strength

Training Plan: Dec-Jan 7th 2012

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I thought I’d let everyone know what I’m doing for my training over the next month.  Initially I planned on moving straight into another 16 weeks of the Jugg Method but I found out yesterday the gym I train at is going to have a push/pull meet on January 7th.  Since I left a lot on the platform during my deadlift at the last competition I’m going do the push/pull meet and skip the push portion.  My right wrist has been bothering me the last month or two and the last week and a half has been the worst of it so far.  I think it’s a combo of some tendonitis and an imbalance between flexor/extensor sleep in my wrist.  To take care of this I’m doing a “No Push December”.  I’m cutting out all pressing to give my wrists a break and bring my back size and strength up to par.  Here is what my training template is looking like for the next 5 weeks.

Monday- Horizontal Pull/Tricep Ext/Unilateral Carry
Tuesday- Squat/Posterior Chain/Abs/Biceps
Thursday- Vertical Pull/Shoulders/Abs
Friday- Deadlift/Single Leg/Bilateral Carry/Abs

Here is what yesterday and todays training sessions ended up being.

Monday-
Barbell Row- 135# x 5 x 10
Dumbbell Row- 80# x 3 x 5
Dumbbell Tricep Extension- 25# x 3 x 10
Face Pulls- 60# x 12, 70# x 12, 12
Suitcase Carry- 65# x 20 yards x 2 trips

Tuesday-
Squat- 200# x 5 x 6
Deadstop RDL- 135 x 8, 185 x 8, 8, 8
Barbell Rollout- 3 x 10
Reverse BB Curl- 75 x 8, 8, 8

The squat and deadlift I have planned numbers I’m going to use but the Monday and Thursday workouts will be more by feel. I’m aiming for a 460# deadlift in January so I have to work on what I suck at. Namely that’s lower body and posterior chain strength so I’m going to hit those like a madman. I’ll let you know in January how it went.

2011 NASA Regionals

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Back in March I started my journey into powerlifting by competing in the NASA Kansas State Meet.  I only found out about it 2 months prior to the meet but I went for it anyway.  I ended up with a 957 total (341 Squat, 220 Bench, 396 DL) at a body weight of 200.

The following months I bought and followed the Juggernaut Training Manual from Elitefts.com.  It’s a 16 week program that’s geared towards powerlifting.  Chad wrote a hell of a book and the program is great.  I really had to take a step back and evaluate where I really was with my lifting strength.  I ended up finishing the program 4 weeks prior to the meet I competed in this last weekend.

Throughout the Jugg Method program I utilized a Modified Warrior Diet and was able to really grow into my body weight versus dropping a bunch of weight or gaining a bunch.  My recovery was great, I got stronger, added muscle and didn’t move my body weight 1 pound.  I didn’t weigh and measure any of my food so my macro’s were always changing.  The one thing that stayed consistent was that my lifting days were higher carb, off days were very low carb, and my underfeeding meals were kept very small and spaced 3-4 hours apart.

The last 4 weeks prior to the meet I added creatine monohydrate to my workouts (5g pre/5g post) and just 5g on off days.  As for my training the last few weeks I subbed some fat bar chain lockouts for military pressing.  I didn’t work off of any percentages or anything I just went by feel.  All of my sets were kept to 5 reps and under for the lockouts, squats, bench, and deadlift.  To be honest I only deadlifted twice in those weeks because of a hectic travel schedule.  The week prior to the meet I set my openers and did minimal assistance work, a little cardio, and rested.  The Monday prior to the meet I did some easy benching and squatting and that was it.

The end result was a 991 total (347 squat, 231 bench, 413 deadlift).  Those are 10-15# PR’s on each lift so I’m pretty happy.  I’ll be doing another cycle of the Jugg Method this winter and possibly competing again in March.

Squat

Bench

Deadlift

There are  two things that I did not mention that I believe helped greatly.  The first is that I dropped caffeine two weeks prior to the meet.  I was developing some cortisol and dependency issues that I needed to address.  Aside from a little green and black tea I had zero caffeine.  Needless to say what I was setting my openers that week they felt heavy as hell.  To help get the ship back to an even keel when I dropped the caffeine I added in 500 mg of ALCAR first thing in the morning and before lunch for both weeks.  In retrospect I should have went with a higher dose but even that low dose helped.  If I had it to do over again I would have went for about 1-2 grams at each dose.  The reason for the ALCAR is because it helps to balance out cortisol levels.  If they are low and should be up (such as in the morning), ACLAR will bring them up.  If they are high and need to come down (afternoon/evening) ALCAR will bring them down.  Since it interacts with the brain and elevates acetyl choline production it can have a mild stimulatory effect so don’t take it right before bed.

