Bullet Points and a Brew 5/25/17

Bullet Points and a Brew 5/25/17

We’re bringing this week to a close. It’s been a good one, full of old and new training protocols for me. I’ve been reading about heart rate based energy systems training for a lot of team sports lately, and it’s time to see where it all fits in with some climbing. I’ve been working back into sport climbing shape the last month or so, and my aerobic capacity, while getting better, is still fairly pitiful. I’ve been doing a lot of work in the climbing gym, to address that, but am also going to utilize some heart rate-based work for my nonspecific conditioning sessions. I’m keeping it simple, too. 15 minutes of Get Ups, 15 minutes of Snatches, with a 5 minute rest in between. I’ll share my inspiration for this protocol below. Here’s the readout from the first session this week.

Non specific energy system day. This cycle is all about aerobic capacity, because I suck at sport climbing right now. I'm doing a lot of work in the climbing gym to get after it, but building a general foundation isn't any less important. ▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️▪️ New toys=new protocols(for me). For the next six weeks, I'll be working to expand my aerobic system ability by doing two exercises (32kg get ups, 24kg snatches), and using my heart rate as a marker for resting and working. Today was 15 minutes of getups, a 5 minute rest, and 15 minutes of snatches. A good day. It'll be interesting to see what the graph looks like at the end of the cycle! #sceniccitystrong #strongfirst #cruxconditioning #powercompanyclimbing #kettlebells #heartratetraining #strengthtraining #turkishgetups #snatches #climbing #sportclimbing #kettlebellsforclimbers #climbingtraining #webuildmachines

A post shared by Paul Corsaro (@paulcorsaro) on

I’m excited to see how that goes for the next six weeks! I’m hoping to to get back outside this weekend to get some more bolt clippin’ in. Stoked!

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

Mark Snow is an SFG Team Leader and an instructor for Functional Movement Systems. I was lucky enough to learn from him when I went through the FMS program a couple years ago. This was a great article examining how to expand your aerobic capacity in a way that minimizes stress, yet builds unbelievable capacity. As I mentioned above, I based a lot of this new energy system protocol on the concepts this article contains.

Another viewpoint into addressing climbing-specific energy systems, this is an informative piece by Will Anglin. Circuits such as these allow you to get effective sessions in at bouldering-only gyms, or if you lack a consistent partner. As always, well worth the read.

Amanda Wheeler is a coach at Mark Fisher Fitness. MFF is a facility in New York, and well, they’re a bit different. In an awesome way. In addition to that, they’re all awesome coaches. If you struggle putting together a general strength training session, this article provides a simple “plug and play” algorithm to get you going.


One of my athletes sent me a photo of the most groundbreaking ab trainer in existence. Enjoy.


Yes. That’s a Pop-a-shot ab trainer. Thanks Jeff!

The Brew


Garden of Earthly Delights, Burial Beer Company

An offering by probably the best independently-owned brewery in Asheville (especially since another big-time brewery in the area just sold the F out to AB InBev), this beer is a saison brewed with a bunch of interesting ingredients: Carrots, Ginger, Lemon Verbena, and Sea Salt. It pours a pale yellow with an effervescent head. The beer is super carbonated, with barnyard-y, yeasty aromas with an earthy tang, containing hints of some pickles as well. On the tongue, the dry saison entry bursts into a vegetal characteristic that’s earthy and pickl-y (sp?). A very strange beer, but not bad. It’s very carbonated for a beer, dancing on the tongue. It’s an interesting take on a saison, and not poorly done at all, just slightly too strange for me.

That’s it for this week. Crush the weekend!

What’s Happening



I deliver efficient and effective programming that gets the job done without demanding too much of your valuable time. I have some open spots for distance coaching, so if you are interested, please apply. You can find more information here.

Power Company Climbing Proven Plans


Bridging the gap between completely custom programming and a purely template based training system, these plans capitalize on the patterns seen from years of working with climbers of all skill and ability levels, helping them crush their goals. Route climbers, boulderers, or even people just looking for some strength training will find a plan that fits them! Check it out here

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training is held Tuesdays at 6:15 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you are in the Chattanooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I also teach a class for folks who are more familiar with kettlebells on Thursdays at the same time. We will dive into some more advanced kettlebell movements and concepts, and push the intensity up a bit more than Tuesday.

