Monthly Archives: November 2013

Pull Thursday: Real Progress

THIS is the program, and the numbers are (so far) spot on. It’s still very early to be making predictions, but I am confidant things will play out pretty much like this:

week 2 nov 28th: 230 kgs x 10 PR
week 3 dec 5th: 240 kgs x 10 aiming for this, but realistically will probably make 9, which is still legit progress.
week 4 dec 12th: 250 kgs x 9 again, I’ll more likely get 8, but either is a record.
week 5 dec 19th: 260 kgs x at least 6 reps.
week 6 dec 26th: 270 kgs x at least 4 reps.
week 7 jan 2nd: 280 kgs x need a triple
week 8 jan 9th: 290 kgs x at least 2… I’d like a triple
week 9 jan 16th: rest week (comp day Saturday 18th)

It’s not like this comp has been my focus for very long… but it is something I can train for (while my SM events have been sucking lately) and, hopefully, make an official 300 kilogram deadlift on the day. Hopefully that and more.

warmup w/bands

70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 5
200 kgs x 2
215 kgs x 1
230 kgs x 10 PR

KB Kroc rows
left & right
32 kgs x 10 reps x 2
40 kgs x 10 reps x 2

Leg press
160 kgs x 10 reps x 3

Press Wednesday: The Occasional Whinge

I HADN’T trained properly in over a week. I’ve turned up to events on saturdays and done minimal overhead and accessory work, but no events. My last time squatting was a bad time. I was using a straight bar again, and I didn’t even lift anything heavy… I still managed to ruin myself, to the point where I’ve got a referral for an MRI, and the results of that will determine what it is I’m training for in 2014… if anything. Right now at least.

Who would have considered that getting under a standard bar to squat well below max would be responsible for so much damage. Until yesterday, I wasn’t able to walk without discomfort. I still kinda start hobbling after a little while, but there was nothing stopping me from doing something worthwhile with the press tonight. If I’m programming for anything right now, it’s the GPC Perth Cup, which is why I’m back benching again. At this stage I don’t know if I will even be able to squat in January. Here’s hoping.

Here’s a list of what’s been fucking with me lately:

  • My right forearm tendon is still strained. Nothing major… I really just miss weighted pull-ups and KB Kroc rows, which I cannot do until it is fucking healed.
  • My right knee has been painful to bend for two weeks. The kneecap filled with fluid during my last squat session (this is not uncommon).
  • To be honest, both my knees feel kinda fucked.
  • A pinched nerve, which I’ve had for years and years, and only really bothers me if I sneeze or cough violently, became a near constant ache from my left lower lumbar radiating through my glute. The frequency of this lessened a week ago, but I still feel it occasionally in my everyday movements.

In the mean time, I’ve started doing Klokov press. While it’s mostly true I’m doing this just because all the cool kids are copying Klokov right now, it’s also true that this movement will assist my shoulder mobility, pressing strength and flexibility for the squat. It’s a great movement for a pretty inflexible lifter like myself to incorporate into my regular routine.

warmup w/DBs & bands

DB OHP warmup
15 kgs x 10
20 kgs x 6

Axle OHP (strict)
50 kgs x 5
70 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 3
95 kgs x 5 PR

Bench press
60 kgs x 5
70 kgs x 5
90 kgs x 3
100 kgs x 3
110 kgs x 3
120 kgs x 3
130 kgs x 3

Klokov press
20 kgs x 10 reps x 3 sets

10 kgs x 15
15 kgs x 15

Weekday Training Recap: Getting Serious About the Press

Squat Monday was a shocker. More on that later.

My pressing this week, I am still embarrassed to say, was actually good for me. I was able to perform pretty much my best official clean and strict press with an axle, with no pain and no strain. Even my tendon behaved… and that was thanks to me taking the extra time to ensure everything was good and warmed up, with special focus where it was most needed.

It’s time to stop babying my right side, and start incorporating it into a more dedicated Strongman OHP routine. This is not a snap decision. I have waited this long in order to be able to say the following, as evidence I can now do this: over the last several weeks, my shoulder warm-up has been a piece of cake. My mobility has pretty much completely returned, pain-free. I still have to be careful, but considering what I was able to do this week – and the steady progress I’ve been making while remaining safe – I am capable of working heavier weights in the press… I just have to keep the volume of my working sets way, way down when it comes to movements involving a clean on that side.

So I’m going to talk to the Ruccis about maybe getting some thinner 10 kilo plates (preferably ones I can drop without damaging the floor) and resume both actively strengthening my right side and working towards a heavy push-press… with both arms.

Pull Thursday

You can read my other blog posts for more information. At the end of August 2012, I could do 7 reps of 220 kilograms (or 485 pounds). At the start of May 2013… still only 7. But don’t let this particular correlation make you think my progression stalled for 8 months, for no apparent reason; I’d had shoulder surgery and months of rehab between these two dates.

