Archives for workouts (page 2)

July 1, 2006

Week 24: Healing up, not slowing down

Filed under: Workouts

Tuesday, 13 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 3, day 1 (heavy bench, light squat)

Self-made bar marksI’ve turned into a restoration nut after aquiring the first, but not surprising, overuse problems last week on the Russian routine. Lots of saunas alternating between heavy steams in the regular 80-90°C/176-194°F sauna with extended plunges in the admittedly fairly warm sea of 21°C/70°F followed by massage and generous amounts of anti-inflammatory creams, horse liniment and vitamin C (aka the everything but the kitchen sink approach). The left biceps pain had diminished a lot and I got through the heavy benching without too much pain nor strain. Couldn’t feel any pain in the groin, so went for the squats, but as the preliminary groove up sets summoned a minor pain genie, I decided to let the light squats be. My goal on this program is to not miss a single heavy workout, but I will skimp on the light ones if needed for recovery. The program itself states that this is ok, given the demanding nature of it.

This being the first benching session at Toffe’s this year, it finally dawned on me to do something I should have a long time ago. Since my generic bar doesn’t have any markings (imagine that, a stealth bar) and the knurling is actually ever so slightly uneven, I drew them up myself with a permanent marker. Not as good as the real thing as I can’t just feel my pinkies stroking the thin line etched into the steel (how kinky), but at least now my grip is precisely where I want it to be without any guesswork. Should have done this a decade ago when I first got the bar. Actually, should have gotten another bar in the first place. Come to think of it, I should have gone inte powerlifting already then. How futile is not human post-facto wisdom?

Bench: worked up to 6x5 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs
Skipped the squats due to lingering groin pain

Thursday, 15 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 3, day 2 (heavy deadlift)

Death to the mosquitosHad some light pain on the right side of the groin, but it was a huge improvement over last week. It no longer felt serious. My pulls went well and I left a few reps on the platform for later. Also did a few sets of light accessory work with a mini band, mostly L-flyes, pressdowns and pull-aparts.

On another note, the mosquitos have arrived en masse. Nothing repellent can’t take care of, but they do swarm quite a bit, especially when doing the customary evening/night lifting. Come to think of it, Mosquito Gym would actually be a cool alternative to Toffe’s Gym. In case someone hasn’t made the connection yet, Toffe is a common nickname for Kristoffer in the Swedish speaking corners of the globe. In international communication, I prefer the easier to grasp Kris though. Hmmm… Mosquito Mass Murder Gym?

Sumo deadlift: worked up to 6x5 @ 112.5 kg/248 lbs
Brief accessory work with a mini band

Saturday, 17 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 3, day 3 (heavy squat, light bench)

The groin pain was nearly gone and, praise the God of Iron, NO biceps pain at all. Aggressive massage and anti-inflammatory cream applied several times daily can do wonders. It felt really good to be able to do the light benching without soreness. The squatting was really tough today though, not so much because the reps got heavy as me running out of stamina. Took a longer break between the fourth and fifth set which helped some.

Squat, buffalo bar: worked up to 6x5 @ 100 kg/220 lbs
Bench: worked up to 6x2 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs

June 26, 2006

Week 23: Buffalo in the wild

Filed under: Workouts

Tuesday, 6 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 2, day 1 (heavy bench, light squat)

A painful session. Got some nasty straining kind of pain on the inside of my left biceps that only got worse as the sets progressed. It was worst at the bottom, resorted to letting the bar sink into the chest so I could get some momentary relief before pushing back up. I think this is primarily a side-effect of straining it with a wider than usual grip forced by circumstance in combination with the change of benching style and increased benching volume.

Happy to get through it and to the horse liniment.

Bench: worked up to 6x4 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs
Squat: worked up to 6x2 @ 100 kg/220 lbs

Thursday, 8 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 2, day 2 (heavy deadlift)

Put some heat liniment on the left biceps an hour before the workout, about how long it takes before the heat reaches full strength. Started feeling it around the fourth set of the sumo deads, but nothing too bad. What was too bad were my hips which got very tender around the groin area, but again just gritted through it. I can’t say I’m very surprised, wide stance squatting twice a week in combination with sumo deadlifts once a week is a gruelling change of pace. The challenge now is to try to heal up the biceps and hips without having to abort the program.

