Andrew Charniga, Jr.
What is the C.h.e.c.k. for?
There are a number of videos displayed at the youTube internet site by and or about the Chek organization. Essentially they are designed to promote various seminars concerned with health and wellness, strength and conditioning, and other areas of fitness. The so called students of this organization can achieve various levels of expertise which are recognized by numerical levels: one, two, three, and the following.
This review will focus primarily on one video which can be viewed at the following address:
Paul Chek (PC) talks about ab function which can be viewed at:
This particular video clip, although very brief, was in such bad taste, so appallingly ignorant, that it justifies a single review in and of itself; however, another was included for comparison.
This video clip was made from a seminar where the presenter displayed a picture of a female weightlifter competing at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney, Australia. Apparently, the still picture of the lifter was made from a video which has been posted on youtube.
The female weightlifter in question is attempting to clean and jerk 110 kg. She is performing in front of what is arguably an audience of around a billion people, in the most important athletic event of her life, the 2000 Olympics. The lifter was unable to rise from the deep squat position. She ends up dropping the barbell, but she has apparently lost bladder control in the process.
The First False Statement
Pointing at the woman’s pelvic area with a laser pointer, the presenter declares in disgust:
“I want to show you what happens even to athletes whose abdominal wall and abdominal floor doesn’t work correctly.”
Our presenter is a self styled “expert” on strength and conditioning and, of course, the phony, pseudo science of “core training.” When he pointed at this woman, as if she were an animal, it was not only demeaning and degrading to women in general but, especially so, to this particular woman. She has a name, a life, and, of course, because she was able to compete at the Olympic Games, an athletic career to be proud of.
This woman has achieved a level in sport most people can only dream of. It is unfortunate this misinformation huckster held her up to ridicule to justify his inane ruminations.
The statement that the lifter’s abdominal wall and abdominal floor do not “work properly” is of course incorrect and meaningless to boot.
Liu Chunong 69 kg (CHN) Olympic champion warming up for the clean and jerk in Beijing with obvious abdominal development from mere sit ups.
“Weightlifting belts are recommended to increase intra – abdominal pressure and reduce the load on the spine” (V. M. Zatsiorsky, 1995). An internationally known and widely respected researcher, Vladimir Zatsiorsky is one of the fathers of European biomechanics. His research, notwithstanding, shows that it is has long since been common knowledge that “raising intra – abdominal pressure lessens the load on the intervertebral discs of the spine.” A weightlifting belt or other belts designed for industrial use assist the raising of intra – abdominal pressure.
Those facts notwithstanding, the use of a weightlifting belt in Olympic weightlifting is probably more psychological than anything. There are many top lifters who use a belt and probably just as many who do not.
Olympic champion Chen Yanquing (CHN) stretching in training and wearing a weightlifting belt. Charniga photo
The allowable dimensions of a belt, a maximum width of 12 cm as permitted for Olympic lifting, are an antiquated hold over from the three lift era in weightlifting, especially the latter part when the press had morphed into a fast, standing bench press, sans the bench. During the press era, this area of the wide section of the belt served to support the lumbar spine when the weightlifter bent his back by hyper extending the spine rearward to lift the barbell. The pressing was actually a “pushing off” away from the vertical to bypass the so called “sticking point” of the lift.
Other than the fact that a weightlifting belt increases intra – abdominal pressure, use of a weightlifting belt has long since ceased to be considered a necessity in Olympic weightlifting. But, to intimate that weightlifters who wear a belt are stupid, as our “expert” did, is ignorant and irresponsible.
The competition protocol of weightlifting
The weigh in protocol of weightlifting, unlike boxing, is antiquated as well. Lifters are required to weigh-in within a one hour period beginning two hours before the start of competition.
Consequently, a lifter who needs to reduce bodyweight to make the weight class limit (which the female lifter in question probably had to do) has less than two hours before the start of competition to replenish fluids from forced weight loss and get something to eat.
Lifters who have to reduce weight for competition, especially those who undergo a significant weight reduction, usually consume a lot of fluids immediately after weigh-in. Shortly after eating and rehydrating, lifters have to suit up and start warming up. The competition protocol is not conducive to restroom visits. It is not uncommon for a lifter to be called to the competition platform with a full bladder.
Taking all of this into account, it is extremely rare for a weightlifter, either male or female, to lose bladder or bowel control while performing in competition either wearing a belt or not. In the extremely rare incidence it does occur, to state it is due do to some abdominal insufficiency or the use of a weightlifting belt is not true.
For example, not one of these incidents occurred during our first hand observations of hundreds of lifters training, warming up, and competing at numerous World, European, and National championships or the Beijing Olympic weightlifting competitions, despite the fact that many lifters wore belts. All four Chinese female gold medalists in Beijing wore a belt in training and at the competitions without incident. Nothing was wrong with their “abdominal wall or abdominal floors.”
Stupid Remark # 1
“How the hell do people in weightlifting even get exposed to that crap.”
The “crap” statement uttered in a loud, “I am an authority voice,” sounds like this man has only a high school education. Does he think he knows more than the collective international weightlifting community and actual experts such as Zatsiosky. Hardly, it is just hot air meant to impress those foolish enough to pay to hear nonsense.
This man seems to be saying he is the expert on weightlifting technique. This of course is not true. In point of fact, this man knows nothing about weightlifting, nothing about Biomechanics, and nothing about Kinesiology.
