Archives for 2008

Big Numbers

Wow. Things went really well today. In my last post I wrote this, 

” If I can hit about 240 on bench, 350 deadlift, 315 squat I’d consider that a good starting point.”

Well, today my numbers were as follows:

Bodyweight: 185.5 lbs.
Broad Jump: 80″
Box Squat: 395 lbs.
Bench Press: 255 lbs.
Deadlift: 385 lbs.
3-rep Chins: 185.5 lbs. (bodyweight) + 55 lbs. = 240.5 lbs.
Pretty darn good. I woke up with a little stiffness in my low back but I don’t think it really affected anything. Squats in particular felt great. I did try for a 400 lb. deadlift but I couldn’t get it off the ground. All in all it was a great starting point. I think the fact that I could get these numbers while not really training purely for strength shows that where I have taken my training in the past year and half has been well worth it. It will be very interesting to see where I can go from here. I think these are really good starting numbers and it won’t be easy to improve, but considering that my focus now will be purely strength I think I can and will show some big increases. 
I will keep you updated. The program starts on Monday.
Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

Maximum Strength

Hello all! Merry Christmas!

Santa needs to get in shape for his big night!

Hopefully everyone is doing well. I am excited. Why am I excited, you ask? I am excited because this weekend I am starting the Maximum Strength program that I mentioned in my last post. Here’s the book cover if you need reminding.

Technically I start the program on Monday, but on Saturday I am doing all my pretesting for my 1 rep max lifts. A big thanks to Tim for coming in to spot me during the squat and bench press lifts. It’s been a long time since I have done one rep maxes so it will be interesting to see where the numbers are. The most I’ve ever deadlifted is about 405 lbs. and the most I’ve ever benched is 270 lbs. Those were both done quite a while ago. I’ve never really done a 1 rep max on squats. The book also has you do a 3 rep weighted pullup and a broad jump. If I can hit about 240 on bench, 350 deadlift, 315 squat I’d consider that a good starting point.

The interesting thing is that I haven’t back squatted for quite a while. All my squatting has been front squatting with the exception of the very beginning stage of the “New Rules of Lifting” hypertrophy workouts that I did. I tweaked myself back squatting about two workouts in and switched to front for the remainder of the program. Another interesting change is that the book has you mainly doing box squats which I have never done before. I did do some light ones this morning and they felt pretty good. Concentrating on the box (or bench) really makes you push your hips back to start the movement. I was planning on only doing a couple of sets at 135 to get the form, but they felt so good that I went to 225 for the second set and did 6 very easy reps. I had plenty more in the tank. It felt good, so that’s a good sign.

I also did some light deadlifting and really nailed my form on the bench press. I made a slight adjustment on the eccentric (lowering) part of the movement. I really concentrated on meeting the bar with my body, almost coming off of the bench to do it. It really helped my explosion at the beginning of the movement, making your body almost like a piston or a hinge. When you combine that with the leg drive created by bringing your feet way back below you, I think it will definitely help my number there.

Anyway, I will post my numbers this weekend and we will see where we go. I’m excited to get started.

One more thing, I had an email read on a great Philadelphia Eagles podcast called Eagles Fancast. You can go here or download the latest episode on iTunes. My email is read about 25 minutes in. You should listen to the show in any case, though, because the guys on there really do a great job. To remind you of better days I just found one of the all-time great Eagles plays on Youtube. The famous Randall Cunningham bomb to Fred Barnett against the Bills. I was watching this play when it happened and I couldn’t believe my eyes. Cunningham was really something special. Enjoy.

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

Rush DVD and other Stuff

This is a video from the new live Rush DVD. It is, of course, excellent. They are still a phenomenal band. They are playing as well now as they ever have. It’s great to see. I honestly can barely remember a time in my life when they were not my favorite band. Enjoy this and pick up the DVD.

I added a couple of new links to the links section. You should check those out, too. One of the new blogs I’m linking to is Tony Gentilcore’s blog. It’s really very funny and very honest when it comes to talking about trainers, trainees and training. Also, I linked to my lovely wife’s facebook page and another blog/site by an outstanding trainer that I will talk about in the next paragraph

In the next couple of weeks I am going to start the program from Eric Cressey’s Maximum Strength book.

It’s a great book and I can’t wait to see how the program works for me. It really focuses more on strength than size and it will a little different training style for me but I am really looking forward to it. Cressey’s writing has really made a lot of sense to me as far as goal setting and shifting the focus away from form to function. I have been doing that over the past eighteen months or so, but I am ready to take the next step to see where it goes. What I’d like to do is go through the next 16 weeks on this program and then maybe join a powerlifting-style gym next summer to see where that might take me. I am really looking forward to getting into the next level of my training.

