Inside the Crazy Strength Sport of Finger Wrestling

On first impressions it may look like a hyper macho show of competitive strength to win the attention of the nearby, 6-steins-of-beer-carrying waitress, the German strength sport of finger wrestling (in German: Fingerhakeln) is not just a casual drinking game amongst Oktoberfest revellers.

In fact, like most things (beer, car manufacturing, and being on time), Germans take this aspect of their culture extremely seriously.

The sport dates back to the 17th century and whilst historically, finger wrestling is said to have been a method of solving disputes among men, today it is an organised sport featuring annual competitions for varying age and weight categories in Bavaria (Germany), Austria, and the alpine regions of western Europe.

At its core, finger wrestling involves two men sitting at opposite sides of a wooden table, middle fingers interlocked in a leather band, attempting to drag their opponent across the table. On either side sits a spotter ready to catch a backwards fall, and an umpire decides a winner after two defeats in an extended K.O. format.

A post shared by Thomas Minnich (@tminnich) on May 7, 2017 at 2:38am PDT

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As in any competitive sport, the rules are strict – the dimensions of the table (109cm x 74cm x 79cm) and the stools (40cm x 40cm x 48cm) are standardised and only members of a registered finger wrestling club or association can compete.

Once the umpire chooses the leather band to be used (usually 10cm long and 6-8mm wide) and middle fingers are interlocked, neither competitor is allowed to stand up again. At the command “beide Hakler, fertig, zieht!” (both wrestlers, ready, pull!) the match begins, and after a few seconds of intense pulling and resisting (the nail-biting battles rarely last longer than 60 seconds), the round’s winner is decided.

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It’s a strength sport that today is practiced by hundreds of people of several weight and age categories – from students (ages 6-15) to seniors (ages 55 and over) and light, middle, semi-heavy and heavyweight divisions, the last being for anyone over 90kg (200 pounds).

There are five major annual championships, organised by a regional finger wrestling club on a rotating basis: the German championships, the Bavarian Championships, the International Alpine Championships, the German Student Championships and the Alpine Student Championships. Each is attended by 150-200 competitors and an equal number of beer-drinking, sausage-eating supporters.

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It’s a battle of human strength, pain control and proper technique that requires not just a firm grip but a well-trained body, strong mind, and a good understanding of your rival.

“You really have to be able to read your opponent,” says Emil Raithmeier, three-decades-long member and competitor in the Rimbach Finger Wrestling Association, south of Frankfurt.

“It’s just as much about physical strength as it is about mental strength. You need to be able to overcome the pain and – even more so – intimidate your opponent by maintaining a neutral facial expression.”

So how do you train yourself to be able to catapult another human body towards you with a single finger?

Turns out, it’s actually mostly in the shoulders. Standard upper body strength training at the gym goes a long way in preparing competitors for the unusual position of sitting on a stool with one hand and one shin pushing on the edge of a table for support whilst the other hand is locked in a two-finger embrace.

Of course, to minimise injury, the all-important middle fingers need to be strengthened as well, and one can often find finger wrestling competitors hanging by a single finger from hooks attached to the ceiling, leather bands tied to pieces of furniture, or catches on a wall or a bookshelf.

Image via The Globe and Mail on YouTube. 

So, are there often injuries?

“Of course, regularly!” says Mr Raithmeier, full time mechanic in his ‘normal’ life.

“You need to have thick callouses on your fingers, otherwise the injuries are very painful. Thin skin rips off easily, tendons tear and joints dislocate. You have to make sure to use magnesium powder to reduce friction – this is the only protection that’s allowed.”

So with all that pain and risk of injury, what’s the attraction?

“The best part is the camaraderie,” says Mr Raithmeier. “You’re enemies when you’re sitting across the table but as soon as the match is finished and no matter whether you won or you lost, you’re friends again.”

Friends again and ready for, no doubt, another stein of beer.

Featured image via The Globe and Mail on YouTube. 

The post Inside the Crazy Strength Sport of Finger Wrestling appeared first on BarBend.

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Review — Why the Different Ratio?

MusclePharm is a Colorado-based supplement company that has a decent following among bodybuilders, but is probably best known for their line of “combat” supplements like Combat Whey and their Combat Crunch protein bars. (The “Combat” is because they sponsor a lot of MMA athletes.)

Their branch chain amino acid supplement is called BCAA 3:1:2 because of the unusual decision to use that as their ratio of leucine to isoleucine to valine. Could that make a difference? Let’s take a closer look at the Watermelon flavor.

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Nutrition and Ingredients

Unfortunately, there’s no information about the calories or carbs in this product.