Sumo deadlift: worked up to 6x4 @ 112.5 kg/248 lbs

Saturday, 10 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 2, day 3 (heavy squat, light bench)

Yay!!! The first work of the year at Toffe’s Gym! Not much had changed in the pain department, still had a very tender groin region and lethally sore left biceps. A new addition to the list was a pinch of right knee pain caused by me pulling a 15 kg/33 lbs weight plate straight into it with some force yesterday. Was of course using the pride of Toffe’s for my squats, the new Buffalo Bar, but the biceps pain got worse. From the third set onwards, I moved my hands out all the way to the bar sleeves. Instant relief! This also caused the bar to sit even better over my back and shoulders. Thank God for the Buffalo, might not have gotten through this with a straight bar; the wider bar and camber, that puts the hands much lower than shoulder height, really helped. Skipped the light benching to give the biceps some additional healing time before next week’s heavy bench.

I’m videotaping all my lifts to check form, but will probably save you from monotony by waiting until the volume phase culminates at 6x6 @ 80% in week 4. Besides, I’m on dial-up here at the summer cottage.

Squat, buffalo bar: worked up to 6x4 @ 100 kg/220 lbs

June 22, 2006

Week 22: Free bird!

Filed under: Workouts

Tuesday, 30 May 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 1, day 1 (heavy bench, light squat)

An easy beginning of the Extended Russian routine, but it felt good to be doing reps with 100 kg/220 lbs, if only for doubles at these early stages. One of the main points behind embarking on the Russian routine is precisely to turn former singles weights into repping weights. Thus far, 100 kg/220 lbs has only been a single rep stop on the way up to heavier iron and I have never gone for reps. Not so long ago, it was still my squat max. Go figure.

Bench: worked up to 6x3 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs
Squat: worked up to 6x2 @ 100 kg/220 lbs

Thursday, 1 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 1, day 2 (heavy deadlift)

Tuesday’s squats may have been “light”, but I was now feeling them in my legs in the form of a nagging soreness. I was also very tired as I had lost many hours of sleep preparing for the end of the school year, was feeling that in the form of a thumping headache. The reps were on the stiff side, but I got more power into my triples towards the end of the workout.

Sumo deadlift: worked up to 6x3 @ 112.5 kg/248 lbs

Saturday, 3 June 2006: Extended Russian Routine, week 1, day 3 (heavy squat, light bench)

Light squat at the kuntotilaThis was a very special day. Many big words were uttered, loads of flowers and farewell presents exchanged hands and BAM!… school was out and I was no longer a teacher of 22 kids in the sixth grade. The feeling was quite surreal and I know I will miss them all in spite of me having had my hands more than full on several occasions. This day was also very special because it marked the beginning of a whole new lifestyle for me, that of a stay at home dad. Sanna will return to her work as a translator in the Prime Minister’s Office on September 1st, but until then we will get to spend the whole summer together as a family. As we all know, a long and paid summer vacation is one of the main reasons teachers have more fun…

The big day nearly turned into a major setback for my training. Thinking that a bulging suit pocket doesn’t look too cool when addressing the whole school and their parents, I put my wallet on a shelf in my classroom. I even said to myself that I’ll probably forget it right there. And I did. I only noticed it when I was about to dash for the bus to Metal Gym for today’s training. Luckily, Måns had scheduled a workout at the kuntotila and graciously as always picked me up. We had to move the bench a bit to clear enough room for me to squat, but we got enough plates on the bar for my 100 kg/220 lbs squats (actually, the precise weight was 100,5 kg/221 lbs…). Had to use a bit wider grip on the bench to evade the uprights and lacked explosiveness as a result. We finished about an hour after midnight. Good workout, thanks Måns for saving my etched in stone routine!

Because training at the kuntotila is always cool, I am of course releasing a snapshot of today’s workout (VIDEO, 2.3M).

