Monthly Archives: July 2015

WEEK 4 PRESS: A Painful PR

Axle PC still copyLET’S start with the stuff that sucked. I was supposed to bench 162.5 kgs for three doubles tonight. I managed one set, and there was a long and excruciating single after that… attempting more would have been stupid. And it was all due to my right elbow acting up. Luckily since I’m training at the Pit this weekend, Cliff has kindly offered to look at it for me.

But my OHP was better. Painful and slow, but nonetheless stronger than I’ve been before by a good margin. I don’t know for certain but I’m pretty sure my best axle strict press is 105 for 5… I know, pathetic right? My best overhead press on a good day – whether strict or cleaned first – would not exceed 120. In fact I’m pretty sure I haven’t even done that. But after tonight’s efforts, and considering the less than optimal state I was in, this really does bode well for the future. Now I just have to work on my cardio so I can give all four presses a decent shot on comp day, the last and heaviest being 130.

After this I canned the accessories, which would have only further aggravated the complaint.

Bench press:
20 kgs x 8
70 kgs x 5
100 kgs x 3
130 kgs x 2
150 kgs x 1
162.5 kgs x 2, 1 FAIL

OHP w/Axle (strict):
20 kgs x 8
65 kgs x 5
95 kgs x 1
110 kgs x 5 PR

WEEK 4 Pull & Squat

PTC clinic 150725

ABOVE: PTC Strongman clinic July 25th – Introduction to the log clean-press

GOOD SESSION tonight. I performed the squats that I missed last Tuesday and they felt smooth and comfortable. I’m really enjoying how much better squatting feels once I’m done with DL… my coach suggested this was evidence of cold hamstrings, which could have been the reason for my ongoing knee problems. After my pulling, everything lower body is ready for the squat… well, except for my lower back; it still complains about the program, but a lot less than week 1. Week 1 was tough. I’m adjusting quickly though.

That was a new PR for me. Next week, I have to do it with 325.

75 kgs x 5
125 kgs x 5
175 kgs x 3
225 kgs x 2
265 kgs x 1
295 kgs x 1
315 kgs x 2 PR

Bar x 8
80 kgs x 5
130 kgs x 5
160 kgs x 1
180 kgs x 3s x 3r

Seated rows:
130 kgs x 10
140 kgs x 10
150 kgs x 10

WEEK 3 Recap: Strong Unit


I HAVE a week of training to catch up on and some exciting developments to share. So let’s do the technical stuff (the important stuff I have to remember) now. The events and loadings for the WA Strongman qualifiers at Coventry Village, Morley August 29th have been finalised, and are as follows:

1. Overhead press medley: log 100kg, axle 110kg, log 120kg, axle 130kg

2. Car walk: 360kg, 20 meters

3. Axle Deadlift: 275kg for reps

4. Farmers walk: 125kg, 20 meters, 145kg, 20 meters

5. Loading medley: keg 105kg, sandbag 100kg, keg 130kg, sandbag 130kg

I have my preferred events and fortunately my weakest one is first up, so I can get that out the way and focus on the deadlift and pick and carry events, which I don’t do too badly in. Conditioning is really my biggest concern right now, next to the specificity of event 2: it’s been well over a year since I’ve performed a car walk. But that’s something I’ll look to rectify next weekend, when WA Strongman and PTC Strongman train together for the first time, at the Muscle Pit, Cannington.

TUESDAY Deadlift & Squat
So I had a minor injury occur when I didn’t properly rack the bar after squatting 150. The right side, it was. There weren’t many people in the gym and while I had help from Dale, who had been operating the mono for me, it took some time for another person to come along and attempt to help. Someone did actually come over and attempt to help, but they were new (at least, I’d not met them before) and either didn’t know what to do or was not strong enough to do it, but he took the load long enough for me to kinda get out from under it enough to grab the end of the bar and wrench it up, onto the rack. Not long after, I noticed I had wrenched my back also, so I called it a night. I got my money sets in on the deadlift; no point risking further injury to complete what is essentially an assistance movement.

