fantastically miserable free weight challenges

So what's going on at the notworld-famous Bonny Lane Club? Here is the deal.

Heavy dead lifts, chin-ups, 20-rep squats and the like are still standard fare. We also get creative with brutal and effective challenges that are generally consistent with our fitness goals (peak power, strength/endurance with mental and physical resiliency).

We want it to be ridiculous in a few regards, but with an eye on safety. These tests are relatively safe for intermediate to more advance weight trainees.

These are not the kind of things to put yourself through every week or even every month. You do these to see how "in-shape" you are as a strength athlete. A thick, out-of-shape strongman (or woman) will score fairly poorly. Likewise, an aeroboholic or beginner will not likely be able to do even one rep with decent form.

Consider that your disclaimer.

These tests also make for a brief, effective, and brutal workout when you're pressed for time.


This test has been modeled after the 75-foot rope climb of American Ninja Warrior. The goal is to climb a 25 foot rope three times in under 30 seconds. The clock ticks only during the climb. Once the athlete reaches the top of the climb, the time pauses for the descent and 5-second rest interval between climbs, since coming down off the rope *really* taxes the grippers. The scaled division is to complete the test for time using your legs, and the Rx (pronounced "realx") test is to perform the rope climbs without use of the legs.

Most athletes will initially not be able to complete all three climbs with our without use of their legs. But le me know how it goes.


The Battery is dead lifting as many reps as possible within the duration of this old-school Metallica song. Load the bar to bodyweight (scaled) or 1.5 X bodyweight (realx), and alternate getting mentally prepared and nervous during the interlude. Begin the test when the drums and guitar crash in at the 38-second mark, and deadlift until the song is complete. You MUST release the bar and stand fully erect between reps so that each rep is in effect a "single." The standard test is with the conventional deadlift but use whatever you're accustomed to.

Smashing through the boundaries
lunacy has found me
cannot stop the battery.

Why Battery? Well, listen to the lyrics. And the music is like getting punched in the face for 4 minutes. So I think it's fitting. The best scored for scaled is currently 65 reps and realx is 57.

The Devil

For this test, pull a standard flat bench into the squat rack and load the bar to your bodyweight. The scaled and realx division are one! Fret during the 15-second fiddle interlude and begin your reps with Mr. Daniels starts singing. You are to perform squats -box style- with full lock out at the top and -softly- tapping, no bouncing, your butt to the bench to achieve standard depth.

Oh, and every time you rack the weight to rest subtracts five of your precious reps! Hey, I wanted to give extra incentive for keeping the weight up for the duration of the test!

I tried this for the first time today and scored 57 reps. I took the strategy of slow and steady and managed to not rack the weight. Near the end I definitely felt like the 200 lbs was beginning to suffocate me. This test is more difficult than Battery because you have a penalty for resting unless you rest while under load. Which is not really rest.

I'm setting a goal of 70 reps. Surely I can do more if I don't perform other leg work prior to this test. Plus, I'm building my squat legs up after having some time away, and I could pace better. This was my first time so I did not recall the song well and what to expect. Below is an actual photo of me at about 2:44 when you think things are wrapping up and you make a final push then realize the song IS NOT ENDING.
Image result for noooo meme

Strategy may be a factor here. I may try banging out 40 hard and fast reps, resting a minute, then trying to bang out 35 more (that would be a -5 for a total score of 70).

Okay. The line is drawn in the sand. GO and let me know what you think! Side effects of merely trying these include being fit and awesome.


a physical therapist at the boardwalk

When I occupy a bench along the boardwalk, many unsuspecting subjects enter my study. The Suess-like display of various features, sizes, and ways of moving is fascinating.

Some humans stroll by lightheartedly while others display a posture of merely covering ground. How do you differentiate an exerciser from someone trying to get from A to B? They may be moving at a similar speed and level of effort, but the exerciser nearly always advertises a deliberate arm swing and exaggerated breathing pattern that says "This is for fitness."