Squat: worked up to 6x3 @ 100 kg/220 lbs
Bench (wider grip than usual): worked up to 6x2 @ 77.5 kg/171 lbs

June 21, 2006

A Russian twist

Filed under: General, Workouts

Maxing out may be hard on the central nervous system (CNS) and it will sometimes play with your head, but dropping down to singles above 60% of the 1RM is not precisely hard work. If you take a look back at my workouts, you will see that my total volume of training above 80% has been low, basically consisting of singles and the occasional heavy accessory work. At this time, I think there is lots to be gained by pushing up the volume and easing up on the singles for a while. Singles will improve neural efficiency and neuromuscular coordination, vital components of maximum strength, but is too heavy to increase hypertrophy and muscular strength. This is where accessory work comes into play in Westside thinking, but rarely have I been doing enough sets and reps to really give my muscles a run for whatever money they have in spite of periodic plans to crank up the assistance volume. Right now, my technique work is also in an unprecedented state: I am working with a radically new bar path and wider grip width in the bench press, am learning the sumo style of deadlifting and am getting my raw squat act together. Putting these two factors together, it makes a lot of sense to switch to a program that has me working all the three powerlifts several times weekly (technique) with a larger volume (hypertrophy, muscular strength) than now. After considering many options, I have settled for the Extended Russian Routine (calculator) after seeing it recommended by fellow Finnish raw lifters.

The Extended Russian Routine (aka Russian Extended Peaking Cycle) consists of three workouts a week for nine weeks: day 1 is heavy bench/light squat, day 2 heavy deadlift and day 3 heavy squat/light bench (note that some people prefer to squat first on day 1 in order to duplicate the competition lift order, but I prefer to follow those who focus on the heavy lift first while fresh). It’s a standard weekly rotation over seven days with one day of rest between workouts and two days of rest before starting over. The first four weeks drive up the volume from 6 sets of 3 reps to 6 sets of 6 reps (one more rep per set per week) with the weight remaining constant at 80%. After that, the volume is decreased by one set a week on the heavy lifts while the intensity is raised by 5% every week until everything culminates at a single with 105% in all three lifts. The most challenging week to me appears to be week 8 though, where you are asked to double your PR - make that and you should have 105% in the bag. The light lifts remain constant throughout the program at 6 sets of 2 reps at 80%, but the weights are liable to feel lighter as everything else is pushed through the roof. With no deload/lightened weeks in sight, this is a rough program that leaves little room for soreness and aches, although it’s OK to occassionally skimp on the light sets if needed. This is especially challenging as the sumo deadlift hits much the same muscles as the squat. If assistance work is done, it must be brief enough not to cut into the recovery between workouts.

There you have it. Here’s my cycle based on a projected 127.5 kg/281 lbs squat max, a bench max lightened to 97.5 kg/215 lbs to take the new technique into account and a current sumo deadlift max of 140 kg/308 lbs. Successful completion would mean reaching my deadlift goal, moving up to my old bench PR in the new tuck and flare style and finally transfering that 130 kg/286 lbs parallel box squat to a free squat while laying a solid muscular ground for added strength gains. Wish me luck.

1 BP: 6x3@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 6x3@112.5kg/248lb (80%) SQ: 6x3@100kg/220lbs (80%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
2 BP: 6x4@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 6x4@112.5kg/248lbs (80%) SQ: 6x4@100kg/220lbs (80%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
3 BP: 6x5@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 6x5@112.5kg/248lbs (80%) SQ: 6x5@100kg/220lbs (80%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
4 BP: 6x6@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 6x6@112.5kg/248lbs (80%) SQ: 6x6@100kg/220lbs (80%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
5 BP: 5x5@82.5kg/182lbs (85%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 5x5@120kg/264lbs (85%) SQ: 5x5@107.5kg/237lbs (85%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
6 BP: 4x4x87.5kg/193lbs (90%)
SQ:6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 4x4@127.5kg/281lbs (90%) SQ: 4x4@115kg/253lbs (90%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
7 BP: 3x3x92.5kg/204lbs (95%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 3x3@135kg/297lbs (95%) SQ: 3x3@120kg/264lbs (95%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
8 BP: 2x2x97.5kg/215lbs (100%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 2x2@142.5kg/314lbs (100%) SQ: 2x2@127.5kg/281lbs (100%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)
9 BP: 1x1@102.5kg/226lbs (105%)
SQ: 6x2@100kg/220lbs (80%)
DL: 1x1@150kg/330lbs (105%) SQ: 1x1@132.5kg/292lbs (105%)
BP: 6x2@77.5kg/171lbs (80%)

At the time of writing, I have just begun week 4. This blog is engaged in hot pursuit.

