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Shaping the body; adjusting the mind


jaja

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On 6/1/2018 at 12:42 PM, Nathan said:

Was "bends" supposed to be straps?

No, actually I was thinking about tape, sorry. I want to avoid using straps for as long as I can, because it feels like cheating. I usually don't have issues with the hook grip, but the friction provided by chalk could increase discomfort.

On 6/1/2018 at 12:42 PM, Nathan said:

You don't really need to be doing more than 8-10 reps if you're interested in strength. It's probably better to start weighting them at that point.

I train chins twice a week: weighted on day A, “free” on day C. I added another day because I had trouble progressing and I'm now really happy with the current setup!

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On 6/1/2018 at 7:43 PM, jaja said:

Deads: no issues with my hands, thanks to chalk, but the hook grip hit hard on my thumbs. Maybe I'll have to protect them with bends, sooner or later.

What @Nathan said.

But with respect to the hook grip, you will harden up in time.  Callouses grow surprisingly quickly, and will protect you if you look after them.

YAY chalk!

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4 hours ago, jaja said:

I want to avoid using straps for as long as I can, because it feels like cheating.

I totally get that, but it all comes down to your "why." Are you training deadlift for your grip? Hopefully not! In that case, if lifting with straps on your top set means better deadlift gains at the "sacrifice" of training grip, then there's nothing cheating about that. Think of elite lifters. At the top of the game, NONE of them can deadlift anywhere near their maxes while relying on grip. The grip simply reaches its limit well before that. And if you are training deadlift for grip, then hook grip could be considered cheating too. But of course, it doesn't have to be one or the other, does it? Personally, I would train double overhand with chalk while working up to my heavy sets, and then switch to straps (or hook grip) when grip became a limiting factor. That way you will work your grip while also getting the most out of your deadlifts.

That said, I'm probably a big fat liar because I do all of my deadlifting with double overhand and chalk :lol: 

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@Nathan Since I'm not competing, I try to avoid any crutches for as long as possible (straps, belt, knee wraps). I know at some point I'll just have to rely on straps, but I'd like to lift twice my bodyweight for 8 reps before. I'm not that far away. ?

 

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  • Squat: 1x6x101kg + 1x7x91kg + 1x8x81kg + 1x9x73,5kg
  • Bench: AMSAPx5x71kg
  • Chin-ups: 1x7xBW+5kg + 1x8xBW
  • Overhead Press: 1x7x38,5)kg + 1x8x36kg + 1x9x33,5kg

One week I'm killing at squatting, the other week I'm embarrassing. Why is that? I don't know, the only think I know is the bar felt odd on my back and the weight seemed almost too heavy. I only performed 4 reps on my heavies (I'm not even sure about the depth) set and even the following were more challenging than they should have. Here's the video:

Bench press was good! I performed 5 sets and pat my back.

Chin ups were challenging to complete, but I performed every single set.

OHP is still my black beast, but I completed my heaviest set! Missed last rep of the other two, sadly. Anyway…progress!

After all this I trained my grip and did some static stretch for my ankles.

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Uh I almost forgot: I tested my pull-up strength and ended up completing three reps! Yeah! Still not sure about my form, though, so next time I'll film myself.

What helped me reaching the goal were probably few random negatives I performed during off-days, hanging down my balcony.

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Great session today!

  • Bench Press: 1x7x78,5kg + 1x8x73,5kg + 1x9x68,5kg
  • Pendlay Row: 1x7x55kg + 1x8x50kg + 1x9x47,5kg
  • Pull-ups: 3x4
  • Hip Thrust: 1x7x78,5kg + 1x8x71kg +1x9x63,5kg

Bench: last rep of first set was really hard, so I decided to increase by a tiny bit the weight of my following sets. I felt my chest working a lot, which is a good sign. Next week I'll increase the rep number!

Rows…nothing to report, everything went smooth.

Pull-ups: I managed to perform 3 sets of 4 reps! My goal is to reach 8 reps, but I'm still unsure about my form.

Hip thrusts ok.

I'm also keep training my grip and so far it's going well.

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I am quite tired right now, just had a really intense session.

  • Squat: 4x6x68,5kg
  • Deadlift: 1x8x110kg + 1x9x100kg
  • Seal Row: 1x6x62,5kg + 1x7x57,5kg + 1x8x52,5kg
  • Overhead Press: 3x10x33,5kg
  • Chin-ups: 4xAMRAP

Nothing wrong with the squat, this time: clean as a whistle.

Deads…oh boy. I think I might have to lower the number of reps, because it's getting really hard to lift high numbers for 8 times. My form was ok, but I felt something off at the lockout of the last rep. Now I have an odd feeling in my left lumbar, as well as in the left portion of the abdomen (HF, maybe?). Nothing serious, I think, just a strain.

Seals went meh. I missed a rep, so I'll keep this set up next week. I tried to raise the bench in order to have more ROM during the lift, but sadly I couldn't find a doable solution.

OHP was good!

Chin-ups: 8-7-6-5.Getting better.