You can check out the calendar and register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

Social Medias

Like what you’ve read? Want to find out more? Like the Facebook Page and share with your friends!

Gettin' all Science-y: Edition 1

Gettin' all Science-y: Edition 1

…So you don’t have to.

The scientific method is arguably the most important process in terms of furthering our knowledge that’s been developed in human history. Objective glimpses into conditions to reinforce or refute an idea we may have are critical to discover the way things are, or the best way to do a certain thing. In modern times, the results of these glimpses (experiments and studies) are published in a variety of journals. It’s important to be up to date with the current research to make sure training programs and metrics are on target to ensure better performance. There is one problem, though.

They’re a pain in the ass to read.

And it’s necessary! The scientific process requires thorough (often tedious) recording of pretty much everything involved in the research process. This allows the next group of researchers to replicate the study, if need be, or continue to progress the line of thinking that spurred the original study.

This series is going to be my attempt to read certain studies that apply to outdoor sports, or just ones regarding effective strength training that I find interesting. After I read them, I’ll try and deconstruct them and write a recap in layperson’s terms, summarizing the experimental design and actionable information that stems from the study. (This is for selfish purposes, too. By breaking these down, I’ll be able to retain and apply the concepts as well. Getting better every day, right?)

Let’s dig in!

The Study

Hemodynamic and Cardiorespiratory Predictors of Sport Rock Climbing Performance

Fryer et al. 2017

The Background

Dr. Simon Fryer and others recently published this article examining aerobic system factors, blood flow factors, and how well these factors relate to sport climbing performance.

In the past, early climbing energy system research was performed with treadmills. Obviously, there’s not a lot in terms of specificity, so while early research provided good signposts to continue research, definite answers didn’t really exist. Treadwalls were then utilized, but oftentimes the research methods didn’t map out well to the energy system demands of sport climbing.

treadwall Kore

A standard treadwall

In addition, as modern sport climbing has progressed, routes have gotten steeper and more demanding in terms of finger strength. Due to the smaller (relatively) size of the forearm muscles, some current thinking has been pointing to idea that the aerobic and blood flow characteristics of the forearms are one of the focal points of climbing performance.


Flexor Digitorum-The muscle the researchers monitored for the study

This study took climbers from three different ability levels and tested four factors: forearm recovery capacity, peak VO2 on a treadwall, maximal forearm deoxygenation, and a VO2 max on a traditional treadmill.

The hypothesis was that the forearm recovery capacity, treadwall peak VO2, and maximal forearm deoxygenation would be the best predictors of climbing performance. Since treadmill VO2 max wasn’t listed in the hypothesis, it is implied that treadmill VO2 max isn’t a huge predictor of climbing performance.

How they did it

Four physiological responses were measured to perform this study. Two of the factors (maximal forearm deoxygenation, and peak VO2) utilized a treadwall, while one factor (VO2 max) was measured on a treadmill. The final factor, forearm recovery capacity was measured using a dynamometer handgrip procedure that fatigued the muscle and measured time of recovery.

One thing I thought was interesting was the accepted way for a climber to report their ability level. The method backed by the research is referred to as the 3:3:3 method, which is basically 3 redpoints on 3 separate routes of the same grade, all within the past 3 months. The researchers used a variation of this method: 3 redpoints of 3 separate routes of the same grade, within the past 6 months. Because the study was conducted in Spain, and since the weather to climb in Spain is pretty much perfect, a larger window of time was used for reporting ability level.

The researchers separated the study into two days. The first day, the climbers came in to perform the treadwall test. This test involved climbing a particular route on the treadwall. The route climbed was selected based on the climber’s reported ability level, with goal of all climbers reaching failure within 6-12 minutes. While the climbing occurred, a breathing mask of sorts was utilized to obtain a VO2 peak measure. During this session, an infrared device measured the maximal decrease in the oxygen content of the blood in the forearm muscles.


While this is on the wrong muscle, this is a good example of the setup used to monitor the forearm muscle

After 3-7 days rest, the climbers came back in and performed a treadmill VO2 max test, using a breathing mask device to collect the necessary data. After that, the subjects performed the handgrip test to measure forearm recovery capacity.

