strength

Military Press & Squat

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Monday:
Axle Military Press-
95 x 2
115 x 2
130 x 4 sets x 5

FG Deadstop DB Row-
95 x 8, 6

FG CG Incline Bench-
135 x 5
155 x 5
165 x 5

Rolling Tricep Ext-
35 x 12, 12

Shoulder Stretch

Tuesday:
Squat-
195 x 2
215 x 2
230 x 4 sets x 5

Yesterday I felt great. I trained with the Dino crew again Monday night which was great. Since they were heading out to Al’s tonight to train I decided to squat earlier in the day. I felt great while I was squatting but I have to get into the chiro tomorrow. Last week squats felt heavy as crap the entire time, today felt way better. I didn’t understand why at first but then I remember that out at work the squat bar is a virtually smooth barbell while the one I squatted with today had knurling all the way across and actually stayed where it was supposed to on my back.

To the Point: Ab Training

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Oh hey there back pain....

Why you need to train your abs:
1. Injury Prevention
2. Improved Posture
3. Improved Gym Performance

Strong abs are important no matter what you lifting goals are. When most people talk about their abs or “core” they usually are only referring to their abdominal muscles. In reality your “core” includes the abdominal muscles as well as the muscles of the back and spine. Contrary to what most think, the abdominal and other core muscles are not meant to create movement, they are meant to prevent it. Their primary function is anti-rotation, anti-flexion, and anti-extension. In order for the abs to do their job properly then the joints surrounding them must be doing their as well. Fairly often if you look at someone with back pain you’ll see that the hips are locked up tight and their upper back (thoracic spine) is locked up tight as well. This forces the lower back to compensate for the lack of mobility in those two areas by loosening what is supposed to be a very stable area. This coupled up with a steady diet of crunches, sit ups, russian twists, and improperly performed back extensions is a recipe for back pain and dysfunction.

If you didn’t follow along with all that here are the cliff notes:

1. Loosen Up Your Hips- Defranco’s Agile 8 among other things works great and is easy to perform.  FWIW, if you have back pain and are blaming it on tight hamstrings you need to think again.  Most likely your hip flexors are far to tight which rocks your pelvis and low back out of alignment forcing your hamstrings to get tight and stay that way.  Stretch your hip flexors and see if that doesn’t help.

2. Pick Abdominal STABILITY Movements over Mobility Movements- Start with the basics like planks then move into something where you move around a stable base such as Stir the Pots, Pallof Presses, or Body Saws.

3. Loosen Your Upper Back- Check out Nick Tumminello and Tony Gentilcore on Youtube for some great movements here.

By focusing on those 3 areas you will then actually be able to move your hips, shoulders, and upper back through proper ranges of motion and allow your core to remain nice and stable like it needs to be.  Once you have those three taken care of then you can move into some more advanced movements but until you can create stability then don’t try to create movement!

Accumulation 5- Bench

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One STRONG mofo

Bench Press- Paused last rep on first 5 sets
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5
170 x 5 (paused all reps)

Incline CG Pin Press-
135 x 8
155 x 8, 8

FG DB Row-
85 x 10
100 x 8 (deadstop each rep)

Felt slow today. I took my time and warmed up but the drive to bench just wasn’t there. I am looking forward to some deadlifting tomorrow though. My grip is definitely improving too. Last time I did fat grip dumbbell rows 85 pounds felt like 1000. Today I breezed right through that one so I went for the big jump.

Accumulation 5- Squat

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Squat-
210 x 5 x 6 sets

RDL-
185 x 5 (no belt)
185 x 5 (no belt)
225 x 6 (added belt)

Slider Leg Curls-
BW x 10 x 2 sets

Hanging Leg Raise-
BW x 7 reps total

Foam Roll/Stretch

I tried some bicep exercises but my wrists have been bugging me a bit so I skipped it. I’m going to start training my grip a couple times per week so my wrists should feel much better in a week or two.

Accumulation 5- Military Press

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MP-
115 x 5 x 6 sets

ST External Rotation (skip to 3:33 to see it)  ss. FG Pullups-
BW x 10 ss. BW x 6
BW x 10 ss. BW x 6
BW x 10 ss. BW x 6

Seated Lateral/Seated DB C&P/Spider Walks
10# x 10/ 10# x 10/ Yellow mini band x 3
10# x 10/ 10# x 10/ Yellow mini band x 3
15# x 10/ 15# x 10/ Yellow mini band x 3

Hanging Leg Raises-
BW x 3, 2

DB Head Holds (10 sec)-
15 x 1
20 x 2

KB Radial Deviation-
10 x 10
15 x 10, 10

FG Chins-
BW x 32

I’m freaking horrible at the hanging leg raises. I could do more reps but I’m trying to keep my form really tight so that I’m not swinging around. Other than that it was a great workout.

How I Deload

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Deloading has a couple purposes:

1. To recover and prepare for the next training cycle.

2. To restore excitement about training.

Just taking a week off, doing light weight for lots of reps, doing light weight for few reps and any other scheme I tried just never worked for me.  My first week back of a deload was always a slow grind to get back into it.  Everything felt heavy and moved slow.  My past few deloads have had the exact opposite effect.  I’m excited to get back to training, my weights are all moving fast and even the higher percentage weights don’t feel as heavy as they should.  Here are the rules I follow for my deload weeks now that have worked great:

1. Move FAST: all my deload training starts with, and sometimes only consist of, explosive movements. This primes the nervous system and gets it back on track.

2. Avoid Fatigue: I stop all my training sessions before fatigue becomes an issue and I take plenty of time between sets and exercises.  I want whatever movements I’m doing to be fast and powerful.

3. Find Novelty: Aside from some staples like chins and dips I very rarely use any movements during my deload that I have been using during my training cycles.  It may be a variation, but never the exact same exercise.