As far as ingredients go, most of the product’s volume (six of the seven grams you get per serving) are comprised of the BCAAs themselves: 3000 milligrams of l-leucine, 2000 milligrams of l-valine, and 1000 milligrams of l-isoleucine.

That’s about all the main ingredients, it’s a pretty stripped back product. After that there’s just the miscellaneous: malic acid (for flavoring), natural & artificial flavor, the artificial sweetener sucralose (also called Splenda®), silicon dioxide (an anticaking agent), and fruit & vegetable juice for color.

MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review
MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review

Note that while the ingredients list doesn’t include it, there’s an allergen warning that states the product contains soy lecithin, which improves mixability. It’s also made in a facility that processes mik, egg, soybeans, shellfish, fish, tree nuts, wheat, and peanuts.

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Price

You can grab a 216-gram tub that provides 30 servings for $19, so that’s 63 cents per serving or 10.5c per gram of BCAAs. There’s also a version of 3:1:2 with caffeine that costs a little extra at 23 dollars, or 77 cents per serving.

That really is cheaper than most BCAAs, and on a per gram basis it’s even cheaper than Xtend, one of the cheapest on the market. It’s not quite as inexpensive as BSN’s AMINOx, but the labeling is more transparent — you know what you’re getting with BCAA 3:1:2, you don’t “amino acids per gram” with AMINOx.

MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review
MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Benefits and Effectiveness

So, what’s up with this 3:1:2 ratio? It’s true that most BCAA supplements prefer a 2:1:1 or sometimes 3:1:1 ratio. Leucine is the amino acid that’s closely linked to muscle protein synthesis. Preventing muscle breakdown and stimulating muscle growth is probably the number one priority for most folks taking BCAAs.

The valine and isoleucine typically follow in equal amounts. Valine has a stronger link with muscular endurance and focus while isoleucine has a better link to fat loss. Note that there’s probably as much isoleucine in BCAA 3:1:2 as in any other BCAA supplement, but there’s a little extra valine. So there’s an argument to be made that this supplement focuses a little more on the performance side of workouts than the body composition side.

This product is made in a facility that’s certified by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP), which is always a nice touch. But it’s worth pointing out that each serving is two scoops, which provides six grams of BCAA. A lot of people aim closer to 7 to 10 grams of BCAA, so you may want to add a third scoop to your shake. Fortunately, the product is free of caffeine or other stimulants that you would need to be wary of if you were increasing the serving.

With that said, it does contain sucralose, an artificial sweetener that’s controversial in some circles as it may negatively affect the gut microbiome. There’s well under a gram of the stuff in each serving so it probably won’t have a significant effect on your system, but it’s worth drawing attention to. This isn’t an all-natural product.

MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review
MusclePharm BCAA 312 Review

MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Taste

We tried the Watermelon flavor and it tasted just like candy. What was really surprising though was despite a relatively large serving size and the inclusion of malic acid (which produces that sweet-sour taste that’s so common in BCAAs), it wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet or sour at all, it was pleasantly mild.

The Takeaway

I liked MusclePharm BCAA 3:2:1. It’s cheap, it’s tasty, and it focuses a little more on improving your workout than on improving your fat loss, which some people might like. It does have soy and sucralose, which might put some people off.

There aren’t any bells and whistles, so if you like your BCAA to double as a Vitamin D supplement you’re out of luck. But if you just want a BCAA that contains BCAAs and won’t break the bank, this is a good pick.

The post MusclePharm BCAA 3:1:2 Review — Why the Different Ratio? appeared first on BarBend.

6 Tips to Make Counting Your Macros Way Easier

Editors note: This article is an op-ed. The views expressed herein and in the video are the authors and don’t necessarily reflect the views of BarBend. Claims, assertions, opinions, and quotes have been sourced exclusively by the author.

The buzz of counting macros is that you can have your cake (donuts, bagels, cookie dough, and big ole’ bowl of pasta) and make #gains in the weight room, too. The main tenet of macro counting is that meeting your daily intake of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrates, and fat) is the most important part of hitting your fitness goals.

Many people interested in building muscle follow a macronutrient breakdown of 40 percent protein, 35 percent carbohydrates, and 25 percent fat, however that breakdown doesn’t allot for the differences of human bodies. Each person’s unique metabolism, overall health, and lifestyle play a vital role in how much energy we actually burn and how much of each macronutrient we should be eating; that’s why some athletes will work with a sports nutritionist for a “Fit To Them” macro breakdown.