What they found

After collecting and performing statistical analysis of the data, they found that the data taken on the treadwall plus the forearm recovery capacity test were significant predictors of climbing ability. They did not find any significant relation between the VO2 max obtained via the treadmill.

The Takeaway

While it’s not surprising that the more climbing specific measures were more predictive of climbing performance, some could be surprised that non specific aerobic fitness isn’t a predictor of sport climbing ability.

Digging deeper into the climbing specific side of things, it was discussed that the total body aerobic fitness measured via VO2 peak and the forearm aerobic capacity measured in both the treadwall and handgrip tests separately come into play in sport climbing performance. It was mentioned that perhaps total body aerobic fitness is key up until a point, and then the limiting factor becomes forearm aerobic fitness, which makes sense as walls get steeper and holds get worse.

How Can I Use This?

This study shines some light on how we can structure our “cardio” to be as effective as possible for climbing performance. While running and cycling are fantastic for cardiorespiratory fitness, it might be more beneficial to perform more specific conditioning protocols such as ARC-ing or other similar climbing drills.

In terms of strength training, energy system work that stresses the back (in the good way), shoulders, and grip are likely the way to go to supplement climbing specific work.

One way to go about it?

Snatch Volume Work.

Set a timer for 12-15 minutes and do sets of 15 snatches on each arm. Set the bell down in between sets and rest as long as you need. As always, good form is paramount, so make sure the appropriate sized bell is used. As you progress this protocol, you could do so by either working for a longer period of time, or try and get more sets of 15 done in the same time.


Learn More

Here’s the citation and link to the abstract if you want to read the full study.


Fryer et al. Hemodynamic and Cardiorespiratory Predictors of Sport Rock Climbing Performance, Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research

doi 10.1519/JSC.0000000000001860

Bulletproof Your Shoulders III: Improving the Armbar

Bulletproof Your Shoulders III: Improving the Armbar

I’ve previously written about the Kettlebell armbar. The armbar is a fantastic drill for the mobility and stability of the upper body. Today, let’s dive deeper. A multitude of progressions and variations of the armbar exist to attack different aspects of shoulder health. Before exploring these variations, make sure you have the basic armbar down. If you’re unsure of correct Kettlebell armbar form, I break down the movement here.

These additional variations turbocharge an already powerful movement drill. By performing the basic armbar, you can get most of what you need in terms of shoulder health. When the  right variation is applied, even the most stubborn of shoulders will benefit.

Before we dive into the variations, I want to stress that if you have shoulder pain or an injury, clear your injury with a medical professional before you attempt any loaded mobility movements. Be smart. If it hurts, don’t do it.

Variation 1-The Bottoms Up Armbar

Why it Works:

One of the advantages of a kettlebell is the off-set nature of the weight. When held overhead, the off-set bell constantly applies a force pulling the arm out of alignment. This forces the rotator cuff to contract to hold the ball of the humerus (upper arm) in the center of the shoulder socket.

Dr. Quinn Henoch describes the shoulder joint as a golf ball on a tee. The golf ball is the end of the humerus, and the tee is your shoulder socket. The tee is extremely small compared to the golf ball, so the rotator cuff needs to contract to keep the ball centered on the tee. Correct and timely contraction of the rotator cuff is critical to a healthy and well aligned shoulder. By holding the kettlebell in a bottoms-up position, the “wobbliness” is magnified, training the strength and timing of rotator cuff contractions.

How To Do It

The steps for this movement are the same as the vanilla armbar, with one crucial difference. The kettlebell is held upside down by the handle. It’s important to get set up in the position safely, because dropping a kettlebell on your face is not fun. Or, at least I would assume it’s not fun. I’ve never done it, and I will always take extreme measures to make sure it never happens.

-Start with a bell smaller than your normal armbar bell. This will be a greater challenge than a normal armbar, especially just starting out.

-Lay curled up on one side with the kettlebell lying on its side next you, handle facing you.

-Grab the handle with your bottom hand and grab the bell with your top hand.

-In one motion, roll to your back and raise the kettlebell, supporting the bell side to make sure you don’t lose control.

-Stabilize your starting position, which is the same as the starting position for the armbar.

-Continue with the armbar steps. Once you return to your back, stabilize the bell with your free hand again and return to the ground.

