I want to talk about a man that had a great influence on me as an athlete and a man: Fred “Dr Squat” Hatfield PhD. At the conclusion of my rookie NFL season (an unremarkable stretch in Cincinnati the Bengals) I headed west to Los Angeles at the invitation of my friend Perry Rosen. My close friend, a training partner from my Long Island days (Rab’s Gym in Lynbrook), Perry had made the move west to pursue his dream of becoming a Hollywood star. It was an easy decision to accept his invitation to join him and spend my NFL off-season in balmy LA. When my season ended I stowed my striped orange helmet and headed directly east to Reseda, CA. Although I often worked out with Perry, who was reasonably strong at 215 pounds, I was in need of a training partner who could challenge me both physically and mentally. Not long after I arrived in “The Valley” (The movie Valley Girls with Nicholas Cage was the big movie that summer) I began dating a young lady who said “There’s a really strong man that works in my dad’s office and you totally have to meet him; he’s really smart and you two will hit it off!” Turns out my friend Jill’s dad worked for Joe Weider at his corporate headquarters in Woodland Hills, CA. Jill’s dad was in sales but friendly with one of Weider’s senior directors and sports science director Dr. Fred Hatfield. I had certainly heard of Dr. Squat and jumped at the chance to meet him and just as Jill had predicted Fred and I became fast friends. Before long Fred invited me to workout with him in his garage gym and that’s when it started to get interesting.
There is no denying that Fred was powerfully built especially when viewed from the back; neck to a hamstrings Fred’s muscularity was incredibly thick and ropey. His lumbar paraspinals were so powerfully developed they created an appearance of having slabs of steak strapped on either side of his spinal column. Broad shoulders and thick pec too. His 250 pound body was compressed, with single digit body fat, on to just 5’6″. Think fire plug with traps. A tick more than a foot shorter than me but just 30 pounds lighter.
I was a good lifter, by football player standards, but was looking to improve myself as a football player and athlete and I know strength was a crucially important athletic quality. At the time I was squatting around 585. I realize that many reading his have never training the squat to the standards of high level powerlifters and football players so permit me to define the all important depth of the squat as is the standard; the crease of the hip passes BELOW the crease of the knee. Yep – it’s way down there where gravity is nasty, your chest is slammed into your knees and leverages are compromised. I held weightlifting records when I was at the University of Maryland and was among the stronger Bengals players. Incredibly Fred had me beat in the squat by 400 – not 40 – but 400 pounds! My first thought was Holy Crap, what am I doing training with this guy. My second thought was to align myself with Fred, pay close attention to everything he said and did and work as hard as I could. He was my chance to spend an off season getting stronger and develop the most important asset in sport – power!
I spent three off-season’s training with Fred in his garage gym along with various athletes, amateur and professional, who would drop by to workout of just shoot the baloney. There was nothing fancy about the gym; a converted three car garage who’s dominant feature was an industrial strength power rack. Dumbbells ran in pairs up to 150 lbs. medicine balls, pull-up bar etc. Notable pieces of equipment included a “safety squat bar”, common in serious training gyms today but revolutionary in the 80’s. Many don’t know this but it was Fred who popularized the SSB when he began training with it in the the 70’s. Fred and I used it quite a bit in the 80’s. Notable too were the special bars and plates necessitated by the poundages Fred squatted. I’ll explain; the standard weightlifting bars in gyms across the world are designed and built to accommodate a load of 650-800 pounds. Load the bar with plates totaling more than that amount and the bar fails (bends) rendering it unusable. Yet reasonably new bars never bend. Here’s why; most obviously, there are few mighty enough to require their bar be loaded to 800 pounds and secondly the collars of the bar fill to horizontal capacity with 45 pound plates in effect “maxing out” the bar. Hence the need for the specialized bars and plates in Fred’s gym. The first order of business are bars, made of freakishly strong iron, that can accommodate 1,200 pounds. Secondly Fred had a stash of rare 100 pound plates – heavier than manhole covers and beastly to manage. These were the metaphorical hammer and chisel of super strength training employed buy only the strongest on the planet. Mind you this was a decade before “gear” (metal strut reenforced suits that permit one, while wearing it, to squat 200-300 pounds more than they could wearing a cotton single worn by Fred and the powerlifters of the day) was introduced to the sport of powerlifting – hastening its spiraling popularity.