Image result for stack of river rocksSome people, mostly children, manage to flit about with little effort. Their joints are congruent and each segment swings with smooth pendular motion that is mostly reciprocal and symmetrical. They sometimes stumble and bump into things, but even in error their body's exhibit resilience and freedom.

Image result for huge walking robots in empire strikes back
Others make walking appear as an unnatural chore. Their heavy gait carries a burdened countenance and the grace of an Imperial Walker. The head bobs asymmetrically and their shoulders droop and jerk. Their shoes cave and torso leans and at least three joints zigzag upon each other.

Dysfunctional movement, as we say in nerd PT world, is right there for all to see. And yes, as Yogi Berra said, you can observe a lot by just watching.

Do people altogether fail to notice movement problems or are they unaware of how to address them? You would think the person with a sore, twisting knee would notice that their foot turns out and their hip drops. You would think that a few hundred repetitions of crashing down hard on one foot and obligatorily leaning would make you wonder if your legs are the same length. You would think that the appearance of walking into a stiff wind, even when it's not windy, would cause you to consider stretching your hips and back.

I also think about the lives of these strangers, what they may be doing to be physically useful, to move with greater ease and less pain. If they're anything like the people I do know, they're taking Advil or using IcyHot and essential oils. They're getting injections and trying to lose some weight. They're taking various supplements putting hope in diets meant to specifically address their given problem. They're eating things like Kale.

Kale! All this in an effort to move easier, feel and look better. Instead of considering what's right there in front of them.

Of course finding the problem and addressing how a person moves demands some time and effort. And really, who has time for that?

So when the Green Tea and essential oils fail to relieve the problem, try to score some Naproxene. And if that doesn't work, maybe try some reflexology or therapeutic wedgie.

Imagine handing those out on the boardwalk, with a testimonial.

"This a completely natural procedure that supports the immune system, balance your alignment, and just makes you feel sooo much better."


IT Band Syndrome Google Fail

This is less about Iliotibial Band Syndrome and more about the inadequacy of a Google search. Sorry Google. You too Youtube.

Let's say that the outer portion of your thigh hurts and your friends mom had a similar pain that her cousin who is a orthopedic doctor told her was ITB syndrome. Your friends mom did some stretches and rested and rubbed some essential oils on it and the pain went away. You did the same thing and it worked for a week until you returned to your normal activity level.

So you turned to the almighty internet. Your Google search found a few thousand mentions of the IT Band. To save the effort of reading, you click a handful of Youtube links.

Try for yourself. The far majority of the links show you any ONE of three things:

1. How to stretch the ITB.
2. How to massage or roll various utensils on the ITB.
3. A few show you how to strengthen the ITB.

Even the Wikipedia link above, after describing the anatomy and common causes of ITB syndrome, instructs you to rest, ice, compress, stretch, and massage the area.

And to think some folks have seriously suggested that Google has replaced God. Really? I'm not even convinced that robots will take over the world.

Sure, there are patterns to look for. This is true of most health issues.

Sure, resting and icing and massaging and ultrasounding and e-stimming and foam rolling and taping and stretching and Advilling the ITB may help manage the symptoms. But all of the Innernets do not address YOUR unique set of circumstances causing the mechanical overload of the ITB.

Are you weak in the torso or hips? Do you have a structural irregularity like femoral anteversion, a difference in leg length, planus (flat) or cavus (high) foot arches. What do you look like when you walk and run? Have you seen your own form? What shoes are you wearing? Do you follow an intelligent (exercise) program design? Are your expectations realistic?

And this does not even broach the issue of how aggressively you can treat the problem. Some may adequately address the issue in a few minutes while others will take weeks before it is wise to return to their desired activity level.

Yes, I'm one to Google things up before hiring a professional to do the work for me. But when that fails (and my basement ceiling right now proves it has), I'm not afraid to talk to someone with a far greater and comprehensive knowledge of the area.