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Eating a combination of carbohydrates, fats, and proteins should keep you satiated, energized, and on the road to gains, which is awesome… but (*sigh*) it’s not quite simple. While macro counting is less restrictive than many other eating plans, tracking your macros does require a high degree of math and planning to figure out if you “can” eat something and if it will fit into your macros, given what else you’ve consumed in the day.

I tapped some nutritionists and macro-counting pros for 6 tips that will help you count your macros… without going math-crazy:

1. Use an App.

My Fitness Pal is an all-in-one fitness and nutrition app that that Instagram-world swears by. The app has a huge database of foods (5 million plus!) and even a barcode scanner, which means tracking food can be easier than it sounds. Plus, there’s even a social aspect to the app, if you want to take advantage of it, which allows you to send messages, share info, and motivate your other macro (or calorie) counting buds. Doctor of Physical Therapy and Certified Strength and Conditioning Coach Dr. Grayson Wickhman PT, DTD, CSCS notes, My Fitness Pal (and apps like it) is a great option because it easy allows people to input common foods, letting the app do all of the math. Who needs more math in their day! It’s quick, easy, and helps hold you accountable for your diet”.

A post shared by Jaime 🏳️‍🌈 (@jaim91) on Jun 26, 2017 at 3:20pm PDT

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2. Familiarize Yourself With The Food You Like.

While using an app can be easy (and who’s wants to make life harder than it already is), Wickham thinks the better option is to familiarize yourself with the most common foods you eat daily. He suggests that you familiarize yourself with what your food is made up of on a macro level.

Start with your go-to foods, the ones you eat daily. Break these foods down and figure out if the majority of the calories in the food come from carbs, protein, or fat,” says Wickham. Breaking your fave foods into categories like this can be effective in helping you understand the composition of your food.

For example, carb heavy foods would include fruit, pasta, rice, or potatoes, while fat heavy foods would include nuts, avocado, olive or coconut oil, and protein heavy foods would include meat, eggs (fat as well), soy, etc. From there, Wickham suggests setting a macro goal for each meal and keeping track of whether or not you hit your meal as you go about your day.

“For example, this might look like in my first meal I met all my goals, in my second meal I did not have enough fat, which means in meal three I need to eat more fat, and then in meal three I met my macros and made sure to eat a little extra fat.”

This is a looser way to keep track of macros that lets you have freedom and keep you from totally obsessing and weighing everything you eat, which Wickham notes is the fear of macro-counting. “If you stress too much over your diet, you will increase cortisol, and have stubborn fat no matter what! After a little experimentation, this gets extremely easy, so trust the process,” urges Wickham.

3. Use Your Own Hands.

The easiest way to count macros is to use your two hands, explains Jonathan Valdez, M.B.A., R.D.N., C.D.N of owner of Genki Nutrition. “It’s a rough estimate, but it will help you estimate macronutrient content when you have no idea what the food profile might be” says Valdez. By using the following guidelines, Valdez makes sure that his clients never feel guilty for not knowing the exact macronutrient breakdown of food.

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  1. Palm of hand for protein and picturing a deck of cards: estimated 3 ounces of meat, which is about 20-26 grams of protein. If you want to go deeper, beef is always about 7 grams of protein an ounce, chicken breast is about 26 grams of protein for 3 ounces.
  2. Length from wrist to fingertips or checkbook is 3-ounce fish is about 22 grams of protein.
  3. A woman’s fist is about one cup.  One cup of rice/pasta is 45 grams of carbohydrates while others like beans/legumes is 30 grams of carbohydrates
  4. The nail of your thumb is about 1 tablespoon of fat, which whether it’s butter, peanut butter or olive oil  is typically between 30-41 calories

4. Get Creative.

Valdez also recommends, for when you eat at your desk or don’t have to worry about looking like too much of a weirdo, bringing a set of bowls to measure the portion consumed. Personally, Valdez uses small Japanese bowls which help him measure out portions when he needs to. If you don’t have access to the bowls Valdez is describing, foldable dog bowls and hiking/camping plates and bowls will do the trick.

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5. Mix It Up!

When you’re forced to split up calories and macronutrients the same way every day, it can be easy to end up making the same exact meal over and over and over again, because you know it fits their macros. If you’re eating the same meal day after day and week after week, not only will the meal stop tasting good, but you could be missing out on key nutrients like fiber, or even vitamins. Instead of letting the numbers guide what you put into your mouth, listen to your body, too. That means figuring out how to eat the foods you’re craving.