-Drag the bell around you, or get up and face the other way to perform the movement with the other hand. Never pass the bell over your body.

Variation 2-The Crooked Armbar

Why It Works:

The Bent or Crooked armbar was introduced to me as movement prep for the Bent Press. The Bent Press is one of the more demanding movements for the upper body, requiring considerable mobility and control of the shoulder and upper back.

One of the benefits of the vanilla armbar is the gentle “opening up” of the pec minor area while ensuring the shoulder does not creep forward in its socket. The crooked or “bent” armbar is a way to intensify the movement. It can reduce tightness in the pec minor and promote proper shoulder mechanics in a more demanding position. Improving all of these qualities helps reduce the hunched back common in overhead athletes or people with poor posture.

How To Do It:

First off, this is a more advanced drill, so it’s important to never work outside of your level of comfort in this movement. David Whitley states “Work within your limits to expand your limits”. Since he literally wrote the book on the Bent Press, it’s probably a good idea to listen to him.

If you are forcing your elbow down and holding your breath because you’re trying as hard as you can to open everything up, you are way past the effective zone of this movement. Honestly, you’re way past the safe zone of the movement. Relax. You should always be able to breath deep into your belly in any sort of mobility work. If you can’t, the changes you are chasing probably won’t last.

-Lay on your back and press a LIGHT kettlebell up with your left hand, like you would in the beginning of a Turkish Get Up. Reach your right arm up behind your head.

-Keeping your right arm and leg straight, bring your left knee towards your chest and roll to your right.

-Find a “tripod” position with your left knee and breathe. This is where things change from the vanilla Armbar.

-Open up your kettlebell arm until your elbow points in the direction of your legs and feet. Open up through your chest and try to bring the elbow down towards your opposite hip.

-Keep your shoulder connected to your back, don’t let the front of your shoulder rotate or slide forward.

-Once you have reached the lowest comfortable point for your elbow, hang out there. Get a couple belly breaths in.

-To press the bell back up, visualize breathing into your lat area and bring the bell back up to the normal Armbar position.


Movement Frequency

With any movement prep, consistency is the key to obtaining optimal joint health. Perform these movements before any overhead practice to keep your shoulders healthy. Movement prep opens up windows of greater mobility. Using that newly found mobility in your sport or strength training helps transform these short-term improvements into long-term joint characteristics. If you don’t use it, you will lose it.

Interested in moving better and getting stronger? Reach out! Crux Conditioning is open 6 days a week, and ready to work with you to help you crush your crux.



Bullet Points and a Brew 9/12/16

And here we are, heading into another week. I took a break from this series last week. I was in Asheville with some family members, touring breweries and getting mad at the TV during a Notre Dame football game. It’s that time of year again. Stoked football is back!  Training-wise, I’m settling into the last couple weeks before the TSC on October 1st (we’re hosting the event at SCSF) and a Jiu-Jitsu competition the following weekend. Along with all that, I’ve made an effort to get back into the climbing gym to start prepping for the upcoming season. The other day I went outside at noon and it wasn’t 90 degrees! That’s a good sign. It’ll be a busy week for me, maybe for you too, so here are some things for you to start the week with. Let’s get to the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

“If you lack something, and that supplement fulfills the need, then it feels like a competitive advantage. A performance octane boost, if you will.  It’s not. It’s simply filling a hole that otherwise should have been filled, authentically, through your eating, resting and regenerative behaviors.”

A fantastic piece by Gray Cook that examines some of the deeper philosophy concerning movement. I liked it.

Squats have a big “bang for your buck”, so any cue that helps one perform a safer and more effective squat is worth my time. Give this one a try next time your squatting and see how it feels.

If you’re like me, you like to do everything at once. I tend to jump around with my athletic and performance goals and find it hard to focus on one thing at a time. Because of that, I need to consider how a day, or a week, or a month all fit together. This article details some facets that are important when structuring your training.

The Brew


Even the Furies Wept, Orpheus Brewing

Orpheus Brewing is out of Atlanta Georgia. They aren’t huge, but they make some winners. This brew is a wild ale that was aged in wine barrels for 18 months. You get plenty of funk from the wild-ale style, some great wine characteristics from the wine barrels, and a gentle tartness. It’s not sharply sour, but blends the three “personalities” of the beer together quite nicely. It’s a good one!