June 17, 2006

Week 21: Sumo deadlift baseline

Filed under: Workouts

Tuesday, 23 May 2006: ME Bench

Got Måns into a little behind the neck pressing challenge - figured I might have a good shot at it despite him outbenching me by some 20 kg/44 lbs. I got left in the chalk dust as he worked up to an easy enough 85 kg/187 lbs rep. 70 kg/154 lbs felt like it would go up, but I experienced some technical difficulties of an unheard magnitude. The sad truth is revealed in this week’s video summary (3M). Expended all my energy on that set and had nothing further to give.

Behind-the-neck press:
              5 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
              3 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
              1 @ 50 kg/110 lbs
              1 @ 60 kg/132 lbs
              2x0 @ 70 kg/154
              0 @ 67.5 kg/149 lbs
              3 @ 60 kg/132 lbs
Seated plate raise: 2x10 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Chest supported T-bar row: 7,7,7,6 @ 60 kg/132 lbs
Reverse-grip pulldown:
              5 @ 18th (90 kg/198 lbs?)
              2x8 @ 16th (80 kg/176 lbs?)
Seated L-flye: 15 @ 7 kg/15 lbs dumbell
Close-grip bench, feet on bench: 10 @ 60 kg/132 lbs
Standing EZ-bar curl: 6 @ 38 kg/84 lbs

Saturday, 27 May 2006: ME Squat/Deadlift

Setting up for a new PR attemptLike so many before me, I am now officially going to switch to sumo deadlifting due to recurrent back trouble which prevents me from getting away with conventional deadlifts for any length of time. I still believe the only real way to test one’s manhood (or womanhood as it may be) in the deadlift is using the conventional style, but if I am to remain in the three lift game and eventually get as far as a meet, I need to sissy out and embrace the sumo. My goal is very simple: put up a new PR (at least 150 kg/330 lbs) no later than the end of August and avoid the seriously debilitating back pain relapses that have haunted me for the last years. The pattern has always been that my back has started to feel better towards late spring and I have started to go heavy on the deadlift again, only to meet my back maker in August (2004, 2005). I have been in the game for much longer now that I have learned to avoid tons of flexion, but to date the longest period I have been able to work the deadlift is the time between the beginning of powerlifting in May 2003 and the good morning injury of December 2003. Hence my current PR, 145 kg/320 lbs set in the conventional style, dates from just before that injury. I sometimes imagine what poundages I would have on the bar had the two and a half intervening years been injury free, but I am still here and that’s all that matters.

Today’s workout was very encouraging in light of my goal, thanks to stronger hips and legs courtesy of the recent good progress in the squat variations. I worked up to a max in the sumo style in order to get a baseline for the new program I am about to embark on. Being a sumo newbie, my technique probably leaves a lot to be desired, but I hauled 140 kg/308 lbs easily enough for me to attempt a new PR of 147.5 kg/325 lbs (that’s assuming I was using a 20 kg/44 lbs bar, haven’t weighted it). It got off the ground, but not much higher. I believe motor learning and increasing familiarity with the lift will easily put another 10 kg/22 lbs on the bar. I am thus [secretly] shooting for a PR a bit higher than 150 kg/330 lbs by the end of August. If you didn’t already catch it, you can critique my technique by watching this week’s video summary (3M). One thing is obvious though, I still have the tendency to pick it up with my back instead of driving with the legs.