The second thing I did was to add in a Neural Charge workout the 5 days prior to the meet.  I picked up the Neural Charge stuff from Christian Thibaudeau over at T-Nation.  To be honest I wasn’t a huge fan of the T-Nation in the past and I still make this recommendation with a few caveats.  The content they’ve been putting out has been much better but it’s still loaded with ads for their BioTest products which I don’t believe to be bad products, just over priced.  I have not, however, actually used any of their stuff so take what I say with a grain of salt.  Now, the premise of the Neural Charge training is to excite and stimulate the nervous system early in the day, or at least preworkout, in order to enhance performance.  The workouts are short and focus on explosive exercises like jumps, med ball throws, and med ball slams.  This isn’t a workout you perform for tons of reps and work until you are worn out.  Once your performance begins to decrease you either drop reps or drop the exercise.  You should feel better at the end of the workout than you did at the beginning.  Here are what my workouts looked like:

Elevated Plyo Push Ups x 5
Med Ball Slams x 5
Broad Jump x 5

I did a few rounds and dropped reps when I felt I couldn’t perform the next rep as well as the previous.  Between these workouts, the extra rest, and the ALCAR I felt great Saturday morning.

Meet day I took this prior to warm ups for each lift:

5g Creatine Mono
2g ALCAR
Sipped on Sugar Free Monster

See you guys in 2012.

Bench Rattle

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Serge Nubret

Power or speed training is a very overlooked aspect of most Average Joes in the gym today.  They’ll turn up their nose at the thought of dynamic or speed work on the premise that they aren’t athletes or powerlifters.  They’re only looking to get HUGE so who cares about how fast you move the bar.  I’m here to tell you that if you haven’t been using some sort of periodic dynamic training then your training could be lagging behind.

Muscle Fiber & Nervous System Primer
For those of you who don’t know there are three types of muscle fiber and each have distinctly different characteristics.

Type 1- Slow Twitch: These are endurance muscle fibers. They are built to run on the aerobic system and to contract slowly and repeatedly.

Type 2a- Intermediate: These fibers aren’t purely slow twitch and they’re not purely fast twitch (discussed later) either. They can run on multiple energy systems and will take on the properties of the muscle fiber that it is trained as. So if you do a ton of endurance training they can become more like type 1 fibers. If your training is very fast and explosive they will become more like the type 2b fibers.

Type 2b- Fast Twitch: These fibers have very poor endurance but pack all the power. They won’t contract repeatedly but they do contract quickly with very high force.

Fiber type is important because the type 1 fibers don’t respond to hypertrophy well but the type 2 fibers do which is where your growth potential is at.

The nervous system is what relays the signal from the brain to the muscles in order to make the contract. Where many people will mess up their next training session up is to do to may warm up sets and move to dang slow! The body will only activate and use as many muscle fibers as it needs to complete the task at hand. If all the muscles of your hand fired at 100% every time you moved you would snap all your pens and destroy your keyboard! Here are a couple principles that will help you understand how the nervous system works:

#1- The nervous system fires muscle fibers starting from smallest to biggest (Type 1 then Type 2).

#2- The nervous system only has access to fibers that have been previously fired.

So, in order to hit those high power/high threshold fibers all the available type 1 fibers must be fired maximally. If your type 1 fibers are tired and fatigued then your nervous system won’t be able to recruit the type 2 fibers optimally.

In summary, type 2 fibers are where most of your growth and strength potential are at and those fibers can’t be recruited unless the type 1 fibers can fire maximally.

What does power have to do with it?

Power (for our purposes anyway) is the ability to produce maximal force in the shortest amount of time possible.  This can be judged by speed of the weight as it moves relative to the amount of weight used (as a percentage of your 1 rep max).  High power output = high type 2 fiber recruitment.  Usually when people think of power training they visualize things like the olympic lifts, box jumps, or other plyometrics.  While these certainly all develop power they aren’t appropriate for the average guy in the gym so how to we integrate power training for them?  We focus on the intention of speed.

This article is going to focus specifically on the bench press.  If you are still benching pressing down to your neck with a flat back and flared eblows you need to get with the program and start at the very least tucking your elbows some to keep your shoulders safe.  Remember that part of getting those big type 2 fibers to fire is to be able to produce enough force to require they’re involvement which means STRENGTH development.  If you have been benching the same numbers for months or years then I’m guessing your chest development has probably stopped as well.

So what is a Bench Rattle and what does it have to do with chest development?

Think of it as speed benching for beginners.  These will be integrated into your warm up sets so that when  you head into your heavier sets your nervous system is primed up and ready to rock.  The Bench Rattle is simply trying to move the bar so fast that the plates rattle together when you hit the top.  Leave the clips or locks off the bar for warm up sets in order to actually get a “rattle”.

