Monthly Archives: September 2014

Wants, Needs & Knee Sleeves: A Recap

THIS WEEK I made the tough decision to withdraw from the WA Strongman state finals. I took my time weighing up the pros and cons and found that, right now, the most sensible choice is to bow out of the comp (forfeiting my gambit for an invitation to ASM 2015), and get myself properly fixed. That means finding a real solution to my knee problems. While I get them needled and massaged regularly, it’s still not enough. The pain I used to feel only while squatting is now a common issue; I feel it while deadlifting, driving or sitting in a chair for more than 5 minutes, even sleeping with my legs bent at certain angles will aggravate them. While I would be happy to live with this kind of discomfort if I was getting a stronger squat in spite of it, I will not abide it if I can’t even deadlift more than 250 without it arcing up. Risk versus reward. I need this shit sorted.

In addition to not being the most diligent when it comes to stuff like foam rolling (much to the chagrin of my physio, Dominique), I procrastinate on things I know won’t get any better if I leave them be. For instance, it’s become apparent I need orthotics (I’m discovering many serious lifters do) and, while I might hold out hope that the roll in my feet is the only thing causing this knee pain, and the orthotics will fix everything for me, experience tells me this is just one of many improvements I’ll have to make. Once I get these things fitted, a whole lot of my training may have to go back to formula while I re-learn how to perform the various lifts and events with new balance.10644808_10204593514097479_5869445431972975090_n

One small improvement I have made recently is the switch from Rehband to SBD knees sleeves. After a solid elbowing to my quad fascias on Wednesday, I finally sleeved up and squatted the following night. I have to admit they were a great purchase; much, much sturdier than any others I have used. I felt like I was slightly hydraulic, and while they didn’t stop the pain post training, there was only mild discomfort during the squats themselves.

I was enjoying my first squat session in some time, but I probably hadn’t eaten enough and my constitution was clearly not prepared for the assault on my core, as I cut the session short and felt near to throwing up for half the drive home.

Press Wednesday September 10th

Log press (strict)
65 kgs x 5
85 kgs x 3
95 kgs x 3
90 kgs x 9

CGBP
100 kgs x 3
120 kgs x 3
135 kgs x 6

Axle OHP (strict)
60 kgs x 20, 16

Dom’s row
left: 30 kgs x 10
right: 30 kgs x 10

DB front raises
left: 15 kgs x 8
right: 15 kgs x 8

Squat Thursday September 18th

Squats w/Axle
70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
140 kgs x 5
150 kgs x 5
160 kgs x 5

Leg press
200 kgs x 10, 10, 10

Underhand BB bent over rows
100 kgs x 10 TPR
120 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 6

Pull Monday: More Good Pulling

I KNOW I KNOW, I have the rest of last week to post yet. I will get to it. Shit has been pretty average and, with the exception of a 310 kilogram axle deadlift, uneventful. The trainees all got on with their pressing tonight while I followed my deadlift program. The guys are slowly learning the ropes, and the consequences of not listening to their coach when it comes to loading and training off the program. A couple of them go too heavy and do too much ego lifting, and this week they were both sore and reconsidering their actions.

I relied on my belt for all sets tonight, still feeling fried from the weekend. I hit all the required reps, but it was rough. Kinda glad I have a rest week coming up soon.

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 1
260 kgs x 3s x 3r TPR

Overhand BB bent-over rows
100 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8

Glute-ham raises
*130 kgs BW
8, 8

Seated rows
Left: 73 kgs x 10, 10
Right: 73 kgs x 10, 10
114 kgs x 10 TPR

Pull Monday: By the Book

I HAD SOME misgivings about sticking to the prescribed numbers tonight. While I know I had more in the tank after axle deads on the weekend, the loading and volume at this end of my program (with just a few weeks till state finals) is significant. Near-max pulling, a couple of days apart, throw in some reasonably heavy yoke… you can see why I was a bit concerned.

Fortunately for me, this isn’t my first rodeo, as they say. I do sometimes look back at where I’ve come from (did it today, in fact) and marvel at my own progress. Most of the time, I’m more concerned with my next big lift than where I was four and a half years ago. But when I think about all the poor form, lightweight exercises that marked the start of my lifting career, and all the lumbar strains I sustained after I found Strongman… it’s certainly a boost to one’s confidence.

I worked the program, and made another new personal record.

