2005 archives (page 3)

March 16, 2005

Week 10: Frozen waters

Filed under: Workouts

Hibernating boat on a small island close to where we liveThe days seem to be gradually moving towards some kind of rhythm, namely a lengthy walk on the ice around noon, general unrest in the evening and quiet nights broken up into two hour segments. Tons of household work. Even if I could manage to fit regular training into all of this, the power to move mountains is just not there right now as evidenced by the only workout this week. Sebastian Burns (who has an unfortunate doppelganger) asked me to do a couple more diagnostic workouts based on a chart he made up consisting mostly of triples. Unsurprisingly, chilly winds of interrupted sleep blew me off Mt. Fuji long before the bar hang. The numbers Burns gave me were within reach based on what I did last time around, but having been blessed with a young apprentice I just cannot hang with this kind of intensity level and expect to perform well.

Thursday, 10 March 2005

Note: target reps in ( ) wherever I failed to deliver

Raw bench:
              5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
              3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
              3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
              2 (3) @ 95 kg/210 lbs
              1 (3) @ 95 kg/210 lbs
4 board press:
              3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
              3 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
              3 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
              1, 2 (3) @ 122.5 kg/270 lbs (ass heavily off bench on second)
              3 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
              2 (3) @ 115 kg/254 lbs
3 board press:
              3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
              3 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs
              1 (3) @ 110 kg/243 lbs
              0 (3) @ 115 kg/254 lbs
2 board press:
              3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
              1,1 (3,3) @ 100 kg/221 lbs
Hangbar bench with doubled minis:
              3 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
              3 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
              2 (5) @ 120 kg/265 lbs
              3 @ 115 kg/254 lbs
Reverse-grip pulldown: 12 @ 85 kg/188 lbs

Total training time: 80 minutes (a good 40 minutes shorter than the previous one now that I knew what to do…)

March 17, 2005

Powerlifting as a drug-free raw Olympic sport??!

Filed under: General

Kieran Kidder, the man behind the WPC, WPO and APF powerlifting federations made an interesting announcement on GoHeavy yesterday. The offshoot of it is that six leaders of major American powerlifting organizations agreed to jointly host a unified national meet, simply called the United States Powerlifting Nationals, in Las Vegas in late fall 2005. Why? Well, to reach approval with the United States Olympic Committee. Here’s the chewy bits:

We have factual knowledge that the USOC/IOC have strongly considered powerlifting becoming an Olympic Sport. But there is one definitive factor that is preventing this from happening. That being the fragmented state of powerlifting in the USA with the over abundance of powerlifting federations. The powers that be who regulate potential new Olympic Sports have no idea who/what drug free powerlifting organization would represent America. That’s the bottom line!!

The only solution is to have a Unified National meet to put us in good graces with the USOC/IOC. The meet will be simply called the United States Powerlifting Nationals. For this to happen there will be changes that some lifters might not be used to depending on which of the 6 federations lifters have lifted in. There has to be one set of rules used to run the meet. We have been asked to use the IPF rules by the powers that be. This is in no way shape or form an IPF meet!! The IPF rules are just being used as guide to go by so this unprecedented event can take place. For the first 1-2 years single ply squat suits, bench shirts, grove briefs will be allowed(poly/denim only, no canvas). The gear is being allowed to get the ball rolling since gear is the norm in powerlifting presently. Keep in mind that if the IOC allows powerlifting to become an Olympic Sport there will be no supportive gear allowed. Just like the olympic lifters who are only permitted to wear, wrist wraps, minimal knee wrap, and a belt. Also there will be no mono-lift either. As far as the drug testing goes a totally neutral testing lab called WADA (Wolrd Anti Doping Agency) who oversees all olympic drug testing will handle the testing. The Presidents of the 6 federations will put together teams to represent their federation in this unified effort. Any lifter who hasn’t lifted in the 6 federations involved, can join one of the 6 federations if he/she wishes to be part of this awesome powerlifting movemnet. Just putting up total in the between now and the meet is all thats required. If your already a member of one of the 6 federations having done an official total in the past year is all thats required.
[my emphasis, spelling mistakes his]