As far as my current training goes, I have had a bit of lingering cold this week. I really felt it the other morning in the gym although my lifts weren’t that far off. I actually felt pretty good this morning. I had my form for cleans as good as I’ve had it in a while. (Keep the hamstrings fired!) I need to remember that these are not deadlifts! I’ve been so focused on deads lately that it’s easy to forget the differences in form between the two. I also need to focus a little more on some cardio, too. I’m looking a little puffy around the middle. Break out the Cosgrove complexes article again.

That’s really about it. Life is good and extremely busy. I will leave you with one of the funniest things I have seen in a long while. Pay extra attention to the song that that they play while painting. Ciao!

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)


Hello all!

Just a quick one today. I just finished up my last progression. It was a 5×5 (5 sets of 5 reps) progression with a 90 second rest period. I really tried using the escalating volume approach and it worked well. What this means is that I did two push workouts and two pull workouts each week notated as Push 1, Pull 1, Push 2, Pull 2. I wrote out a workout for Push 1 and did the same exercises each Push 1 workout. The same goes for all of the other workouts. Each time I did a workout I tried to increase the overall volume for each exercise. What that means is that, for example, if I bench press 100 lbs. 5 times that is a 500 lb. volume. Each time I did a workout I would try to increase my overall volume. I usually did this by increasing weight, but it can also be done by adding reps, or even lowering weight and increasing reps by the appropriate amount. Anyway I measured volume exercise by exercise and I definitely increased my strength and size using this approach.

I just did an unloading week and now I am starting in with a new progression that is similar but with a 4×8 rep scheme with a 75 second rest. I am excited about this progression because I am reintroducing deadlifts into my routine. In the past I have felt some low back soreness after doing deadlifts, but I think I made a form adjustment last week that should help this out. It involves my head position in relation to my spine alignment. It’s been awhile since I’ve deadlifted heavy but I’m hoping to go pretty heavy here. I might go 5×5 for deads and keep everything else at 4×8 so I can heavier on these, but we’ll see. It is exciting.

Here’s a video of a 1003 lb. deadlift to get you excited.

I won’t be quite getting to 1003 lbs., but I should be able to get to somewhere around 275-300 lbs. for reps. It’s been a while.

Anyway, I hope you all have a great thanksgiving. Take the poll and let me know what you are thankful for.
Talk to you soon.
Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)
P.S. Email me at with any questions or comments.

Yet Another Reason To Love Rush

Biggest Loser

There is an interesting cross section of opinion on “The Biggest Loser” in “fitness circles”. (Notice the quotes around fitness circles. I really mean more like blogs and things like that I’ve read from people who say that they are involved in fitness circles one way or another. Don’t ask for specifics. I don’t have any at the moment.) Some people think that the show is really not a good thing. They say that it creates a very specific scenario that is nearly impossible to recreate in the real world, and that this could lead to some of the people that the show is trying to inspire to feel bad about their lack of comparable progress, which would play right into the state of mind that got them where they are. There is talk about the focus on “big number” weight loss as opposed to body-fat percentage loss. Also, some of the techniques used on the show have led to some talk over exercise form and program design and things like that.

My opinion is that anything that shows people working out, losing weight and changing bad habits in their lives can’t be too much of a bad thing. Harping on form or program design is silly because we are seeing one or two reps out of a workout that could last somewhere between 30-60 minutes, maybe, and we really don’t have much of an idea about their overall program design.

Complaining about the focus on weight loss as opposed to fat-loss just isn’t being realistic as to what people look for. I think it’s a good thing that they show how hard people need to work to improve their health and the results that can come from that work and the show generally gives pretty good general health and diet tips. Even as someone who really enjoys working out and going to the gym, I get inspired seeing people work hard to become fit and healthy.

Anyway, last week the show did something that I found astounding. For their weekly challenge they had on the author of “Eat This, Not That” (a pretty good book, btw) and they had to pick one of two meals based on which one was the healthier choice. This sounded like a good idea to me. A lot of people don’t realize some basic things about eating out. Things like the amount of calories and fat in certain salad dressings or how many wasted calories in a Coke or how many calories in the pre-dinner bread and butter basket.

Anyway, the first choice was between a hot dog with ketchup, mustard and relish or nachos with cheese.
Which of these choices is at all healthy? Yes, the hot dog is healthier, but this in no way represents a healthy choice.

Which one will make me thin?

The second choice was the only one that seemed to actually represent a legitimate choice: Spaghetti with marinara sauce with sausage and a side Caesar salad or penne with shrimp, marinara sauce and a side garden salad with fat-free Italian Dressing. The penne without the sausage and fatty Caesar dressing won. The other choices included Chicken & Shrimp Fajitas with the works or 24 Chicken Nuggets with barbecue sauce (the nuggets won), and Grilled chicken burrito with the works or 18 lite beers (the burrito won, barely). Wow! What should I have for lunch? A burrito or 18 beers? The topper there was that they said that if it was 17 beers it would actually have less calories. What kind of choices are these? Can a 24 piece chicken nugget pack ever be considered a good food choice?