First we abbreviate your warm ups to prevent unnecessary fatigue.  So if the goal is to work up to a 200 pound work set or 5 reps your warm up will look like this.

Bar x 5
105 x 3
125 x 3
175 x 1
200 x 5 (work set)

Now instead of going through the motions during the warm up we focus on speed of the movement. As soon as there is weight on the bar you should be attempting to make it rattle on each rep. During your first sets the bar is going to move fairly fast. As the weight goes up your bar speed may slow down but the intention of speed should always be there. A purposefully slow contraction will prevent the big type 2 fibers from firing like they should. If you are using a false grip I highly recommend you switch to a full grip and start squeezing the bar as hard as possible during the movement. This will keep the bar more stable but it also helps fire up the nervous system via a phenomenon know as Irradiation.

NASA KS Regionals- November 19th

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The competition is coming up fast and I’m excited to see how this short training cycle and the Jugg Method I used over the summer will bring up my total.  I don’t have any plans right now as to what my openers or anything will be but all my lifts are definitely up.  After the meet is over I might post up the training cycle I’m using to peak for the meet.  At the last meet I lifted in the 220 weight class (weighed in at 215) but I’m going to try and get down to the 181 weight class.  I’m setting at 198 as of this morning as I still have plenty of fat to lose.  Here is how my training and diet are currently set up.

Training:
Monday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Lift
Tuesday- PM Lift
Wednesday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Recovery/Restoration
Thursday- PM Lift
Friday- AM Cardio/Abs, PM Lift
Saturday- Recovery/Restoration
Saturday- OFF

I’ll add more cardio I go. The Recovery/Restoration could be anything from sled dragging, body weight training, or just some more cardio and stretching. I’m training the hell out of my abs and lower back both around my cardio as well as during my training sessions since that’s a major weakness for me.

Diet:
I’m using a Modified Warrior Diet along with some Creatine Monohydrate.  I’ll only train in the mornings if I have to and if that does happen I’ll backload 99% of my carbs so that I don’t wreck my hormone levels during the day.

Jugg Method Wrap Up

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I finished the Chad W. Smiths Juggernaut Method program last week so I thought I’d give a review.

My first impression was that it was very similar to Wendlers 5/3/1, which he openly states that Wendler is where he got a portion of his ideas, and I was little skeptical to be honest.  Long story short though is that it’s a solid program.  The first two waves are pretty high volume and very challenging.  I was worried about my 1RM but the extra volume did nothing but help.  I was feeling good this last week so instead of going for rep maxes I went ahead and tested out some singles on squat, bench, and deadlift.  Military press I stuck with a rep max.

Bench Press- 235 x 1 (+10lbs from March)
Squat- 335 x 1 (+15lbs from March)

Both of these were about a 8-9/10 effort. Add some adrenaline, a belt for bench, and some knee wraps for the squat and I think I’ll have some great improvements at the meet.

I was a little beat up by Friday so I only went up to 385 for a single. It felt heavy and slow but my training partner said it looked like I pulled it easy which tells me I have way more in the tank. I’m going to continue training for the next two weeks instead of taking a deload week. My wife and I are going out of town for a week at the end of September/beginning of October and I probably won’t be lifting when we’re gone. I’m working on my new training cycle to get ready for my meet in November.

Intensification 3s- Military Press

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Military Press-
120 x 1
130 x 1
140 x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3

FG DS DB Row-
95 x 12, 8

Defranco Shoulder Tri-Set-
25# Lateral/Clean & Press, 35# Plate Front Raise x 10, 10, 8

Pull Ups-
BW x 36

Pause Wide Grip Machine Row-
120 x 15

Used just a touch of leg drive on my last 5 sets of military press. Kept my feet flat on the floor but got a little knee drive. Progressed in either weight or reps on all my other exercises too so I’m happy. Looking forward to some squats later today!

Accumulation 3s- Bench

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Bench Press-
185 x 7 sets x 3 reps

Gittleson Shrug-
55 x 8, 8, 8

Tate Press
30 x 8
35 x 8, 8

Flat DB Bench-
55 x 12, 12

Face Pull-
50 x 10
60 x 10, 10

Good day. I’m day 1 of going caffeine free for a bit in order to get my fat loss back on track. I realized that I’ve become a little to dependent on my coffee and other stims throughout the day and I don’t like it. Aside from just the general drag that I’ve had my fat loss has ground to screeching halt. I’m pretty sure that my adrenals are really sensitive stims so I’m knocking them out for awhile. I’ll still have a little decaf coffee every now and then but in general my only “caffeine” source will be some green tea that’s not brewed very strong. I have a video of my last two sets on bench that I’ll get posted up later.