Camala Rodriguez-McClure Arnold Classic and Fitness International Winner

1st Place Sweeps – Camala Rodriguez-McClure

“Bang Bang into the room” lol! Camala surprised a lot of people this year coming back after a difficult loss in September 14′ at the Olympia. Let me interrupt myself…not just coming back but sweeping the Arnold’s in Columbus and Australia! Her presence was commanding. Her figure physique was on point from every aspect that not a judge or fan or anyone present could deny.




There you go. Hard work but I will also add in smart work has paid off. Bodybuilding is a game of chess at times with your self and with the one’s adding points and/or docking points so to speak and everything in between. But you do your best one day at a time.
Next up , where does Camala go from here?
Well it’s not my place to announce, but I do know her eyes are set on the Olympia. If any other contest is in line before I guarantee she’s not looking past it. Camala wants to win it all, who wouldn’t? But redemption is in my thoughts…
In the meantime enjoy this Camala, for it is the present! And your time to train and prepare is close ahead and will be here shortly!

Michael Burke Jr. Arnold Classic Strongman



Michael Burke Jr.. Strongman
6 foot something…HUGE

3oo something out pounds…..

He will get stronger.

We will make him better. Faster.

‘Na nah nuh…nuh huh na nun na nuh naa..’ (think 6 million dollar man theme song)
okay okay, so Mike didn’t quite finish the way we wanted nor thought. But a little 5.5 month history real quick. Dating back in October 2014..Knee injury. Out 6 weeks! That sucked. No leg work. Well I wanted to do some things but imagine a 5’7 142lb female (I’m strong though) looking up at a 6 ton heavy. So, I say okay Mike whatever you need for now. LOL

ok anyway, it was amazing but not out of the question for him in my mind to get close to a 900lb Dead Lift by March 6, 2015. 1500b. Bale Tote? Besides his training Mike has shear heart and passion for what he does and sets out to achieve. 1100b Frame carry? That’s some heavy shit too. But you have all seen it now. Here is a lil more of what you did’t know. Mike had been sick for a few weeks. Couldn’t put on weight, cramped to all get out, and hurt his shoulder on the frame. So the deadlift and frame and Cry DB happened after the injury. Had he been healthy had he not hurt his shoulder … we all would be humming …

‘Na nah nuh…nuh huh na nun na nuh naa..’

And I’m willing to bet he would have finished in the top 2 and a good chance at number 1. But these things happen and it sucks.

He didn’t quit though. That’s the thing. He got caught back at 7th (which damn near gave me and a few others heart failure. But Mike pulled it out and fought back to 4th. Not bad with only one comp lift to get it done. That last lift he finished with pure heart and will.

Let’s see what he does at the WORLD’S STRONGEST MAN!!!!

‘Na nah nuh…nuh huh na nun na nuh naa..’

Which Squat Variation Should Athletes Use?

Which Squat Variation Should Athletes Use?

Squats are a corner stone lift, however, I don’t back squat all athletes.  I prefer the front squat variation to the back squat depending on the situation.  There are times where even front squatting could be discarded and I’ll go with single leg variations. A lot of coaches may take issue with this view-point (that the low back was the weakest link in the bilateral squat lift and one could get better results with semi – heavy single leg training).

I agree with this assessment that the low back is a limiting factor and if you have someone lift a lot of weight in a single leg stance it doesn’t necessarily correlate to bilateral lifts. For example if you can get an athlete to lunge with 225lbs it doesn’t mean that he can necessarily squat 450lbs.

As strength coaches, our job is to teach movements and while there are an infinite number of ways to improve strength, I feel that there is tremendous value in using the squat while training athletes. Ultimately, it comes down to which variation of the squat front or back, limits the amount of risk while still providing a training effect.

In my opinion, the front squat is the safer choice for the majority of athletes and while also improving movement and performance markers implications such as the vertical jump and broad jump. However, box squatting has become a huge favorite.





The analyses joint motion at the hip knee and ankle and compares the two lifts and the data might surprise you.


Joint Motion/Alignment Front Squat Back Squat
Hip Flexion 56.1 43.8
Ankle Dorsiflexion 69.2 70.4
Knee Flexion 63.4 69.0


There is more hip flexion in the front squat vs the back squat while reducing low back shear. Basically the front squat allows for more hip motion while maintaining a relatively safer, more upright low back position vs the back squat.

There is more movement in the knee-joint during the back squat than the front squat which might be contrary to what most people think. That’s interesting to take in terms of knee pain and while squatting for some with knee pain won’t be an option it seems that the front squat is the more knee friendly of the two.

Now obviously there can be discrepancies between two people and what their squat looks like but in general the front squat allows you to keep the upper back more upright and its easier on the low back because of the reduced torso angle.


Core Strength





One benefit of the front squat is that it hammers the anterior core and works the obliques and rectus abdominis.  The load shift to the front forces a posterior tuck of the hip to engage the abs and glutes to keep the hip neutral. Most athletes generally are weak in this area so anytime you can shift the load to the front during an exercise you should.

During the back squat, it is much harder to keep a neutral spine and it will force more compression in the low back as you arch our back. Arching the low back disengages the abs and glutes and puts you in a mechanical disadvantage and puts a lot more work in the low back instead of having the glutes and abs help out.

This isn’t to say that back squatting will lead to low back issues but keep in mind that for the majority of athletes who “live” in extension the back squat reinforces the pattern and might not be the best variation for them.


Squats and Shoulder Health 

Both the front and back squat can put stress on the shoulders. The front squat can put stress on the A/C joint with the front loaded bar position while the back squat forces the client to externally rotate the humerus which can be an issue for certain training populations.

We don’t back squat our overhead athletes, mainly because of the position it puts the athletes shoulder in. Since most throwers/tennis players need external rotation range of motion and generally have more range on their dominant/throwing side, putting them in that position can cause some instability in the joint and we feel there are “safer”  options such as the front squat.

While the front squat is a great variation for throwers, if they have A/C joint issues or injuries the pressure of the bar can aggravate that. In these cases use the safety squat bar for either front or back squats. We also have harness front squat variations as well.

I’ll put a post up of some different variations we use at NPF in a future post.

There is a more research needed to fully examine which squat helps improve vertical jump and broad jumps the most. However, if the goal is to minimize risk while improving performance I feel like the front squat is still the safer option.



While I have talked about the benefits of front squatting this isn’t to say that I don’t like back squats. Most athletes need to work on improving movement patterns, and again the goal should be maximizing performance while minimizing risk of injury.

I think it is well said to say something to the effect of how you train your athletes and how you train yourself should not be the same. Just because you may have a bias towards a particular system or a set of specific exercises doesn’t mean your athletes need to train that way. Be diligent and match exercises appropriately to athletes who can perform them with solid technique.

Minimizing risk includes appropriately pairing the squat variation with the athlete while considering multiple factors. This is why we assess athletes and while we like the front squat there still may be instances where squatting might not be the best option for them. The last thing you want to do as coach is have an athlete tweak or injure something while lifting in the weight room.