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Notice: This Blog will be Postponed

Because of the enormous demand for more powerlifting neurology/physiology information, this blog will be discontinued until I am able to finish a book which I am writing that will be titled "Powerlifting A&P". I will email a free copy of this e-book to the first 100 people who email me their email address at norsemanpowerlifter@yahoo.com. Thank you all for your support.

Powerlifting Chemistry 101: Trenbolone Acetate

Of all of the performance enhancing drugs and supplements currently available to athletes, Trenbolone Acetate is definately in the top five when one takes into account safety, effectiveness, availability and price. The problem with compounds of this nature is that they are publicized as being dangerous, terrible things to put into your body and if you take them you are worse than Muslim terrorists!!! This is just simply not true. There are a large spectrum of anabolic/androgenic compounds that we have at our disposal and they are vastly different from one another. To group them together as "steroids" and say that they are all bad is irresponsible at best. For example, Aspirin and Oxycontin are both pain killers. They are obviously not in the same ballpark but they are; nevertheless, painkillers and to group them together without further classification would be ridiculous. The same is true for many of the anabolic compounds on the market today. So without further adue, let's delve into this amazing compound.

Trenbolone comes in many forms, the difference being the esther group. The most common esther group seen is Acetate. This is because Trenbolone Acetate is available legally as a cattle implant from veterinary and livestock supply companies without a prescription. Trenbolone Acetate is also the most potent of all the Trenbolone variations milligram per milligram because of the acetate esther's lower molecular weight and shorter life span within the body. Trenbolone is a 19-nor anabolic steroid which put it in the same class as the ever popular Nandrolone (commonly known as "Deca" after the decanoate esther it is often attached to) and has many benefits that are not found in other anabolic hormones. Some of these benefits are:

1: Increases IGF-1 production: Insulin Like Growth Factor 1 is key in increasing metabolism, anabolism and protein synthesis.

2: SARM: Selective Androgen Receptor Modulators are chemicals that act specifically on the androgen receptor and avoid other tissues. These type drugs lead to muscle mass gains without effecting other tissues of the body to the same degree and are therefore less likely to cause side effects than other drugs. Trenbolone acts similarly to a SARM.

3: Binding Affinity: Trenbolone has 5 times the affinity to bind with the androgen receptor than testosterone.... nuff said.

4: Nitrogen Balance: Trenbolone, like most other steroids, increases Nitrogen retention within the body and thus increases protein synthesis; however, Trenbolone does this to a greater degree than most other commercially available steroids.

5: Decreased Stress Hormone Release: Trenbolone effectively inhibits the release of glucocorticoid steroids. This means less fat and more muscle.

6: Gene Expression: Trenbolone causes gene expression with the androgen receptor that is at least as potent as DHT without necessarily converting to DHT.

7: No Aromatization: Trenbolone presents no Estrogenic Activity but does convert to Progesterone. Progesterone will upregulate the estrogen receptor but won't actually activate it. This means that the estrogen in your body will have a greater affinity to bind with the estrogen receptor. Trenbolone taken generally will not manifest itself with estrogenic side effects such as gynecomastia; however, when taken with an aromatizable steroid such as testosterone the estrogenic side effects can be pretty bad. This problem, of course, can be solved with an estrogen receptor site modulator such as Nolvadex and could also be treated (probably less effectively) with anti-aromatase drugs such as Clomid.

8: Availability: You can mix up a batch of Trenbolone in your kitchen (you can even make lotion!) with very minimal preparation and chemistry knowledge. I will blog about this in the future.

Trenbolone can cause some side effects since it does increase secondary male characteristics without the conversion to DHT. This means that you could have oily skin, increased hair growth, dropping of the voice, balding (only in individuals who were going to go bald eventually anyway) but not prostate enlargement (which is nice). Trenbolone Acetate is considered tolerable by most of its users since an injection is only required every 3 days and generally causes very little soreness of the injection site. There is a myth circulating that Trenbolone causes kidney toxicity. This is because of the rust colored metabolites that excrete in the urine and are often mistaken for blood by bro-scientists. There is no scientific evidence suggesting that Trenbolone is hard on your kidneys and, since it is an injectable drug, on your liver either.

Next I will be writing on how to safely make your own Trenbolone Acetate solutions at home for transdermal or intramuscular administration. Until then, go lift something heavy.

