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Nathan

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Did my usual strength session today. Right now it consists of straddle L-sits, tucked ring rows, PPPU, false grip ring pull ups, ring dips, and I'm playing with front squats. I hurt my neck again recently so I regressed a few movements while working through that.

 

Still some lingering effects from the left bicep deactivation in Melbourne, but can't feel much of a strength imbalance anymore and it doesn't seem to be affecting my workouts. For anyone struggling with thoracic outlet syndrome, I started seeing the best results when I started rolling (YTU balls and big black Kong ball) my pec minor nightly. Rolling the inside of the scaps helped too, but adding the outside along the lats and up under the scap really seemed to seal the deal. I still have some nerve tenderness around the lateral head of the triceps, and down the bicep when stretching the pec/bicep. Still working on that!

 

And now for what motivated me to actually create the thread... my FS form check! Thanks to SwissDanny and MattPark for all of the feedback so far. I gave it another go today.

 

Three angles for you:

You guys gave me so much good feedback that I think I might have been trying too hard to put it all to play, leaving it feeling slightly disjointed. I think it's an improvement, though? If nothing else, I figured out that bringing my elbows in and up rather than trying to push them straight up made it a lot easier to get them elevated. Also, I tried elbows at shoulder width and hands wider during my butcher block stretch (thanks Matt) and I finally felt a stretch! A pretty intense one, too. Felt like it's something my shoulder really needs, so I'll keep that in.

 

Any feedback on the new vids much appreciated!

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Hey Nathan!

 

Glad the butchers block is working for you now, your front rack will improve quite well because of it. The elbows in and up is good that should activate the lats and upper back quite well giving you a stable platform and they do look a little higher than your other video.

 

Honestly your form looks really good imo. I know it's still light weight for you but you could try bracing as hard as you can by taking a big breath into your stomach and then push your stomach out for the duration of the lift and see if that improves things for you, if it feels more stable etc. Knees are tracking over toes, looks all good.

 

I think a heeled shoe would benefit you allowing you to get that extra bit of dorsiflexion so you don't have to rely solely on your exceptional hip mobility, plus you probably wont max out your depth completely as your thighs will hit your calves first which isn't a bad thing as you'd still be hitting a very deep squat. I was also thinking it would be interesting to see your FS at full speed with a stretch reflex to see if it changes much from a controlled one.

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Yes it looks solid enough without being able to see what happens with a more challenging weight, and as you say we risk inundating you with detail.  Just make sure your knees dont cave in at all as you start to press up; you do see this in competitive lifters as a technique, but it puts lots of strain on the knees which may be worth it to win a medal, but not for training.

 

Just one safety observation.  Although I know the load is very light, the way you put the bar down is pretty gnarly (straight legs fold forward, loads of spinal flexion while decelerating the bar close to the floor). I would get in the habit of putting down every bar like it was a heavily loaded bar, that way its just an ingrained routine. Especially if you are going to get into CF style reps for time type lifting your back will hate you less for this.

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@Matt: Thanks! Yeah, I'll work on the bracing. Haven't really worked with weights for like 10 years now, so it's not a habit :) I doubt I'll be getting lifting shoes any time soon, but I can definitely work on my dorsiflexion. I hope to get some bands soon and I want to try that banded dorsi stretch since I was feeling it in the front of my ankles when doing the calf stretching for the H2T challenge.

 

@Danny: Thank you too! Yeah, I was watching some vids of Klokov yesterday and saw the knees caving a bit. I figured it was just kind of what happened when you started putting massive weight on the bar. I'll work on keeping them spread and add some more weight. I see you noticed I was getting some extra Jefferson curl work in there at the end ;) Haha, just kidding... good point about ingraining bad habits. I don't think I'll be doing CF-style lifting, but being careless is a good way to get hurt! I'll be more mindful of that!

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Tip for bracing i once got.

If you have mobile shoulders a way to tighten up your position is to really grab the bar, not just with a couple of fingers, but like if you were to press it, and the turn your elbows upwards. Really tightens up your upper back.