75 kgs x 8
125 kgs x 5
175 kgs x 3
225 kgs x 2
275 kgs x 1
305 kgs x 2s x 2r PR

Bar x 8
80 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 3
150 kgs x 1

This was a better session, but I am pretty certain I didn’t get the scheme right on my OHP money sets. Shoulda been two triples… I’m pretty sure I did three doubles. Anyway, these were still some of the most comfortable strict presses of 100+ kilos I’ve done in forever. While my press may be lagging – still – it’s also worth noting that I’m hitting these after benching some reasonably heavy weight.

Bench press:
Bar x 8
75 kgs x 5
105 kgs x 3
135 kgs x 2
155 kgs x 3s x 3r

Overhead press w/Axle (strict):
20 kgs x 8
65 kgs x 5
85 kgs x 2
105 kgs x 3s x 2r TPR, but wrong set/rep scheme

DB front raise:
12.5 kgs x 10
15 kgs x 2s x 10r

12.5 kgs x 20
15 kgs x 20

I have to start by saying how impressed I am with the PTC Strongman team today. They were tasked with creating a system so we could simulate the press medley, and they got it down in a matter of minutes. Soon, all trainees not performing the event itself were working as a unit in loading first the log, then the axle, to create a four press medley event in real time, each lift a 10 kilo increase. Just like the event at qualifiers.

While I sucked at the event itself (as stated earlier: conditioning; factor), I had wanted to do this medley before the yoke, again to better simulate the competition. We were unable to perform the events this way, and my fatigue from having recently walked a 350 yoke for at least 15 meters. Providing I pace myself and work with the time limit (75 seconds) I might even be able to complete all 4 presses on comp day. A 130 kilo clean-press would be a legit new record of at least 10 kgs for me.

On the yoke, a couple of the guys wanted to have a crack at 350. Nigel and John each moved it a couple of meters. I took it the rest of the way… 15 is just a guesstimate for the run. It felt reasonably quick and no drops of course… it’s only 350.

A similar thing happened with the farmers walk; one trainee moved it half way (more than half way, to be fair) and could go no further, so I walked the remaining however many meters, turned around rather than dropping the picks, and walked back. That was interesting, and while it’s not at all a good idea in competition (unless the walk essentially requires you to do it), my back thanked me for not putting it through another pick up.

Cambered bar walking press:
6 reps, 20 meters, 6 reps, 20 meters, 6 reps

Yoke walk:
130 kgs x 2 x 20 meters
210 kgs x 2 x 20 meters
250 kgs x 2 x 20 meters
310 kgs x 20 meters
350 kgs x 15 meters

OHP Medley:
First Set
40 kgs log
50 kgs axle
60 kgs log
70 kgs axle
Second Set
80 kgs log
90 kgs x axle
100 kgs x log
110 kgs x axle FAIL

Farmers walk:
60 kgs p/h x 2 x 20 meters
80 kgs p/h x 2 x 20 meters
100 kgs p/h x 30 meters

Events Saturday: 6 Weeks till Qualifiers

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAAND THAT means five more training weeks remain.

Today I put the crew through three events, one of which they’d never performed before. The log clean-press was a novelty that had some overestimating their abilities. The log we have at PTC is really small, but in a fortnight I’m looking forward to introducing them to (and re-familiarising myself with) a contest spec log. And some other new toys…

It’s been confirmed that the heavyweights will be performing a car walk in place of a yoke. WA Strongman has managed to keep this new apparatus on the down low till a week ago. Since I want to do well, I figured it would behoove me to go get some time in with the actual apparatus, so I booked a training day at the Muscle Pit August 1st, and I’ll be taking a cadre along with me.

Back to today’s session: we began, as we will continue to begin for the foreseeable future, with the walking cambered bar overhead press. One day soon I’ll get some really good footage of this weird and useful warmup exercise. This was followed by yoke, log, and farmers walk. I didn’t do much worth mentioning with the exception of a pretty quick, belt-less 20 meter walk with a 300 kilo yoke. Nothing at all special, but it was the first time in a while I’ve moved anything beyond, say, 250? that didn’t make me light-headed.

