Tuesday, October 25, 2011

The Rob Vigeant 100# DB Strict Curl Challenge

Rob Vigeant Jr is an elite 220#/100kg arm wrestler, was the top grip guy at one time, and can do all-around just alien things like pinch grip pull ups off of the rafters and  one arm pull ups holding weight.  More importantly, he does these feats while weighing over 200#. In other words, he's pulling off gymnast stuff but doesn't weigh a buck-forty.

So a couple of years ago he suggested that there wasn't a man in the world that could strictly curl 100# dumbell and had 100 bucks waiting for whoever could. His money has been safe for years, nobody has even been close, and his video below is still the one to beat IMO.

The Standard

When he first suggested the challenge I thought he was crazy and that someone would take his money shortly.  I was wrong.  Increasing your STRICT db curl even 5# is TOUGH.  Most strong guys will be in the 70s and will think they could hit 100# with a little training.  Uh huh..and if you could hit 2.5/10 pitches from a major league pitcher you'd be millionaire. 

Let me be clear: I want you send me videos of your attempts.  I don't care about what you think you can do or what somebody you know can do or what you used to be able to do.  If you don't supply a video you're a troll.  I'm going to let Rob know and hopefully he'll stop by and leave some comments and judge them.

The Peoples' Dietitian Storms Curlville

314 Armsports' 154# Puller Steps Up to the Challenge

First Entry!

I say it's GOOD! Rob has the final say on all vids but it looked like it met the criteria to me. I couldn't find it on youtube to link the still like the other vids but the link works.

Here's the Head Diesel, Jedd Johnson, making a 75# look easier than a honkey tonk special (video 2)
Video 1

Video 2
The above video wouldn't pull in the Youtube search hence the link vs. the still

Starting Curl War III With the Diesel Crew

Are there any 70kg pullers out there that can beat John or are you all too scared to post any vids? 

Here's the latest entry! Big Daddy Johnson attempting 75#

 Here's IncredibleHulkRobert living up to his moniker


In Summary

  1. Make your video
  2. Leave the link to your youtube video in the comment section and I'll post it.
  3. Let's see who's the strongest and if any of us can track down the Bigfoot of arm strength
Thanks for reading!


Monday, October 17, 2011

Coconut Oil: Friend or Foe?

Mounds of Experts

With the ever-increasing prevalence of Paleo-pushing Crossfitters, Net nutritionists, and POOPAs (People Opposed to Ordinary Physician's Advice) there is a plethora of hot button nutrition topics to tackle.  This post will be dedicated to coconut oil.  It's one of those things that I've been meaning to address for quite a while but it always seems to get pushed to the back burner.  As always, I will present the evidence, mixed with one part sarcasm and two parts common sense.

What is Coconut Oil?

Quite literally, coconut oil is the edible oil that has been extracted from the flesh or kernal of a coconut.  It is processed in either a wet or dry method. I am not a food scientist and the extraction methods are largely new to me. I'm basically paraphrasing wikipedia in the explanations that follow but this isn't an entry on coconut processing so bear with me.  I just want to bring everybody up to speed before we dig into the nutrition portion.

So...in the dry method you remove the coconut flesh and dry it out using fire/smoke/kilns or sunlight (if you have a lot of time). This dried flesh is actually called copra. Remember that, you'll need later in the article. "All-wet process involves raw coconut rather than dried copra, using the protein in the coconut to create an emulsion of the oil and water. The more problematic step is breaking up the emulsion to recover the oil. This used to be done through lengthy boiling, but this produces a discolored oil and is not economical; modern techniques use centrifuges and various pre-treatments including cold, heat, acids, salts, enzymes, electrolysis, shock waves, or some combination of them. Despite numerous variations and technologies, wet processing is less viable than dry processing due to a 10-15% lower yield, even compared to the losses due to spoilage and pests with dry processing. Wet processes also require an expensive investment of equipment and energy, incurring high capital and operating costs"(1)

So why am I laying out the methods?  Here's why because how it's processed makes a difference.  According to (2) and (3) virgin coconut oil from the wet method (and it's my understanding that is the only method you can obtain virgin coconut oil from ) compared to copra oil "reduced total cholesterol, triglycerides, phospholipids, LDL, and VLDL cholesterol levels and increased HDL cholesterol in serum and tissues. The PF (polyphenol fraction) of virgin coconut oil was also found to be capable of preventing in vitro LDL oxidation with reduced carbonyl formation."  I could write an entire post or even a series of posts on LDL oxidation and why that's relevant but Chris Masterjohn has an excellent piece on it here and Dr. Guyenet has some wonderful information on it on his blog as well .  I believe Dr. Guyenet addresses the issues with the copper method of measuring LDL oxidation somewhere in the comments but those Boolean search blackbelts could probably find it easier than me.

Would You Rather Be Run Over By a Truck or a Bus?