I don’t know, maybe I’m nitpicking a little but it seems to me that when you have the chance to spread some good info instead of bad info you should do it. Tell people to eat fruits and vegetables. Don’t give them the impression that chicken nuggets and hot dogs are the kinds of foods that will help you with your goals. Oh well. This is just my opinion. It doesn’t mean much.

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

2008 World Champion Philadelphia Phillies!!!!!!

I purposely haven’t written anything about the World Series until now. I didn’t want to jinx anything. I have felt good about this team ever since the playoffs started. I knew I would be happy if they won, but I didn’t know how happy and emotional I would get.

My hands started tingling and my heart beat was twice as fast as normal starting in the seventh inning last night. My eyes started watering going into the bottom of the eighth and I really started crying after Lidge got the last out. When they did the montage of each players reaction to the last out there was some definite waterworks for me. Even just watching this highlight video I started tearing a little. You follow a team for years and years, you follow players throughout their careers, you experience joy, frustration, connection and you always do it because you hope that one day this can happen. There is a lot of baggage being a sports fan and following a team. You see players come and go. Some you like, some not as much. Some you’re sure will be the next Mike Schmidt or Steve Carlton and things happen and time moves on. You see decent teams that don’t quite get there and they eventually disperse throughout the league or out of the game and sometimes it’s easy to forget what the ultimate goal of it all really is. Especially when it seems like you never have a shot to get it. This is what it’s all about.

In 20 or 30 years I will remember this and I will tear up as I think about wherever my life has taken me from now till then. I will remember hugging Robbie and him smiling even though he really didn’t care. I’ll remember talking to my Dad with my voice cracking. I think that’s why I love sports most of all. The memories that mark times in your life. I remember where and who I was when Randall Cunningham made that play against Buffalo. I remember where and who I was when the Phillies beat Atlanta in ’93. I remember where and who I was when the Phillies won it in ’80. I remember where and who I was when I saw Dickie Thon get a walkoff hit in extra innings at some random game at the Vet one summer night. These moments and therefore these teams become a part of who you are. They are a connecting force to other people and to yourself.

I will always have this moment to look back on and I know that wherever I am at that time I will be following my team, the Philadelphia Phillies.

Mitch Rothbardt

(coming soon)


This could be one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.

You’ll notice that each turn of events is perfectly timed and executed to deliver the highest possible amount of pain. The slo-mo breakdown is the best thing of all.

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

Great article

Hello. I just read this on T-Nation and I wanted to share it. It’s a quick article that just asks why we train. You should read it if you train or not just to get to see what drives people in the gym or in whatever you do. In the spirit of this, please check out this week’s poll.

Mitch Rothbardt
(coming soon)

Thoughts and Injuries

Last Thursday I decided to try for a PR at cleans, going for 205. I had done 195 a little while ago and I felt, especially with how good I felt doing a 185 lb. clean and jerk with good form a week prior, that I had a good chance at 205. Well, unfortunately I was wrong. Double unfortunately I got hurt. I tried for one at 205, couldn’t get it and then decided to try for 195. I got that one, but with very poor form and I tweaked my back nice and good. The wierd thing (and the not-so-good thing) is that the pain started out in my back and has since moved to my left leg. It has gotten better, but it really feels like a pinched nerve or something like that. It’s different than my usual low back soreness. The frustrating thing is that, in general, my workouts lately have been really good and now I have to take time off. I hope to get back to it, at least with upper body stuff, Thursday or Friday. We’ll see how it goes.

Anyway, this got me to thinking a little bit. I have been looking at some things on imbalances and compensation lately as I was trying trying to get a handle on my back stuff and I read a lot about people with shoulder problems and elbow problems along with the usual low-back problems. I have been lucky enough to have never had much of an issue with anything but my low back (except a minor left knee soreness from time to time) and I was thinking why that might be. I came to the conclusion that I have always done a good amount of unilateral (one-arm) upper training, but hardly any unilateral (one-leg) training. In other words I have always done dumbell military presses, dumbell bench presses, one arm rows, etc along with barbell work, but before a year ago I have rarely, if ever, done single leg squats, one leg deadlifts, lunges, etc. I think that this has allowed my lower body imbalances and compensations to continue while my upper body has been forced to correct itself. I think what I need to do once I start up again is really focus on unilateral lower body movements. I also just purchased Gray Cook’s “An Athletic Body In Balance” book which is a book that focuses on helping people overcome their imbalances and compensations. Hopefully this will help not only me, but anyone else that I hope to train in the future.

I find this whole thing really amazing as I learn things and think about things. The thing about the human body is that it all makes perfect sense. Everything. The trick is going through all of the logical steps to find the answers.

Mitchell Rothbardt
(coming soon)