Sumo deadlift:
              several sets @ 60 kg/132 lbs to work technique
              3 @ 70 kg/154 lbs
              3 @ 80 kg/176 lbs
              1 @ 90 kg/198 lbs
              1 @ 100 kg/220 lbs
              1 @ 110 kg/242 lbs
              1 @ 120 kg/264 lbs
              1 @ 130 kg/286 lbs
              1 @ 140 kg/308 lbs
              0 @ 147.5 kg/325 lbs
              0 @ 142.5 kg/314 lbs
Reverse hyper: 15 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Band crunch leaning against post: 12 @ light band

June 15, 2006

Week 20: Bench overhaul

Filed under: Workouts

Wednesday, 17 May 2006: Bench

I have spent a good deal of time analyzing and honing my benching technique, but results have hung around 100 kg/220 lbs for longer than I care to remember. My sticking point has always been about midway, right where the weight is transferred from the pecs to the deltoids. The obvious conclusion is that I need stronger delts.

The less obvious conclusion is that there might be ways of altering my benching form to give better leverage to the delts. Eons ago, it was suggested to me that allowing the bar to drift back towards the head and flaring the elbows could help me overcome my sticking point; at that time I shrugged it off because I didn’t feel ready to radically mess with the straight-line tucked elbows style I had worked so hard on. The circle finally closed as I was watching the NASA (Natural Athlete Strength Association) DVD Monster Bench Press & Monster Bench Press Assistance Program the other day. On that tape, Rich Peters states that nine times out of ten, people who miss their lift in a meet miss it right at the transition from pec to deltoid. He blames this on poor bar path, namely trying to push the bar up in a straight line. Not only that, but apparently a straight bar path is also linked to sore shoulders, rotator cuff problems and the dreaded pec/deltoid tie-in tear. He advocates driving the bar back towards the eyes in a roughly 45 degree angle, something that is easy to practice with a stick resting lightly in the V of the hand as to move immediately if the bar travels into it.

Rich Peters checks bar path with a stick
[source: N.A.S.A.Monster Bench Press & Monster Bench Press Assistance Program DVD]

That tape, transferred from VHS to DVD by Crain’s Muscle World, was apparently shot in the mid 1990s and was geared towards raw and single-ply lifters (as a sign of its time, it should be noted that the word “arch” is never mentioned on the whole tape and the discussion on bar path doesn’t go far beyond the angle of descent and ascent). Now, a decade later, letting the bar drift back towards the face while flaring the elbows out has become fashionable thanks to Bill Crawford and the Metal Militia. In fact, many Westside Barbell lifters have followed suit by ditching the hallmark Westside style of benching where the bar travels in a straight line, feet are kept wide out in front and a very moderate arch is used.There are of course several ways that the bench can be set up by manipulating the feet, arch, bar path and hand positioning variables - take for instance JM Blakley who advocates a severe arch combined with a totally straight bar path with feet retracted on the toes and using the maximum legal grip - but due to perhaps popularity and general impact, the Metal Militia and Westside Barbell styles of benching have come to symbolize polar opposite styles. Whereas the Westside/straight line benching style effectively minimizes the range of motion, the Metal Militia/tuck and flare style drives the bar more efficiently into the support of a bench shirt by taking the bar down very low while arguably providing better leverage towards the lockout. Just how different they are can be appreciated by comparing these screenshots.

Jim Wendler demonstrates the Westside bench style

The classic Westside Barbell benching style bottom and lockout position demonstrated by Jim Wendler. [source: EliteFTS Exercise Index Bench Press DVD]

Sebastian Burns's bar path
Metal Milita lifter Sebastian Burns doing his thing. [source: Advanced Bench Press DVD]

Jim Wendler demonstrates the Metal Militia bench style
Jim Wendler in the bottom and lockout position in the Metal Militia style of benching. [source: EliteFTS Exercise Index Bench Press DVD]

In a nutshell, after slavically following the Westside straight-line benching style, I will now make the transition to a Metal Militia cum NASA inspired style. There are no guarantees that this will be a successful move. My bench will be in disarray for the next couple of months or so as I relearn my technique, but if it turns out that it gives me a leverage curve more suited to my strengths it will be more than worth it. On the other hand, if it proves to be a bad move, I can always go back to what I did before much wiser than I am now. How do you know when your bench technique is optimal? When you have tried them all, I say. Makes me wonder how many people have just concluded that the conventional or sumo deadlift style is what they are most suited for based on, say, anatomical features without actually giving both techniques a serious shot. I know I have, but now that my lower back is no longer what it should be I am forced to find out, but that’s for another entry.

