Monthly Archives: December 2013

Pull Thursday: On Target

THE OUTCOME of tonight’s deadlift session would be the defining point of my training week. Not to take anything away from the revelatory nature of Baxter’s bench tips Monday night, but the deadlift is the one standard lift for Powerlifting and Strongman alike; it’s my strongest movement, and last week it felt totally wrong.

The gym was far from crowded, as per usual for a Thursday. Fortunately Chris was also pulling tonight, and he was kind enough to assist with my salts. My salts, however, had expired, and gave me nothing. Annoyed, I just started the lift anyway… and hit six. That was the plan. So I’m feeling generally good, again, but not so cocky… I can’t say that my knee is no longer a problem, it still is; just one that I’ve learned to manage.

With this new personal record in place, my focus has returned. 270 for five is next. Four would be new territory but five would be better. About one hundred times better, in fact.

warmup w/bands

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 6
170 kgs x 3
200 kgs x 1
230 kgs x 1
250 kgs x 1
260 kgs x 6 PR

Kroc rows
left and right
40 kgs x 10 x 2
48 kgs x 10 x 2

Forgettable Sessions

EVERYBODY has them. I have to record this couple, coz that’s the point of my blog (well, one of them); to keep me honest.

My deadlifts were disastrous last week. I was feeling off all day, and was a little sick while changing into my training gear. Later, on the platform, things felt all wrong. My knee was now affecting my pulling; my right leg felt like it was collapsing a little bit with each rep. I stopped at six – and that decision has haunted me since because I had more in me – my back, at least, had more pulling left to do, but with the sixth rep locked out I was in quite a bit of pain and worried my knee was going to turn in. So I stopped. I was not happy… I took a few minutes and picked it up once more, just out of spite.

Then I left, disgusted.

The following Monday was my first squat session in a month. With numbers like these, it’s a wonder I’m not already a candidate for WSM. End sarcasm. The upside is that I am squatting again, and the knee is behaving. I can’t ask for much more at this stage.

Thursday December 12th

warmup w/bands

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
200 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 1
240 kgs x 1
250 kgs x 6
250 kgs x 1

Monday December 16th

warmup w/bands

Squats w/cambered bar
50 kgs x 10
70 kgs x 10
90 kgs x 10
110 kgs x 10

Good mornings
50 kgs x 20
60 kgs x 20
70 kgs x 20
75 kgs x 20
80 kgs x 20

Pinwheelz
12.5 kgs x 15
15 kgs x 15

Better Benching with Baxter

NATHAN Baxter is a world class Powerlifter, coach and patron of PTC Perth. One concise observation from him this evening has radically changed my bench approach.

Week 3 of Joel’s bench program had me building to a paused double of 140 kilograms. While I’ve tripled that weight just horsing around in recent history, it’s never felt as stable as it did tonight.

I never finished my BSc. Exercise Physiology degree (hardly started it, in truth), but personal experience has taught me a bit about shoulders, and the related bones and bits. When Nathan described what he wanted me to do with the humeral ball inside of the joint, I instantly understood. My overall bench has improved immeasurably as a consequence.

I’m very happy with this development, and am looking forward to next week’s session; the last time I attempted 145 for reps I couldn’t manage it. My right side wasn’t stable enough… but again, with this simple change to my setup I’m pretty confidant of a new record.

warmup w/DBs & bands

Bench press
60 kgs x 10
100 kgs x 6
120 kgs x 2
120 kgs x 2
130 kgs x 2
140 kgs x 2 TPR

Axle OHP (strict)
30 kgs x 5
60 kgs x 5
80 kgs x 5
90 kgs x 5
95 kgs x 5

Dips @ 129.5 kgs BW
10 reps x 2 sets

Klokov press
20 kgs x 20
25 kgs x 20 PR

Press Wednesday: Hey, No Thumbs!

CONTINUING with Joel’s bench programming, tonight was more paused doubles. I had Taylor’s help, and in return I provided him with a shoulder to cry on about the many first world problems he has which keep him from making real progress under the bar. I gave him a bit of shit for it, coz he knew they were all lame excuses. He mentioned an injury, and I rattled off my list of current and prior ailments. He told me he never records his training, and I told him the story of Einstein and the journalist. He wasn’t impressed. So I made him do paused presses till near-failure, and record his goddamn reps.

So thumbless grip is feeling pretty good for overhead press… especially on the right side. It’s a smoother movement, and it feels like it allows me to get under the axle a little more. I’m not planning on going thumbless on bench anytime soon… but this change makes my OHP feel stronger… if less secure. It’s a trade-off. Also, all but my final rep were below my chin, so better depth than I’ve been hitting lately, according to coach McCaughan.

Dips are back on the menu too and they’re feeling a little rough, but not painful; it’s just the relative unfamiliarity of the movement. They’re still satisfying and (for me, at least) heavy dips are excellent for my triceps development. I’ll be adding chains and/or plates soon enough… and the challenge will be officially back on.