4. Experiment: I really like using the deload period to experiment with new exercises and exercise variations and see if they’re something I want to add into my training cycle.

5 Play: I do not under any circumstances plan any of my deload training.  If I feel like grabbing my suspension trainer and hitting the playground at the local park I do it.  If I feel like trying some new squat variation I do it.  If I want to go play some basketball I do it.  To much structure in your training can make it very monotonous and feel very restricted.  Unstructured training/play gets you excited about getting back to the gym and a structured program.

6. Prioritize Restoration: Do some extra foam rolling, light cardio, stretching, and whatever other means you use to improve recovery.  In the end this is a recovery week so treat it as such.  Just make sure that your recovery is priming you for your next training cycle.

Now I admit that I have it easier than most since I work in a gym.  My deload training could consist of up to 4 different “workouts” in a day that last anywhere from 10 minutes to 1 hour.  Your’s however, does not need to be like mine in order to work.  If hit the gym before or after work and only did some stuff that made you feel stronger and excited to be there then got out it would be a great session.  What you actually do during your deload isn’t as important as the effect it has.  If you get ready to head back into your training and you aren’t excited and ready about training then take some more time.

Now, there are some caveats to this approach.  If you are really burned out then using explosive movements probably isn’t a good idea.  Also don’t plan on taking just a 1 week deloading period either.  The more burned out you are the longer it will take to recover from.  If you get nervous about going to the gym, have no motivation, everything feels heavy and you have trouble finding the energy to train with out a massive dose of stims then you need more than a week off.  Be smart and don’t push yourself past your ability to recover.

Deloading, Nutrition, and Gym Improv

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Alright so it’s deload week for me. I hate taking them but after last week I needed a little break. My numbers are all moving up from cycle to cycle so I’m not going to mess with a good thing. Yesterday I took completely off and later today I’m going to head out and drag the sled for a bit and maybe carry my sandbag around the yard a couple times.

EDIT: Decided to just haul around the sandbag and do some grip work.  There is a large difference between a 135 pound sandbag and a 180 pound sandbag.

Since my activity levels have dropped for the week I’m lowering my calories and carbs along with it. As much as I want to move more towards a very slow recomp/lean mass gaining cycle I need to get my ass lean ASAP. I’ve been frustrated the past couple weeks thinking that I wasn’t making progress but after looking at some pictures my legs and arms are definitely getting leaner so I’m going to stick with what I was doing which wasn’t anything special. I was lifting in the AM and then back-loading all my carbs at night. Outside of my last meal it is all just protein, fat, and veggies.

Now, since I can’t afford a Prowler or sled and the gym I work at doesn’t have one then I’ve had to improvise with my clients. I also found an incredibly cheap alternative to buying something like a TRX.

Gym Improv #1- Decline Bench Prowler
If your gym has carpet or at least a surface that lets a bench slide fairly easy then you can sub out the prowler or sled with a decline bench. I found it works best to use the lowest setting on the bench. If you don’t care about having two different “handle” heights to push on then you can use a regular flat bench. To add resistance just throw some plates on the bench and push away.

Not the exact straps I have but the same fastener.

Gym Improv #2- Ratchet Strap TRX
All I did for these was purchase a pair of 6′ long (should got longer but oh well, live and learn) ratchet straps and 4 spring clips. Since the gym already has several pair of cable handles I didn’t bother attempting to make a pair. The straps I bought weren’t the traditional ratchets however, they are just a spring clip so that all I have to do is push the clip to adjust it. All you have to do is put the spring clips through either the loops sewn into the ends or through the metal loops of the hooks that are already on the straps. That’s it. Throw a handle on each one and you are ready to go.

I’ll get some video of both of these in action over the next couple of days.

R8 aka PR Time!

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Military Press-
130 x 9

Squat-
230 x 10

Bench-
185 x 10

Deadlift-
290 x 10

Those are just the highlights for this week. Aside from my deadlift all my rep maxes give me an estimated max that is well over what I lifted at the meet in March. Deadlifts are coming in a little lower but since I switched from sumo to conventional I started with a really low training max. I’ve pulled 405 with a conventional stance before so I know I can pull well over that. I just don’t want to go to nuts and jump my training max to high. It’s steadily moving up and getting more comfortable so I’m happy. Aside from my bench press all the lifts this week were rep PR’s.

I8 Update

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Last week was my Intensification 8 wave.  Since I only posted my MP day and I’m 3/4 of the way through my Realization 8 wave I though it might be time to fill you in on how the rest of last week went.

Squat-
175 x 3
195 x 3
210 x 8, 8, 8

RDL-
225 x 4, 4, 4

Bench-
140 x 3
155 x 3
170 x 8, 8, 8

Guillotine Press-
140 x 8, 8, 8

DB Lateral ss. Shoulder Dislocates
15# ss. 10 dislocates
20# ss. 10 dislocates
25# ss. 10 dislocates

Deadlifts-
220 x 3
245 x 3
265 x 8, 8, 8

DB Split Squat- (DB’s in rack position)
40 x 8/leg
45 x 8/leg
50 x 8/leg

There was some ab and bicep work in there too but I once again don’t have my log book in front of me.

I8- Military Press

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Military Press:
95 x 3
105 x 3
115 x 8, 8, 8

FG CG Pulldown:
120 x 10
140 x 10
130 x 10

FG DB Row:
95 x 10, 10

FG CG Bench:
80 x 5
170 x 5
190 x 3
210 x 3
225 x 2

Today felt really good. I did my military press with the axle so it was a little different exercise but I stuck with the same weights. Since I got to lift with my old crew this morning I wasn’t going to pass up the chance to do some heavy axle pressing. I’ll drag the sled later today for some extra volume.