Archives for : October2015

SSB 342 4 sets of 10

It’s one week post meet. I went for an all-time world record squat attempt to re-break what I set at 710. 685 moved well but I hit a wall coming up with 715. Next meet…

I’ve entered a Hypertrophy Block/Accumulation Phase for the next 8-9 weeks. Working loads will be between 60-70% with the goal of increasing the overload 2.5-5% each week, as well as increasing volume. The goal will be to overload variants of the competition lifts to hit specific muscles and build work capacity before transitioning into a Strength Block. 

Improve Your Hip Mobility

Much like your shoulder mobility, your hips are also negatively effected by the effects of sitting at that dreaded desk job 40+ hours a week. When discussing your “hip mobility” I am referring to the ability of the pelvis to adapt in different daily movements, such as walking, running, bending down or squatting. It is vital for our spines that hips move the way they are supposed to avoid excessive flexion of your spine. As many of you may know or have heard, when bending down or squatting down we want to limit flexion of the spine. We have all heard “lift with your legs”, the concept behind this is that it will prevent you from flexing your spine forward. Flexion and rotation under a load is one of the main risk factors for a disc herniation.

What is “hip mobility?” With our sedentary lifestyles our muscles become imbalanced, or inhibited which can hinder the ability of the hips to move the way they need to. Why does this occur? If you are sitting now pay attention to your current posture. You will likely find that you are slumped forward a bit and your lower back is slightly rounded, abs at rest, hips and knees bent. You may even “feel” your lower back. The problem occurs from too much sitting, too often. Overtime, much like learning to ride a bike, your muscles like your hamstrings and hip flexors will begin to assume this shortened position. Your core muscles (deep in the abs) will become inhibited because they are not needed to stabilize your body in a sitting position, and your glute muscles are of no use either. This means that your lower back that you just noticed is slightly flexed is now essentially the sole stabilizer of your upright posture. This is fine because you are stable when sitting, but what about when you go to get up, run, or exercise? This is where many begin to experience problems. Many people with lower back pain find that the pain has come on slowly or perhaps all of the sudden; either way, this pain is likely a result of an underlying issue that has been going on for quite some time and your body is now beginning to recognize.

How do we assess “hip mobility?” This could be as simple as a gait assessment, however, my favorite way to assess an active population is through an over-head squat. The squat is a foundational movement in humans, much like crawling. This will bring out even latent movement issues. When we begin to descend in a squat of utmost importance is to maintain a “neutral spine.” This is the position between flexion and extension where we are bracing our abdomen not allowing the back to round. In someone with the issues described above we may begin to notice the pelvis begin to “curl under” as we descend otherwise known as a “but wink”. At what point we will notice this will depend on a few factors: hamstring (and calf length), lower back tightness, core stability, balance, and of course your anatomy. Not everyone is meant to squat under a weight glutes to heels (all the way down). However, everyone should be able to perform a parallel squat.

Your body is fantastic at achieving your desired movement even if you have to recruit other muscles. If your hamstrings, hips, and lower back are tight the joints in your spine cannot and will not move the way they need to creating “hypomobilities” . With this “hypomobility” of some joints your body will begin to compensate, using other joints and muscles too much leading to extra wear and tear. Perhaps of most importance is the fact that your discs in your spine act as shock absorbers and spacers limiting friction and absorbing impact. Discs have no blood supply (except the outer layer), rather they rely on movement for nutrition. When the joints are hypomobile (stuck) your discs are getting inadequate nutrition which may over time lead to degeneration, or disc herniations. Combine the harmful effects of sitting 8 hours a day with someone who is otherwise active with sports, weight-lifting, or running and they will eventually be injured.

How do You improve it?
•Get up and move hourly from your desk! Even if it is only a brief walk to the water cooler.
•Stretch your hamstrings and calves
•Foam roll your back and hamstrings before and after exercise to “warm up” the muscles.
•Get adjusted! This will relieve the muscle tension establishing normal joint movement which is oh so important.

Keep Moving!

Dr. James Ellis

Evolved Health Chiropractic & Sports Medicine

(781) 460-0939

Joe Grossi – 2015 NA Strongman Nationals write-up

It’s been almost two weeks since NA Strongman Nationals, and there have been numerous other write ups, but now that things have settled down, I figured it’s a good time to put this out there.

I last competed in NA Strongman Nationals in 2013. There were approximately 70 very strong other Middle Weight men competing along side me then, and about just as many this time in 2015. My goal entering nationals this time was not necessarily to come out on top, but to be competitive. My 2013 performance was sub par, placing around 40th over all. And heading into 2015 nationals, I had some pretty big set backs.

