SHEPHERDS IN SUITS

September 16, 2010Read: Matthew 10

"And even the very hairs on your head are numbered." --Matthew 10:30

Of last year’s highlights and heroes, none made as much of an impact on me as did a small group of soldiers-turned-bodyguards. Once brave on the battlefield for our country, these men now stand in the gap between danger and their client, with no regard for self. On watch and on guard, for the sake of their call.

As it so happens, I was hired to help their client with training and nutrition, so I had a rare, bird's eye view of their excellence.  And what I witnessed was nothing short of perfection. Selfless, stealthy. Shepherds in suits. I say shepherds because shepherds are fierce protectors; they can handle themselves, no problem. And yet shepherds are as caring for their sheep as nurses with newborns. And because I stayed close to the client, I shared his shield. I was safe, not because of who I was, but because of who he was. One call from the client, and you got the cavalry.

So I suppose it's no wonder the bible refers to Jesus as the Great Shepherd. He watches over us night and day, and would go through hell to keep us safe. As a matter of fact, He did.

One call to Him? Calvary.

--J.P.

PRAYFIT Q&A: STRAPS

Q: What's the real deal with weight lifting straps? Are they beneficial or are they keeping me from developing maximum strength?

A: To many of you who love to lift weights, the idea of using a pair of pulling straps on back day is the last thing on your mind. But let’s take a practical look at what exactly is going on when you use straps.

Let’s say your best 10 rep max (10RM) on dumbbell rows without straps is 100 pounds, meaning if you just use your hands, you could row a 100-pound dumbbell ten times. Then we twist your arm and you reluctantly use a pair of straps which allows you to pull that same dumbbell 12 times. First off, if you could achieve 1-2 more reps by using a simple pulling strap, imagine how many more reps your back could endure over the course of a year! That’s two extra reps per set, at, say, four sets per exercise, at four exercises per day, at two days a week. The cumulative benefits to be derived from the benefits that straps offer far outweigh the biggest drawback, which is development of grip strength. However, if you're that serious about grip strength, you can simply add a forearms training session at some point during the week.

Try a set of straps on your heaviest pulling days and see how your back responds to the added weight and volume that they allow. You can try any starter set of straps -- we suggest Versa Gripps (www.versagripps.com). (today's fitness tip is a modified excerpt from my work in Musclemag magazine)