Previous weeks I’ve had some not-quite blackout moments after moving the yoke, very reminiscent of what used to happen before I started getting my traps needled semi-regularly. I kept thinking I needed more treatment but today everything felt fine; blood flow is not the issue. I think maybe its just been that long since I did yoke regularly, I needed to get accustomed to it once more.

Now I have yet more diverse footwear to load in my training bag. Next events session I’ll walk 350 on the yoke and at least 140 per hand farmers. No idea as yet what I might do with the little log, but I am going to set up an axle on a neighbouring platform, so we can simulate the press medley – also a qualifier event. Along with some kind of carry medley (the specifics of which are yet to be released) which we unfortunately cannot train for at PTC, so again I will take my trainees through the basics of keg and sack carry during our time at the Pit.

As for me, now I just have to not do anything till Tuesday night, when I must pull 305 for a couple of doubles, followed by a bunch of 180 kilo squats. I know, faced with this, I should relish my recovery time. But I do not. I only know right now, for this to work and for me to not burn out between here and the end of October, it is necessary.

WEEK 2: Pressing Matters

Axle PC still copyI HAVE dispensed with my shoes (or, more precisely, my orthotics) for virtually everything bar squatting now. I was using them for events like yoke and farmers walk, as well as clean and press. Honestly, I believe I am a whole lot more stable in all these movements without them. I guess it’s an excuse to buy another pair of shoes, so I don’t have to remember to put them in/take them out depending on what I’m doing at the time.

Tonight went fine, but there’s nothing heavy in the program at this stage to challenge me. That will change soon enough though. My overhead press is weak as shit, and doing it after bench will mean I am somewhat underpowered. All the same, I intend to finish this program cycle with a PR.

Minor pain in my left shoulder this time, but only when benching. I am hoping that this niggle (which I have actually been nursing for a couple of months now) won’t affect my clean. This weekend, at the clinic, we will find out.

Bench press:
20 kgs x 8
70 kgs x 5
100 kgs x 3
130 kgs x 1
145 kgs x 4s x 3r

Overhead press w/Axle:
20 kgs x 8
60 kgs x 5
85 kgs x 2
100 kgs x 3s x 3r

DB front raises:
12.5 kgs x 10
15 kgs x 2s x 10r

12.5 kgs x 20
15 kgs x 20

WEEK 2: Way Better

TONIGHT was a 100% improvement on week one. While I admit I was feeling the effects of my first combined pull & squat session right through to events on the weekend, this time around I was ready. The reduced volume and rep scheme proved to be more manageable while still providing progression. I am much more confident of completing this program as written from this point.

Good news across the board, really. Where normally I would use sleeves when squatting anything beyond 150 or so (and typically get some kind of knee complaint afterwards), tonight I dispensed with them and completed all reps with zero issues. My knees feel absolutely frigging fine right now. It’s so odd, and glorious, and I hope it continues.

The seated rows were a good swap-in accessory, and there’s room for progression there too. Especially once PTC’s Hammer Strength facility arrives.

75 kgs x 8
125 kgs x 5
175 kgs x 3
235 kgs x 2 double overhand, new PR for grip strength
265 kgs x 1
295 kgs x 2s x 2r PR

30 kgs x 8
80 kgs x 5
110 kgs x 3
140 kgs x 1
160 kgs x 3s x 4r

Seated rows:
120 kgs x 15
140 kgs x 10
150 kgs x 5

Events Saturday: Making a Plan

the Lilly seminar

I’ve just today had confirmation the WA Strongman qualifiers will be Saturday August 29th at Coventry square in Morley. The events will be much the same as the last qualifier:

Yoke walk: 350 kilograms (maybe more) for 20 meters.
Log Clean-press: most likely for reps over rising bar.
Deadlift: still not confirmed whether this will be bar or axle, rising or for reps. Any permutation, I am not concerned by.
Farmers walk: I believe the last qualifier involved 20 meters up and back with two pairs of picks, the second heavier than the first. Should be fun.

There was initially talk of a fifth event – a sack carry or carry medley – but this will probably be used in the state finals in October instead. While I have not trained it in quite some time, carry events were typically something I did not suck at. All the same, I am looking forward to getting a chance to re-hone my skills in some of the events we see less often in local comps.