Life happens, and like many of my strongman brethren, I’m an ambitious guy. I frequently bite off more than I can chew… but as a perfectionist and an engineer at heart, I chew it and swallow it and make my way through everything as it comes at me.

My days are busy. Dropping my little girl off at the bus stop at 7:30am, the day doesn’t end for me until I get home between 9-10:00pm at night. Sitting in traffic for 2-3 hours/day, working 9 hours in IT, while being on call 24/7, preparing for my wedding, doing diets for several people, managing and running ToreForce, not to mention squeezing in training and helping my training partners, it’s an exhausting day. But I’m not complaining. There are many others like me. Many of the most successful strongman competitors are just as ambitious and busy.

Don’t sleep!” – Wise words of a successful business man and fitness icon, Marc Lobliner.

Then 5 weeks out – my last heavy deadlift session before specificity SPP training, I hurt my lower back on the bottom of what was FEELING like a light 600lb deadlift. My left lower back/hip was black and blue. I couldn’t get dressed without help. Getting in the car took several minutes. I couldn’t even carry my work laptop into the office without being in agony.

How was I supposed to lift hundreds of pounds in 5 weeks?!

In strength sports, it’s not IF but WHEN you get injured. How you handle the injury and recover from it is just as important as your skills in competing and dieting. Ice, heat and every liniment known to man, weeks off from training did the trick. Marrying a massage therapist was also probably the best decision I’ve ever made 🙂

I got a couple light weeks of event specific training in, going a little heavier each week, and even tough pain was still there, I was able to compete!

My training partners drove out, but my wife and I flew out to Iowa. I’ve been to the mid west before, and it’s a beautiful place. For the most part, people are friendly and laid back.

I was walking around at 234 the night before. I had to drop a few pounds of water weight to get under 231, so I ate little and drank almost nothing the flight out. I was hoping to make weigh ins that morning at 10am, but my connection flight was delayed! It’s a miserable experience being dehydrated and hungry waiting at an airport. Not to mention exhausted on only a few hours of sleep since we had one of the earliest flights!

We got to Iowa late, and had to wait to the PM weigh ins. It felt like an eternity to wait, but made weight at a low 226 lbs! Food and water never tasted so good!

We revived ourselves that night, and went to bed good and early, ready to kill it!

I’ve competed in over 20 contests in my strongman career, so I wasn’t as nervous. It still hadn’t registered I was at “nationals”. It just felt like I was at home, among many familiar faces and all the other crazy people like myself who enjoy lifting heavy ass weights!

I took my 3 scoops of pre-workout, ToreForce BATTLE MODE Pre-Workout (click here) a little ibuprofen to help with the back pain, stretched out a LOT, and was ready to roll!

LOG PRESS – 275lbs275log
In training, I had hit 275 for 2, with one clean. And this log was supposed to be much harder. I put up the first rep, and to my surprise, it felt easy! I banged out a couple more, and my cardio was hurting. I noticed taking a week off from lifting seems to do something to my cardiovascular skill until I really warm it up. I rested enough time to bang out one more rep, and ended with 4 reps. A PR!


In training, we had a skinny bar yoke, and I could barely manage 500lbs, and would have pretty banged up biceps tendons afterwards. When testing out the yoke, it felt easier than training. When I was up, I remembered my favorite yoke quote “whatever you do, DO NOT STOP!” I took my grip, and walked it with no drops in decent time.

I’ve used Beast Metal farmers walks before, and remember well how slipery those powdered handles were. I chalked up very strategically, extra chalk around the outside surfaces of my palms, and chalked up the handles. Got a solid grip, and ran for it. No drops, and made a decent time.

At this point, I checked the score sheet. I was in total disbelief. I was in 12th place out of 70 competitors! I was trying, but not expecting to do nearly this well! I had a chance at the arnold! Going into day 2, I was just as nervous as I was focused.

I was relatively confident on this event. I knew I had to focus on the dumbbell stabilization and speed. I hammered out 6 reps of each, PR for me, and was eager to see the score sheet.

In 7th place now! I was so close to the Arnold, I could taste it. I wanted it more than ever now. I had one event left… and I knew there is no room for error. Not in nationals, and not in a class of 70 hungry and strong athletes.

SANDBAD LOAD MEDLEY – 220/240/260 lbs 60ft
My weakest event for certain, as I had only built and acquired sandbags a few weeks out from nationals. I had to wait over an hour for almost every other competitor in my class to go, since I was placed so high, and they re-arranged athletes by order of placing, first place goes last.