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Yesterday I jumped on the relaxation train with a long yoga nidra session, followed by a sort HF relaxation. Boy, I really needed that! Felt lighter and refreshed! Samatha meditation is also kicking in — I hope.

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So…where do I begin? I've experimented with a lot of stuff this week, and not only in the realm of strength training.

During a limbering exploration I discovered my lats needed some care, so I did a parter stretch for them. The left one was especially thigh. I felt a strong sensation near the armpit, running downward to the hip bone and upward all the way to my little finger. At some point I had to decrease the intensity because of an unpleasant feeling near my elbow. Although afterwards I felt amazingly “light”, I know I have not even scratched the surface: the area needs more work.

Ankle mobility is slowly improving! Well…actually after a mobility work I notice progress, but the following day is like coming back to ground zero. I don't know why, but ankles seems more prone to habit than other body parts. I mean…my HF are tight, but there's quite a difference from the day I first started to work on them. Ankles…not so much.

I'm also flossing my piriformis often. I really don't like to stretch them, but still I need to do it. Badly.

Weightlifting. I realized two things:

1) I need more intensity

2) I should re-evaluate my deadlift goals (rep range)

Starting this week, I began altering my RPT style to match more closely what Martin B. is actually promoting. Every set will be AMRAP. I'll increase the weight once reached the rep goal in the heaviest set, as usual, but the following ones won't be x+1 anymore. They'll be AMRAP. This way I'll be able to incorporate more volume, thus overcoming my sticking points in an easier fashion. The goal is now 8 rep for every lift, except for the deadlift, which will now require just 6 rep. I'm doing this because I almost injured myself last time, trying to hit 8. This exercise is too taxing, at least for me.

Here what I did today:

  • Squat: 4x6x68,5kg
  • Deadlift: 1x6x112,5kg + 1x7x102,5kg
  • Seal Row: 1x5x62,5kg + 1x7x60kg + 1x8x57,5kg
  • Overhead Press: 3x10x33,5kg
  • Chin-ups: 4xAMRAP

Squats: solid.

Deadlift: hook grip was painful as hell, so for the second set I tried a regular one and…I succeeded! This means my grip training is definitely bringing results.

Seal Rows were mildly disappointing: I wanted to do at least 6 reps for the first set.

OHP: failed last rep of last set.

Chin-ups felt good! Pulled out 7-9 reps.

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I have a special talent to hurt myself in stupid ways. A couple of days ago I made a quick side movement while running and felt a worrisome sensation in my “bad” knee. What happened? I don't know, but I had slightly painful sensations for the whole weekend, right where my reconstructed ACL is. I decided to do things normally, but carefully and easy-up my transition to minimalist shoes. Yesterday I wore a knee strap for a couple of hours, to compress and stabilize the area — apparently it helped reducing the pain and this morning I felt really better.

I approached today's training with a lot of caution and did a proper warm up for my squats. Since everything seemed fine, I proceed to load the bar as usual and found my knees strong as fuck! Actually the exercise seemed to “fix” the issue…until I did another stupid thing: I smashed my right foot on the ground to celebrate a successful set, re-inflamming slightly the area. I'm a dumbass, am I?

Here's my training log

  • Squat: 1x6x101kg + 1x7x91kg + 1x9x81kg + 1x9x73,5kg
  • Bench: AMSAPx5x71kg (6)
  • Chin-ups: 1x6xBW+6,25kg + 1x8xBW
  • Overhead Press: 1x7x38,5kg + 1x8x36kg + 1x9x33,5kg
  • Grip training

Really happy with my squats! Probably my form still needs some work, but nothing major.

I managed to bench for 6 sets: new record! Judging from my shoulder strain, the last one wasn't perform as correctly as it should, though.

Chin-ups went really good.

OHP…still couldn't hit the 8 rep goal on my heaviest set.

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It's too hot these days, which means working out is unpleasant. Nonetheless I still train.

  • Bench Press: 1x8x78,5kg + 1x8x73,5kg + 1x9x68,5kg
  • Pendlay Row: 1x8x57,5kg + 10x52,5kg + 1x9x45kg
  • Pull-ups: 3x4
  • Hip Thrust: 1x9x88,5kg + 1x11x81kg +1x12x73,5kg

Bench: still unsure about the 8th rep of my first set, but I think it's time to add more weight to the bar.

Rows: flawless.

Pull-ups: changed my form a little bit to engage more my lats.

Hip Thrusts: shit is getting challenging, but my glutes appear to be strong enough to keep up the pace.

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OHP - Very tough to progress, but responds well to high volume/moderate weight progressions.  Look up the "nSuns" variant of 531 for example... I added 10kg in 12 weeks.

Bench - Since you seem injury prone and mention soreness, consider the value of BB bench vs say flat DB press or Arnold press.  These just feel so much more anterior shoulder friendly.  I do both of these with a triceps emphasis (ie elbows 45 degrees, not flared out) which helps even more. BB bench doesnt seem to me very functional anyway, unless you compete powerlifting.

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23 minutes ago, SwissDanny said:

OHP - Very tough to progress, but responds well to high volume/moderate weight progressions.  Look up the "nSuns" variant of 531 for example... I added 10kg in 12 weeks.

