Archive for the ‘Product Reviews’ Category

The Warrior Ethos by Steven Pressfield

(Directly from Amazon)

WARS CHANGE, WARRIORS DON’T

We are all warriors. Each of us struggles every day to define and defend our sense of purpose and integrity, to justify our existence on the planet and to understand, if only within our own hearts, who we are and what we believe in. Do we fight by a code? If so, what is it? What is the Warrior Ethos? Where did it come from? What form does it take today? How do we (and how can we) use it and be true to it in our internal and external lives?

The Warrior Ethos is intended not only for men and women in uniform, but artists, entrepreneurs and other warriors in other walks of life. The book examines the evolution of the warrior code of honor and “mental toughness.” It goes back to the ancient Spartans and Athenians, to Caesar’s Romans, Alexander’s Macedonians and the Persians of Cyrus the Great (not excluding the Garden of Eden and the primitive hunting band). Sources include Herodotus, Thucydides, Plutarch, Xenophon, Vegetius, Arrian and Curtius–and on down to Gen. George Patton, Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, and Israeli Minister of Defense, Moshe Dayan.

Features at a Glance:

Pros:

  • Short Read
  • Full Of Popular Anecdotes

Cons:

  • Too many anecdotes.  Hardly any original content.  It is just full of stories and points from movies, myths, and other books.
  • Feels like a poorly researched high school term paper
  • A pamphlet of what seems to just be titles of chapters.
  • Very overpriced for the content that was included.

Where to buy:

I got mine as a birthday present.  I did have it on my Amazon wishlist because I thought it looked interesting.  Had I wanted to read a bunch of stories of ancient warriors, I would have just looked them up online.

 

 

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Leather Dip Belt

This is a review of a Leather Dip Belt.  I do not know what brand this is, but I have researched a few different companies that make the same style belt that I have.

Features at a Glance:

Pros:

  • Genuine Leather
  • One Size Fits All (and I have a big waist)
  • Heavy Duty D-rings, Steel Rivets, and Two Ply Construction
  • Can Be Use For More Than Just Dips (I use for some Calf work as well)

Cons:

  • Sometimes steel rivets can be sharp.
  • No padding on back support (not really needed)
  • Short chain

Where to buy:

I personally bought mine at Jesup Gym Equipment in Jesup, IA.

Amazon 

Elite FTS

IronCompany.com (CAP Barbell product)

Yukon Revolving Curl Bar

This is a review of the Yukon Revolving Curl Bar. This is a great bar attachment for any pulley system.

Features at a Glance:

Pros:

  • Ergonomic Design Helps Put Your Wrists In A More Natural Position
  • Easy Attachment By Carabiner
  • Strong Knurling
  • Rotating Bar To Allow Bar To Stay Stationary In Your Hand
  • Can Be Used For A lot More Than Just Curls (Tricep Ext., Lat Pulldowns, Etc.)

Cons:

  • Can be expensive if bought through the wrong store (Amazon).
  • It looks like they made a huge batch of these at once because mine had lots of dings and scuffs on it when I bought it.

Where to buy:

I personally bought mine at Jesup Gym Equipment in Jesup, IA.

Yukon Fitness

Amazon (more expensive than needs to be.)

Kylin Sport 2″ ABS Locking Collars

This is a review of the ABS 2″ locking collars that have been coming in to replace the spring collars of old.  These are Kylin Sport brand.  This is a great set of locking collars that would be a welcome addition to any lifters equipment inventory. This particular set came with a “handy-dandy” carrying case.

Features at a Glance:

Pros:

  • Easy to Slip On and Off the Bar
  • Fits Olympic Size Bars
  • Quick Snap Design
  • Low cost ($13.00 on Amazon, I received them for a birthday present)
  • Used by professionals and amateurs alike

Cons:

  • These type of collars can be expensive.  I have seen some as high as $30-40.
  • The only issue I have seen with this type of collar is the locking prong breaking off.  The collar is still “useable” after that happens, but not as secure due to unexpectedly popping open. (I have not had this issue with my particular collar and probably won’t if I don’t just throw it around.)

Where to buy:

Amazon

 

CAP Olympic Size Spring Collars

This is a review of the basic spring collars most lifters are familiar with.  CAP is a brand that has been around a long time in the fitness industry. This is a great set of collars that would be a welcome addition to any lifters equipment inventory.