Richard and the trainees got on with their pressing, while pocket rocket Anthony was on the platforms, deadlifting with more exuberance than technique to begin with. He admitted to me that he’d gotten as far as he had with no coaching, formal or otherwise. A little staggered, I suggested he program his lifts in line with mine each week, so I could watch him and give advice where possible.

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 1
255 kgs x 3s x 4r PR

Overhand bent over BB rows
100 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8

Seated rows
left: 73 kgs x 10, 10
right: 73 kgs x 10, 10
114 kgs x 8

Events Saturday: Strength to Strength

RICHARD, LEROY and newcomer Anthony took some instruction in Yoke walk and Axle deads today while Ashleigh was over at the Muscle Pit getting her form assessed by Joel. As it was, I had my hands full with this crew, and it was excellent to see how much potential they all have. I know Rich already fancies himself a contender for next year’s Strength Quests… and as long as he keeps following his program, and keeps surprising me with improvements (like his 216 kilo axle deadlift x4 today), come June he won’t just be talking a big game.

This week I received the events list and entry forms for this year’s state finals, and I again found myself contemplating my next move. It makes sense to see this year through, regardless of how I’m feeling about my conditioning (and my press), and then if I’m not happy with the outcome I can exit the circuit for next year and just focus on getting stronger. That is assuming I place well enough in states to qualify for 2015’s Australia’s Strongest Man. If I don’t get a podium finish, then that decision will be made for me. And for me, if I don’t place at least second, I don’t think I’ll be doing ASM. There’d be no point, after trailing behind people on a state level, to travel to Melbourne and come almost last again.

But then I think; that’s fucking weak loser talk. If I do qualify for ASM again next year, I owe it to myself to compete. If  I want to be a proper Strongman, and I’m strong enough to make it there, I have no excuse not to go. I mean, shit; the next vehicle I purchase I’m getting for three main reasons. It has space to carry all my shit, space enough even for me to sleep in on long drives, and it gets between 800 and 1000 kilometres per tank of diesel. So I can drive interstate to comps and not risk my health flying.

Not everything is going as planned, but then things rarely, if ever, do all go to plan. Best not to worry about it right now. Just lift.

Yoke walk
135 kgs x 20 meters
235 kgs x 20 meters
315 kgs x 20 meters
355 kgs x 20 meters – no soft belt, decent time TPR

Axle deadlifts
115 kgs x 5
165 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 3
270 kgs x 3
300 kgs x 5 PR and had plenty more

The boys were seriously taxed at this point, but I made them do some introductory work with the log before the session ended. Strongman training provides a steep learning curve, and I am very conscious of not over-working them at this early stage. I have every confidence they had trouble getting out of bed the next morning. Steadily, though, they will be conditioned and their loading and volume increased over the coming months.

Press Wednesday: Spinning Wheelz & Having Feelz

MORE LIFTERS joined Richard in his strongman training tonight. More appropriately, Richard arrived late to his first official, programmed session of strongman training tonight. I spent the first half hour or so instructing two of this mates in the deadlift… they insisted he was on his way. When he did eventually arrive, the pair were pretty much done with lifting and had moved on. I briefly considered making Rich sit in the corner with an orange cone on his head for a while.

Later in the evening, Ashleigh also showed up. The big news is she’s left the Legends Football League and wants to focus on strongman. So she will be getting form advice from one of my coaches, Joel, and I’m writing her a basic program to build on. She rarely listens when I tell her what not to do, but she follows what I tell her to do well enough. Now, without any other distractions, Ashleigh can devote the time she needs to the sport, and I’m glad she’s sticking with it.

While trying to demonstrate the glute-hamstring raise to the three fellas, I felt my injury twinge a bit, and immediately hopped back off the apparatus. That was pretty stupid. But it also made me wonder why, exactly, this supposedly minor injury is still impeding me… it may be more serious than first though. It’s even possible I aggravated it further with my deads on Monday. We will see.

I also think I’ve now got the right selection of dumbbell delt exercises to add to this routine. I’m scrapping the Klokov press as I honestly don’t feel it assisting with anything other than a minor improvement to my flexibility. Instead I’ll be doing a few sets each of front raises and a particular front deltoid row I learned from Dominic Leah, which for convenience I’m going to refer to as ‘Dom’s row’ in future.

…and, finally, at some point I will have to look into better options for the triceps pushdown. My shoulder has been an issue since the surgery when it comes to dips. Luckily, it’s the only exercise I’ve found I cannot really do properly anymore (I used to weigh well in excess of 140 kilos and could do easy reps with a heavy chain around my neck) and there are bound to be more effective exercises than nearly thirty goddamn repetitions of the tri-push machine’s max setting (114 kilos).