The most obvious concern with the studies listed is they are in vitro and not the gold standard in vivo.  I'm willing to overlook that though and really dig into the meat er...copra of the case.  We are comparing the health benefits of coconut oil to coconut oil; processing methods be damned.  To clarify, let's see what happens when we compare virgin coconut oil to olive oil. Will it still improve the lipid panel compared to our beloved olive oil?  My guess is no and maybe someone with better Google-Fu than me can find a peer-reviewed medical journal with a published study of this? This is the  closest I could find but it's essentially comparing MCT to olive oil, not coconut to olive oil. To clarify, coconut oil gets about 2/3 of its sat fat from MCT so the article is relevant but it's not the same as a head-to-head comparison.

Ravnskov...Ornish! Take it outside!

Because I'm getting old and soft, let's make a Michael Jordanesque jump and assume it is equal to olive oil on the lipid panel battleground.  For those of you ready to call the CDR police: here's the thing, people will still be arguing about the Lipid Hypothesis long after there is peace in the Middle East. The fact that the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition published a meta-analysis saying that saturated fat intake is not linked to mortality didn't exactly make the mainstream position more cogent. There are entire websites dedicated to the ideas that saturated fat and dietary cholesterol are not associated with an increase in heart disease and/or mortality and then you've got institutions that have been preaching they are (eg American Heart Association, NCEP, etc..). Those that are anti-coconut are against it because of the saturated fat and those that are for it, either don't believe sat fat is harmful or attribute the faux high smoke point to it not degrading and being healthier (we'll address this), or think that it's mostly medium chain triglycerides (we'll also address this) or rave about the baking properties (we'll cover that too) or all of the above. To summarize: addressing whether or not saturated fat increases LDL and is linked to heart disease is beyond the scope of this entry. If you would like an introduction to the underground, yet ever-growing viewpoint that the lipid hypothesis is flawed/wrong, I'd suggest this as an introduction.  The issues I want to address are the purported benefits of coconut oil, namley: the baking properties, the smoke point, and the MCT angle. 

Tell Me Again Why I Need to Buy a Specialty Product?

Starting with my favorite topic...MONEY!  Here is a 51oz bottle of extra virgin olive oil for $31.60 or ~62 cents/oz vs. 29oz of VCO for $19.50 or ~67 cents/oz. I'd be curious to see if grocery store prices are comparable to Amazon.  So what do you get for your more expensive VCO? The main advantage VCO has over olive oil is it is more suitable to use as a shortening in baked goods. For the nonbakers, let The Peoples' Dietitian clarify: one of the reasons we use butter or lard in cookies or other delicious baked products is because it binds to the gluten strands and shortens them, giving us a wonderfully soft and flaky product vs. a cookie that looks like it was baked by Al Bundy. Olive oil or oils in general, other than coconut oil of course, are no more capable of this shortening than a square peg is of entering a round hole; it can be done but it ain't pretty.  So the next question for anybody with an IQ north of 99 is "why don't we just use butter then?".  Great question, afterall, we're talking about baked goods, which regardless of the fat source, are generally loaded with added sugar. So why spend extra for premium when the vessel is an 82' Ford Escort with a bajillion miles on it? Well, The People's Dietitian wouldn't but for you Naughty by Nature Fans...

You Down With MCT? Yeah, You Know Me!

Those on the coconut bandwagon/tree are of the opinion that the sat fat in coconut oil is ok because "it's different than the kind from animals", "it's the same as in breast milk", or (and probably the closest) "it's a shorter chain".  Coconut oil gets  ~66% of its sat fat from medium chain triglyercides vs. butter which gets ~61% of its sat fat from long chain triglycerides. Why do we care?  It has to do with how the body metabolizes them and then you'll start to get into the whole lipid war again. Some key questions are "Will mct oils raise LDL and TC compared to olive oil/MUFA?" and "Will mcts raise LDL and TC compared to LCT?" You can do a Pubmed search and find studies to support whichever position you choose to defend.  Should you choose to traverse the lipid soap operas of Pubmed, you'll need to understand what I'd call a fly in Ancel Key's ointment.  That fly is the question: Does SFA raise LDL or does PUFA lower it?  Let that sink in and really think about it and then try to find a study where they looked at SFA without increasing the PUFAs.  For example, a study where they increase SFA in one group but leave the PUFA the same for both groups.  Report back what you find!  If PUFAs lower LDL though, why are we even fooling with MCTs?  Lowering LDL is a good thing right? Good question!  Again, the lipid heretics believe that PUFAs increase oxidized LDL; so they lower total LDL but create a more dangerous, sinister LDL, and all jokes aside, oxidized LDL is a very sensitive marker for cardiac events. And this my friends is why they're after the coconut oil because it's not one of those evil PUFAs! Confused?  You should be.  Win, lose, or draw, coconut oil only gets about 66% of it's SFA from MCT so this whole idea that it's a healthy SFA is slightly more than a half truth; in other words, almost all of the rest aka ~33% is LCT and if you're mainstream, then you agree that those are bad news.

Did a Ninja Just Drop a Smoke Bomb In My Kitchen?