That’s it for this week.

What’s Happening This Week

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching or strength and performance training, I’ve got room for a couple more clients. Reach out to me via email or apply here. If you’re curious about what I do, check out my program offerings.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training will be held Tuesday, September 13th, at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you’re in the Chattanoooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I’m also teaching a class on Thursday, the 15th for folks on who are more familiar with kettlebells. A good crew of our students at SCSF will be there and are training for the TSC in October. We will continue to refine the technique required for the TSC, and continue to build resilient and strong bodies. You can register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.

That’s it for this week. I’m going to try to put out a content piece sometime this week, so stay tuned.

Bullet Points and a Brew 8/29/16

Bullet Points and a Brew 8/29/16

It was a good and busy weekend. Everyone who came out to my Saturday class at SCSF killed it! Fun times were had with kettlebells and bodyweight movements, EMOM style. Sunday, friend and Senior SFG Delaine Ross came up from Atlanta to teach a kettlebell user course at the facility. It was a great time, lots of knowledge bombs were dropped, and I really enjoyed the opportunity to help instruct others as they learned and fine tuned their kettlebell movements. Delaine is a fantastic instructor and even though we only covered four fundamental movements (Swing, Get Up, Press, and Squat), everyone (including myself) walked away a little more educated in regards to kettlebell training. If you have a StrongFirst user course in your area, it’s well worth it.


It’s always a good time to fine tune the swing. Photo: Delaine Ross

Let’s get into the bullet points.

The Bullet Points

In case you missed it. 


I posted this article last friday. As sport-specificity becomes a larger buzzword, people sometimes abandon the fundamentals in favor of flashy programs that are touted as specific to whatever sport someone may be participating. Don’t abandon the fundamentals. It’s a bad idea. I talk about why and give you some examples of how to remain “literate” in fundamental human movement.

I met Chris at PlanStrong this year. He’s a great coach and writer based out of California. This was a great article detailing the need for patience and the importance of sustainability in your undertakings. Check it out.

I’m a big fan of the FMS. I use it with everyone I work with, as it gives me a quick snapshot into someones fundamental movement quality. It works. It must have some validity, as it is used within the highest levels of sport. This is a great article detailing the thought process behind the screen and how it was implemented with the dominant US Gymnastics teams.

Resistance training is critical for sporting performance. Traditionally, runners have shied away from lifting weights for fear of putting on mass (ahem..climbers? this applies to you too.) Chris Cooper details how strength training won’t hurt one’s running performance, but will actually greatly enhance it. A good quick read.

The Brew


Beret, Bruery Terreux

The Bruery is based out of California. Relatively recently, they moved all their Sour/Wild Beer to a barrel house named Bruery Terreux. It’s all good with me. It means more sours for us.  The beer pours foamy and carbonated. It’s gold and cloudy when held up to the light, with bubbles racing up the glass. It has a funky aroma, brett is definitely present. Slight fruitiness as well. Brett funk hits first, followed by a sharp tartness that is slightly softened by the raspberries. Not a huge fruit bomb, but just enough to know its there. A good homage to Prince (raspberry beret…get it?)

That’s it for this week.

What’s Happening This Week

Nutrition, Performance, and Strength Coaching

If you’re interested in nutrition coaching or strength and performance training, I’ve got room for a couple more clients. Reach out to me via email or apply here. If you’re curious about what I do, check out my program offerings.

I’m teaching two kettlebell classes at Scenic City Strength and Fitness.

An entry-level class that emphasizes the foundations of safe and effective kettlebell training will be held Tuesday, August 30th, at 6 pm. It’s only 10 bucks and spots will be limited to ensure a great experience. If you’re in the Chattanoooga area and have always been curious about trying out kettlebells, it’ll be tough to find a better opportunity.

I’m also teaching a class on Thursday, the 1st, for folks on who are more familiar with kettlebells. A good crew of our students at SCSF will be there and are training for the TSC in October. What does that mean? A lot of work to refine the Snatch and lots and lots of snatches. It’ll be a good time.

You can register online for any of these classes here. Each class is 10$. Hurry, because the spots fill up fast.