Features at a Glance:

Pros:

  • Easy to Slip On and Off the Bar
  • Fits Olympic Size Bars
  • Molded Grips for Comfort
  • Low cost ($12.00)
  • Used by professionals and amateurs alike

Cons:

  • They are a little tight out of the package.  Hard to open all the way to get around the Olympic size bars.  This works itself out after a while.

 

 

Where to buy:

I personally purchased my set at Jesup Gym Equipment, Inc. in Jesup, IA.  Just contact them at jesupgym@jtt.net, by phone at 1-800-858-0843, or check out their web page at http://www.jesupgym.com

You can also get them on Amazon (for cheaper).

I decided that I was spending WAY too much money on supplements.  Because supplements are supposed to be SUPPLEMENTAL to what I am already consuming I thought it was a waste of money to pay for the Big Name Brands with their fancy Proprietary Blends and what not.  I decided to try to create my own personal Pre and Post workout supplements.  I buy ingredients in bulk.  My last bill was around $140.00.  This included ingredients for both the pre and post workout stuff.  The amount of ingredients that I bought should supply enough material for around 3 months of training (1-2 times a day, 5-6t times a week).  The equates to around $1.50 a day or $45 a month.  I was spending $100-150 a month on the Big Name Brands. I tried to keep it simple and easy.  I researched what a lot of the Big Name Brands used for ingredients in their supplements and tried to replicate it as closely as I could. What I found was that most pre and post workout supplements contained roughly the same ingredients as other pre and post workout supplements.  Here are the main ingredients:

Pre-Workout

  1. Caffeine
  2. BCAAs
  3. Beta Alanine
  4. Creatine
  5. Flavoring

Post-Workout

  1. Whey Protein
  2. BCAAs
  3. Creatine
  4. Flavoring

These along with a few other ingredients (glutamine, vitamin c, etc) make up the bulk of most pre and post workout supplements.  I decided to go to BulkSupplements.Com to see how cheap (but good) of ingredients I could get.  After I placed my order (I actually ordered through Amazon so I could get 2 day free shipping so I could get it faster) I figured out how much of each ingredient to use to get me to the average amount that most other supplements used.  Here is what I came up with:

Pre-Workout

  1. Green Coffee Bean – 1/8 tsp = ~212mg of Caffeine
  2. BCAAs (2:1:1) – 3 tsp = ~5.3g
  3. Beta Alanine – 1/2 tsp = ~2.3g
  4. Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized) – 1 tsp = ~5g
  5. Great Value (Wal-mart brand) Sugar free-Low calorie Pink Lemonade Drink Mix – 1/2 packet = 1/2 tsp = 5 cal, o carbs 15mg Potassium, and flavoring to cover up the other stuff.

Post-Workout

  1. Whey Protein Isolate – 2 Tbsp = ~30g
  2. BCAAs (2:1:1) – 3 tsp = ~5.3g (yes, I know I probably didn’t need to double up on the BCAAs)
  3. Creatine Monohydrate (Micronized) – 1/2 tsp = ~2.5g (yes, I know I probably don’t need much more than 5g of Creatine a day)
  4. Gatorade Powder – 1 scoop/12 oz = 80 cal, 21g carbs, and is good flavoring.

I poured the powders into (better)sealable containers and labeled them.  I measure them out each time.

If any of my readers have other ideas or a better way/cheaper way, etc. let me know.  I am open to trying anything.  I have been using my DIY supplements for a few weeks and I think they do help with my pre-workout energy and post-workout muscle soreness.