Of course this doesn't really work well with high reps or anything CF related, but for a high intensity low rep approach I find it golden.

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Hey Morten, thanks for the tip! I wish I had really mobile shoulders :) Still, might be a good cue to keep in mind. I'll give it a try and see how it feels!

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The usual strength session yesterday. Neck seems to be mostly back to normal, but going to continue with the regressed movements for a while. Some thoughts:

 

Straddle L-sits: Interesting because the compression and legs become the limiting factor of the movement, whereas with normal L/V work I'm always looking to feel it in the back musculature and delts/triceps.

Tucked Ring Rows: Keeping reps lower with these as I try to focus on keeping the tension in the back and not letting it move up into my neck. I have a feeling I "use" my neck far too much when unneeded, thus the repeated strains recently.

False Grip Ring PU: Really liking this regression. I haven't really trained FG so it really limits the reps and forces me to concentrate, which increases quality of the movement.

 

Bumped the FS up 10kg, which is still light but gave it enough weight to feel a bit more substantial on my shoulders. No rack means pulling from the floor to squat, so I'm not really sure how practical FS is going to be. Still fun to play with for the moment. Felt some soreness in the thoracic region after last session, which is nice.

 

Butcher's block stretch question: It seems like most of the videos I see use a supinated hand position so that the palms are facing down toward the shoulders when the bar it behind the head. Thoughts on a pronated grip? It feels awkward (unstable?) but that same awkwardness seems to give a really nice stretch to the shoulder girdle. I'm going to continue doing it both ways for now.

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All of the cool kids are starting new logs, but I'll just stick with this one for now.

 

Took a week off from working out to enjoy the New Year holiday and just relax a bit. Did some thinking about my training and a bit of reorganization. 2015 held some unfortunate injuries for me that were most likely due to a combination of focusing too much on strength and too little on suppleness in addition to pushing too hard, which might be reframed as a lack of intelligent workout programming. So for 2016, I'm going to be focusing on a more well-rounded practice that includes strength, flexibility/mobility, more varied cardio work, and a return to some of my Taijiquan practice.

 

For my strength sessions, I'm going to implement DUP with a light day, a skill day, and a heavy day. I think this should help me avoid pushing too hard in certain progressions. Light will allow me to get in some quality work on easier progressions (i.e. the basics). Skill will allow me to really dial in on form for a few movements and not worry about pushing the progression. And heavy days will satisfy my appetite for pushing it a bit harder. Of course they will all contribute to each other as well.

 

For flexibility and mobility, I will be focusing on the pike/pancake/straddle trinity, with special attention also given to the hip flexors, piriformis, shoulders, and spine (particularly thoracic). Will be combining ballistics, weighted stretching, CR, and a bit of more relaxed stretching. Also starting each morning with a short session of just moving around and exploring my ROMs - greasing the joints for the day to come. Got myself some bands for Xmas and will be doing Yuri's shoulder sequence along with his hands/wrist sequence daily.

 

For cardio, I have pretty much only done HIIT sprints previously. I've never enjoyed running/jogging, but I can enjoy a short session of some sprints. This has also carried over quite a bit to overall cardio fitness and endurance as well. Nonetheless, I'm going to balance it out a bit more by doing a couple of more moderate jogs each week - maybe 30 minutes max. I'm not interested in long distances. I'll be doing a faster run once every couple of weeks or so, as well. Thinking perhaps time a mile and see how it progresses over time. Will still be doing a session of sprints each week, depending on recovery.

 

And lastly, I'm beginning my mornings with my Taijiquan prep that I used to do, which is basically qigong. Deep breathing with a bit of movement - mostly hands. I will do some form work as well, depending on time/mood/inclination.

 

That's it! About to go do my first light strength session for the year. Will report back later.

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First light session was okay. Getting back into it after a week off, so next week will probably feel a good bit different.

 

Warmed up with some straight and bent leg bounces, Yuri's hand/wrist and shoulder sequences, and handstands.