DIY: Fixing Rusty Weights

I have in my home gym a little over 600 lbs of plates. I got all of these plates from a guy that I met in Las Vegas who had an entire gym worth of crap in his two car garage. There was so much weightlifting equipment, racks, benches, bars, plates, dumbells, etc.. that it was impossible to exercise! It was literally piled up to the ceiling and had been neglected for several years. Because of the necessity to get rid of a lot of his equipment I was able to get them off of him for an extremely good price. The first time I visited him I got a barbell with four 45lb plates and four 35lb plates for $100! The reason they were so cheap (aside from the fact that Doug was just a really nice guy) was that they were very old and very rusted. I banged the rust off and they served me just fine in their current state while I was living in Las Vegas, NV; however, after I moved to the much more humid environment of East Texas they began to rust again and rather than allow them to continue to deteriorate I decided to slap a coat of spray paint on those bad boys.

I chose Valspar Flat Black Spray paint because Valspar makes very high quality paints and it's also the cheapest spray paint they had at my local Lowe's. Now that I think about it I probably should have used epoxy paint because it is really hard and tough when it dries but they're just weights and I suppose it's not really that important if they look good for a long time. I just wanted to prevent them from oxidizing any further.



 These are the weights before they were painted. My two pitbulls were curious as to what I was doing and wouldn't get out of the shot.
Here are the weights after they have been painted. Notice that the weights at the top are shiny and the others are not. This is because I had an extra can of Rustoleum Hammered Finish spray paint and finished them with it. It was a much higher quality paint than the Valspar Flat Black. So if you decide to not use an epoxy spray paint I would recommend it. I put 3 thin coats on all of these which used up 6 cans of spray paint.

Myth Buster: Stabilizer Muscles

I don't know how many times I have heard people say it, "when you train on a bosu ball it hits all of the little stabilizer muscles". Surprisingly, a lot of the people who said this were "personal trainers" who are supposed to be educated and certified on the subject. Before I go into the science behind this ridiculous statement that is spreading across weight and locker rooms faster than athlete's foot, I will begin by explaining to the unknowing population what exactly goes into becoming a personal trainer.

I have been training with weights for a very long time and I have an education in biological sciences. This being said, I am more than qualified to help individuals learn how to perform exercises, how to choose which exercises they need to be performing and how to advance at them safely. Because my girlfriend (now fiance') was working at a gym at the time, I decided that I could pick up a second job at that gym as a trainer. After all, I had been training myself and several other people who would just try to tag along with me for years. Before I could actually be employed as a personal trainer I had to obtain some sort of personal training certification. I was given a list of personal training certifying bodies by my prospective employer (who, so I don't feel like I am slandering them, shall remain nameless). I chose one of them and went to take their test online......... I took their test online, not at a testing center on a computer but on a computer that could be located anywhere that I chose and was completely unsupervised. I had to consult with my brother over the phone for a few of the questions, not because I wasn't familiar with the material on the test, but because none of the answers they listed as choices were correct. I passed it with flying colors without opening up a book or even having to think too hard and magically I became a personal trainer. The test didn't ask any questions on programming or correct exercise execution or anatomy and physiology and didn't even really touch on safety that much. It is because of testing like this that you have a bunch of douchebags walking around gyms pretending that they know what they are doing. I will tell you now that MAYBE 5% of the personal trainers out there know what they are talking about and they aren't necessarily the most educated ones.



Now that you understand the type of people we are dealing with, let's take a look at your "stabilizer muscles". The theory behind this statement is that your joints have these little, tiny muscles that noone's ever heard of that help to stabilize the joints and these muscles can only be properly trained by working out with things that are unstable such as kettle bells or by working out on surfaces that are unstable such as a bosu ball or a swiss ball. To the layman this might sound like a sound theory but let's take a look at the ACTUAL anatomy of your joints instead of some mentally retarded fantasy land interpretation of your musculature.

The most common joint you will hear people talk about in this manner are the knees, which is surprising because they are one of the most simple joints of the body. There are several muscles which effect knee movement, above the knee there are the four muscles of the quadriceps (vastus lateralus, vastus intermedius, vastus medialis and rectus femoris), the muscles of the hamstrings (semitendinosus, semimembranosus, biceps femoris), there are the gluteus maximus and gluteus minimus (which effect the knee by way of the ilio-tibial band), there are the thigh adductors (gracilis, sartorius and iliopsoas) and then there is one small muscle called the popliteus that functions to unlock the knee. Below the knee there are a also several muscles that cross the knee joint, they are the gastrocnemius, soleus, anterior tibialis and peroneus longus (there are a couple of others but they simply aid in the actions of these larger muscles). All of these muscles are very large muscles and all of them are in place to facilitate movement. They are not there solely for the purpose of stabilizing the joint.