Tonight I made it to double digits, which is what I wanted. I felt like I had another one, maybe even two reps. Nathan Baxter expected another one, maybe two reps. But I do my own programming now, and the likelihood of failure keeps me from making a decision I will later regret. So I stopped there.

Interesting point: Last week I weighed 122 kilos – which is nearly 10 kilos lighter than I was the day I did this, in late August. Now that’s 255 for 7… today I loaded up on an enormous breakfast at the Witches Cauldron in Subiaco (honestly the best breakfast I’ve ever had away from home), and I filled up on my usual milk, chicken and ice cream through the day, so let’s be generous and say I’m currently weighing in at under 125, while pulling these numbers. Solid progression, leaner and stronger. Why would I jeopardise what’s obviously working?

Squats w/straight bar
80 kgs x 8
80 kgs x 5
100 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 3 wide
120 kgs x 3 narrow
120 kgs x 3 regular
120 kgs x 3 regular

KNEES continue to be fucked. I fiddled around with my stance, but nothing helped. and now under the straight bar, I’ve felt it exacerbate the impinged nerve I have in my left lower lumbar. What normally only hurts when I sneeze of cough violently, hurts all the time now. Fucking annoying.

45 DB incline press
15 kgs x 10
20 kgs x 10

Axle OHP (strict)
30 kgs x 8
50 kgs x 5
60 kgs x 5
70 kgs x 5

Axle clean-press
75 kgs x 1 misload
80 kgs x 1
90 kgs x 1
100 kgs x 1
105 kgs x 1 equal to best effort

left & right
36 kgs x 3
left (push)
46 kgs x 2
56 kgs x 1
61 kgs x 0 clean only
right (strict)
20 kgs x 8
25 kgs x 8
30 kgs x 5
35 kgs x 5

15 kgs x 15
17.5 kgs x 22

70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 5
200 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 10 PR

Kroc rows w/KBs
left and right
32 kgs x 12 reps x 2 sets
40 kgs x 12 reps x 2 sets

Thursday Pull: It Flows Through Me

Thursday November 7th

THE RAGE… some say it takes enhancements to be as angry as me, but they just don’t understand. I was so pissed when I couldn’t lock out that 7th rep. It was only a few inches away. And even if I’d gotten it, it wouldn’t have been ground-breaking. I’ve done 255 for 7 already. But these are the realities of strength training; linear progression just doesn’t happen like that, at least not constantly. You plateau, and you reset, and you reprogram. And you eat and rest. Any one of these variables (and there are more to include here) can cause a negative outcome if not on track.

I shouldn’t have repped out at 250 – that was too high. I shouldn’t have tripled 220 before it. I only got out what I put in, and I put in a whole lot of angry due to the shit afternoon I’d had. So that’s probably why I didn’t stop at 5 or 6. The rage… the rage.

Highlights of the session: I roped Roberta in to administering my salts, and I had to adjust my lever belt before the money set: I’m leaner, at least. Leaner is good… Stereos is just a few weeks away.

warmup w/bands

70 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 8
170 kgs x 5
220 kgs x 3
250 kgs x nearly 7

Wednesday Press: Dumb Fun

Wednesday November 6th

NOT SURE if that axle work was a legit new record or not… I’m sure I’ve done close to it with a swiss or standard bar, perhaps not the axle. Either way, pretty happy with this effort, and the dumbbell work afterwards is showing promise, too. It’s heartening to see I can do max effort work with both in the same session, and hit decent numbers… it used to be I’d have to focus on one or the other. My conditioning is improving.

I tried some pull-ups, but I’m still not healed enough to give them a proper go. Guess I’ll just have to stick with the high-rep pinwheelz until the tendon is fully recovered.

warmup w/bands

45 Incline DB press
15 kgs x 15
20 kgs x 10
25 kgs x 8

Axle OHP (strict)
30 kgs x 10
50 kgs x 5
60 kgs x 3
70 kgs x 3
80 kgs x 1
90 kgs x 7 TPR

DB OHP (strict)
36 kgs x 3
46 kgs x 3
51 kgs x 1
56 kgs x 2
56 kgs x 2 push
25 kgs x 8
30 kgs x 8
32.5 kgs x 8

BW x 3 slow – right tendon still not quite right

15 kgs x 15
17.5 kgs x 12

Events Saturday: My First Car Walk

WA STRONGMAN would be nothing were it not for the tireless efforts and resourcefulness of the Macri family. Thanks to them, we now have a simulated car walk… it’s constructed from our farmers picks, which are bolted to a frame and scaffolding erected on top, to provide hand holds. A pair of guy-ropes are laced across the centre of the frame, and are used as carry straps. It’s a remarkable contraption, which really helps us prepare for the Car walk event in Australia’s Strongest Man. Today was my first time attempting it. It’s quite different from the Yoke, but the jury is still out on whether it’s better or worse than a Yoke walk. If you can get the balance just right, the weight of the apparatus will provide momentum and allow a faster pace than I’m accustomed to while shouldering that kind of weight. But it’s tricky.