This is great news, but the hurdles facing this project would appear to be both numerous and tall. It is no secret that the powerlifting elite relies heavily on drugs - the politically correct terms are enhanced or assisted lifting - to achieve nicely bending barbells, while generally being vocally for equipment often citing injury prevention as a key theme. Whatever the amount of support an Olympic branch of powerlifting would get or not get, the success of this project would help bring raw lifting to the fore (we all know how drug-free the Olympics are despite cautionary optimism from WADA). In the final analysis, equipped lifting is just a bit too kinky anyway. Don’t believe me? Take a look at this and that.

While on the topic of… enhanced… lifting, here’s something I don’t quite get. In the States, many renown lifters have been quite open about their steroid use, among them Louie Simmons (who back in 1998 stated that he has done anabolic steroids straight for 28 years without cycling), Mike Miller and the great Ed Coan. I respect their openness, but isn’t steroid use illegal in the States making these admissions of criminal guilt? Or are we to believe that they all have legal prescriptions? Perhaps you can’t prosecute based on them, but intuitively this appears about as wise as admitting theft or cocaine dealing online. I’ve never heard of any European lifter being this bold, but I stand to be corrected if you please.

March 28, 2005

Week 11: Divine comedy

Filed under: Workouts

Something about squats off a low stepboard… a shaky double with the dumbells where the second rep lasted a good 12 seconds… then… futile, the brittle memory has faded! Surely I shall mourn this day over and over as I pour over the yearly archives in years to come, but it cannot be helped… the usual penetrating analysis of what the common man in his ignorance mistakes for a common workout is simply not to be this time. No consolidation I know, but here’s a panorama of the neighborhood gym I’ve frequented of late and even some video (2MB) that have crossed the great oceans of time to reach you. Cheerio.

Gym panorama
Gym panorama from the gym at Vattuniemen Sport Center, Helsinki, Finland (click image for full view)

Wednesday, 16 March 2005: Light SQ/DL

Low box squat off 10″ step board:
              worked up to 2 @ 80 kg/177 lbs over 8 sets
One-handed deadlift:
              5 @ 27.5 kg/61 lbs
              5 @ 35 kg/77 lbs
              5 @ 42.5 kg/94 lbs
Upper body cable turn:
              20 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
              15 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
              15 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Standing cable crunch (in cross pulley):
              15 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
              15 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
              15 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Total training time: 50 min

Friday, 18 March 2005: Bench

Dumbell bench:
              5 @ 13.5 kg/30 lbs
              5 @ 22.5 kg/50 lbs
              5 @ 25 kg/55 lbs
              5 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs
              0 @ 42.5 kg/94 lbs
              2 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Wide-grip pulldown (supersetted with db benches): 5x12 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Standing cable curl: 9 @ 55 kg/122 lbs

Total training time: 35 min

March 29, 2005

Hope you all had a relaxing Easter Holiday!

Filed under: General

merry protein festivities
No gangsta rabbits this year… but someone clearly had a dozen eggs too many.

March 31, 2005

Week 12: Powered by sushi

Filed under: Workouts

Thursday, 24 March 2005: Squat/Deadlift

Ichiban Sushi take away, yumyumIt’s no secret that I am a sushiopath in both life and powerlifting. On this first day of my Easter holiday, I “just happened” to steer Rufus’s pram past the newly opened Ichiban Sushi located right next to the University of Helsinki. After also stocking up on an expansion kit for Carcassonne from the neighboring board-game store, I headed home with my take away box to soy up for a quick workout. I did low box squats last week, so this time it was deadlifts again. I focused on pulling the weight off the floor as quickly as possible and stopped short of a true max.