The fact of the matter is that there are no tiny "stabilizer" muscles. Stabilization of the joints is achieved by muscular coordination of these large muscles and we all know the best way to train all of these muscles..... squat with heavy weights. There can be a case made for the necessity of one legged squats on occassion for sports athletes but for the most part coordination is best trained using drills, not weights. This same argument holds true for the elbows, shoulders, hips, ankles, wrists and any other joint on your body. The only joints that are not made for flexion and extension under load are the vertebral joints. The vertebral joints are designed to be held statically while your trunk is moved around by your limbs. I have never heard anyone use the term "stabilizer muscles" when referring to the spine however. This is probably because most personal trainers believe that training the spinal erectors directly is unsafe. Which is obviously untrue. I would venture to say that is more unsafe to NOT train the spinal erectors (i.e. deadlifting) because of the increased chance of injuring yourself on the playing field or while doing manual labor.

Another problem that exists with this theory is the methods with which they train these imaginary muscles. Standing on an unstable surface while you attempt to lift a heavy object will do three things.

1: Limit the amount of weight that can be lifted: If you are lifting weights then I think it's safe to say that you intend on becoming stronger and in order to become stronger you need to stimulate your muscles with your lifts. By limiting the amount of weight that can be lifted you are making sure that you are not going to get any stronger, period.

2: Increasing Muscular Coordination: You will benefit some from this type of training by improving your balance; however, the benefit:risk ratio is not in your favor.

3: Increasing the Risk of Injury: Obviously, standing on a wobbly surface while attempting to lift a heavy weight is BLATANTLY STUPID. Especially to an untrained individual. So don't do it.

A healthy habit to develop in the world of strength training is to challenge the validity of everything that you hear. Athletic training is the one area of science where retards rule and the ignorant abound. In no other area of science will you see such a large amount of invalid, untested and untrue literature. So always ask yourself, "a thousand years ago, did people do this to get strong?". The answer will most likely be "no". A thousand years ago people trained with heavy stones while standing on solid ground. We now have the luxury of barbells, but the premise is the same. Stand on a stone and lift a stone. Go lift something heavy.

DIY: High Pulley Station Weight Stack and Cambered Attachment

If you have been following my blog then you know that I have recently built a high pulley station for my home gym from some 2x4's. I ran into some problems with my original design though. I had originally used the cable with an S hook attached to it to loop through the weight plates. This proved extremely cumbersome, even dangerous! I was changing the weight to perform some lat pulldowns and three 45lb plates rolled off of the platform and just about crushed my foot. Luckily, I was able to get out of the way in time but even so, this was a design flaw that obviously needed to be addressed. I also didn't have a handle to attach to the cable properly with which to perform any exercises.

I settled on a solution for this which, since I have implemented, has been wonderful! In order to do this you will need two carabeaners (make sure you get very strong carabeaners, mine are 260lb test each for a total weight capacity of 520 lbs since there is one at each end of the cable), an old collar from an olympic barbell, a large threaded hook (mine is a 3/8inch hook), two nuts that fit the hook with washers, a whole bunch of ratchet extentions (it must be long enough to fit all the way down the olympic collar, so about 2 feet). I put it together as follows:

1: secure the hook on the end of the olympic barbell collar using the two nuts and two washers. This is where you will need your really long ratchet extension to screw the nuts on tightly.

2: attach your carabeaners to the ends of the cables.

3: slide your weighted plates onto the olympic collar and attach the carabeaner

 Here, you can see the hook sticking out of the end of the barbell collar.

Here you can see the weights loaded onto the barbell collar. The fat piece at the end of the collar is underneath the weights and holds them in place.













In the future, I will need to extend the pulley apparatus itself from the wall about 4 inches so that it can accommodate 25 lb plates. At this point you can only fit 15 10lb plates on it. After this was finished I still had the issue of not having a handle to do lat pulldowns, tricep extensions, etc... I fixed this problem by employing an old ez curl bar (which I almost never use because I prefer my barbell), 2 thick metal hose clamps and a metal ring.

First I took the collars off of the ez curl bar. I then attached the metal ring to the center of the bar with the two hose clamps and voila! I had a long, cambered bar attachment for my pulley station with which i can perform tricep extensions or lat pulldowns.

 Here you can see how the ring was attached to the bar. Originally I only used one hose clamp to hold the ring in place but was worried about its ability to bear weight so I threw an extra one on there just to be safe
And here is the finished product. I put some athletic tape on the parts of the bar that didn't have any gnurling to aid with grip when my hands were sweaty.