With only six training weeks before the comp, last night I made the snap decision to introduce some new concepts to the clinic. Right now, PTC Perth does not have everything I’d like for strongman events training. But more stuff is on the way, and in the interim there are some movements we can and should utilise to assist with improving strength for the more obscure events we cannot train specifically as yet. One of them is the front squat, which builds strength for pick & carry events like stones.

10407958_10202471054634149_1929846659875471606_nThis time I had the crew use the axle and a zercher, or ‘Conan’, carry for variation, which proved to be challenging even for those who were proficient in the exercise. While this is not something I personally should keep doing every weekend as it conflicts with my existing squat program, I will have the clinic perform them more regularly. Then, when I do finally have the ability to train sacks and stones with them, they will appreciate the carry-over.

I was pleasantly surprised when my first ever trainee and good friend Ashleigh showed up to re-familiarise herself with the sport of Strongman after a long hiatus. She tells me in a month she will be back in top form. I have challenged her to prove it, and compete in August. If she follows through, it will be good to see her take the platform again.

In August 2013, Brandon Lilly visited Perth and spent some time with myself and the WA Strongman team. One of the pieces of advice he gave for improving overhead pressing ability is something I am calling a cambered bar walking press. But honestly I feel as though it’s name changes each time I discuss it. It’s not a movement I’ve performed myself for some time:

Stand and strict press the cambered bar overhead for a minimum of 5, maximum of 10 reps (higher reps are preferable but it will depend on the weight of the bar… ours is pretty heavy), then while holding it overhead and locked out, walk 15-20 meters. Stop,  press for 5-10, turn around (still with the bar overhead) and walk back. More presses at the end. Repeat if you can.

The cambered bar is particularly difficult to keep moving in a straight plane of motion during the press. The log we have is very small, and really does’t translate to the feel of a competition spec log (which is why we train axle a lot more often), but this assistance exercise will at least aid in building strength and rigidity in the press, no matter the apparatus. I and the rest of the team will be starting each clinic with this exercise.

As a basic template, the next 6 weeks of clinics will follow this format:
1. WARMUP: Cambered bar walking press
2. EVENT: Yoke walk
3. OPTIONAL: Front squat w/Axle
4. EVENT: Log clean-press
5. OPTIONAL: Deadlift
6. EVENT: Farmers walk
7. OPTIONAL: Dumbbell clean-press

The events are things I have to do as part of my own prep. If I’m not too taxed from my mid-week sessions, I may add in an optional accessory or two. But my main goals are:

* 375 kgs Yoke walk for 20 meters
* 130 kgs Log clean-press (or 120 for reps, that would be nice too)
* 150 kgs p/h Farmers walk for 20 meters

There are certain combinations we cannot use as they promote injury. For instance, things like zercher front squats and conan carries (another obscure event that trainees have asked about recently) cannot be used in conjunction with deadlifts or farmers walk. That kind of strain on the biceps is a stupid idea. If we had a heavy tyre for flipping, that would likewise be off the agenda in this circumstance.

So, if we add in front squats one week, trainees cannot also do deadlift or farmers walk, but they can do log and dumbbell press. Other than that, there are no caveats and enough variety to keep people engaged. And I can focus on the events I need to improve in time for the comp.

And Now For The Press

LL Axle straps

Above: the picture I sacrificed Tuesday night’s money sets to pose for.

THIS program is another trial by fire. Tonight at least went according to plan. But then you’d freaking expect that for week one, wouldn’t you. The money sets are as follows:

WEEK1 July 9th
Bench press (paused): 130 kgs x 4s x 4r
Overhead press (axle): 90 kgs x 4s x 4r
WEEK2 July 16th
Bench press (paused): 145 kgs x 4s x 3r
Overhead press (axle): 100 kgs x 3s x 3r
WEEK3 July 23rd
Bench press (paused): 155 kgs x 3s x 3r
Overhead press (axle): 105 kgs x 2s x 3r
WEEK4 July 30th
Bench press (paused): 162.5 kgs x 3s x 2r
Overhead press (axle): 110 kgs x 3
WEEK5 August 6th
Bench press (paused): 170 kgs x 2s x 2r
Overhead press (axle): 115 kgs x 2
WEEK6 August 13th
Bench press (paused): 175 kgs x 2
Overhead press (axle): 120 kgs x 1
WEEK7 August 20th
Bench press (paused): 180 kgs x 1
Overhead press (axle): 125 kgs x 1
WA Strongman Nat. Quals Saturday August 29th
WEEK 10 September 10th

