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Strength Tip from Julia on Deadlift

Marshall Johnson


Julia Ladewski is one of the most respected strength coaches and powerlifters.  She does the Women’s Seminars in the Science Lab which is a free perk you get when you purchase Met Flex for High Intensity Athletes.  Here are the details.

Deadlift – If you are looking for maximal strength and miss off the floor turn your feet out just a bit, drive through your heels and push your knees out to activate the hips and glutes more. This will give you a lot more speed off the ground and allow you to get through that sticking point.

(you can see the feet turned out a hair, but really watch the knees as I pull. The knees push out to get the hips involved. Also notice how my hips don’t pop up first. This allows me to use my hips the entire pull.)

“What’s Your Genetic Potenial?” for Women, by Julia Ladewski

Julia coaches the ladies class in the Science Lab.  She talks a bit about her various titles in this article.  When you buy “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes” you get a subscription to the Science Lab classes and  access to a private support group.  Click here for more information.  (Julia’s bio is on this page.)

As performance athletes, we all have goals; some are within our grasp, and some might take us years to achieve.  It is our job to control the variables that will determine our success.  When considering what it’ll take to achieve our goals, we tend to think of either getting closer or further away from the end. What we tend to misunderstand is that there are times when we need to just stabilize.  Our initial progress may make it look like we’re on the fast track, but without stabilization, down the road it will slow us down.


Picture this:  you go into the gym and you break your overhead squat record.  After you’re done celebrating, consider why that just happened; was it the training, the extra caffeine in your pre-workout, getting all worked up as your favorite training song came on the radio, or the weight gain?  There are a few different variables here that could be coupled together to explain that broken record.

Now, on the flip side, what if you go in and get smashed with less than 90% of your record?  There are just as many variables to account for why you may have missed.

After breaking a record, it’s a great time to take a small step back and let your body adapt to that new stressor you just placed upon it.  I am not saying you need to take a week off or go on vacation, but don’t start training at that new training max right away.  Let yourself recover.

When you start your next training cycle, you will now have a greater potential for more reps/sets with same percent of the old training max.  This also allows your nervous system to adapt.  Too often, we feel like we’re on such a roll that we push too far, too quickly.  If we stabilize and let the adaptations set in, we end up better off 2, 3, even 6 months down the road.


With nutrition, we need to stabilize as well.  Rather than the typical “bulk” and “cut” cycles we see over and over, as strength athletes we need to keep the variables of our nutrition constant (at times) while we ramp up intensity or volume in our training.  We can then enjoy a gradual, natural change in our body composition without the worries of eating too much or too little.  The focus is placed on performance without a worry of being a few pounds heavier on the scale, because we are breaking records in the gym.

They Broke the Mold

We have all heard the phrase “They broke the mold when they made you.”

Well, it’s the truth.

Just because another person added 50 lbs. to their squat doing a certain workout doesn’t mean that your experience will be exactly the same.  Just because this person lost their love handles eating one meal every third day does not mean it is the best option for you.  This is where controlling the variables can help you find what works best.

We often want to throw out everything and start over when fixing the weak link could propel us to new records.  Drastic changes are not always right.  If you follow one of the popular training templates out there and things become stagnant, maybe you need to add more calories to get over the hump.

Altering that single variable could make all the difference.  If you only manipulate one variable of your nutrition/training while keeping everything else constant, (stabilize) you can dial everything in perfectly.  If you change too much at once, you’re playing a guessing game trying to determine “what did what.”

What “They” Say We Should Be

The problem with the fitness industry (well, one of the problems) is that information flies around so fast.  If I’m a person fairly new to this training thing, and I see people at my gym and at the CrossFit games just killing it, I assume I need to be just like that.

Doctors use BMI measurements (which calculate weight in relation to height) to determine body composition.  Six years ago, when I was hitting some of my biggest numbers in powerlifting, I was 138 lbs. (at 5′ 3″).  Calculate my BMI with those stats, and I was borderline “overweight…”  Yet I was strong, healthy, I had a good blood profile, and I was walking around at 17-19% body fat.  I was performing extremely well in the gym, getting pregnant, having kids, and loving life. I was happy with what my body could do.

Now, I’m 2 days out from a physique show.  I’m the same 5′ 3″ but I’m now 120 lbs. That BMI calculation puts me right in the middle of the “ideal” weight, yet at 9.4% body fat, I missed my period last month, I’m tired all the time, lethargic, and achy.  My strength is down, but thankfully most of my muscle is still there.

Is every woman at 5′ 3″ is supposed to weigh 120 lbs?  I don’t think so.  My build is different than yours, which is different from the next person, and so on and so forth.

We need to stop lumping everyone into the same bowl.  Even at the same body fat percentage of 15%, not every woman is going to look the same.

Focus on doing.  Focus on building.  Focus on being the best version of YOU that you can be.  Your body is smart; give it a chance to grow and perform.  It will adjust to homeostasis if you let it.  In doing so, you might just realize that the best version if you is yet to come.

Eat To Perform Nutrition and Performance Challenge


To be a part of this challenge you will need to be a Science Lab member (you get Met Flex for Fat Loss) and we will provide support along the way.