My knee is still feeling shit from Monday’s squat session. I’m hoping it will hold together next week… but I may have to resort to using my Gripped knee wraps if I want to squat something significant. Then again, now might be the time to ease off squats and concentrate on my other lifts. We will see how I’m feeling on the night.

warmup w/bands

Simulated Car walk
260 kgs x 15 meters
260 kgs x 15 meters
370 kgs x 15 meters
370 kgs x 15 meters
370 kgs x 7 meters

Axle OHP (strict)
30 kgs x 5
50 kgs x 5
60 kgs x 5

Axle Clean-press
75 kgs x 1
85 kgs x 1
95 kgs x 2

People Ask Me Stuff

For two years I worked for the Australian Institute of Fitness, the largest and most influential personal training academy in the country. I was the payments officer for the Perth campus… I was the best payments officer they’d ever had, by the grudging admissions of management. I didn’t like it there, at all, and for a variety of reasons I was very glad to leave and return to a similar (though much more ethical and better paid) position in the broader health industry.
Jake Trainer Watson
The first and only time I used the campus gym, I was on my lunch break, deadlifting, when the head coach came in and told me to stop as they didn’t have a lifting platform. Not long after this incident I had a platform custom-made, expressly for the Institute, but was informed that their new OHS policy meant I could not use it, as virtually all forms of heavy, free-weight exercise were now prohibited… the tip of a very disheartening ice berg.

I remember this day, not just because of the head coach’s reaction to me pulling a measly 170 kilos, but because, immediately following this, a student asked me a question about training… the first of many. His question went something like this:

“Hey bro, I can do that but my grip strength isn’t so good. What do you do to improve grip?”
The answer I gave was courteous and not at all what I should have said, which was simply:
“Get stronger.”

Since that day, I’ve been asked lots of questions that deserve that same answer. I don’t want to sound arrogant, but it’s the truth. It is symptomatic of the human condition, as is the reason why we in the free Western world are the way we are now. Technological innovation has taken all the physical exertion out of our daily lives. Ergo, it’s common for newb lifters (and brah trainers) to approach a challenge from the perspective of ‘how can I do this the easy way?’ when the single most unchanging aspect of lifting is the principle of ‘No Pain, No Gain.’ You must bust your ass to build that mass… what you do with it afterwards is up to you. First you must hurt.

My experiences at the Institute have forever tainted my perspective on the ‘health and fitness’ industry… sometimes this rancour manifests in a heated exchange between myself and a PT I witness doing or saying something questionable. Most of the time it’s because the person I’m scrutinising is one or other form of charlatan… but on at least one occasion now I’ve gotten it wrong.

I mention all this because in recent weeks there has been a very welcome shift in the calibre of questions I am asked; people now come to me for advice on Strongman training techniques, programming, diet tips, et cetera. It makes me feel good to know that, amidst all the bullshit that’s circulating out there, some people are still holding to the tenets of strength training… and a few are looking to me for help when their Google search doesn’t deliver.

Steve TrotterThat’s right. Google sometimes doesn’t have the answers – especially when it comes to such a highly specialised and largely obscure sport, like Strongman. Anyone can view Strongmen being strong on Youtube, but how they developed their strength is often a mystery, a closely guarded secret. Now I’m not saying that I am even close to the strength levels of the best in the world (and I’m still an Atlas stone’s throw from the best in the country). But four years ago I was a fat couch potato, and now I’m deadlifting 300 kilos, and yoke walking 400+. I assume I must be doing something right. I’ve experienced enough to be able to assist others who are just starting out in the sport, and so wherever I possibly can, I do.

For instance, a fellow Weightlifting Academy blogger, Steve Trotter, is entering his first Strongman competition in Carolina early next year, and he approached me for advice on how to program for it. A young and exuberant PT in South Australia, Jake ‘Trainer’ Watson, has a real passion for Strongman. In spite of having very limited resources (and virtually no SM-friendly gyms in his area), he’s nonetheless carved his own beastly path. He approaches me for advice from time to time, and his clients are reaping the
Magnussons gymbenefits of his passion and commitment. And an increasing number of people are asking me what I eat, how much and when, as a reaction to my altered physique. That, at least, is another easy question to answer (FREAKING EVERYTHING); the rest are specialised, and require more than cookie-cutter responses. And that’s just fine – I’m always keen to help.

The point is this: I’m a passionate person, and sometimes I lose it. But I make every effort to find the positive in things, and if you come to me with a legit question, I will do my best to answer it for you. Just remember that there are no quick fixes in the strength game. Only pain, and satisfaction if you persist… followed by more pain.