I have already put in A LOT of work on this pulley system because I am rehabing a little shoulder tear I acquired while squatting and lat pulldowns seem to help more than other exercises. I have no complaints with its performance. Altogether this cost me about $40 because I already had the ez curl bar and the olympic barbell collar but even if I didn't it still wouldn't cost me nearly as much as it would to go out and buy one of these. Plus, the ones that are commercially available and designed for home use are usually a double pulley design and they don't have very much weight on them. This definitely fits my needs better. I was also able to use the collars from the ez curl bar as fat grips. I will post on this later. Until then, go lift something heavy.

Powerlifting Neurology 101: Smelling Salts

It was recently requested of me on the bodybuilding.com forums that I write a piece on the physiological action of smelling salts. I went off and did some research and actually found very little on this topic thus this will be a shorter blog than you are accustomed to from myself.

The active ingredient in almost all "smelling salt" mixtures is ammonia of some form. Generally it is just household ammonia which consists of 5-10% ammonia and water. I found this pretty funny considering that a bottle of Nose Tork or a similar product runs around $10.00 and it's only about 3 ounces of liquid. I'm in the wrong business apparently. A much more cost effective way to get this is to buy it from a medical supply company. I recommend imed.com. Ammonia in its purest form is far too dangerous to let the general public get their hands on , I'm sorry to say, and it wouldn't be very effective as an inhalant to increase your lifts because it would probably knock you out if you sniffed it (in a laboratory, you have to wear a fume hood to handle it).

I have used Ammonia inhalants several times before I attempted a record lift and it really does seem to get you cranked up but how exactly does this happen? From the review of literature which I have conducted, discussions I have carried on at length with a neurologist regarding this matter and my own, personal experience with ammonia inhalants I have determined that there are most likely 3 different means through which ammonia can improve your strength.

1: Inhalation Reflex: Ammonia is a very caustic chemical, because of this when it is inhaled it irritates the very sensitive mucous membranes inside of the nose, throat and lungs. This negative sensory sensation effects something called the spinal cord reflex. Basically, when a painful sensation is perceived it does not go to your brain to be processed. The sensation takes the form of a nerve impulse that travels proximally down the nerve, towards the spinal cord. Once it reaches the spinal cord it enters through the dorsal root. When the impulse is traveling along pain fibers (S1 nerve fibers to be precise) it does not continue on to the brain. Instead, it flips through the anterior horn of the spinal cord and exits through the anterior root. This will effectively stimulate contraction of the muscle innervated by that nerve (this is usually the muscle on the opposite side of the limb). For example, if you burned the back of your hand the spinal cord reflex would cause you to pull your hand away from the heat without having to think about it. In the case of the pain caused by inhaling ammonia, this would cause contraction of the Diaphragm and Hemidiaphragm. This contraction (and nervous stimulation) could possibly help you get a better breathe before you begin your lift.

2: Wakes you up: If you have ever intentionally picked up a bottle of ammonia, opened it, and forcefully inhaled the fumes coming off of it then you know that it smells F&^%ing terrible! When I sniff ammonia before a lift it wakes me up because sniffing it is like getting slapped in the face. This could provide a little more strength manifested in the form of simply being more "awake" than you were before you sniffed it.

3: Placebo effect: Up to 30% of the positive (or negative) effects of medications are due to this. I know, people like to pretend like they're too smart to let this happen to them but trust me. I have been working in medicine for several years now and people are not smart... to say the least. What you believe about a medication actually effects how well it works. If you believe that taking the pill will help your headache go away then your brain will actually launch the physiological means of blocking the pain without ever being acted on by the medication. Similarly, if you believe that sniffing ammonia will make you stronger then it will, and I can tell you, sniffing ammonia DOES make you stronger.

In conclusion, knowing WHY ammonia makes you stronger won't actually help you become stronger so stop worrying about it. Sniff some ammonia and hit a PR already!

Powerlifting Neurology 101: Neurological Plasticity

In my last post on Powerlifting Neurology i went over the basic anatomy and physiology of the Neurological System and busted up some bro science that floats around the weightroom. Today I will go over neurological plasticity and how this attribute of our most intricate bodily system can help you lift heavier weights

Neurological Plasticity (or neuroplasticity) is the ability of neurological tissues to change structurally and functionally in response to stimulus from the environment. Similarly to how your muscle cells grow and add mitochondria to adapt to the stimulus of you lifting heavy weights regularly. Neurological tissue is able to adapt to stimulus moreso than other tissues in the body. The adaptation (particularly in the brain) to outside stimulus is very slow but is almost limitless whereas adaptation in other tissues of the body will eventually stagnate.

If you look through medical journals you will see several studies on neuroplasticity, but most of them will involve the brain as medicine tries to find a way to retrain the disabled portions of people's bodies from diseases like multiple sclerosis and stroke. Since we are powerlifters and are discussing how to utilize your nervous system to become a stronger, more efficient athlete I will not be describing CNS plasticity in this blog. I will be discussing the motor unit.