                10,5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
                3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
                3 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
                1 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
                1 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
Dumbell side bend: 3x10 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs
Upper cable turn:
                12 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                20 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Ab crunch on curved board: 15, 12

Total training time: 37 min

Sunday, 26 March 2005

The neighborhood gym was closed today due to Easter (guess that’s as good a reason as any). Måns and I therefore contemplated other centrally located gym options and finally levitated to Töölö Gym. Boasting 2000 square meters of gym space, the largest gym in Helsinki has a lot of goodies. Among them were decline benches and modified row pulleys, but could not, unsurprisingly, spot any GHRs or reverse hypers. As I’ve only done declines off a makeshift setup they were the order of the day. I was feeling royally sleep deprived and was not too surprised when 100 kg/221 lbs got stuck on the chest. Nice gym though.

Decline bench:
                5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                2 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
                1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
                0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
Modified row cable: 3x6 @ pin in 10th hole (stack unmarked)
JM press:
                8 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                8 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
                6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
David front pulldown (iso-lateral):
                10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs per side
                6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs per side
                6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs per side
Standing barbell curl: 6,5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs

Total training time: 40 min

April 8, 2005

Week 13: Coan/Phillipi deadlift routine on the road

Filed under: Workouts

Wednesday, 30 March 2005: Coan/Phillipi deadlift, week 1

rye power girlSeven weeks after the big bang, I am quite content with being able to train twice a week. Time is now a scarce commodity and, besides, I’m not precisely Duracell Bunny (or Energizer Bunny for you American folks) incarnated anyway. Nevertheless, it is time to resume some direction in training even if it is full steam ahead in the heretical direction. You see, I am going to deadlift big time.

Sixteen months after the big hiccup I have no problems with maxing out on the box squat, but I do have some post-injury fears to conquer on the deadlift. Back injuries are notorious for leaving many patients scared of reinjury to the point that they keep protecting their back even when healed. Good idea or not, I’m going to fight fire with fire and bury myself in the deadlift for the next eleven weeks. I hope to come out the other end with re-established confidence and a bit more iron on the bar so that I can slowly start to work my way past previous PRs. I’ve settled on the Coan/Phillipi deadlift program that has a nice mix of various intensity levels, speed pulls and a good array of time proven assistance exercises. With an estimated whoppin’ 1RM of 130 kg/287 lbs at the moment, I’m setting my target at 140 kg/309 lbs. Did a script for the routine, here’s how it looks for me (kilograms, pounds).

I had to squeeze the inaugural workout of the new routine in between teaching and a parents’s meeting. Nearly didn’t make it (hey, I can shower in 30 seconds!). I was thankful the routine calls for doing the accessories in circuit fashion… Started with very conservative weight choices to ease into the greatly increased volume, but will be raising them progressively over the next couple of workouts.

Deadlift (75%): worked up to 2 @ 105 kg
Speed deadlift (60%): 8x3 @ 85 kg (90 sec rest b/w sets)
3 circuits (rest 90sec between exercises, 2-3 minutes between circuits):
          Stiff-leg deadlift: 8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
          Bent over row: 8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
          Underhand (reverse) grip lat pulldown: 8 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
          Arched back good morning off pins: 8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Total training time: 47 min

Sunday, 2 April 2005: Bench

Unlike the deadlift, I have no program here yet. I am still waiting for Sebastian Burns’s final assessment of my bench and am starting to think that my mail has been zapped by the evil Yahoo spamfilter. I could continue with the recent single day bench approach which I liked, but on the other hand I have been thinking about selecting a few full range movements (perhaps wide-grip bench, decline bench, close-grip bench and dumbell bench) and rotate those back-to-back with every other week being a max effort and the rest a 3-5RM or perhaps 5x5. I’d combine this with a floor press cycle and suitable accessory work. That said, Burns will want me to do boards no doubt. Did some paused close-grip benches followed by dumbell benches today. Wrapped up with some cuff and bodybuilding work (just for fun of course). Also snapped a picture of a poster ad for Tempo Fitness rye bread on my way out of the neighborhood gym. Rye bread is a huge thing here in Finland so there’s room even for the fitness kind…

Close-grip bench, paused:
          10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
          5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
          5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
          3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
          3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
          2 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Dumbell bench:
          5 @ 27.5 kg/61 lbs
          5 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs
          5 @ 37.5 kg/83 lbs
          2 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
2 supersets:
          Standing rope pull: 8, 5 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
          Seated preacher curl: 7,6 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs
Cable crossovers (CBCPs): 7 @ 35 kg/77 lbs