Why are my eyes burning all of sudden and where did all this smoke come from? Is that the acrolein from my deep fried twinkies that I justified by deep frying in VCO?  Acrolein is what you get when oil reaches its smoke point and the glycerol and fatty acids start to separate. It will mist you up faster than the final 50 pages of Where the Red Fern Grows  and it smells like the ash tray from your favorite college nightclub.  Comedy aside, VCO is often thought to have a higher smoke point that EVO (myself included prior to this) but that is not the case, at least not from what I can find.  If you're a Chef and think this is BS, PLEASE, email something more reputable.  By the numbers: VCO: 350 F, EVO: 375 to 405 F (see table), and the likely culprit behind the myth, Palm Oil: 455 F. Much like Fructosophobes try to extrapolate Fructose's load on the liver into a BOHICA experience for HFCS, I'm sure the CocoNUTS will try and try and claim Palm Oil's high smoke point for their beloved product.  Well Crossfitters, I've got bad news; no it's not another rhabdo episode but unfortunately Palm oil is an entirely different product than VCO and one can wiki it here.  So let me be clear: VCO has a LOWER smoke point than olive oil.


-Copra and VCO do not have the same benefits.  There's probably a joke in here somewhere but the Virgin is what you want.

-Assuming you are mainstream and believe that saturated fat is a bad thing. Coconut oil is high in saturated fat, 66% of which comes from MCT, so it's probably not as detrimental to your ticker as butter but to think it's harmless because it's "short chain" is ignoring 1/3 of the truth.

-Coconut oil would be superior to olive oil and most if not all oils for baking.  However, even assuming it's better than butter from a cardiovascular standpoint, what about all the sugar and other goodies you're putting in your holiday treats?

-Contrary to popular belief, VCO does NOT have a higher smoke point than olive oil. Why do you need a high smoke point?  Deep frying..and why are you buying speciality health products if you're deep frying???? Frankly, it doesn't have a high smoke point at all.  Palm oil DOES have a high smoke point but Palm oil is not the same thing as VCO, the biggest difference being almost every bit of Palm's SFA comes from LCT.  To clarify: if you want the high smoke point of Palm, kiss your MCT profile goodbye.  This would make sense, since, one of the characteristics of MCT is a low smoke point.

Thanks for reading!


Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Tis the season for sledge hammers

Every December my friend Chris Rice throws one of the largest Grip contests in the country hence the name Gripmas.  People drive/fly in from all over the country to this tiny little town in OH where they'll compete in building a contractor might call a workshop.  The building may look like a typical shop on the outside but on the inside you'll find Eleiko barbells and bumpers, the coolest lifting platform I've ever seen, a steel bending wall of fame, and more Grip toys than you can imagine.  In my mind Gripmas has four things that really separate it from other contests.  The first is that he uses grippers in chokers.  What this means is he hoseclamps them down to parallel so everybody starts from the same place, it's a place that is narrow enough that everybody can start from there, and it takes the skill out of it because you dont' have to set it. Second, Chris is the first promoter to have weight classes in a Grip contest, at least to my knowledge, and more importantly he picked his weight class based on a median so he really gets a nice 50/50 split most years.  Third, he always has the toughest medley.  John Beatty may have invented the idea of a Grip medley but Chris has perfected it.  Finally, Gripmas is the place to go to move up the world rankings on the 2 Hand Pinch list.  For whatever reason, come December in Crooksville, OH, Jedd's pinch set-up always feels amazing and records fall like rain.  Just in case you're interested, I've copied and pasted his entry form from the Gripboard below.

The real reason for this blog post was to see where I'm at as far as the sledge event for Gripmas. I'm still on the fence as far as whether or not I want to train this lift as it has my wrist doing exactly what I DON'T want it to do for arm wrestling purposes but like Chris said, a strong wrist is a strong wrist.  My right is also on the shelf for a while with that shoulder injury I got at MO States so this seems to be one of the few things I can do that doesn't bother it.  Anyway, here's my video.  I sunk down in the chair/stool to increase the ROM but when I exerted effort I accidentally raised back up so that's something I'll need to address.  Enjoy the vid and let me know what you think!  Hope to see you in OH!

2011 Gripmas Carol Entry
December 10th, 2011

Entry Fee is $40 – make check out to Chris Rice.
Entry Deadline is November 12 – Entry is $50 after that
Mail – WITH the entry form – to
Chris Rice
230 Burley St.
Crooksville, Ohio 43731
Contest held at same address

Grippers in chokers at parallel
2 Hand Pinch
Double Sledge Lever from a Dead Start – Max Weight
Hercules Hold for time

Please return this form and your check To Be In My Hands by Nov 12th – earlier if possible of course. I have to know early so I can make sure we have enough food, trophies, etc.

State & Zip Code:
Body Weight:
Classes: Elite – if you don’t know if you are in this class – believe me – you aren’t
Open – 208.0# and over or by choice regardless of weight
125]Light weight – 207.9# and under

Ladies – this is obvious I think – or hope anyway J

Anyone can choose to lift open class BEFORE the contest starts.

There will also be the normal – if I squeeze so hard my eyeballs pop out – I won’t sue form to sign when you get here.
Gripbash Scoring System
All weights weighed on certified scales for accuracy
Prizes of some kind for 1st thru 3rd Place in Each Division
Food and Drink furnished afterwards

Adam Glass, Andrew Duriant, and Jedd Johnson will be featured speakers. These guys are some of the very few people I listen to for training advice.