You may have noticed I’ve missed another week of squats. I’m on a wait list to see a specialist in early February. I’ve been weighing up the relative worth of getting an MRI, and holding out for a day when it’s feeling good enough, and giving squats a shot. But it never eventuates. And while I could have still been doing something, my indecisiveness – and propensity to do stupid shit in spite of injury – has kept me out of the gym come Monday for nearly a month. This has to change.

warmup w/bands

Bench press
60 kgs x 10
80 kgs x 8
100 kgs x 3
paused doubles
120 kgs x 2
130 kgs x 2
135 kgs x 2 TPR

Axle press (strict)
30 kgs x 5
30 kgs x 5 thumbless grip
60 kgs x 3
60 kgs x 3 thumbless grip
hey, no thumbs!
80 kgs x 3
90 kgs x 8 PR

Dips @ 128.8 kgs BW
2 sets of 10

Klokov press
20 kgs x 3 sets of 10 reps

The Differences Between Training & Comp Prep

TODAY I performed my best ever overhead press with anything, ever. My OHP has been my slowest-progressing lift of all, thanks to injury, surgery and, generally, having ‘small shoulder bones’*. I’ve had a fair bit of cartilage shaved off, and some Kevlar screwed into the humeral ball, to make it stronger. But considering I could clean-press a 90-95 kilo log or axle two years ago, pressing 110 today is a personal achievement way, way behind the curve for a heavyweight Strongman with my training history. I should be, as a conservative estimate, clean-pressing 120-130 for reps. I have a lot of work to do in this area, and I have to be smart about how I program it. The low volume, twice-per-week approach has been working well. I just have to know when to quit, like today. That 110 was a strict press, and it was a struggle; continuing on would have aggravated either my shoulder or tendon while achieving nothing. Very, very happy to report that neither was an issue, and neither became an issue, today.

Realistically, my programming is going to have to further change, including my expectations for my pull routine, unfortunately. To begin with; heavy SM events training is off the cards between now and the Perth Cup. I’m still going to do some stuff, like pressing and carrying, but max effort Yoke, Farmers, Car walk, etc is not a good idea, for a couple of reasons. My CNS is stable for now, but that is going to change as my weekly loading increases. And I really should get my knees fixed before I try a heavy walk again, and fuck them good. The best man to see for those has a long waiting list.

Each week I resolve to resume squatting the following Monday, and each week something happens to further aggravate them, particularly the right one. It’s always my right – I am so left-dominant that I am underdeveloped on my right side, and that disparity promotes injury. Right shoulder, right hip, now right knee.

Anyway, back to my ever-changing programming; after discussions with my coaches, it’s apparent I’m going to have to scale back those deadlift rep ranges if I want to have enough left in the tank for the comp. Not by a lot, just one rep here, two reps there. For instance, while trying for 10 of 250 kilos is theoretically achievable next week, I won’t recover enough to then go balls-to-the-wall with 260 the week after, and then try the same with 270 the week after that… something’s gotta give, and it will be my CNS.

Ordinarily, what I’d programmed would have been right on the money for a training cycle; making those big, big reps for as long as I can will reap dividends down the track, but I want to build my strength as much as possible over a set period – which is a different, shorter-term goal – and without risking burnout.

*This was the prognosis of the first surgeon I went to see. While discussing my x-rays he remarked that I had very small shoulder bones for a strength athlete.

warmup w/DBs & bands

minor accessory work

Swiss bar OHP (strict)
35 kgs x 8
55 kgs x 6
75 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 3

Log clean-press
90 kgs x 3
100 kgs x 1
110 kgs x 1 PR

Pull Thursday: 240 x 10

OBSESSIVE. That’s what I am. I obsess about something until I conquer it, or it consumes me. I think most people in the strength game can empathise with that mind set. I’ve been seeing the number 10 in my head all week; when I hit the sack, and when I wake up again. While I eat lunch. While I take a shit.

Tonight, my OCD (and a huge Nandos lunch) produced some fucking good lifting. PTC Perth bossman Dan Rucci caught it on his phone. One day I’ll figure out how to embed youtube videos into these posts, but in the mean time please click this link instead.

So I’m pulling double figures of my money set each week. I’m happy to say that I’ve not stopped seeing that magic number. I want 250 kilograms, for ten reps, next Thursday. And I even made some progress with my Kroc rows tonight and didn’t aggravate my tendon. Fucking win.

warmup w/DBs and bands

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 5
200 kgs x 1
220 kgs x 1
230 kgs x 1
240 kgs x 10 PR

KB Kroc rows
36 kgs x 10 reps x 2 sets
48 kgs x 10 reps x 2 sets TPR

Press Wednesday: PL Programmed

WHILE I enjoy toying around with big dumbbells and clean-pressing fat bars, I need to scrap that kind of stuff for the next 7 weeks and focus on improving my bench. That’s why tonight I enlisted the help of my friend and coach, powerlifter Joel McCaughan; his input has resulted in the changes to my press programming. There will be further adjustments made, where required, over the coming weeks.

Two important aspects that have changed about my bench (so far): 1. I’m using a narrow grip, pinkies on rings, and keeping the elbows tucked as much as possible (they still flair when doing near-max work – something I need to work on), and 2. I’m not bothering with back arch. I have tried in the past to develop an arch, and this time around, benching with no arch appears to have not affected my power at all. So screw it.

And something pretty cool happened tonight also; I gave dips another shot, and they weren’t shit! Managed 10 with good ROM, no problems. Dips will definitely be returning to my regular programming. That means, at some point, the contest with Christian and Joel will be back on.

But right now, the only thing that matters is tomorrow night’s deadlifting; 240 kilograms for as many reps as I fucking can… hopefully 10.

warmup w/DBs & bands

Bench press
20 kgs x 20
60 kgs x 10
80 kgs x 3
paused sets
100 kgs x 1
120 kgs x 2
130 kgs x 2

Dips
10 @ BW (127 kgs)

Axle OHP (strict)
30 kgs x 8
50 kgs x 5
75 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 10 PR

DB bench press
25 kgs x 10
30 kgs x 10
35 kgs x 10