Unsurprisingly, today’s workout inaugurated the laborious transition to the new style. Arching severely tends to kill my lower back, but am definitively shooting for a bit more than previously by making sure that I have both a lower and upper back arch with the weight on the upper traps as usual. I also like to keep my heels on the ground, but am bringing them in behind my knees to the position recommended on the NASA tape. Both the NASA tape and the Metal Militia DVD recommend tucking the wrists back when touching for different reasons (”controlling leverage” and “making it easier to touch with a shirt on”), but so far I am keeping my wrists straight. During the transition period, I will naturally lose some weight on the bar, but if everything goes well I should gradually build back up and beyond what I benched in the straight line style with feet out. I am also starting to set up the Metal Militia way, i.e. pulling myself up with an underhand grip towards the bar, putting the head down on the bench, retracting the shoulder blades before setting the upper back down on the bench and gripping the bar with a competition grip. Today’s video (4.9M) features a lot of technique practice and a few tricks of the trade, namely the above mentioned stick benching and Jim Wendler’s trick to find out where precisely the sweet spot to lockout is.

Bench, technique practice: lots of sets with light weights, worked up to a test with 90 kg/198 lbs
Standing barbell curl: worked up to 4 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Dumbell bench: worked up to 1 @ 41 kg/90 lbs (bummer!)
Metal iso-lateral shoulder press: 6 @ 30 kg/66 lbs per side
Close-grip pulldown: 10 @ 14th (70 kg/154 lbs?)
Metal cable preacher curl: 10 @ 3 plates

Saturday, 20 May 2006: Squat

I was really confused with my stance today and had a hard time getting my squat act together. I went for a new PR, but didn’t get to the carrot.

                5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                5 @ 50 kg/110 lbs
                3 @ 60 kg/132 lbs
                1 @ 70 kg/154 lbs
                1 @ 80 kg/176 lbs
                1 @ 90 kg/198 lbs
                1 @ 100 kg/220 lbs
                1 @ 110 kg/242 lbs (belt on)
                1 @ 120 kg/264 lbs
                0 @ 125 kg/275 lbs
Dumbell step-ups on bench: 12 steps (6 per leg) @ 18.5 kg/41 lbs dumbells
2 supersets:
        Seated band leg curl: 2x15 @ doubled mini
        Standing cable crunch with stability ball: 2x10 @ 10th (50 kg/110 lbs?)

May 27, 2006

Week 19: Deload fun with max reps

Filed under: Workouts

Wednesday, 10 May 2006 (?): Bench deload

Set out to shatter the stability ball dumbell bench rep max I set during the previous deload. Got 29 reps with the 23.5 kg/52 lbs then, now raised the bar for the next deload with 22 reps with the 26 kg/57 lbs bells. We are pleased.

Dumbell bench on stability ball: worked up to 22 @ 26 kg/57 lbs (PR)
Dumbell flye on stability ball: 2x15 @ 11 kg/24 lbs
Metal iso-lateral seated row: 2x15 @ 25 kg/55 lbs per side
Cable crossover lying rear delt flye: 12 @ 15 kg/33 lbs (per side)
Lying cable curl:
                8 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
                12 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Pressdown in lat pulley: 20 @ 5th (25 kg/55 lbs?)

Friday, 12 May 2006: Squat deload

Grinding out glute ham raisesUp and down, up and down, up and down… before I knew it, I had pumped out 31 reps on the GHR. That’s a four rep gain over the previous rep max. Caught it on video (3.5M) this time, critique welcome as usual. Wrapped up with a few light sets of reverse hypers, then off into a looooong shower.

GHR, narrow: 31 reps @ bodyweight (PR)
Reverse hyper:
                15 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
                2x15 @ 30 kg/66 lbs

May 26, 2006

Week 18: Mud racing

Filed under: Workouts

Thursday, 4 May 2006: ME Bench

Press launched into orbitLast week was lethargic, this was a bit worse. It could be the increasingly hectic pace at work as we are nearing the end of the school year or just creeping death (also known as overtraining), but the fact remains… I thought I was capable of a bit more, but bumped up my PR on the seated pin press to 75 kg/166 lbs (VIDEO, 618K) and then went bodybuilding for a good pump.