Total training time: 38 min

April 10, 2005

Week 14: Still fighting gravity

Filed under: Workouts

Folks, welcome to the new server. After a long break, Under the Bar is back stronger than ever (you can’t argue with a server that blows my laptop out of the water). I have been training as usual, whatever that means right now, and will be bringing this blog back up to speed over the next few days. [technospeak]What is annoying is that the dns for the new server has yet to resolve at my end - turns out the time to live is set to three days at my old host. One day to go. Based on server logs, much of the world is already here though.[/technospeak]

Friday, 8 April 2005: Coan/Phillipi deadlift, week 2

As the twin duo Flu and Fever kept me home from work on Monday and Tuesday, the Wednesday deadlift session landed on Friday instead. I was in a severe hurry and had to cut out one circuit on the accessories, but made up for that by increasing the weight a bit across the board. The plan is to gradually move the accessory poundage up to a serious level.

Deadlift (80%): worked up to 2 @ 112.5 kg/249 lbs
Speed deadlift (65%): 8x3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs (90 sec rest b/w sets)
2 circuits (rest 90sec between exercises, 2-3 minutes between circuits):
          Stiff-leg deadlift: 8 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
          Bent over row: 8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
          Underhand (reverse) grip lat pulldown: 8 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
          Arched back good morning off pins: 8 @ 70 kg/155 lbs

Total training time: 47 min

Sunday, 10 April 2005: Incline bench

stuck on the inclineAs I already wrote in a comment, I’m just happy to get to the gym twice a week now Rufus and all. Not expecting too much salvation for my sleep deprived soul, I have settled for a simple enough bench template: rotate flat benches, declines and inclines back to back while alternating between 1RM workouts and 3-5RM workouts. Flat 1RM, decline 3-5RM, incline 1RM, flat 3-5RM and so on… To work on my sticking point, the primary exercise is followed by floor presses and various basic accessories (like dips… long time no see). Did declines last week, so today it was inclines.

I’m not precisely known for reclining on an incline. I easily pushed up my fungus clad PR back from late 2003, 80 kg/177 lbs, but then no more. Måns to the rescue. Dips, speed floor presses and rope pulls. End of an era. You see, this was the last workout at the neighbourhood gym as they will be closing shop in late April. To honor its memory, here’s a video (3.2MB) of today’s action. Nothing special, but better than any cerial commercial on the planet.

Incline bench:
          10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
          8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
          5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
          3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
          1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
          0 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
          0 @ 82.5 kg/182 lbs
Dips: 5,4,5 @ bodyweight
Speed floor press (wide, medium, narrow): 7x3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Standing rope pull: 2x8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs

Total training time: 35 min

April 17, 2005

Week 15: The early bird and something about a worm

Filed under: Workouts

Wednesday, 13 April 2005: Coan/Phillipi deadlift, week 3

Coan/Phillipi week 3. The moment of truth is drawing closer; will my lower back be able to handle this beating and will I be able to conquer my fears of repeat injury? The odds in favor of not chickening out look good in light of the stupidly heavy pull I did three months after the injury. I still regret doing that pull and wouldn’t be too surprised if it was a contributing factor to the complications that only made my injury worse. So far things are good. 120 kg/265 lbs was decently easy and the accessories are still on the lighter side. Heck, 80 kg/177 lbs on the stiff-legs is what I routinely pull off a shaky balance board. ;-)

Deadlift (85%): worked up to 2 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
Speed deadlift (70%): 6x3 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs (90 sec rest b/w sets)
3 circuits (rest 90sec between exercises, 2-3 minutes between circuits):
          Stiff-leg deadlift: 8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
          Bent over row: 8 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
          Underhand (reverse) grip lat pulldown: 8 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
          Arched back good morning off pins: 8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 62 min

Friday, 15 April 2005: Bench

Rufus, now two months old, usually likes to kick the new day into gear anytime between 4.30 and 5.30am. That’s when dad gets out of bed to change his diaper and socialize with the broadly smiling chap. Since I’m up and Sanna needs to get up to breastfeed him anyway, I’ve begun arriving at work way before the 8am when the pupils arrive. This way I don’t need to hang around as much in the late afternoon when my helping hand at home is needed the most. I guess training at 7am is just a logical next step however twisted a thought it may be for a morning person such as yours truly. In the end, I was pleased with a 90 kg/199 lbs bench double. Nothing fantastic about it, but given the ghastly hour I had expected much worse.