I made great progress in all my lifts; in the NFL they test what I call the NFL Total: Bench Press, Power Clean and Full Squat. My NFL Total PR’s were: Bench 500, Clean 365, Squat 665. Of course the training led to improvements in my game, after all the reason I was training was ultimately to be a better NFL defensive lineman. The power I added while working with Fred led to increased “pop” at the point of contact ability to impose upper-body violence on my opponent. My game improved and importantly “I” improved; as an athlete, and a man. Those summers, Dr. Squat and me in Fred’s Gym were special times. Early on I asked Fred if had a would turn the stereo on to which said “don’t have one … I train to the music in my head”. Okey-dokie, no music was fine with me, besides the conversation was so power – mostly Fred talking and me listening – that music would only have mucked it up. Conversation, heavy training, followed by more conversation and seventy-five minutes later when the session was over Fred would fire up a Kool and kick back in his easy chair. Those were the days. Dr. Squat and me. PK
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An important new study published in the Annals of Internal Medicine serves up more evidence to support the theory that a low carbohydrate/high fat diet is best for reducing body fat and improving blood cholesterol profiles. PK
By ANAHAD O’CONNOR SEPT. 1, 2014
People who avoid carbohydrates and eat more fat, even saturated fat, lose more body fat and have fewer cardiovascular risks than people who follow the low-fat diet that health authorities have favored for decades, a major new study shows.
The findings are unlikely to be the final salvo in what has been a long and often contentious debate about what foods are best to eat for weight loss and overall health. The notion that dietary fat is harmful, particularly saturated fat, arose decades ago from comparisons of disease rates among large national populations.
But more recent clinical studies in which individuals and their diets were assessed over time have produced a more complex picture. Some have provided strong evidence that people can sharply reduce their heart disease risk by eating fewer carbohydrates and more dietary fat, with the exception of trans fats. The new findings suggest that this strategy more effectively reduces body fat and also lowers overall weight.
The new study was financed by the National Institutes of Health and published in the Annals of Internal Medicine. It included a racially diverse group of 150 men and women — a rarity in clinical nutrition studies — who were assigned to follow diets for one year that limited either the amount of carbs or fat that they could eat, but not overall calories.
“To my knowledge, this is one of the first long-term trials that’s given these diets without calorie restrictions,” said Dariush Mozaffarian, the dean of the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, who was not involved in the new study. “It shows that in a free-living setting, cutting your carbs helps you lose weight without focusing on calories. And that’s really important because someone can change what they eat more easily than trying to cut down on their calories.”
Diets low in carbohydrates and higher in fat and protein have been commonly used for weight loss since Dr. Robert Atkins popularized the approach in the 1970s. Among the longstanding criticisms is that these diets cause people to lose weight in the form of water instead of body fat, and that cholesterol and other heart disease risk factors climb because dieters invariably raise their intake of saturated fat by eating more meat and dairy.
Many nutritionists and health authorities have “actively advised against” low-carbohydrate diets, said the lead author of the new study, Dr. Lydia A. Bazzano of the Tulane University School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. “It’s been thought that your saturated fat is, of course, going to increase, and then your cholesterol is going to go up,” she said. “And then bad things will happen in general.”
The new study showed that was not the case.
By the end of the yearlong trial, people in the low-carbohydrate group had lost about eight pounds more on average than those in the low-fat group. They had significantly greater reductions in body fat than the low-fat group, and improvements in lean muscle mass — even though neither group changed their levels of physical activity.