^This is from 15 months ago. I did 9 reps of 130 last week, and I really should have stuck with 135 for the money set tonight. But I just couldn’t be assed looking for the 2.5s.

Log clean-press (strict)
65 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 3
105 kgs x 3

Bench press
100 kgs x 3
120 kgs x 1
140 kgs x 5 equal to best effort

Axle OHP (strict)
*high rep sets*
66 kgs x 19 TPR
66 kgs x 10, 10

Triceps pushdowns
114 kgs x 29 PR, 16, 16

Dom’s rows
30 kgs x 10 p/h

Pull Monday: More Improvements

1957895_10203370447241572_898808368_oAfter a disastrous deadlift session last Monday, I made sure I was prepared for tonight. I’ve been using melatonin and tryptophan to help me sleep, I’m still not touching any stimulants (and still missing coffee something chronic), also I carbed up today as I have a shipment of Granola and nut bars from the USA in my office. A large shipment. They go great with milk.

Yes, I’m still thriving on two litres of full cream milk (and now nut bars and other tasty shit) each day, in addition to my lunch. I went without milk for a week in July, just to see if there was any appreciable difference to my digestion or sinuses (I’ve been told too much dairy can thicken mucus and clog your airways) but there was none, so I didn’t give it any further consideration. However, I should mention that I’m using Fit Kitchen for my dinners now, and I highly recommend them to anyone as time poor as I am who also needs a guaranteed baseline of macros each day. I’ve been feeling pretty damn good lately, and with 300 grams of choice meat, with greens for dinner every night, it’s not a coincidence.

So I pulled 250 kilos for a total of twelve reps tonight, all belt less. Very happy my right leg behaved. I could feel the tension around the tear and was conscious of it with each repetition. But it held up, and I completed my programming. The glute-ham raises would have torn it more though, so they were definitely out tonight (and I just love to do those don’t I) but some reasonable work was done across the board. I’m even considering adding a deltoid movement in at the end of this routine, since it’s much like a row itself.

^Some of my greatest hits. The Deadlift is my favourite event.

Another brief comment on grip strength, because one of the Genesis PTs was curious about the purpose of my axle and Fat Gripz; at every opportunity I see, I will test my grip strength. I pick up 25 kilogram bumper plates between my fingers and carry them for as long as i can. I pull my deadlifts double overhand up until I can no longer complete the reps that way, and I switch my right to underhand. Being a Strongman isn’t simply about being proficient at events or lifts, it’s about being strong in every conceivable way, to get you ready for the punishment of competition. A strongman with a weak grip isn’t a strongman.

Deadlifts
70 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 1
250 kgs x 3s x 4r no belt PR

Overhand BB bent over rows
100 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 8
125 kgs x 5

Seated rows
left: 77 kgs x 5, 73 kgs x 5, 68 kgs x 5
right: 77 kgs x 5, 73 kgs x 5, 68 kgs x 5

Events Saturday: New Blood

THE GENESIS chapter of WA Strongman is attracting new blood. Ashleigh, the LFL girl who fell in love with the sport just four weeks out from what ended up being her first ever Strongman competition (she placed third, making it into the state finals) has returned to training with a vengeance. Joining her is a new bloke, Richard, who has actually been behind the scenes at Genesis Bentley for some time now, but has finally committed to Strongman training. I hope to get him ready for competition next year, if he sticks with it.

During Axle deadlfits we were joined by another fellow, Russell, who expressed in interest in some of the techniques he saw being used and, with any luck, will turn up next weekend for more instruction. As it was I spent a lot of time talking to and instructing my small collection of trainees. My yoke, farmers and log were all well below max effort (though I am happy with the speed of my nearly 300 kilo belt-less yoke walk) and served more as instructional than anything else. Bur once I have people working together, helping each other set up apparatus, and with a basic understanding of what we do each weekend, things will begin to run smoothly. One thing I have missed training solo a lot of the time, is people to assist with loading and unloading plates and equipment. It will be good to have some comrades to assist.

Yoke walk
135 kgs x 20 meters
215 kgs x 20 meters
295 kgs x 20 meters – no belt

Farmers walk
113 kgs p/h x 20 meters

Log clean-press
65 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 3
105 kgs x 3

Axle Deadlifts
166 kgs x 3
216 kgs x 3
266 kgs x 3