Bench press (paused): 190 kgs x 1
Overhead press (axle): 100 kgs x 10
PTC Perth Cup Saturday September 19th

…again, those numbers posted for the single intervening training week before Perth Cup are pure speculation. I could be in a wheelchair with my arm in a sling before I even get that far. But I’m feeling better about this routine than my deadlift and squat routine.

Tonight went like this. All OHPresses were strict, but I did not remember to adequately pause all my benching. Note for next week.

Bench press:
20 kgs x 8
70 kgs x 5
100 kgs x 3
130 kgs x 4s x 4r

Overhead press w/Axle:
20 kgs x 8
60 kgs x 5
90 kgs x 4s x 4r

DB front raises:
12.5 kgs x 10
15 kgs x 10
17.5 kgs x 10

12.5 kgs x 20
15 kgs x 20

Week 1: Brutalised & Revised

WELL that didn’t go so well.

My first attempt at programming around three comps is already proving to be a trial by fire. I over-estimated my strength levels and just assumed EATING MOAR would continue to reap benefits, and forgot all about the fact that, after my 340 a couple weeks back I brought 350 to below my knees and struggled with it for a second or two. That failure taxed me significantly yet I rushed into these loadings as if it never happened. So after tonight’s clown session I’ve done some revision, dropped some volume, and set my sights just a little lower.

I say clown session because in addition to being underpowered I made a couple of goofs which cost me the completion of my second money set. To start with, during my warmup sets I decided I’d try and pull 260 kilos double overhand to test grip strength. I got it to my knees before my grip failed and I had to drop it. Swapped to alternate grip to complete the single but felt I’d lost some strength in the process.

Then I decided to do my second triple of 290 with the axle (the main reason being so I could provide Loaded Lifting with some stills to promote their great new axle straps), but I didn’t factor in strength loss due to having to strap up after belting up… the seconds spent keeled over and notched tight while I wrapped myself to the axle proved too much, and I failed to complete the third rep.

I also was not prepared for just how much impact squatting after max effort pulls would have on my spine! I had originally included bent-over barbell rows to finish the routine but I’m going to swap them out for something a little less taxing, like Krocs or seated rows (as was Tim’s suggestion). Now is not the time for a herniated disc.

I’ve only written up to Perth Cup so far. But, with more sensible loadings, my Tuesday night pull and squat routine now looks like this:

WEEK 2 July 14th
Deadlift: 295 kgs x 2s x 2r
Squat: 160 kgs x 3s x 4r
loaded lifting pull copyWEEK 3 July 21st
Deadlift: 305 kgs x 2s x 2r
Squat: 180 kgs x 3s x 3r
WEEK 4 July 28th
Deadlift: 315 kgs x 2
Squat: 200 kgs x 2s x 3r
WEEK 5 August 4th
Deadlift: 325 kgs x 2
Squat: 215 kgs x 2s x 3r
WEEK 6 August 11th
Deadlift: 335 kgs x 1
Squat: 230 kgs x 2s x 2r
WEEK 7 August 18th
Deadlift: 345 kgs x 1
Squat: 245 kgs x 2
WA Strongman Nat. Quals Saturday August 29th
WEEK 10 September 8th

Deadlift: 350 kgs x 1
Squat: 260 kgs x 1
PTC Perth Cup Saturday September 19th

I expect at least one more rest week post Perth cup, which leaves me with just four good weeks of prep for the WA Strongman finals. Assuming my body makes it that far. And the maxes posted here for that single training week between SM Nat Quals and the PTC Perth Cup are pure speculation. I don’t have any idea how damaged I will be at that stage of the program. I may not even train at all that week… we will have to see.