I’ve backed off the training a bit this week. The gym opened last Wednesday so I’ve been spending a ton of time there hustling up clients. My schedule is kinda messed up but I’ll do what I have to do. As of right now I can not deadlift at the gym because there is no platform or bumper plates. I’m thinking I may have to reserve one night per week to lift at my usual gym where I can squat and deadlift in the same night then bench and do all my accessory work at the gym I work at.
The only organized training I’ve done so far this week is a little bench where I hit 185 for 3 sets of 2 and then some dips and chins. Yesterday morning I did a little squatting but I didn’t have a box so I just worked up to 275 for 2 and called it good. It wasn’t exactly heavy but I was training at 7 in the morning on an empty stomach so I didn’t feel real strong to begin with.
135 x 3
225 x 2
275 x 1
315 x 1
365 x 1
405 x miss
405 x miss
135 x 5
185 x 5, 5
Close Grip Pulldown-
4 sets of 12
After talking to the guys I train with and because I want to compete in some strongman I decided I’m going to work back to pulling conventional on the DL. I’m actually pretty damn happy with how last night went. I’ve never pulled over 340 on the conventional DL so 365 was great. My first attempt at 405 I actually had it a couple inches off the ground but I just couldn’t finish it. I’ll be working on those and my oly squat over the next couple months. The thing I have the hardest time with is keeping my ass down at the beginning of the pull.
Ever since we started researching diet, exercise, and health we’ve always tried to find the one thing that will answer most, if not all of our problems. That’s why we every month we end up demonizing one particular nutrient or training method and blame a whole host of problems on them.
Over the years we’ve demonized fat, squats, and all other kinds of stuff. We’ve also tried taking a single nutrient or training method and painted them as the end-all-be-all of fitness and health.
Guess what, it’s all wrong.
We spend so much time breaking everything down and trying to find the one element of each that is either causing all the problems or creating all the benefits that we forget one important aspect:
The Sum is Greater than the Whole of It’s Parts
There is a reason that a man made antioxidant supplement doesn’t work nearly as well as actually eating a large variety of high quality fruits and veggies. It’s not about one single cog, it’s about how it works with the rest of the machine. Even though we’ve been making and researching supplements for the past 20+ years, we’re still rank amateurs compared to mother nature. Weighing and measuring poor quality food will get you far less results than focusing on eating the highest quality, highest nutrient per calorie foods.
That’s why leg pressing is an incredibly poor substitute for squats and the lat pulldown and the pec dec are poor substitutes for chins/pull ups and dips/push ups. They may use the same muscles, but the hormonal response, adaptive response, and calorie expenditure for each exercise are COMPLETELY different. If you want to build a great body with just machines you’re going to need to spend a couple grand and invest hours upon hours in the gym to get there. Conversely you can spend a fraction of that time and money to build an even better body (in my opinion) with some simple tools like barbells, body weight, and sandbags and focusing on big movements like squats, deadlifts, cleans, pull ups/chins, push ups/dips, and loaded carries.
What’s the point of looking good if you are still weak and not able to perform when it counts? Put down the psuedo-foods and step away from the pseudo-fitness machines and opt for more organic fruits, veggies, meats and fats then kick your fitness into overdrive with some squats, dips, pull ups and sled dragging! There are no magic bullets or shortcuts. It’s time to do the work!
Paused Wide Grip Bench-
135 x 5
155 x 5
185 x 5, 5
135 x 8
185 x 8, 8, 8
155 x 8
Defranco Shoulder Tri-Set-
35# plate/25# dumbells x 10 reps per set x 2 rounds
Incline Dumbbell Press-
45 x 10, 10 (5 second negative each rep)
Saturday Strongman Training
150 x 1
170 x miss
100 x 100 ft
190 x 100 ft
240 x 15 ft
180 x 1
230 x 1, 1, 1
Called it a day after that. I wasn’t really planning on doing any overhead pressing since my bicep is a little jacked up still. I didn’t even get 170 off my chest. I was pretty happy with the farmers walks but my right shoulder is completely jacked up after the 240 attempt. I’m going to go ahead and take this next week completely off from anything upper body. I’ll drag the sled a little and possibly squat with safety squat bar or the cambered bar depending on how I feel but that’s it. It’s going to be a lot of foam rolling, epsom salt baths, and recovering like crazy to gear up for my next training cycle.
This last weekend I competed in my first powerlifting competition. I didn’t lift as well as I would have liked but I at least got 1 good lift on each event to get a total.
I was ridiculously nervous for my first attempt and just didn’t get set up right which is why I missed depth. After that first lift though I got back into the groove a bit and hit my next attempt. My third attempt I had Scott wrap my knees and it was my best lift of the three. I’m pretty sure I had another 15-20 pounds in me.
Smoked my first attempt and then just made to big of a jump and got pinned on the next two attempts.
This was the one lift that I thought I was going to perform well in but it turned out not be to so. I pulled my opener fairly easy, then pulled my second but got called for hitching. Since my first two events hadn’t gone that great I wanted to get a good lift at 450 since it was something I knew I could pull but I was just worn out and it didn’t happen.