 

Light session movements are:

RTO L-sits

Bar Pull Ups

Ring Dips (with a bit of assistance via band to push reps higher)

Ring Rows

Pseudo Planche Push Ups

Pistol Squats

 

For my light session, I am keeping rest between sets fairly low at 90s and choosing a difficultly that keeps reps around 8-12. I may push that up closer towards 15 or 20 depending on how things go/feel.

 

Did some weighted prehab after: piked skin the cats, dislocates, Jefferson curl, and Cuban rotations.

 

Followed that up with some quick ballistics: hip flexors, piriformis, standing pike, pancake.

 

First day back and first session of this type, so I kept things fairly moderate and didn't push anything too hard.

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Today, usual Taiji prep and limbering, then went for a 20-min-ish jog. Around 3km, very comfortable pace. First time doing any cardio in a few months, so easing in.

 

Just finished a little stretch session. Warmed up with Yuri sequences and some handstands, then: this shoulder opener, some foot-elevated bridging, HF, adv. piriformis, pike, hover pancakes, banded dorsi, and a bit of horse stance.

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Today was my first "skill" session. This would be a power day with conventional DUP programming, but skill seemed to suit BWF better, so I'm going with that for now. In any case, the focus is on clean form with as much rest as needed to maintain that. Started with the usual bouncing, Yuri sequences, and some handstands. (Did my Taiji prep and limbering earlier in the morning.)

 

Movements were:

V-Ups

RTO Support Holds

Rings Muscle Ups

Headstand Presses

Press Compression Lifts

Pike/Straddle Compression

Natural Leg Curls

Skin the Cats

 

So really there are only a couple of main movements along with a lot of accessory work. I may add in some shoulder stands on the parallettes or maybe some bent-arm planche, elbow levers, or something like that in the future. Overall was a pretty relaxed session, which was a nice departure from the norm. Look forward to seeing how these skill sessions develop in the coming future.

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Pretty much same thing as Tuesday. Comfortable jog in the afternoon, just a bit over 3km. Same-ish stretching session: shoulder opener, foot-elevated bridges, HF, adv. piriformis, pike, hover pancakes, banded dorsi, and horse stance.

 

I played with some internal/external rotation in the pike stretch, which was interesting. Not much extra resistance with external rotation but a fair bit with internal rotation.

 

Horse stance is pretty narrow and I think I'm going to keep it where it is until it feels really comfortable and I can keep my torso fairly upright. Last time I worked it into my sessions I pushed the time and width, working up to 5m holds fairly quickly, but I had a substantial amount of lean and it didn't really feel like it did much for me.

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Pulled an all-nighter to finish off a big project on Thursday, so I decided to postpone my Friday heavy session until after I slept. Still did my Taiji prep, limbering, and Yuri sequences. Will hit the heavy session in just a bit.

 

Wanted to share this video that popped up in my Instagram feed. Pancake hovercraft, meet tailor hovercraft:

 

https://www.instagram.com/p/BASI4_AEo4N/

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Just finished my first heavy/strength session. Turned out to be a bit of a monster due to longer rests between sets, but it was fun! Started with usual warmup: bounces, Yuri sequences, handstands, and dislocates.

 

Main movements:

RTO V-sit

Weighted Ring Chin Ups

RTO Dips

Front Lever Progression

Tucked Planche Holds on Rings

Front Squats

Deadlifts

 

Some thoughts:

