The Men’s Mental Health Crisis

daniel debrocke Nov 28, 2022

The writing of this article was prompted by all the social media posts I’ve seen talking about men’s mental health. Apparently November is men’s mental health month. That is unless you’re struggling with your own mental health issues. Then, every month, week, and day may very well be an ongoing struggle. Although throughout this article I’ll be referencing comparative data between men and women and differing demographics, the point is not to prop up men's suffering above women or anyone else for that matter. It’s simply there to elucidate the current state of men’s mental health, which is the central focus of this article. “Einstein is quoted as having said that if he had one hour to save the world he would spend fifty-five minutes defining the problem and only five minutes finding the solution(1). This mentality exists in contrast to the current lack of awareness pertaining to the drivers of psychological ill-health. Social...

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Is Full Range Of Motion Actually Better For Muscle Growth?

daniel debrocke Nov 22, 2022

Optimizing exercise range of motion to maximize muscle growth is a popular topic to discuss. As new research emerges, it often leaves you with more questions about the fundamental mechanisms and application of hypertrophy training. Mechanical tension is known as a primary driver of hypertrophy. Therefore it stands to reason that training a muscle through larger ranges of motion will create more tension, resulting in a greater hypertrophic stimulus. Although this makes sense at face value, it’s ultimately an unsatisfactory answer. At deeper levels of analysis, mechanical tension alone (or at least our current model) can not explain some of the observed outcomes we see both in the literature and anecdotally. The aim of this article is to provide a brief review of the topic, provide context to the ROM discussion, and offer practical recommendations to implement into your own training. 

A recent meta-analysis aimed to compare partial to full range of motion on various...

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Exercise Selection Paradigms

alex miller Oct 31, 2022

As a coaching group, the Kabuki Strength team are asked, “[What are the] Top accessories or technique for building 1RM strength for squat, for bench, and for deadlifts” on our Instagram Q & A. Obviously; the answer is predictable, “It depends. Without jumping onboard our remote coaching service, where we see and assess videos of your lifts, we won’t know and be able to give you a reliable answer”.

However, I can break down the principles and paradigms I work within personally when making exercise selections for my athletes. Hopefully, that will open the door for you to create a more individually efficacious plan. 

I tend towards a very methodical exercise selection process, starting with a visual assessment of a lift. Usually, this is a video, ideally from the side on and from the front. These views allow you to follow and plot out the bar path AND kinematics of a lift. I’ll use kinematics interchangeably with bar path; it’s a...

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The Importance of A Needs Analysis For Nutrition

daniel debrocke nutrition Apr 25, 2022

I commonly get questions like this:

“Should I increase my carbs to help with my performance”

“What do you think of the keto diet”

“I’m eating 190g of protein per day, is that too much”

In every example listed above the thing that’s missing is context. Without enough context I have no way of knowing what any of these people should do. It’s like going to the mechanic and saying “My car isn’t working, should I change the spark plug”? Without a proper needs analysis the mechanic will have no way of knowing what the issue is, and therefore any suggestion they make will be purely based on speculation. 

As coaches and athletes, we can and should do better than speculation. So where do we start? Here is a non-exhaustive list of questions that will help clarify the objectives and subsequent intervention:

  1. What is your age?
  2. Are you male or female?
  3. What is your bodyweight?
  4. What is your occupation?
  5. Rate your daily...
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The Nutrition Hierarchy

daniel debrocke nutrition Apr 25, 2022

 Many lifters struggle with nutrition. Often lacking the knowledge and experience to implement a winning strategy. A common question I get is “where do I start”? Often, the first place to start is understanding the nutritional hierarchy and its practical utility. The availability of information is both a blessing and a curse. You basically have unrestricted access to information, but without the right filtration system, it can be difficult to appraise information and know where to begin and what the next progression will be. But by taking the time to understand the conceptual framework of the nutrition hierarchy you can navigate the murky waters of nutrition science with greater success. 

The graphic below was taken from the muscle and strength pyramid and is a good general depiction of the hierarchy. Notice that all of these levels exist on the backdrop of adherence. Without proper adherence, no plan is going to be effective. Below I’ll discuss each...