To demean and otherwise degrade this female athlete is ignorant, unjustified, and unprofessional. He just assumes no one will have the good sense to notice he is just blowing smoke.
Stupid Remark # 2
“This kind of stuff’s got to stop”
What is that supposed to mean? Is the collective weightlifting world so ignorant, and he is so “superior,” that the wearing of weightlifting belts (instead of going around sucking in your gut) must stop. Or, what will happen?
This is a very common modus operandi of the misinformation huckster, where in this case this man most definitely qualifies. The idea is to pontificate and berate in a loud angry voice, even venting a frustration with ideas or practices of which the speaker disapproves.
The feigned anger and the phony frustration are designed to prevent possible reflection which hides the fact the speaker is not an authority on the subject, but, in fact, he is just the opposite. The loud pontifications are meant to intimidate the audience into believing his assertions are absolutely correct and above question.
False statement #2
“Your legs are attached to your pelvis; if you have an unstable pelvis, you have an unstable hip, knee, ankle and foot…”
This is one of the most often repeated fallacies of the “core training” hucksters. This is an erroneous idea that somehow your ankle, knee, and hips joints are unstable if you do not hold abdominal muscles just so. Or, without special “core strength,” which by the way cannot be developed with traditional abdominal exercises such as sit ups, leg raises and other similar movements, your lower extremities supposedly become unstable. These ideas are of course misinformation for sale which are voodoo Biomechanics and Kinesiology of the mind.
The idea that one needs some volitional muscle tension, postural or otherwise, in order to perform exercises correctly happens to be a very common fallacy of coaching practices, including those coaching weight training.
One often sees the weight coach, or whoever, hovering over an athlete lifting or performing some other sport exercise shouting instructions. Instructions from the coach, generally barked at the athlete from close range, to pre tense certain muscle groups such as the abdominal muscles, to tighten the back muscles, to make a special effort to breathe just so, before beginning, or throughout the performance an exercise are illogical at best.
For example, it is common knowledge a world class sprinter takes only 2 to 3 breaths during a 100 meter race. When or how cannot be dictated; certainly it is not barked at him or her by a coach. The body knows when to breathe. How else would you be able to sleep and not suffocate?
Famous Soviet era Biomechanist D. Donskoi wrote more than 50 years ago that an athlete’s attention to the details of an exercise or sport movement decrease as technique improves. “Depending on the level of technical mastery many of the features and details of a movement will no longer fall under volitional control and management, but instead, become automated” (D. Donskoi, 1971. Translated by Andrew Charniga).
It is highly unlikely little if any of the core training philosophy or especially verbal directions from a coach shouted at close range during the performance of exercises will be of any use to athletes performing weightlifting or other sport exercises.
For instance, according to Steven Vogel (2001), “Nerves don’t conduct impulses at anywhere near the speed at which wires conduct electrical impulses.” The human body simply cannot process verbal instructions and relay the directions to the muscles fast enough unless a movement is performed at very slow speed; however, even then, if the movement is a squat or a bench press with a heavy weight, all of the athlete’s attention will be focused on the task at hand.
Consider this comment from Tyson Gay after he ran a 9.69 100 meters; “Relaxation is the key to success in track and field… (Saturday) I totally relaxed and let the time come.” It is essentially impossible to relax, run at maximum speed, and at the same time to focus on the “core” in order to “stabilize ankles, knees” and other parts of the body.
Let’s just say for the sake of argument that it is important to pre tense some abdominal muscles or back muscles before or during some exercises. And, you have effectively controlled some 25 muscles prior to and during some movement.
OK. There are some 600 odd muscles in the human body; if you have to tell those aforementioned 25 muscles “what to do,” what are the other 575 muscles supposed to do? Are they just on their own?
The basic concepts of the functional training/core training people are without merit. The body decides what muscles do what, especially during high speed and high power; that is why relaxation and a narrow focus of attention are crucial to success, not barking coaches.
The reader can decide for him or herself the net worth of the video’s contents (the link is listed above). However, you cannot help but wonder was this the brain child of a 12 year old trying to impress girls, or that of a prematurely senile, middle aged man trying to prove his virility? His voice rises to a high pitched, effeminate crescendo as he performs one silly make up exercise after another. All of this huffing, puffing, and high pitched squealing must be a joke; it cannot be meant to be taken seriously.
Who, not incarcerated in a mental institution, or likewise on a Thorazine drip, could possibly be impressed by this buffoonery?
In a lecture, this man had the mendacity to demean a female Olympic weightlifter performing under incredible pressure at the Olympic Games; he then posted it on youtube. Yet, he chooses not to lift a barbell, even though there are apparently some barbells in the gym where this madness takes place. He can’t even raise his chin above the bar as he counts out “half chin up” repetitions.
The very least he could have done would be to clean and jerk the same weight the female Olympic lifter he demeaned attempted. Certainly a “veeeeeeerile” man who has all of that core strength could do a better job at lifting 110 kg than a mere woman, especially if it is a (defective) woman “whose abdominal wall and abdominal floor doesn’t work correctly.”
Anyways, the best one can say of this absurd demonstration and the general huckstering of misinformation which accompanies it is, “How the hell do people even get exposed to that crap;” and, more to the point, “This kind of stuff’s got to stop.”