Seated pin press, chin height:
                10 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
                5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                1 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                1 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                1 @ 75 kg/166 lbs (PR)
Metal iso-lateral shoulder press: 2x15 @ 20 kg/44 lbs per side
Parallel grip pulldown: 2x15 @ 12th (60 kg/133 lbs?)
Lying L-flye: 2x15 @ 5 kg/11 lbs
Standing alternate dumbell curl: 10 @ 16 kg/35 lbs

Saturday, 6 May 2006: ME Squat

Sluggishness aside, I figured I’d improve on my 13″ box squat PR a bit. Didn’t get good drive off the box and paid the price in forward lean. 135 kg/298 lbs went straight into the pins. That’s it, deload week next.

Box squat, 13″:
                5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                2 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
                1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
                1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs (belt on)
                1 @ 115 kg/254 lbs
                1 @ 125 kg/276 lbs
                0 @ 135 kg/298 lbs
                0 @ 132.5 kg/293 lbs
Standing cable crunch with stability ball: 8 @ 9th (45 kg/99 lbs?)

May 6, 2006

Week 17: Sore, tired, but somewhat enlightened

Filed under: Workouts

Thursday, 27 April 2006: Bench weakpoint day

Nothing like pumping the hell out of thight biceps. I did the standard barbell curls and dumbell benches with bands, even got a nice increase on them, then left the guns alone. Worked light on the accessories; realized that sitting down on the plate raises makes the exercise MUCH harder. Not that I have been swaying around doing them standing, but there’s a world of difference between a little well intended momentum and none at all.

4 supersets:
          Standing barbell curl: 5,5,5,6 @ 42.5 kg/94 lbs
          Dumbell bench:
                6,5,6 @ 28.5 kg/63 lbs + light band
                5 @ 36 kg/80 lbs
Seated plate raise: 3x10 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Incline rear delt dumbell raise: 3x12 @ 5 kg/11 lbs
Pressdown in lat pulley: 9 @ 8th

Saturday, 29 April 2006: DE Squat

jiaoyiThis session almost buried me. I had a feeling I was not quite recovered, but only realized how sluggish my legs were when the speed box squat felt like near max work. The idea was to work on unracking the bar cleanly with the legs insted of partially picking the weight off the rack with the back (for reference, see how I set up my squat with NO leg movement whatsoever on the recent high-box video). I don’t think I have a serious problem there, but the NASA video made me aware of this tendency that usually results in the lifter being slightly bent over when the attempt begins. In a meet, this could result in red lights, especially if the knees are not properly straightened. Stubbornly finished the [low]speed work, then did some light pumping accessories. Still, they killed me some more.

Contrary to what one might expect given the aforementioned dire circumstances, this workout expanded my powerlifting mind. A guy, whose path I have never crossed at this very late hour at Metal Gym, was in there working up towards a new PR on the squat. It was his final session after a brutal high-volume squat program done together with one of the gym’s elite squatters and he was looking to smash his 160 kg/354 lbs personal best. Once he was up at 170 kg/376 lbs he asked if I could spot him. Truth be told, I haven’t done a lot of spotting on the squat, but I do know how it is done. He made the lift unassisted and then loaded up for 180 kg/398 lbs. The lift was a bit high, but, save for some help in getting the bar back into the rack, he got it by himself. Next, he dropped the weight back to 160 kg/354 lbs for a double. During the lift I was keeping a close eye on the bar since it is a good indicator of how the lift is going. Some straining, but he got the first rep. On the second rep, the bar rolled down a good bit which in turn pushed him forward into a nosedive. Right then and there, even before my arms left his chest and the bar was back where it started, I realized that I had just seen an aspect of the squat that I had never thought about. And I had seen it from the best perspective possible, merely inches away. Limited as my experience may be, I am now convinced that one of the best ways of observing the mechanics of a squat and what can go wrong is to spot plenty of squats. Breathe up the neck of a squatter if you will. It would be a folly to think that the best gains and insights are made when training in solitude. Think about it, what would you learn more from: a) observing just clips of your own lifts or b) also being part of a lifting collective that includes spotting, observing the lifts of a small horde of lifters every week and casual gym discussions about technique? As much as I enjoy the moonlight sessions together with Måns, I have decided to reschedule at least some of my weekly sessions in the autumn to coincide with the time when the gym is full of life. I will be home with Rufus full-time beginning September 1st; this means Sanna can relieve me after she comes home from work.