I was tired by the time I got to go, and back was killing me despite the globs of horse liniment, menthol, capsaicin, turpentine, methyl sulfate and other compounds I had rubbed into it. During warmups, we discovered the sandbags were very tightly packed, and it seemed ideal to pick them up horizontally. So I gave it a try. I lapped the 220lb, ran it down and loaded…. 240, lapped it, ran it down and loaded it.

I trained with Magnus Ver Magnusson a couple weeks prior to nationals, and his advice was to run back to the next implement as fast as possible. Even if you’re slow carrying the implement, always try to be the first person back. Don’t conserve energy on that sprint.

Finally, I lapped the 260lb sand bag… then things went awry. I started blacking out and falling forward. It took everything I had, but I managed to sit down and lap it without dropping it. I repositioned my hands, got up and loaded it… but at over 50 seconds when everyone else was in the 30s, I had just lost my seat to the Arnold.

I know where I slipped up. Blacking out was a hindrance, yes… but I should not have lapped each sandbag during the pick up. The fastest athletes picked up the sand bag and used that momentum to “catch” it, and ran with it. Skill, speed and cardio.

All said and done, I placed 15th out of about 70 competitors. Top 11 went to the arnold. Still, MUCH better than I had imagined I would place considering I couldn’t even DRESS myself a few weeks prior! I learned a lot, had tons of fun, and will be back again to shoot for an even better placing next time! Now to transition into a nice off season with lots of corrective exercises and prepare to see you all next year!

Mahoney: 6 days out from RPS meet. “Last Warmup Set” 605/505

Improve Your Shoulder Mobility

Anyone who is a regular gym-goer may have heard the term “thoracic mobility” before. It has become a particularly popular topic in Cross-Fit circles and sports where a maximal shoulder end range of motion is desired (the lock out). This is necessary for exercises such as pull-ups, hand stand push-ups, ring work, and over head press’ (power and Olympic lifters are not safe either!). But, what does this mean and how do we improve it?

To perform any above head movement requires first a stable shoulder. This means that all of the associated muscles are firing and working properly providing stability to an otherwise unstable joint (just ask anyone with a shoulder injury!) If you have not accomplished the ability to stabilize the shoulder in these moves; you shouldn’t be doing them since this will eventually lead to injury. Once the shoulder is stable we can discuss mobility of shoulder. Though it is more likely for an injury to occur due to instability, mobility of course plays a factor.

When discussing shoulder mobility in over-head moves I am referring to the ability of the humerus to pass under the subacromial space in the shoulder without impingment. This space is already quite small so it is important that we have appropriate movement of the shoulder (often termed scapulo-humeral rhythm.) When we raise our arms over-head (as we do when pressing) the scapula should begin to rotate after 60 degrees which allows the humerus to pass under the subacromial space. The ability for this to occur is very important for injury prevention of over-head athletes! Shoulder impingements will occur when the space between the coracoid and humerus narrows which leads to the rotator cuff muscles to “catch” as they pass under the structure. Over-time this will lead to fraying and injury of these muscles and potentially tears.

In order to maintain the necessary space for your rotator cuff when lifting your arms above head the scapula must retract and rotate upwards. Mobility of the thoracic spine is particularly important as it will impact retraction of the scapula. Additionally, assumption of a slumped posture (which many of us have from desk jobs) which causes shortened pecs, and upper traps that will pull the shoulders forward creating an anterior tilt in the scapula reducing the space needed. In summary, when the shoulder is not moving properly and the subacromial space is reduced from lack of thoracic spine mobility and tight muscles it will eventually lead to some sort of impingement.

So what can you do to prevent/fix this issue?
•Have your thoracic spine mobility assessed
•incorporate some “pre-hab” in your normal routine; this should include rhomboid, mid and lower trap work.
•Stretch your pecs, and upper traps.

I urge you all to incorporate a bit of pre-hab; your body and gains will thank you in the long run!

Keep Moving.


Dr. James Ellis DC, MSACN

New Assault Bikes

We received the new assault bikes this past week.
They will be in the boxing room over the next week while we are moving things around.

Look forward to the feedback on them!

285lb deadlift 10lb PR

New Assault Bikes Delivered!

If you haven’t used these hyped up areodynes than you haven’t experienced a hardcore workout. 

These bikes are bested used as intervals and great for warming up cooling down and overall burner of a workout 


Jorgenson Deadlift 2×3 595lb

Mahoney’s Deadlift Attempts

555/585/& 615 (reverse band) deadlift attempts for Oct 18th RPS meet