before immigrating to the US in the  1920’s. My Grandpa Filer only learned two words in English and he used them when playing cards – “Old Bullshit!” No one in the Filer Family even pronounces Stolichnaya correctly anymore.  And, it wasn’t just the beanie, the bruised women, and the communication barriers, but there was the small distraction of guys beating each other with bundles of leaves… Awkward.

That awkwardness of the sauna got replaced by the next step – the cold tub. Nothing like walking out of a hot sauna and stepping into a 46 degree pool – even colder when John pulled out the bucket of ice you pour over your head. From there, it was to the salt water tub, to the hot tub, to the steam room, and then back in the sauna.

Three hours later, I didn’t even remember the squats from earlier in the day. I now am definitely a believer in the sauna for a recovery approach. The boxing I’m still on the fence about.


Ghetto Banya: Updated version

The above article was written for our first cycle. We got a little lazy after that. We started to branch out and find ways of not having to cross the bridge out of West Seattle(there are trolls under that thing). So when we found out that the Club’s own GogO had a dry sauna we were all over it.

“This shit will make you a goddamn sexual Tyrannasaur, Just like Me….”

But you may ask yourself… “But Zach, isn’t part of the whole Banya experiance the cold pool?”

Of course it is my friends! First time we did it I wanted Johnny to go jump in the Sound with me from the sauna. But the tide was to far out to make the run then get deep enough. Next best idea?

That’s right turn on the shower to cold… Balls cold, this is me bracing in the shower. It was described to me as looking like bracing to get hit by a truck.

So in the end if you can’t make the simple weekend or midafternoon trip down to Seattle’s Banya 5, make do. Eat, Sleep, Recover…

Majestic SilverBack Recovery…

Posted by:  Z