While the low-fat group did lose weight, they appeared to lose more muscle than fat.
“They actually lost lean muscle mass, which is a bad thing,” Dr. Mozaffarian said. “Your balance of lean mass versus fat mass is much more important than weight. And that’s a very important finding that shows why the low-carb, high- fat group did so metabolically well.”
The high-fat group followed something of a modified Atkins diet. They were told to eat mostly protein and fat, and to choose foods with primarily unsaturated fats, like fish, olive oil and nuts. But they were allowed to eat foods higher in saturated fat as well, including cheese and red meat.
A typical day’s diet was not onerous: It might consist of eggs for breakfast, tuna salad for lunch, and some kind of protein for dinner — like red meat, chicken, fish, pork or tofu — along with vegetables. Low-carb participants were encouraged to cook with olive and canola oils, but butter was allowed, too.
Over all, they took in a little more than 13 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat, more than double the 5 to 6 percent limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The majority of their fat intake, however, was unsaturated fats.
The low-fat group included more grains, cereals and starches in their diet. They reduced their total fat intake to less than 30 percent of their daily calories, which is in line with the federal government’s dietary guidelines. The other group increased their total fat intake to more than 40 percent of daily calories.
Both groups were encouraged to eat vegetables, and the low-carbohydrate group was told that eating some beans and fresh fruit was fine as well.
In the end, people in the low-carbohydrate group saw markers of inflammation and triglycerides — a type of fat that circulates in the blood — plunge. Their HDL, the so-called good cholesterol, rose more sharply than it did for people in the low-fat group.
Blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL, the so-called bad cholesterol, stayed about the same for people in each group.
Nonetheless, those on the low-carbohydrate diet ultimately did so well that they managed to lower their Framingham risk scores, which calculate the likelihood of a heart attack within the next 10 years. The low-fat group on average had no improvement in their scores.
The decrease in risk on the low-carbohydrate diet “should translate into a substantial benefit,” said Dr. Allan Sniderman, a professor of cardiology at McGill University in Montreal.
One important predictor of heart disease that the study did not assess, Dr. Sniderman said, was the relative size and number of LDL particles in the bloodstream. Two people can have the same overall LDL concentration, but very different levels of risk depending on whether they have a lot of small, dense LDL particles or a small number of large and fluffy particles.
Eating refined carbohydrates tends to raise the overall number of LDL particles and shift them toward the small, dense variety, which contributes to atherosclerosis. Saturated fat tends to make LDL particles larger, more buoyant and less likely to clog arteries, at least when carbohydrate intake is not high, said Dr. Ronald M. Krauss, the former chairman of the American Heart Association’s dietary guidelines committee.
Small, dense LDL is the kind typically found in heart patients and in people who have high triglycerides, central obesity and other aspects of the so-called metabolic syndrome, said Dr. Krauss, who is also the director of atherosclerosis research at Children’s Hospital Oakland Research Institute.
“I’ve been a strong advocate of moving saturated fat down the list of priorities in dietary recommendations for one reason: because of the increasing importance of metabolic syndrome and the role that carbohydrates play,” Dr. Krauss said.
Dr. Mozaffarian said the research suggested that health authorities should pivot away from fat restrictions and encourage people to eat fewer processed foods, particularly those with refined carbohydrates.
The average person may not pay much attention to the federal dietary guidelines, but their influence can be seen, for example, in school lunch programs, which is why many schools forbid whole milk but serve their students fat-free chocolate milk loaded with sugar, Dr. Mozaffarian said.
I came across this story by Geoff Thompson by way of http://www.alwyncosgrove.com and I feel that if you are committed to personal excellence it is worthy of a few minutes of your day. PK
I bumped into an old friend from the distant past. In my early days as a hard-nosed knuckle-dragger he was one of my compatriots, and one of the hardest working martial artists around. He had always prided himself on his sinewy mentality when it came to all things physical, and he had a prolific work rate. After a brief (and predictable) catch up (how’s the work, the car, the kids, the wife and the mum – in that order) he said ‘hey, you still doing animal day?’