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I have become a HUGE fan of the Do-It-Yourself stuff lately.  I have taken it upon myself to try to upgrade and outfit the Heavy Hammer Gym with as many DIY projects that I can.  My latest endeavor resulted in a pretty nice product.  I made Deadlift Blocks.  Here is what you need to know:

  1. Here is a great article from EliteFTS explaining some benefits of partial range of motion deadlifting: Partial Movement Training For The Deadlift / Elite FTS
  2. You can make this a DIY project, but if you don’t think you are up to it there are a lot of choices out there for purchasing deadlift blocks such as: Rogue 15 Wood Jerk Block PairRogue Medium Metal Pulling Blocks, or DC Blocks – Set of 18.
  3. List of materials used. (you can make them to whatever dimensions you think will work for you and your space/needs; this list will make 2 blocks(because you need 2 blocks to do it right))
    1. 8 – 4×4 cut to 15″ lengths (I actually used 2×4’s because I couldn’t cut the thicker wood)
    2. 2 – 3/4″ plywood cut to 15″ squares
    3. 2 – 1/2″ rubber matting cut to 15″ squares ( I used a very nice welcome mat for mine, just flipped it upside down; people tend to use horse stall mats)
    4. 4 – 1×2 cut to 15″ length (so weights don’t roll off the top of the block)
    5. 2 1/2 ” or 3″ screws
    6. EXTRA: Wood Glue (I actually used industrial strength so it will hold up longer)

Pretty easy to put together.  Used 4-4×4’s on the bottom, screw them together (use wood glue too, maybe, I did), screw (wood glue) plywood to top of 4×4’s, screw (wood glue) rubber mat to top of plywood, screw (wood glue) 2- 1×2’s to top of mat on either side.  Be generous with screws (wood glue) to make sure it can handle the HUGE weights you will be using on it.

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Hope you like this DIY project as much as I have.  I have used them multiple times now with 400+ lbs and they haven’t moved/given out at all. Check back from time to time for more DIY Gym Projects.

wp-1466558794478.jpgI recently received a pair of Matt Wenning’s Lifting Straps.  The craftsmanship on these straps is amazing.  They stitching is impeccable.  The materials used are of great quality and held up to some testing.  These straps are very effective for the purpose of strapping your hands to a barbell or dumbbell.  They are even long enough to use for axle bars.  I would definitely recommend these straps to anyone.  They will become a staple of my training programs.  You can find them soon at http://www.wenningstrength.com.  I believe they will be $14.99 plus S&H.

Product: Wrist Roller

Brand: DIY (Do It Yourself…tried the manly thing, making something myself)

Specs: Section of 2″ PVC Pipe, 2+” Stainless Steel Hose Clamp, Dog Leash

Review: First off, cut (we just used a hand saw) the section of 2″ PVC Pipe to fit over the safety bars on any standard squat rack.  (If you don’t have a squat rack or safety bars, this product won’t really work for you as it is intended.) Mine ended up being around 22″. Then secure the loop of the Dog Leash around the PVC Pipe.  After you loop it around, attach the Stainless Steel Hose Clamp to secure the Dog Leash in place. Tighten it down with a screw driver.  You now have a DIY Wrist Roller. Total cost was around $12.00.  My friend, and sometimes lifting buddy, Paul Ebsen gave me the idea and helped me make it. All you have to do now is attach any weight plates to it by looping the dog leash through the center hole on the plates and attach the clip to itself on the leash.  So far, mine has held 45lbs with no issues.  I am sure it can go heavier, but my wrists/forearms can’t yet. Here are some pictures:

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Here is where I got the materials:

Home Depot:

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Wal-Mart:Screen Shot 2015-12-05 at 9.44.16 AM

 

If you have any questions, please feel free to ask them in the comments section.  I will reply to comments as soon as possible.

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Here is my brief (lame) attempt at a book review:

This book was written by Dr. Mike Israetel (author of The Renaissance Diet), Dr. James Hoffmann (Exercise Science Professor at Temple University) and Chad Wesley Smith (Top 10 Raw Powerlifter of All-Time). This book is a comprehensive look into the elements that go into strength training.

Here is a look at what is covered in the book:

  • Specificity
  • Overload
  • Fatigue Management
  • SRA
  • Variation
  • Phase Potentiation
  • Individual Differences
  • Various powerlifting periodization schemes and their strengths/weaknesses
  • Myths, Fallacies and Fads in Powerlifting

This book will help you understand how to plan for different phases of training (hypertrophy, strength, or peaking) through which specific exercises to use.  It tells you how to program overload training sessions as well as deload sessions that help with fatigue and SRA.  The book goes into detail with how variation can help you, especially with individual personal differences.

I wholly recommend this book for anyone interested in strength training.  I am personally using it to devise my own training.