The meet only had about 30 lifters so it went faster then I had anticipated and I didn’t really eat anything once the meet started. I also spent at lot of time walking around between attempts and events which probably wasn’t smart. Whatever the reasons, I didn’t lift as well as I had liked but it was a good first meet. There is another meet in July that I think I’m going to do and I’m looking forward to competing again!
If you have a little time for some knowledge bombs to be dropped your way these articles are worth reading. You need to read these in order for them to make sense. They’re a little long but well worth the read.
#1- Just Say NO!– Life in Synergy
#2- Here We Go Again– Tony Gentilcore
#3- You Just Got Served– Brett Contreras
#4- Woe Be Unto Ye Who Contradicts the Glute Master!– Tony Gentilcore
You obviously have links to Tony’s blog so if you want to read more of Brett’s ramblings check out http://bretcontreras.com.
Click the picture for a full picture tour of Al’s facility.
My numbers are all screwed up because all the plates at the gym we were at are in kilo’s instead of pounds.
330 x 1
340 x 1 (cut it high though)
315 x 1
450 x 1
The plan was to head out to Al’s and just hit a couple decent singles and figure out my opener for the meet. I actually ended up deadlifting too so that I can hit some assistance work at home over the next few days and rest a bit. I did more sets then what I have listed but my weights were all messed up because of the kilo’s instead of pounds. For instance my first set of squats I thought I had 315 and it was actually 330. On deads I thought I went 315, 365, and then was going to jump to 405. It actually my first set was 350 and my second was 400. Since 400 moved pretty quick I went up to about 420 and then finished up with a 450 pull.
Once everything here gets dried out I’m going to break out the sled and drag it. I’m also going to do some heavy(ish) swings and some single limb assistance training over the next couple of days.
One of the common reasons for people not to lift heavy is that they have back problems. As someone who has had back and hip issues since high school I know they can be a giant pain in the ass (literally). I used that excuse for a couple years but due since I decided I wanted to try a powerlifting meet I had to find some way to squat and pull big without ruining my back. Here are the top 5 things I’ve done to help me be at least 99% pain free. I still need a chiropractic adjustment from time to time, but nothing serious.
1. T-Spine/Hip Mobility- If you don’t have the hip mobility to get to parallel you’re going to end up rounding your back and shooting your knee’s forward to get deeper. In order to improve my hip mobility I needed something simple I could do not only as a warm up but on my off days as well. Enter Defranco’s Agile 8. Some other incredibly useful movements were the cossack squat, the squat to stand with reach, the glute stretch (00:16-01:10), the piriformis stretch, and the hip flexor stretch. For the t-spine mobility try these two (1, 2). Nick Tumminello also has some great upper back mobility exercises.
2. Ab Strength- Typically if you have lower back pain the exercises you want to focus on are STABILIZATION. That’s the primary function of your abdominal complex (which also includes your spinal erectors). Rollouts, fallouts, pallof press variations (1, 2, 3), and landmines are all great exercises.
3. Upper Back Strength- This aspect is critical for finishing deadlifts, creating a shelf for the bar when you squat, and acting as stable platform when you bench. It’s also great for posture. For this one I used pullups (and it’s variations), kroc rows, face pulls, pendlay rows, and pull aparts were the staples for this.
4. Learning to Use the Belt- while I don’t advocate that you use a belt for everything you do in the gym, when it comes to the 1-3 rep sets where the weight is up near your max I do feel you should use one for protection. Most people, however, use them completely wrong. Quite often people will suck in their stomachs as far as they can then crank the belt down just as far as possible so that it’s so tight they can’t hardly breathe. After that they’ll take a deep breathe into their chest before attempting the lift. The belt should be tightened down to the point its very snug, but not cutting off your breath. Next you need to breathe into your BELLY in order to create the intra-abdominal pressure to protect your spine.
5. Form, Form, FORM- You’ll never hit the lifts you want if you can’t maintain the right form when you’re putting out 100% effort. It’s not hard when the weights are lighter but when it starts getting heavy, your form will crap out before you actual strength levels do. When you can give 100% effort without your form breaking down you’ll be a great lifter. In order to get the proper form engraved into your nervous system so that it becomes automatic you have to perform every single rep right. Just because your earlier sets aren’t max effort doesn’t mean your form should be slacking! EliteFTS has a great series on how to squat and bench, (at their site search “So you think you can Squat, and “So you think you can Bench”) and with any luck they’ll be doing a “So you think you can Deadlift” series as well. For those who pull conventional check out this video HERE, and for those who pull sumo check THIS out.
315 x 3
365 x 3
405 x 2
95 x 10
105 x 10, 10
That was pretty much it for the day. Opted not to push for the 3rd rep with 405 because my lower back tightened up pretty good during second rep. Tried some DB curls but something was jacked up in my left forearm so I called it quits. Trying some openers for the meet next week.