The CrossFit community is always up for a challenge.  Whether it’s training or nutrition, we like to push ourselves into new territory.  It’s very common to see boxes doing 30 day Paleo Challenges; this has it’s good and bad points if you ask me.

The problem is that that the focus tends to be contrary to the goals of what CrossFit is all about: to increase performance by building/maintaining muscle and having awesome workouts.  It’s very common for people to say to me “Yeah, yeah, yeah, that’s great but I have X amount of fat to lose so I need to restrict my calories.”

Oh really?  Do you have more than (say) 65 lbs. to lose?  Because that is the exact amount of fat I lost, and I didn’t do it with a calorie-restricted approach.  This is where they reply, “I don’t count calories, I eat Paleo.”  Just because you don’t count calories doesn’t mean you aren’t eating less of them.  That is ultimately the goal of the Paleo Diet…To eliminate the foods with “energy density” and focus on “nutrient density.”

This works well for sedentary people folks, but it isn’t a great fit for athletes.  How do I know this?  Because Dr. Cordain, author of “The Paleo Diet,” wrote a follow-up book called “The Paleo Diet for Athletes.”  Almost no one has bothered to read it.

Left to their own devices, people have found a way of eating that might be better than gorging on Ben and Jerry’s every evening, but it isn’t in-line with their performance goals.

Eat To Perform is all about taking concepts we’re familiar with and effectively applying them to various goals and scenarios.

Setting Up the Challenge

Basically, there will be three forms of body fat testing allowed for the challenge; they are outlined in this article.  Just to be clear, your “body fat” test is actually a “lean body mass” test.  The challenge is to gain muscle and set Personal Records (PR’s).  I can already hear people saying “But I have X amount of fat to lose!  Count me out!”  Returning to that way of thinking is the very reason your potential is limited (though I will concede the point late in the article so bear with me).

The simple fact is that if you focus on the other two goals (gaining muscle/setting PR’s) fat loss happens without much effort.  Certainly, there has to be some level of restraint, and we will talk a bit about that as we go.

How Long is the Challenge?

The challenge will run for 3 months (roughly 90 days) with a 21-day optional “Whole Foods” period.  This is what I mean by whole foods; basically meats, veggies, moderate starches, and some fruit (sound familiar?).  So why is this part of the challenge optional?  In short, I am tired of seeing challenges meant for 25% of the folks in the gym.  The entire gym population can participate in this challenge because the only thing stopping someone from eating entirely Paleo is supplements.  From where I stand, supplements can play a very valuable role in the health equation.

This is especially true for people that are lean, as well as people that are kind of “on the fence” as far as body composition goes.  For these people, “eating clean” 100% of the time can lead to fat retention because their body doesn’t undergo adequate protein synthesis. (These people can end up losing muscle mass.)

What Happens After the 21 Days?

Most people have heard of the 80/20 rule where you eat 80% whole foods give yourself 20% of “wiggle room” for stuff slightly outside of the box.  I think one of the biggest mistakes that we can make as health advocates is to demonize foods as “good” or “bad.”  The simple fact is that if you do it mostly right with occasional moments of “eating for joy,” that is probably a better approach.

Studies seem to indicate that people who allow for some wiggle in their diet tend to be able to adhere for life.  It’s the die-hard, 100% folks that struggle.  If you don’t understand why that is, let me give you an example.

Oftentimes people want to look at 80/20 on a day-to-day basis; they have some “junk food” every day but eat mostly whole foods.  I prefer to reserve a few days of eating for joy each month where I have pizza and ice cream on Friday nights with my family.  Monday-Thursday are pretty close to 100% clean.  The resultant outcomes of these deviations from eating clean tend to be personal records and happiness.

It’s simple math:  the more energy you have inside you, the more energy your body can release.  To that end, I make a strong argument for NOT following cheat days with days of extreme restriction.  It’s unnecessary.  It can make your cells more inflexible, and it causes more stress that you have to recover from.


Speaking of recovery, I desperately want to make this part of the deal…But I won’t go there right now.  Just know this:  rest is favorable for many reasons, not the least of which is that it makes you feel like a caged animal chomping at the bit.  It makes you hungry to train and allows you to focus on your goals, so don’t forget to take some time to relax.

A Concession to the Fat Loss Folks

I told you this was coming:  If you stick with me and try my approach, I think you are going to be surprised how much fat you actually lose, but let’s say that by the end of this you still have some fat to shed.

In that instance, I’ll offer a three week challenge specifically for fat loss but you have to first try it my way to ensure we have the best chance of meeting your goals.

So I Have Some Good and Some Bad News

This is going to take some time to organize, so the goal is to begin August 1st.  that doesn’t mean that you should delay becoming a Science Lab member until then.  For a lot of people, what we teach is a new approach to eating and “Metabolic Flexibility for High Intensity Athletes” isn’t something that your body figures out over night.  I think there is a lot of value in joining, becoming a member of our club, and starting down the bath to becoming better right now.

The ultimate goal of this challenge is to get box owners involved on a lot of levels, but if your gym isn’t interested, that’s fine.  We are going to provide training resources, food ideas, and virtually anything that will make the challenge more fun.  We will have prizes, but certainly nothing anyone would have enough incentive to misrepresent results to obtain.

I look forward to seeing you in the Science Lab.  Thanks for reading!

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