  • L-sit on rings feels pretty comfortable, but today was the first time I tried pushing the hips forward and wow, what a difference! Was shaking like a leaf. That's exciting because I know I have a lot of room to improve.
  • Chin ups are turning rings through pronated->neutral->supinated grip so not technically chin ups, but yeah. Started with about 35% BW today and felt good. Expect to hit 50% fairly quickly and would like to get to 70% before long.
  • Been a while since I did RTO dips - nice to be back, but they feel pretty tough coming back!
  • I hardly ever attempt the full FL, but I did a little while back and it felt really close. Plan was to do full FL negatives, but after the weighted chins that wasn't happening! Played around with some variations and I think I'm gonna go with adv. tuck or half lay holds.
  • First time trying any kind of planche on rings - tough! Hips were too low, but felt largely like a need-to-get-used-to-it kind of thing, so going to stick with this for a bit and see how it pans out.
  • Been a while since messing with FS now. I think I figured out a better way to get an idea of how rack should feel. Instead of trying to get my shoulders where I need them after putting the bar in place, it felt much more intuitive to get the bar around where it should rest on my delts, and then work on getting my elbows up in the air. Will continue to play.
  • Decided to try sumo on my third set on a whim. First time ever trying sumo, but it felt really interesting. I think my body likes it more than conventional, so I'm going to run with that for a while.

 

Followed up with pretty much the same mobility/stretching as I did on my light day. Prehab: weighted dislocates, Cuban rotations, and Jefferson curls. (Did the butcher before FS.) Then some piked STC, and ballistics for HF, piri, standing pike, seated pancake, and today I added tailor's pose.

 

All in all really enjoyed this session.

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2-3 minutes between sets. As a general rule, I have planned around 90s for light days, as much as needed for skill days, and 3-5m for heavy days. Since this was my first "heavy" session I was still just kind of getting an idea of how much weight or what progression to use, so 3 min felt like plenty/too much for most of the movements. Did 2m for the V-sit progression, and just 1m for the front squats since I'm mostly just playing around with positioning there. As the weights/progressions get tougher I'll probably stick with 3 and up to 5 if needed.

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Did Yuri sequences and a bit of handstanding yesterday evening. It's only been around a week since starting the sequences, but I think I can already feel some change, which is awesome. The thumb side of my right wrist feels really weak/vulnerable when doing the fist to back of palm push ups, so I started with practically no weight, but these are already feeling more stable. Same with the hammer push up movement. I was also surprised at how tight my extensors are around the pointer finger. They're not so bad toward the pinky, but toward the pointer finger I get an insane stretch. Looking forward to more progress there. Also liking the shoulder/scaps sequence - feeling some progress in stability, and get an insane stretch in the armpit/lats area when extending overhead.

 

Second "light" session today. Movements mostly the same as last time, but made one small adjustment:

 

  • RTO L-sits
  • Bar Pull Ups
  • Ring Dips (with band assist) -> Didn't really like the band assist, so I dropped my bar and tried bar dips instead (bar in front, not Koreans). These felt pretty good for my target rep range, so going to continue with these for now.
  • Ring Rows
  • Pseudo Planche Push Ups
  • Pistol Squats

Followed up the prehab/stretching circuit paired with light/heavy days: butcher's block, weighted dislocates, Cuban rotations, and Jefferson curls, then piked STC and ballistics for HF, piri, standing pike, seated pancake, and tailor's pose. Slowly increasing all of these as I get into the swing of things. Feels great!

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Comfortable 3km jog yesterday, followed by Yuri sequences, HS, and stretching session: shoulder opener, foot-elevated bridges, HF, adv. piriformis, pike, hover pancakes, tailor, banded dorsi, and horse stance.


 


The bridges are feeling less and less awkward. I think it's a matter of getting used to pushing through the shoulders to move the stretch to the thoracic area. I played with holding a stick behind on the hover pancakes last time, but found that I prefer just clasping my hands behind me more than using the stick. This helps me keep the torso straight without having to focus on it and lets me get in some shoulder extension work. Need to figure out a better setup for the dorsi stretch - not many places to secure the bands around this house.


 


"Skill" session later today.


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Just finished my skill/accessory session. Started with the usual bouncing, Yuri sequences, and some handstands.


 


Some small changes:


  • V-Ups -> Swapped ab wheel roll outs in instead of these. Did 3x5 full roll outs from the knees pretty comfortably. Will work these up to maybe 3x10 and then move on to a standing progression.
  • RTO Support Holds
  • Rings Muscle Ups
  • Headstand Presses
  • Press Compression Lifts
  • Pike/Straddle Compression
  • Natural Leg Curls
  • Skin the Cats (tuck)
  • Shawarma

Strength is not a problem for the muscle ups. FG seems to be my limiting factor here, particularly in the negative transition. Alternating FG holds, concentrics, and assisted transitions.