As you may remember from Powerlifting Neurology 101, the motor unit is the anterior horn cell, the spinal nerve, the peripheral nerve, the neuromuscular junction and the muscle fiber. Motor units used for gross movement usually contain around 1500 muscle fibers per motor unit (this sample was taken from the gastrocnemius) whereas motor units used for fine movement (for example, in the lumbrical muscles of the fingers) contain approximately 100 muscle fibers per motor unit and even more refined motor units (in the larynx) contain less than 10 muscle fibers per motor unit. We will obviously be focusing on the larger motor units since they contribute the most to overall strength and explosiveness.

Before you can understand how the nervous system adapts to outside stimulus such as weight training, you need to have a better understanding of what it is these nerve fibers are innervating. Motor neurons innervate muscle cells and for our purposes we will be most concerned with skeletal muscle fibers. Skeletal muscle fibers are broken down into two main types: "fast twitch" and "slow twitch", as they are commonly referred to in the gym, are designated as type I and II or in some texts as "red" and "white" muscle fibers; but, since you already probably know of them as fast twitch and slow twitch that is what i will call them as these designations are accurate enough and will help to alleviate any confusion.

Fast twitch muscle fibers are capable of contracting with a great amount of force for a short period of time whereas slow twitch muscle fibers are capable of contracting with a lesser amount of force for an extended period of time. How many fast twitch muscle fibers you have in relation to slow twitch muscle fibers at birth is determined largely by a person's gender and genetics. This can be changed though through outside stimulus.

Every motor unit contains only one type of muscle fiber. This means that each anterior horn cell only innervates fast twitch or slow twitch muscle fibers. Also of note is that the type of a muscle fiber is not determined by the muscle fiber, it is determined by the neuron which innervates it. For example, say a person has damaged one of their spinal nerves and now there are several uninnervated muscle fibers and let's also say that all of the muscle fibers that have been effected were slow twitch fibers. As the person begins to heal they will experience something called reinnervation. This is when surviving motor units grow branches out to the uninnervated muscle fibers so that the person can regain control of the muscle tissue. Say that the only motor units available to reinnervate the muscle fibers are fast twitch motor units. The slow twitch muscle cells that they reinnervate will become fast twitch muscle fibers once the reinnervation has taken place! This sounds like a great way to improve your fast twitch to slow twitch muscle fiber ratio. Unfortunately in order for this to take place you have to injure yourself... most likely your spine. So even though this scenario is good for teaching this concept, it probably isn't the best way to go about priming your nervous system for some heavy weight lifting.

The common belief for increasing explosiveness in the gym is that if you train explosively you will "learn" how to stimulate a more complete muscular contraction (i.e. you will be able to excite more muscle fibers at the same time) and will therefore become stronger. This is true, but the mechanisms that are in place to provide this adaptation are a little bit different than most people think and are (as are many things in neurology) theoretical. There are three theoretical means for this to happen, they are:

1: Change of fiber type: this is when some of your slow twitch muscle fibers become fast twitch muscle fibers. There are different ways for this to happen, but the most common way is by increasing the size of the fast twitch muscle motor unit. By branching out and innervating neighboring slow twitch muscle fibers (and therefore converting them to fast twitch fiber type) you can increase your fast twitch to slow twitch ratio. This process happens very slowly. Nerves can generally generate about one millimeter of length in a month and this would only be under the most ideal conditions.

2: Increasing the size of the motor unit: this is obviously very related to number 1 and is probably the most effective means your nervous system uses to adapt to the explosive training. Since each motor unit only has 1 anterior horn cell, increasing the size of the motor unit will increase the percent of the muscle fibers in a muscle that contract simultaneously.

3: Increasing the amount of upper motor neurons: if you read Powerlifting Neurology 101 then you know that upper motor neurons are the neurons in the motor cortex of the brain that originate the electrical signal to contract a muscle. By increasing the number of upper motor neurons you have, you will effectively increase the amount of motor units being stimulated with each contraction.

These 3 methods of increasing muscular contraction are all triggered by the same training stimulus, training explosively. If you are an olympic lifter or train with a Westside Barbell template than you have probably been doing all that you can to increase your nervous system's ability to produce explosive contractions. It is also worth mentioning that you need to provide your body with the nutrients necessary to develop nervous tissue. This includes Magnesium, B6, B12, D3, Iron, Chromium, Manganese and lots of healthy fats.

Next in my series on Powerlifting Neurology I will be covering smelling salts. Until then, go lift something heavy.