Animal day, for those that do not know, is a form of knock-out or submission fighting (any range, any technique) that I pioneered in the mad, bad (and often sad) 90’s. A time I absolutely loved, but a time I am also grateful to have left behind.
I shook my head in the negative. It had been a many years since I engaged in my last animal day fight.
‘Why not?’ he asked, adding, ‘I’m still mad for it.’
‘Because it is difficult easy,’ I said, ‘and in order for me to continue growing my character, I don’t need difficult easy. In order for me to grow my character I need difficult, difficult.’
He gave me one of those loud, squinty eyed confused looks that shouted from a hundred feet ‘Explain!’
So I explained.
Even as a veteran of thousands of fights, animal days were still a scary experience for me, it was violent and dangerous and extremely difficult. But because I had fought so many times and knew the terrain well it no longer stretched me.
Whatever it was that I needed to reap from that hard period of my life had been well and truly harvested; there was nothing left for me to learn there. Animal day was still difficult, and from the outside looking in it probably looked as though it was mad difficult, but for me it wasn’t, in fact it had become difficult easy.
My friend was still in love with the ground-and-pound style fighting and whilst his physical prowess was evident he had not grown even a single inch in any other area of his life, probably not for the last ten years. His was the mistake made by many; they presume that if something is difficult then they are in the arena. But experience has taught me that the only time you are truly in the arena is when you are (ever so slightly) out of your depth.
Difficult easy is when you are on familiar terrain, not matter how hard the going.
Difficult, difficult is when you find your self at the bottom of someone else’s class with three crazy training partners; fear at your left, doubt on your right and (that big bastard) uncertainty squaring up in front of you.
Difficult easy is treading water whilst kidding yourself that you are swimming against the tide.
Difficult difficult doesn’t need to employ pretense because it is drowning and swimming for its life.
I see many people suffering stalled development because they are so busy occupying themselves with very worthy, respectably, difficult easy tasks that they use to avoid the difficult difficult areas of their lives.
I am doing it right now as it happens. I should be doing a re-write of a difficult (difficult) film script that is over due, but instead I am busying myself with a piece of difficult (easy) work that is not really due to be in print for another fortnight (damn, caught myself out again!)
Some (more) examples; you bury your relationship problems (difficult difficult) under hundreds of miles of road running (difficult…but easy).
You fill every spare moment with hard lists of worthy causes (difficult easy) so that you don’t have the time to invest in the book that you were always going to write, or the film you would love to make (if only you were not so committed in other areas) or the (difficult…very difficult) painting career that you had always intended to create.
You immerse yourself in course after course, book after book (so difficult, and yet….so deliciously easy) on becoming a life coach/property developer/master chef instead of just getting out there (difficult, oh so difficult) and actually doing it.
Listen. Let me tell you, the moment a task becomes difficult easy you stop growing. That is a fact. In order to re-establish your vital development you need to take an honest inventory (difficult very difficult – I have done it) of your life, ditch the pretence, and embrace the black that is….difficult difficult.
And stop chasing ostentatious challenges (that are difficult easy for you) and sort out your health; you are three stone over weight and your blood pressure is off the scale.
Kill the worthy endeavors that you think other people will think are impressive and do something truly and uniquely impressive; take your (secret) addictions to task and kill the porn (in all its forms).
Stop collecting trophies and certificates and belts that tell the word how successful you are and actually BE a success, by taking a hammer to that creepily burgeoning fear that you are harboring.
And don’t, please (like my old mate) fall into the trap of mistaking hard work – even extremely hard (easy) work – for progress. Because, let’s be frank, difficult easy is really just another way of saying ‘easy’, and there is no growth in easy.
We aspirants are into the hard game, the long game, the difficult difficult game. What we are not into, or what we should not be into is the game of easy.