(WEBMASTER’S NOTE: Larry Traub will be hosting his first USAWA competition on April 30th in his hometown of Georgetown, Indiana . This competition will introduce the USAWA to several new lifters. The following story is an introduction to Larry and his past involvement in powerlifting and weightlifting. Larry is a great addition to the USAWA!)
by Larry Traub
The ReMoND Machine – Release Movement Neuromuscular Developer
My name is Larry Traub. I am 57 years old. I have just completed 24 years of teaching at St. Xavier High School in Louisville Kentucky and 28 years of teaching all together. I am a math teacher (Primarily Geometry) but I have also taught an elective P.E. class called Strength and Fitness during most of my tenure at St. Xavier. I have been involved in the weightroom almost all of my years at St. X and have served in various roles including, strength coach, powerlifting coach, and weight room coordinator. I retired as the powerlifting coach in 2007 after winning 5 successive National Championships at the USAPL (drug tested) teenage championships.
I was also a gym owner in the early 80’s and built most all my own equipment. I did a little competitive bodybuilding. My last contest was in1982 in which I won the Mr. Kentucky title. I have been an active powerlifter since the mid 70’s and have won 9 master’s National Titles in the USAPL and a gold and a silver in the IPF world championships. I have held American Records in the squat (635 @ 198 in the 40-44 group, deadlift (700 @ 198 in the 40-44 group) and 1630 total in the 50 plus age group which was also a world record total @ 198.
I have a son and daughter who both earned college athletic scholarships. My daughter in basketball and my son in track. They both were national teenage powerlifting champions and American record holders. My daughter did a 400 lb deadlift @ 165 as a teenager and my son was a world champion and a world record holder in the subjunior division (He did a 690 deadlift as an 18 year old in the 242 lb class). He presently holds the school record for shotput at Indiana State University.
I tell you this, not to blow my own horn (well maybe a little bit), but to give you an idea of the depth of my involvement in weightlifting and sports over the course of four decades and hopefully give myself enough credibility to allow you to carefully consider my invention.
I have always been fascinated with the correlation between strength and athletic ability. In my 35+ years of involvement in weightlifting I have seen a tremendous shift in attitudes regarding the benefits of lifting for almost every athlete. My personal experience with an increase in jumping ability shortly after I first started squatting convinced me of the athletic benefits of lifting. After a year or so of high intensity squatting for powerlifting I was delighted to find I could grab the rim on a basketball court. A year or so later after my max squat had improved considerably I was expecting a corresponding increase in jumping ability but discovered no significant difference. I later discovered that the reason for my plateau in vertical jump was my brains inability to send a strong enough signal to fully utilize the fast twitch muscles I had developed. My limitations were not muscular they were neuromuscular.
Over the years I have read about and tried all sorts of programs that were supposed to increase the bodies neuromuscular capabilities. I set up extensive plyometric programs but saw no real effect other than joint pain due to the stress that the exercises put on the body.
I used light weights with maximum speed, but received no noticeable benefit. I discovered that the use of high speed reps with lighter weights had huge limitations because your body knows that at the end of the motion it must stop or the weight will leave your body and come back and cause injury. The use of bands and chains was supposed to be the solution of slowing the movement at the top, but if that were to work effectively then the resulting slowing of the motion would be counterproductive to the goal of developing maximum speed. I have seen athletes perform jump squats with a barbell and I thought immediately that the fear of the bar coming down on them and causing pain would prohibit them from putting maximum effort into the exercise which in turn would minimize the results. My son, while in college, was instructed to jump with sand bags on his shoulders. This seemed a lot more reasonable but there was still no way to see a measurable progression. (Was he jumping higher than he did last week?) There was also the considerable stress on the body of landing with the combined weight of his bodyweight and the sandbags.
The latest trend I see is the use of the Olympic lifts and various exotic versions of them as being the “do all, end all” for athletes in the weightroom. They do require explosive movement but the actual number of muscles that are involved in the explosive part of the lift are very limited and once again there is a great deal of stress put on the joints of the body. I also feel that way too often the athletes are doing the Olympic lifts whose primary benefits are neuromuscular and ignoring the continued development of fast twitch muscle throughout all the major muscle groups.
Ideally, athletes should continue to develop fast twitch muscle fiber through conventional means but have a way to improve their neuromuscular efficiency so they can fully utilize those muscle fibers, and do it all with minimum stress on the joints of the body. The solution, as I see it, is a release movement machine that allows you to accelerate a bar using various exercises that stimulate all major muscle groups. You must be able to release the bar without fear of injury so the bar must stay at the peak of movement and be safely lowered to the athlete for the next repetition. The exercise must also be measurable. (A certain amount of weight is moved through a certain range of motion and progress occurs when you either move the same weight through a greater range of motion or move more weight through the same range of motion.)
This is what my machine is designed to do and I would appreciate the opportunity to demonstrate.