June 26, 2006

18 responses to Week 23: Buffalo in the wild

  1. Doug Schmid Says:

    Ignore the above comments…You are obviously very dedicated, but you are not getting the return on your investment of time, energy and sweat that you are putting forth. My advice is to order Stuart McRobert’s book “Brawn”. When the book arrives, STOP TRAINING for a week and read it cover to cover. Think about what you’ve read and then begin a simple abbreviated training program. Forget Westside, Russian volume and all the rest. Most average people, myself included, do not get results from these programs, but instead end up weaker and/or injured. The aches and pains you are experiencing in your bicep and hips are NOT normal and are warning flags from your body to stop doing what you are doing. I wish you the best in your training and I hope you see the light. Take this advice and you won’t be sorry. Regards.

  2. Kris Says:

    For the record, I have deleted the three extremely offensive comments from a reader in Iasi, Romania. Any more like that, and I’m banning all IPs from that part of the globe from my domain, period. To that reader I just want to say that if you don’t like the responses you get to your comments, please just take it in stride. :-)

    Doug, thanks for your suggestion. I am familiar with Stuart McRobert’s ideas on weight training and his take on what it takes to develop naturally. I would be curious to hear whether you are using his ideas for powerlifting and if so, how you have structured your program. The biceps and hip pain were indeed warning flags that the volume was getting to me, but as of this writing I have cleared up both of the problems without having to abandon my program.

  3. Doug Schmid Says:

    Any guy that would construct an outdoor gym on a remote island is truly obsessed (in a good way). A little about myself: I am 46 years old and have been training in a “hardgainer” style for about 15 years. The hardest thing was backing off on my desire to go to the gym 5-6 days a week. I am 5′10″ and 195 lbs. I was about your age with a newborn son when I started so I know where you are coming from. I train 3 days a week. Sunday- squats, Tuesday- bench, Thursday- deadlifts. Your basic powerlifting program using 2 top worksets and assistance work. Start off with 80% of your 5 rep max and over the weeks, add 5 lbs a week to your squat and deadlift and 2 lbs a week to your bench. Its about adding weight slowly, letting your body adapt and getting stronger by eating (not to much) and sleeping. You will hear all kinds of reasons why this is not a good program, mostly from guys that can grow by only looking at a weight. My best numbers are 295 bench, 405 squat and 495 deadlift. Hardly the big numbers you see at Westside. These were achieved at different times, not at the same time. I use knee wraps, chalk and a good powerbelt. I enjoy your posts and wish you the best whatever you choose. I hope you don’t mind if I correspond from time to time. I train alone in my garage so its nice to talk to someone who is dedicated and thinks things through. Regards.

  4. Kris Says:

    Doug, I wish more first time commenters would give the kind of background info you just did, thanks! It’s just that much more rewarding to communicate with people you know a little about.

    Those are very respectable numbers for someone who, from the sound of it, is a natural lifter. Westside is advertised as a club who can turn any dedicated lifter into a great one, but quite frankly, they are playing a very different game than you and me. That said, I have seen enough natural lifters make good gains using Westside, and other typical powerlifting protocols, to make it very hard for me to declare them a waste of time even if they might come with a moderately high risk of injury and overtraining due to the recurrent heavy loading. My evidence is scant due to the recurrent back problems, but Westside appears to work well for my squat and deadlift. It’s too early to tell where it will all go, but having come half way through the Russian program, I am very impressed with how my explosiveness is increasing. This might have to do with just getting around to doing the lifts much more frequently (effective motor learning) and finally getting enough sleep, but we’ll see where it goes.

    I don’t think there exists a protocol that works universally well for everyone and am more than willing to recognize the chance that these methods might not be the best way for me to train and that I really might make better gains following a more abbreviated training style like you describe. I’m definitively curious and might give it a go. Would need to get those famous 1 lbs plates first though, I actually have them with the smaller hole from my teen bodybuilding days when I periodically played around with shooting for small but regular weight increases instead of the “standard” 2.5 kg/5 lbs jumps. Never followed the HIT/hardgainer philosophy to a T though and never tried this for pure strength gains as you describe.