I learned two important things today, namely that the education of a powerlifter is a social endevour and that having the bar roll down your back can kill you in a really bad way.

Speed box squat: 7x2 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
GHR, narrow: 2x15
Standing cable crunch with stability ball: 3x10 @ 8th (40 kg/88 lbs?)
Reverse hyper: 12 @ 40 kg/88 lbs

April 29, 2006

Week 16: Higher ground

Filed under: Workouts

Saturday, 22 April 2006: ME Bench

Prime pieces of workout action

Bench day, back to the widened grip. Based on a radical loss of speed similar to illegal wide benching and some acute shoulder discomfort as the bar drifted towards the throat as I missed the last attempt, I have some reason to suspect that I took my middle fingers for my ring fingers. Can’t really tell from the clip (6.9M). Be that as it may, the only fingers I want on the ring for now is the ring fingers. I sense a faint… association.

Followed up with a standard array of accessories. The seated pin presses went well. Not having a board handy, I rigged them up the usual way with a short curl bar as the back rest; only nose-haters do these off an incline bench. Got 3x5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs. Any guesses on what my max will be next ME workout when I will do this one first in the workout for a single? For reference, the best I’ve ever done is 2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs.

Bench (middle fingers on rings, no speed):
                  worked up to 2 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
                  0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
4 supersets:
        Seated pin press:
                  5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                  3x5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
        Chest supported T-bar row: 4x8 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
2 supersets:
        Close-grip pulldown: 2x10 @ ??? (forgot to write down)
        Cable crossover lying rear delt flye: 2x10 @ 15 kg/33 lbs (per side)
Metal cable preacher curl: 15 @ 3 plates

Sunday, 23 April 2006: ME Squat

High box squat, westside cambered bar squat and walking dumbell lunges

I love to squat. After being sidetracked for so long, it feels great to surf on a good gain wave again. If anything, this high box squat session boosted my confidence even more. Got a good shot at 150 kg/332 lbs, alas… As the video (7.3M) will no doubt reveal, the attempts were very uneven; just look at the contrast between the 140 kg/309 lbs that I nearly dumped forward and the subsequent easy 145 kg/320 lbs follow-up. I have since reflected a bit on my form, especially in regard to how I set-up, after having watched the excellent NASA DVD Trouble Shooting Your Own Lifts. I will experiment a bit during DE day and return with my observations in the next weekly installment. The next two ME sessions, I will set a new parallel box PR (shooting for 135-140 kg/298-309 lbs) before annihilating the contemptibly small 120 kg/265 lbs squat record from February. That’s the plan anyway.

Feeling quite beat after the last three high box attempts, I was happy with a sloppy set of Westside cambered bar squats and an even sloppier set of walking dumbell lunges across the gym. I must have taken a somewhat longer stride (go glutes, go!) this time, because I only got 15 steps in as opposed to the usual 16. Trying to look good on camera, eh? Eh? Got a long way to go, Mister. Mango soup anyone? Reverse hypers and out seconds before midnight.

Box squat, ~17″:
                  5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                  3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                  3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                  3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
                  3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
                  3 @ 100 kg/221 lbs (belt on)
                  2 @ 110 kg/243 lbs PR!
                  2 @ 120 kg/265 lbs PR!
                  1 @ 130 kg/287 lbs PR!
                  1 @ 140 kg/309 lbs PR!
                  1 @ 145 kg/320 lbs PR!
                  0 @ 150 kg/332 lbs
Full westside cambered bar squat, close stance: 8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Walking dumbell lunge: 15 @ 13.5 kg/30 lbs dumbells
Reverse hyper: worked up to 6 @ 65 kg/144 lbs

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