6. Be Conscious… But Not Obsessive.

The main reason that counting macros is effective for some is because it forces people to become conscious about the amount of food they are putting into their mouths (aka portion control). While increased mindfulness of consumption is key, especially on “cheat days”, the crazy amount of math the diet requires can make the plan tough to keep up with. If you loosen the reigns on how strict you are with meeting the exact percentages and grams of macro-counting, there’s a higher likelihood you’ll stick to it.

Featured image: @lindseylivingwell on Instagram

The post 6 Tips to Make Counting Your Macros Way Easier appeared first on BarBend.

Chris Bridgeford Deadlifts 370kg for Five Reps at 119kg Bodyweight

Twenty-two year old powerlifter Chris Bridgeford is repping awfully close to the world record deadlift: five reps of 370 kilograms (815.7 pounds) with wrist straps.

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He posted with the lift,

New 5RM tonight @ 370 kg (815 lbs)… no f*cking around, no music, or hype. Just put a number in my head and did it. Warmed up to 771 lbs with hook grip before this but my thumbs are a little raw so I put straps on. Just under 6 weeks out from #bossofbosses4

That last hashtag is referring to an upcoming World Raw Powerlifting Federation meet, the fourth annual Boss of Bosses. It’ll be held at Boss Barbell Club in Mountain View, California from August 25th to 26th, and it looks like we can expect some pretty serious lifts. He has a current PR total of 2,121 pounds (962 kilograms) with wraps and 1,890 pounds (857.3 kilograms) with knee sleeves.

Bridgeford weighs 262 pounds (119 kilograms) “on a light day” and despite his username on Instagram and Reddit (which is @bridgeford242) he says he hasn’t competed at 242 pounds for at least a couple of years. He’ll probably be competing in the -120kg category, and it’s definitely worth pointing out that the current IPF world record in that weight class is 372kg, or 820.1 pounds — less than five pounds heavier than Bridgeford’s five-rep max. The IPF world record for the +120kg weight class is Ray Williams‘ 865.3lb (392.5kg) lift, but remember that the IPF is a tested federation and the WRPF isn’t.

Plugging this 5-rep max into a 1RM calculator comes up with an approximate one-rep max somewhere between 910 and 940 pounds, but at these weights, a max lift is anyone’s guess.

We have, however, seen him pull 900 pounds (408.2 kilograms) with straps, and this is back in November.

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And he deadlifted 875 pounds for a double in January.

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His other lifts are going extremely well, too. Just last week he hit a four-rep PR in the squat with 365 kilograms (804.7 pounds) in knee wraps.

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And in the same week, he hit a smooth personal record in the bench press with 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms). It’s worth nothing that he has a really flat bench with basically no arch at all.

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Like we said: we can expect some pretty serious lifts at the Boss of Bosses meet next month.

Featured image via @bridgeford242 on Instagram.

The post Chris Bridgeford Deadlifts 370kg for Five Reps at 119kg Bodyweight appeared first on BarBend.

Dave Castro Announces 1RM Clean & Jerk Team Event at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games

The barbell is indeed back.

The morning after letting the world know that the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games will include a one-rep max snatch individual event, Director of the CrossFit Games Dave Castro has returned to Instagram to announce a new team event.

A one-rep max clean & jerk.

A post shared by Dave Castro (@thedavecastro) on Jul 20, 2017 at 7:53am PDT

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You can almost hear the athletes rushing back into the gym.

This has been a very unusual year for the Reebok CrossFit Games, and not just because you can now play Fantasy CrossFit. There were zero barbell movements to be found in this year’s Regional events and the first three events that were announced for the Reebok CrossFit Games themselves were also barbell-free. They were endurance events.

The first announced event, which Castro disclosed on July 5, is simply Run, Swim, Run.

The second was just a picture of a bike, the first time biking has appeared in the Games.

[Check out our full article on the CrossFit Bike, which costs $7,950, here!]

The third announced event was an obstacle course, which we haven’t seen in the Games for five years.

A post shared by Dave Castro (@thedavecastro) on Jul 16, 2017 at 6:10pm PDT

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It’s probably not a stretch of the imagination to say that all of this cardio might have thrown some athletes for a loop. Now that we know there will be heavy Olympic weightlifting, it”s probably a welcome return to tradition for some — but then again, it’s a lot harder to train for biking, swimming, obstacle course racing, and the more standard heavy weightlifting and metcons. We have a feeling that CrossFit cardio gurus like Chris Hinshaw are busier than ever right now.

[One CrossFit athlete did “Murph” ten times in a row. Read our interview with him!]

This might be the most challenging Reebok CrossFit Games ever, and if nothing else, it’s certainly hammering home the core message of the sport: Fitness means being ready for anything.