    Did I understand you correctly in that your two top worksets are always 2 sets of 5? Are you doing any singles at all? How much accessory work and how heavy?

    Being an obsessed home gym fanatic, I am also curious about what kind of garage setup you have. Like you say, anyone who bothers setting up their own gym is likely to be one dedicated nut. ;-) And yes, I definitively don’t mind further communication, quite the contrary! Best of luck with your training!

  5. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    Alternative to not putting the bar on your back at all is on Dave Draper’s site. It is called a Top Squat, which turns your straight bar into an SSB. Heal up, Kris.

  6. Kris Says:

    Never heard of the Top Squat before, looks very cool. Fairly expensive though, $149 for the polyurethane version and $89 for the metal version. I am guessing this doesn’t really compare to a true Safety Squat Bar as far as the weight distribution is concerned (the Top Squat seems to place the weight backwards thus helping to keep the squatter more erect, whereas the SSB is known to heavily shift the weight forward due to the camber and placement of the handles), but it does seem to take the shoulders and biceps totally out of it. Nice. Anyone here tried one?

  7. Mike Says:

    That Russian routine is a classic. I alternated it with Kortes’ 3x3 a few years back with good results. I oalso own the book Brawn and it is a good read. It’s just one of those things though that either will or won’t work for your body.

  8. Scott Says:

    haven’t tried either the Top Squat or SSB, and am also keen to hear of any experiences. One thing to note : the Top Squat is only an attachment, so wouldn’t the design of the bar itself determine the weight distribution in the squat? I’m assuming here that it can be easily used with cambered bars.

  9. Kris Says:

    Mike, did you do any light/restorative workouts in between the Russian routine and Korte? Did you rotate them several times? Off hand, which routine do you think is more challenging? Once I finish the Russian routine, I plan to get a few thorough massages and then do about two weeks of lightened work before beginning something else, possibly Korte lest my back needs a break from all the deadlifting.

    Scott, I think the handle itself also plays a significant role in altering the weight distribution as it allows the bar to be pushed back much further than would be possible without it. A Safety Squat Bar without the handles would probably not feel much different than a regular bar despite the small camber at the ends - the handles are attached to the bar so that the camber will actually come out in front as opposed to hanging straight up and down, this is why the SSB will really shift the weight forward (here’s a couple of good pics that shows this well: pic1, pic2). The lack of forward pointing camber when attached to a regular bar is really why a Top Squat is bound to be very different, and much easier on the posterior chain, than a true SSB. I am also guessing that the Top Squat would not snap unto my Buffalo due to the camber not fitting it while something like a Westside Cambered Bar would be too thick as it seems the Top Squat is only designed for standard 1 1/16th” bar. I’m really eager to hear Alberto’s thoughts on his new SSB Yoke bar. Still waiting for it to arrive?

  10. Alberto Caraballo Says:

    I guess Elite is shipping everything at once - - - UPS freight has me down for a July 5th delivery. Within a week I’ll post pictures and take the SSB bar for a spin for a review.

  11. Mike Says:

    When doing both on tuesday/thursday/saturday I ran 110 yard sprints timed for 15 trips. I also stretched 6x a week. When doing thr Russian Routine I included weighted dips and pull ups on monday and friday and heavy ab work all 3 days. When on Korte I did the same minus the additional weight training stuff but had some changes. I did dls off 2x45 plates, rotated regular bench, close grip bench, and illegal wides each workout, did narrow stance high bar squats, regular squats and pause squats on each day. One cycle I did dl off plates, regular dl, and sumo deadlift one style per day. I was a 198 then and hit 550/275/550 in an IPF sanctioned Armed Forces meet. But for the most part, I used that russian routine for a long time.

  12. Kris Says:

    Alberto, makes sense to ship that much heavy stuff in one go, but it must suck to wait for all the goodies that long. Must be like a six-year old waiting for Christmas.