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Breathing Is The Catalyst To Better Bracing

cassandra strunk Oct 06, 2021

If you’ve attended any lifting competitions or gotten any training from a gym on weight lifting, I can bet that you’ve heard “BIG AIR” being yelled at the top of a coach’s lungs. Some of you may have even learned the generic breathing strategy to “inhale on the way down (such as lowering the bar to your chest during a bench press or on the way down in a squat) and exhale on the way up or during exertion (as you press the bar off your chest or as you squat up).” Maybe someone has given generic advice that the “Valsalva maneuver” isn’t good for you. Why does the technique of breathing–besides the fact we have to do it to live– matter? Why this emphasis on breathing?

First off, let’s clarify a couple of nuances: 

  1. Breathing is not bracing. Check out this video taken out of our Kabuki Strength Principles of Loaded Movement course discussing this topic. 
  2. Cueing “a belly...
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How Specialty Barbells Can Help You Improve Performance And Reduce Injury Risk

derrington wright Oct 06, 2021

You ever ask yourself, what is the point of specialty bars? Especially if you powerlift, and in competition, you use a straight bar, so why shouldn’t you keep training as specific as possible and only train with a straight bar? In this article we’re going to talk about why utilizing specialty bars can be the right move when trying to improve performance and reduce injury risk.

Using specialty bars can improve your performance by helping you reduce injury risk. How? Well, let’s say you have a lifter that has bad shoulder mobility. Then let’s say that because of that they start to develop shoulder pain, elbow tendinitis, etc. A few ways one would address this would be through volume management, load management, technique work, and mobility drills. While all of these are appropriate ways to try and address the issue, specialty bars are a great way to work around the pain and still get in the volume and intensity necessary to continue to progress. For example,...

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Difficulty Getting Under The Bar? Tips To Better Shoulder Mobility And Positioning In The Squat.

cassandra strunk Sep 14, 2021

Whether you’re a high bar squatter or low bar squatter, optimal positioning of the bar on your back and how you support the bar on your back with your hands and arms is factored in when considering the ability to create trunk stiffness, as well as considering the management of wrist, elbow, and shoulder aches and pains in the back squat. 

Generally speaking, the position of your shoulders and arms should allow you to maximize the tensioning of your middle back muscles and engagement of the latissimus dorsi during the squat. Shoulder positioning in the back squat is oftentimes overlooked in how it contributes to trunk stability, but lat tensioning plays a major role in trunk stiffness due to its connection to the thoracolumbar fascia. When considering the anatomy of the lats and its connection to the thoracolumbar fascia, we are looking at soft tissue that spans the entire posterior aspect of the trunk! 

So if you’re finding yourself constantly dealing with...

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Nerds Vs Bro’s And Why Science Matters

daniel debrocke Jun 03, 2021

The scientific method is one of the most important tools we have in the pursuit of maximal strength and muscular development. As research in the sports science field elucidates the various mechanisms and methodologies involved in athletic development we can derive more effective protocols and further enhance the results of our athletes. However, there are several criticisms of the literature and more accurately scientists themselves. Often there’s a dichotomy within the fitness industry where it’s the nerds vs the bros. In my opinion this polarization is entirely unhelpful and based on false assumptions about what each demographic actually represents.

However, with increased availability of information I have seen misapplication of the evidence which has at least in part contributed to the development of this polarization. Let’s take MRV for example. MRV is an acronym for “maximum recoverable volume” which was coined by Dr. Mike Israetel along with...

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Does Hip Height In The Deadlift Affect Strength?

daniel debrocke May 05, 2021

The deadlift is commonly used in resistance training for a variety of reasons including high potential for loading, functions as a full body exercise, high transference to various sports etc. However there is still considerable disagreement as to what the optimal technical execution is for the conventional deadlift. In this short article we’ll cover how hip height in the start position affects strength expression, and how variations in technique can elicit meaningful changes in force production.

In a 2010 paper by Hales, he touched on the significance of environmental contributions to deadlift performance beyond genetic predisposition. “These genetic values suggest that approximately 50-75% of the overall deadlift performance could be attributed to environmental factors such as training methods, lifting styles, and individualized program parameters” (1). This should not be misinterpreted to suggest that genetics are insignificant. Even on the extreme end if we...

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