Featured image via @thedavecastro on Instagram.

The post Dave Castro Announces 1RM Clean & Jerk Team Event at the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games appeared first on BarBend.

Watch This 52-Year-Old Smash the World Record for Most Push-Ups In an Hour

In the Body Club Fitness Center in Margaret River, Western Australia, construction worker Carlton Williams has hit a pretty serious PR.

Well, it’s an all-time WR, actually: Two thousand, six hundred and eighty-two push-ups in one hour. Oh, and he’s 52 years old.

What makes this achievement all the sweeter is that Williams was taking his record back from Roman Dossenbach, from Switzerland. Williams set the record in 2015 at 2,220, then Dossenbach beat it with 2,392 push-ups. So Williams beat that record by almost three hundred extra reps.

[For more high-rep madness, check out our piece on the most insanely heavy, high-rep barbell exercises we’ve seen!]

“I did it to prove I’m the best,” Williams said.

As the Guinness World Records state on their site, this particular record is “one of the most hotly contested fitness records we monitor, with three challengers raising the bar since Carlton achieved a total of 2,220 back in 2015.”

If you’ve got time to kill, you can watch the entire hour of push-ups in the video below. It averages out to roughly 45 per minute, and he takes short breaks throughout.

All he says at the end of the clip is, “Thanks, everybody. That wasn’t my best.”

We’ll admit that we didn’t watch the entire thing, but we saw enough to know that Williams would get “no rep”ed pretty quickly in a CrossFit box or a military workout, since his chest rarely touches the ground.

Guinness says on their site:

Doing the push ups, he had to lower his body until a 90 degree angle was attained at the elbow, in order to add the rep to his tally and for it to be accepted by Guinness World Records.

We couldn’t find the world record for most chest-to-ground push-ups in an hour, but we did find this video of the most push-ups completed in twenty-four hours: 46,001, by American Charles Servizio in 1993.

Then there’s this record for most one-fingered push-ups in thirty seconds. China’s Guizhong Xie hit forty-one in thirty seconds, crushing his previous record of twenty-five.

Note that Guinness allows you to do these on your knuckle, if you want. Xie decided not to.

Meanwhile, the current world record for freestanding handstand push-ups? Twenty-nine in a minute. There’s no footage of it, but there is this clip of the previous record holder, Armenian Manvel Mamoyan, hitting twenty-seven reps.

It’s very impressive, but we wouldn’t be surprised if a CrossFit athlete came along and casually broke that record in one set.

Featured image via Guinness World Records on YouTube.

The post Watch This 52-Year-Old Smash the World Record for Most Push-Ups In an Hour appeared first on BarBend.

Dave Castro Announces Max Snatch Event for 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games

Dave Castro has been dropping a slue of announcements for the 2017 Reebok CrossFit Games, but his newest announcement may take the cake for most shocking.

Late last night, Castro shared a video on his Instagram page featuring Camille Leblanc-Bazinet hitting a snatch. Oh yeah, it’s safe to say, the barbell is back. Castro announced that one of the individual competitors’ events will be a 1-RM snatch.

This event comes as the fourth announcement from Castro for this year’s Games. Check out the list of events below we’ve seen thus far.

  • First announcement on July 5th: Run, Swim, Run
  • Second announcement on July 13th: Bikes
  • Third announcement on July 17th: Obstacle Course 
  • Fourth announcement on July 20th: 1-RM Snatch 

A post shared by Dave Castro (@thedavecastro) on Jul 19, 2017 at 9:16pm PDT

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We’ve seen events like this in the past. The 2015 CrossFit Regionals Event Five included a 1-RM snatch, which quickly followed event four (a handstand walk). The transition between events four and five only allowed athletes a minute and 40 seconds to get to their respective snatch platforms. Will this event look similar to the quick ordering we’ve seen in the past, or will it be different in formatting?

Castro has yet to release the exact specs of the event, but we can make speculations knowing how this specific event was run in the past.

In 2015, athletes were allowed a 20-second time window to attempt their max, or set snatch weight. Within this window, an athlete could attempt their snatch as many times as they needed to complete the lift. If they completed the lift in 20-seconds, then they’d earn another 20-second window for their next selected weight. Athletes were allowed 80-seconds of rest in-between each snatch attempt window.

Check out the video below from CrossFit’s YouTube channel that described the 2015 max snatch event that followed event four.

We’re hoping the formatting will be different for this year’s Games, and there will be a bigger emphasis on the max snatch event.

Feature image screenshot from @thedavecastro Instagram page, video by @dctflo2 Instagram page. 

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