    Mike, thanks for the detail. With my current lousy GPP, those sprints in addition to the Russian routine would kill me. Did you work the Russian for as long as you could get through it? Also, if I may ask, in what part of the Army did you serve? As a small country with a history of clashes with our neighbor Russia, we have compulsory service here in Finland. I was a field engineer sergeant so I got to do a lot of explosives and mines in addition to stuff like bridge building and driving attack boats. Sad as it is, Finland and Latvia are the only EU countries who have yet to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. The current official policy is that it will happen in 2012, but the date might just be pushed back a bit more again, it used to be 2006. The quasi-official reason is that mines would be the only way Finland could defend the 1000km long border with Russia given our much smaller army (also Russia, like the US and China, are also among those who haven’t signed it). Let’s keep politics out of this blog, but as a sidenote let me just say that my experience with mines has led me to be a firm proponent for a global ban. It’s kind of a paradox that there needs to be rules for war, but civilians need to be protected and mines just do a poor job at that. Now back to lifting matters. :-)

  13. Mike Says:

    Sorry took so long to respond. I did the full Russian routine twice through and did Korte for almost a year! I always really pushed weighted dips, and weighted pull ups along with some variety of the core lifts while doing Korte and the Russian Routine. As for the Army, I was in Germany, Albania, Kosovo, Northern Africa, a couple other places:-), and finished up in California.

  14. Kris Says:

    Cool, might well do another iteration of the Russian one after a short break, or perhaps do like you and push a cycle of Korte in between. Can’t say long term, but at least short term I seem to be responding very well to this. My technique is also starting to feel a lot more solid in all the lifts, simply because I am doing them every week.

  15. Doug Schmid Says:

    Hello Kris,
    I wanted to get back to you sooner, but we were on our July 4th Holiday. Your question: “Did I understand you correctly in that your two top worksets are always 2 sets of 5? Are you doing any singles at all? How much accessory work and how heavy?”
    Yes, two top work sets are plenty once the poundages go up and the work gets harder. The beginning weeks are easier and provide a running start. I do two sets of five, however as the weights increase I will shoot for 5 reps on the first set and whatever I can get on the second set. Once I have met my new 5 rep goal, I will typically spend another 2-3 weeks going for max triples, doubles and singles, then backing down again and starting over with a goal of adding 3-5% on the old max.(I don’t always get there by the way) Accessory work is usually 2-3 sets of 8-10 reps, again pretty standard.
    Also, I was checking out your latest videos and your form on all your lifts looks very good. I think you will see your poundages go up as a result. Just be careful as you start adding weight on your Russian program since you have been using the same weight for the last few weeks and will be increasing rather quickly. I guess I’m a bit cautious but I feel that it’s important if you want to be able to lift for many years.
    Now a final thought: You mentioned that you have really been paying attention to recovery; restorative massage, hot and cold showers, linament and more restful sleep. That is huge! My theory is that if you did less volume in your workouts with the same attention to recovery, you would progress faster. Just a thought. As always best of luck with your training. I will get off my soapbox for now and look forward to talking to you in the future.

  16. Kris Says:

    Doug, thanks for the clarification! One thing I’m still unsure about is whether your accessory work is a total of 2-3 sets or 2-3 sets for a few lifts? The added restoration work has definitively been important, without it I would probably have been dead in the water already. My body does seem to be able to cope with the program much better now, no joint pain any more and am experiencing much less soreness. In retrospect, it might have been a good idea to ease into the increased volume in the competition lifts though. So far, I haven’t really felt any impact from the increased weights, if anything the program seems to get a bit easier now that the volume is dropping down. This might have a lot to do with the fact that it is coming closer to my regular mode of training, 6x6 was a killer. So far the weights have not been a problem either, but the last week’s are definitively going to be tougher.

  17. Doug Schmid Says:

    Pick 3 supplementary exercises for 3 sets of 8-12 reps each.
    For your final weeks on the Russian program: Right before you get under the bar, take a minute and visualize yourself blasting through each rep. Then stay tight and push hard! Now is the time you will build new strength and muscle. Keep us posted.

  18. Kris Says:

    Alberto now has the promised pic of his shiny new gym up. Awesome!! :-) :-)

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