 


Took the headstand presses away from the wall for an interesting stimulus. Tried this with the head elevated on a yoga block as well. I think in the future I will do a few sets on the wall for volume, and then a few away from the wall to focus on the feeling (have to do these much slower to maintain control).


 


I don't really have a good setup for the compression lifts, so I'm going to swap those out for L-sit lift to partial press starting next session.


 


Threw in the shawarma movement at the end after Craig suggested it as prep for OAC work. Doing a 5s active hold, twist out to dead hang and back in to active with another 5s hold. A couple of these per arm at the end of the sessions feels like more than enough for now.


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Bumped the jog up to around 4km yesterday afternoon. Think I'll slowly start bumping the pace up a bit and then take it to around 5k. Will try to get in a HIIT session today or tomorrow. In the evening, did Yuri sequences, HS, and stretching session: shoulder opener, foot-elevated bridges, HF, adv. piri, pike, hover pancakes, tailor, banded dorsi, and horse stance.

 

Did some wiggling around and rotating torso toward (facing) and away from the leg during adv. p and that felt nice. I don't really feel anything in the hamstrings during pike, so I'm focusing on the calves instead, which is where the stretch is. Using a couple yoga blocks on the feet to be able to get a nice long pull throughout the shape and against the calves. Really nice stretch - look forward to it feeling more comfortable.

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Second heavy/strength session. Tried to speed it up a bit, but still ran a bit over 2.5 hours with warmup/prehab before and stretching after. Doesn't bother me, though... I've had sessions approach 4 hours before :) Started with usual warmup/prehab: bounces, Yuri sequences, handstands, and dislocates.


 


Main movements:


RTO V-sit


Weighted Ring Chin Ups


RTO Dips


Front Lever Progression


Tucked Planche Holds on Rings


Front Squats


Deadlifts


 


Thoughts:


  • RTO V-sit already feels a lot better (more stable) than last time. Going to stick with short holds until they feel really stable and then work on getting the hips higher and increasing length.
  • Played with adv. tuck and half lay holds today. Feels like somewhere in the middle is appropriate, so I'll just open up the adv. tuck over time as needed.
  • Tuck planche on rings was really shaky again, so I tried it without the RTO and I think that will work much better. Pretty stable, but need to get hips higher.
  • Took some video of FS and sumo DL - will post later for feedback.

 


Post-session mobility/stretching:


 


Prehab: weighted dislocates, Cuban rotations, and Jefferson curls. (Butcher before FS.)


I've found that taking the wide Cuban rotation grip and sitting the bar low on my upper back (on top of the scaps) gives me a really nice stretch somewhere that needs it. Not sure where that is, but I can tell the left shoulder needs it. Pec/pec minor area spasms the whole time on that side too. Doing this before starting the Cubans really helps me retract hard, too.


 


Piked STC followed by ballistics for HF, adv. piri, standing pike (+5kg), seated pancake, and tailor's pose.


Bumped the reps up on all of these to 100 total or per side for unilateral movements. I get the nice gumby walk feeling after the HF ballistics, so I have a feeling those are doing good things. Since I decided to move my pike focus to the calves, I did my ballistics with the toes propped up on a yoga block... so basically H2T for both legs at once. Is that a thing?


 


Will be back later with FS and DL vids.


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FS:

 

 

I was thinking about what Matt said about dorsiflexion and in a later set I realized I could increase it by actually focusing on pulling in that direction. Here I was mostly thinking about keeping the elbows up, which I think I have improved quite a lot since the first vid.

 

Sumo DL:

 

 

So other than trying a couple of reps last time, this is my first time doing sumo. Looking at the vid, I realize now that it's not really a great angle for a form check, but if anything seems off let me know! I like the way these feel in the hips, although it did seem to bother my right collarbone a bit for some reason.

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