Tag Archives: Iron Game


  • Inside the Diamond Mine: slippery slope of adaptation

    Posted on June 3, 2010 by John Davies

    Within the iron game, nothing is as confusing and unsolvable as the riddle of adaptation. It is both the crux of problems, the hidden success of many small victories and the source of confusion.

    As within any action, the learning curve varies within from highly complex to relatively steep. In the initial stages of learning, in this case an exercise, the individual will lack the technical experience and not perform the movement in the most efficient manner possible. Through dedicated practice, the skill set is developed and along with proper movement patterns, the individual will build the desired muscularity from the exercise.

    Once the movement is mastered, there are a number of peculiar points to consider. Firstly, the movement will gradually become a "skill", whereby the muscular benefit will slow to some degree as the technical knowledge on how to perform the movement is learned. Examples such as throwing, kicking a ball or any repetitive action are noteworthy and the same applies within the weight room. As two personal examples, given I perform Squats on a daily basis, often twice and the "stimuli" to the legs is not the same as someone who is less frequent and in-fact, my benefit from an individual training session is significantly different that most. Though an unpopular statement, the same can be said of Kettlebell lifts because once you learn the basic movements, a common snatch lift, where you pull with the legs is simply "too light" regardless of the load for an experienced lifter. In my situation, the question raised is whether I am “exercising” or “practicing”. This however voyages into some murky waters because as once you have perfected the movement you are equally stimulating the manner in which the action was intended. Clearly, this is circuitous problem because while you want to execute the lift properly, you have to be careful of the efficient use of time as well as avoiding monotony in your training regime.

    One winning strategy for those dedicated within the training world to circumvent the adaptation curve is by varying exercises on a regular basis. By varying exercises, though maintaining similar movement patters, the individual develops a broad base of general athletic attributes that can serve as the footing for highly specialized skills and not suffers with a rate of diminishing returns.

    Inside the Diamond Mine is a regular column prepared by John Davies for USP Labs that will contain secret tips on how to gain the most from your training as well as answering issues direct from our readers.

    This post was posted in John Davies and was tagged with Adaption, Iron Game

  • Inside the Diamond Mine

    Posted on May 4, 2010 by John Davies

    Walking down a back alley, in a time long ago, I stumbled on a group watching the oldest of old games, Three-Card Monty being played out once again. From a nearby stand, I ordered a quick espresso with one eye glued towards the proceedings, even though I knew how all the steps would roll out. The money came and went fast, the bills dropped down fast while the marks went for the ride and the confederate's moved on to the next alley. Some things never change.

    If exercise is simple, why does it always sound complicated? Is it because in the trick of the tale, there is lustre in the sale if it sounds complicated? Life is complicated but exercise is a few golden truths, a dash of versatility and plenty of passion going after your goals with a long-term vision.

    Sure, you can make it sound a lot more complicated, raise your right hand and swear such and such product is better than the rest but that is just another game. The truth is, it is relatively basic for those looking to live healthy throughout their days. The hushed secret no one wants to tell you is that lifting weights is easy, you just need to right introduction point and you adapt training to suit your needs with relative ease. Akin to painting with the broadest of brushes, show your versatility in training and not simply “do what you do with all your might”, but make your weak spot your strength.

    In my experiences, human nature will tend to push us towards what we are comfortable with doing. Within exercise, that will lead to repetitious training, further faults, lowering rates of return on our training and imbalances. Of the many great story line’s that each individual finds within this "iron game" is the lessons it teaches. Find humility, such that you can understand your weaknesses and then voraciously attack them and make them your strong suit.

    There is no sales pitch to that; it is just straight truth you can rely upon throughout your days.


    Inside the Diamond Mine
    is a regular column prepared by John Davies for USP Labs that will contain secret tips on how to gain the most from your training.

