This was Tuesdays workout.
I worked on some pistol box squats and full pistols with the TRX but I couldn’t get past parallel without just dropping on my ass when I was doing the box squats. After thinking about it for a bit I remembered what the Iron Tamer David Whitley said when he was working on getting to a full pistol squat. The problem wasn’t really a strength issue, it was more balance so he used a kettlebell as a counter balance. So I grabbed my kettlebell (30#) and since I was training in flat soled shoes I grabbed a board that’s about 3/8 of an inch thick to elevate my heel on. After doing that I went from only being able to go about half way down to a full eccentric pistol squat in about 5 minutes. Now I just need to be able to stand up lol.
Hill Sprints x 10 (approximately 25 yards)
Took yesterday (Wednesday) completely off.
Paused Box Squat-
225 x 3
245 x 3
265 x 3
205 x 6
225 x 4
235 x 4
245 x 4
225 x 8
7 x 10
8 x 10, 10, 10
EZ Bar Curl-
125 x 5, 5, 5
Knees x 3
Feet x 3, 3
I was happy with how the squatting went. When I started this cycle I was hoping to attempt around 300 for a single on the 3rd week and it’s working out well. On the rollouts I didn’t get a full layout when I was on my feet. I just rolled out to a push up position and back. I’m not nearly strong enough to roll all the way out and come back so I’ll keep working those for awhile.
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!
Wide Grip Paused Bench Press-
185 x 5
185 x 4
175 x 4
Fat Bar Kroc Row-
90 x 10 each arm
90 x 10 each arm
135 x 12 each arm
Flat DB Press- 5 sec negative each rep
65 x 8
55 x 5, 3
DB Front Raise- Thumbs Up
10 x 10
25 x 10
25 x 10
50 total reps done throughout training session
I was pretty pissed that I didn’t press any better than I did but after thinking about it I can’t be to angry. First of all I only bench 225 at the meet. This was primarily because I’ve always benched with a fairly close grip and I have never trained with any type of pause. Last night I not only brought my grip out 4-5 inches, I also held a 2 second pause on my chest so I can’t really expect to be pressing well right now.
For the past couple years I’ve had some issues with my left shoulder whenever I bench press. It doesn’t matter if I’m using dumbbells or a bar either. It doesn’t hurt, but I just hit a point where my shoulder has no power and I end up having to flare my elbow way out to try and finish it with my triceps. This really jacks up my form and limits my progress. What started this all was I lost control of a dumbbell while I was incline pressing and I basically externally rotated my shoulder with a 90# dumbbell in my hand. I saw an ortho who said that I didn’t have any type of damage to the shoulder, I’ve just never really got back to where I was. I really think that I jacked up my front delt as well as the biceps tendon that wraps up over the shoulder. They’re not damaged, they’re just damn weak so I need to build those up before I’m going to get a good press. I may even play around with some reverse grip overhead pressing and some neutral grip overhead pressing to build that area up.
Below Parallel Box Squat (2 second pause on box):
185 x 5
195 x 5
205 x 5
Floor RDL (paused each rep on the floor):
185 x 6
205 x 6, 6, 4
7 plates x 10, 10
8 plates x 10, 10
EZ Bar Curl:
115 x 5, 5, 5
BW x 10, 10
The face pulls were done on the cable tower so I think it was 70 and 80 pounds. The rollouts I’m going to try and work up to doing these off my feet instead of my knees.
I could have gone heavier on the squats but since I didn’t train at all last week I’m going to ease back in to it a little bit. The RDL’s, however, were much harder than I thought they would be. I’m going to keep the reps in the 4-8 range for RDL’s and try to push them pretty damn heavy.
Alright, since I’m well on my way to the goals I’ve posted for my squat, bench, and deads I’m going to post up some side goals for along the way. At the beginning of each month I’ll get a video of my attempt at that months goal. The month listed will be the month I train for the goal posted next to it. My attempts at this goal will be filmed and posted at the beginning of the following month.
April – 1 Pistol Squat (each leg)
May – 315 x 1 box squat w/ full pause on box
June- 235 x 5 bench press with full pause on chest with each rep
July- BW+100 lbs chin up x 1
August- Bodyweight Snatch
September- Muscle Up x 5
For right now my training will be set up as it was before (M,T,T,F) but I’ll be squatting to a below parallel box with a full pause one every rep, wide grip bench (index fingers on rings) with a full pause on the chest each rep, and more single leg training. It’s nothing crazy, just a slight change up in two of my primary exercises and a variation in the assistance work. Over this year I plan on using primarily Wendlers 5/3/1 as a base program with some slight bastardization here and there. I’m going to experiment with some variations on the primary exercises to see how well they work.
As far as my diet goes I’m going to keep it mostly Paleo (I feel a ton better when I eat this way) and I’m going to experiment with a couple of weeks on the Lean Gains style of intermittent fasting to see where my bodyfat and performance in the gym go. Still not much in the way of supplements aside from Vit D, acidophilous, and digestive enzymes. My real goal right now is to slowly put on some lean mass while leaning out just a bit. The days I lift most of my calories will after my training, the days I don’t train I’ll back my calories down a little.
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!
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.
185 x 3
205 x 3
225 x 1
235 x miss
235 x miss
Paused Fat Bar CG Press-
85 x 8
175 x 5
195 x 5
205 x 4
This week’s arrangement is changed around because I need to get all 3 lifting days in before Friday. This week I’m just aiming figuring out my openers. I thought I had the 235 but I wasn’t even close. I’ve never trained with a pause before and I trained my grip width in the last week too. I’ve always been more comfortable benching with a closer grip and I widened out just for the purpose of the meet. It’s not working out at all though so I’m going back to a closer grip. On Monday and Tuesday next week I’ll hit my squat and bench openers again so I’ll probably try 235 again.
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.