          10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
          6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
          5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
          5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
          5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
          2 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Standing rope pull: 2x12 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Incline sit-up: 12, 4 (ejected as lower abs felt like ripping apart)
Standing dumbell curl: 10 @ 18.5 kg/41 lbs

Total training time: 26 min

April 23, 2005

Week 16: Last of the Circuits

Filed under: Workouts

pencil neck

Friday, 22 April 2005: Coan/Phillipi deadlift, week 4

This was the last workout in the four week lower back conditioning phase on the Coan/Phillipi deadlift program. I wouldn’t say it’s killing, but doing stiff-legged deadlifts, bent over rows, lat pulldowns and good mornings in circuit fashion certainly gives you that fuzzy burning feeling. Today’s heaviest deadlift double at 125 kg/276 lbs was not killingly heavy either, but I could definitively tell it was the heaviest weight I’ve worked with since the injury, save for that one foolish pull with a rounded back. The weights are going to drop slightly for the next two weeks, but then it will be revealed who’s going to inherit the earth as the weights will quickly ramp up to 140 kg/309 lbs.

I had the camera with me today and taped the deads plus the first accessory circuit. Looking at the footage (4.6M) you probably couldn’t tell, but I actually had a printed out copy of Mike Robertson’s excellent T-mag article Precision Pulling with me as reference for form. The place to give me a hard time about my pulling technique is the comment form below. Before anyone comments on this, let me just say that I will slowly start to drop lower on the good mornings after this gentle start. Only had time for two circuits as I had a shirt to iron in the dressing room for an evening meeting at the school.

Deadlift (90%): worked up to 2 @ 125 kg/276 lbs
Speed deadlift (75%): 6x3 @ 105 kg/232 lbs (90 sec rest b/w sets)
2 circuits (rest 90sec between exercises, 2-3 minutes between circuits):
          Stiff-leg deadlift: 8 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
          Bent over row: 8 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
          Underhand (reverse) grip lat pulldown: 8 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
          Arched back good morning off pins: 8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 65 min

April 30, 2005

Week 18: Deads before dawn

Filed under: Workouts

Monday, 30 April 2005: Coan/Phillipi deadlift, week 5

Deadlifts at 7am at the school gym is precisely the kind of activity you should not do, at least if you listen to spine expert Stuart McGill who advises everyone to avoid bending exercise in the first hour or two after rising.

[T]he intervertebral discs are highly hydrated upon rising from bed, the annulus is subjected to much higher stresses during bending under these conditions, and the end plates fail at lower compressive loads as well. Thus, performing spine-bending manouvers at this time of the day is unwise. [..] Because the discs generally lose 90% of the fluid that they will lose over the course of a day within the first hour after rising from bed, we suggest simply avoiding this period for exercise (that is, bending exercise) either for rehabilitation or performance training.
McGill, Stuart (2002): Low Back Disorders, Human Kinetics: pp. 220.

Truth be told, I wouldn’t even have considered pulling this early if it weren’t for the fact that this was a restorative workout with light weights. Still, the lifts were really slow and tedious which probably derive as much from prolonged sleep-deprivation as from the early hour. Feeling like Tin man, I decided to decimate the workout a bit stopping after the power shrugs that were now introduced into the routine. After all, rest is rest.

Deadlift (80%): worked up to 3 @ 112.5 kg/249 lbs
Speed deadlift (65%): 3x3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs (90 sec rest b/w sets)
Power shrugs (60% of current): 3x5 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs

Total training time: 35 min (?)

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