    This post was posted in John Davies and was tagged with Physical Culture, Iron Game

  • Are you ready, part 3

    Posted on April 26, 2010 by John Davies

    I look back now and it seems both humorous and a vestige of the past. Just as it does today, my early into the iron game would start with a daily pilgrimage to the weight room early in the morning. Not that being up well before dawn was anything to speak of but in hindsight, our focus was far apart from the typical weight room set today.

    Many of these points have lost their perspective because of the vast changes to society, long before the “digital revolution”. Young athletes at the time, were weaned on a steady diet of raw-boned training measures often delivered by coaches with the grittiest of finishes. Though I cannot say they had a draconian attitude or near laughable bravado that is unfortunately all-too visible today, they certainly hammered out a paternal attitude that there was never a question of debating training. You simply did it because you had faith in your mentor and followed their path.

    This brings me to the topic of third in this series as while so much has changed in the world, quality athletic preparation is on rock solid footing and has not budged a fraction. Despite what all the ‘lil darlings in this industry will tell you, with their clever graphs and “scientific research” by those who never had it, athletic training needs to start day one, with an introduction to an area of the world you will call home soon, the Squat.

    The era, now immortalized in an endless stream of movies and television shows was remarkably different. Though we were a troublesome lot, there was a sense of sanctity in the weight room. It was a brotherhood that it did not matter you came far from the right side of the tracks. Yet, morning after morning we toiled there, with a bowl of well-cooked oatmeal stuck to your stomach. Every so often the gym manager would be few minutes late of the 5 a.m. opening and naturally we were not very lenient. We had “work” to do and yes, long before an era when Squat racks were fouled by someone doing curls in them, it started there.

    I had a special affinity for Squats, not sure precisely why but I suspect that I quickly understood how they helped in my athletic development. I begrudged days that my coach had not written Squats into my schedule but quickly I learned how to sneak extra work in, though little did I know I was seeding the foundation for enhanced work threshold and range of motion.

    However, those special days would come along frequent enough and it certainly would bring out the best in the weight room and all its little nuances. Though many preferred the old tiered Squat rack, my choice was to wheel out the free standing racks (forks) and set them up on the lifting platform. The bar or at least my favoured one was an older competitive weightlifting model, in mint condition emblazoned with a logo long since disappeared with changing politics in Eastern Europe. The old bar had a perfect “bounce” to it when loaded but best of yet the plates “sung” like fine crystal when they touched. It was magical to hear them sing out and I can’t tell you how many times, I would be at the base of the lift, knowing how to get a bit of “bounce” from the bar you could snap a load up while the bar “sang”.

    All that is of-course a wonderful tale that I could go on and on about, however the point is the foundation of training was burned inside me from earliest day. Though I have never attributed those youthful lessons to my eventual theories on training, the “Renegade Concepts of Training™”, it is foolish not to consider it very much in my thoughts.

    The entire notion of using a free standing Squat rack, seems pure insanity it today’s woefully safe world of training. Yes, there was a time when the weight room was not full of shiny equipment and the “fluid replacement system” was a hose attached to spigot that ran out the door. I might be a bit jaded since dangerous “little” skills like how to jump pseudo side-saddle to lay down a motorbike at top speed was taught to me in my early teens but Squatting sans a safety rack or cage, taught me a great deal.

    With the racks you quickly learned the importance of using the correct amount of weight or let us be quite honest, you are in a tough spot when you have a load on your back and unable to push back up. Though I never thought of it at that time, the need to execute the lift properly with correct posture is second nature because of the above. Was the setting slightly chaotic, if not forcing you to face your fears? I would answer yes and as you tick down the list, you quickly find that maybe, free-rack Squats is not only the safest way to perform the lift but one of the best educational tools. It seems impossible to consider it, given the sanctity that the iron game has created machines and racks that all but eliminate risk but a dash of danger, when mixed with the right coaching, can be a tremendous recipe.

    In the next stage of “Are You Ready”, we will keep looking at overall development and lessons from the past.

    prepared by John Davies

    This post was posted in John Davies and was tagged with Physical Culture, John Davies, Iron Game

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