I'll look it up! Right now I'm following a program, but this lift has me cursing every time!

23 minutes ago, SwissDanny said:

Bench - Since you seem injury prone and mention soreness, consider dropping BB bench in favour of flat DB press or Arnold press.

TBH so far it's the only lift in which I got no problems, aside from occasional busted capillaries (soreness happened after doing the exercise for as many set as possible). It's actually my best lift, probably thanks to the way I'm built. Anyway I am prone to injuries, so thank you for the suggestion…but…why DB? I find them harder to stabilize and nearly impossible to use while arching my back.

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Why DB?  On the one hand yes they are harder to stabilize, but on the other hand you can chose the angle of your wrists through the movement. Personally I find it much easier to keep the scapula depressed and retracted through the movement if I can keep my wrist neutral. But that might just be me. 

I guess being able to torque against the bar might help get tight (incl the arching part), but I dont seek extreme PL style arch, which is actually aimed at shortening the required rom. In fact I probably exaggerate the rom at the bottom especially with warm up weight as it give a really nice stretch.

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  • 3 weeks later...
  • 1 month later...
  • Bench Press: 1x8x82,5kg + 1x9x77,5kg + 1x9x72,5kg
  • Pendlay Row: 1x8x65kg + 1x8x60kg + 1x9x57,5kg
  • Hip Thrust: 1x8x110kg + 1x10x100kg +1x12x90kg

The bar path while benching was too erratic, I need to fix this asap. Aside from that, good session!

Starting from next week, I'll be off training until September. I hope not to lose too much strength in the process. 

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  • 2 months later...

It's been a while since my last post here. I'm having troubles returning to the strength level I had before summer holidays. Deadlifts in particular are lagging behind what I know I'm capable of (3x127,5kg currently), but also my bench numbers aren't satisfying.

Speaking of bench press: I had an annoying with my bar path. Up until a couple of weeks ago, during every rep my left arm was pushing more than my right one. The result being “uneven” lifts. Thinking it had to do more with a form issue, I tried widening my grip. The problem went away, mostly, but the new position was straining something in my upper-chest, right at the insertion of the left sternocleidomastoid. Stretching scalenes and pec minor felt nice, so they're probably related to the problem. Now I've found the “perfect” grip width and I don't seem to have issues anymore, let's hope it stays this way.

I cant' make progress on the seal row. It's incredible.

Also: today I fucked up by training with a mild fever and sore throat. I managed to increase my squat numbers, but afterwords I felt like shit. I hope to recover quickly.

I've been working seriously on my ankle mobility, lately, and with some results…on my left ankle. The right one feels like it's blocked (a talus issue I believe) and all the stretches feel way less intense than they should.Particularly when I do the bent-leg one showed in “Mastering the Squat”, I have hard time not to make the ankle pronate and I feel a fairly strong “block” on the front.

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9 hours ago, jaja said:

I'm having troubles returning to the strength level I had before summer holidays. Deadlifts in particular are lagging behind what I know I'm capable of (3x127,5kg currently), but also my bench numbers aren't satisfying.

I'm sure you know this, but assuming that you're working as hard as before, it's simply a matter of not fueling or recovering enough. If you eat a lot and sleep a lot and lift hard, you'll get stronger. It gets more difficult when you're trying to manage weight or can't recovery properly. That's when you need to consider adjusting your lifting to match what you can handle at the moment, perhaps by prioritizing certain movements, etc.

9 hours ago, jaja said:

Also: today I fucked up by training with a mild fever and sore throat. I managed to increase my squat numbers, but afterwords I felt like shit. I hope to recover quickly.

Honestly, I'd probably train in that situation too, although perhaps at a lower intensity. Training can be restorative at the proper dosage.

9 hours ago, jaja said:

I have hard time not to make the ankle pronate and I feel a fairly strong “block” on the front.

I feel like we've talked about this before and I've simply forgotten, but have you used the banded distraction to try to move past this? If you can't use distraction, I find that working just behind that "block" feeling and doing very long, gradual stretches can help move into and beyond the block. It will take time and patience to use this method, though.

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7 hours ago, Nathan said:

I'm sure you know this, but assuming that you're working as hard as before, it's simply a matter of not fueling or recovering enough.

That is likely the case. Monday to Friday I'm out and about, I try to eat as much quality food as possible, but still my bodyweight is the same. Sometimes I even lose 1 kg or so. As for rest…I opened a thread about sleep, where I stated I need 7-8 hours to function properly. I get that much sleep only during the weekend.

7 hours ago, Nathan said:

Honestly, I'd probably train in that situation too, although perhaps at a lower intensity. Training can be restorative at the proper dosage.

Well, today the fever is gone (as for this moment, at least), so maybe it was the right thing to do! I'll never know for sure, though. What I want to avoid when I have an illness is to play the “sick role”, so I try to stay somewhat active. Unless I have high fever, of course. I believe the attitude has an effect on how fast I recover.

7 hours ago, Nathan said:

I feel like we've talked about this before and I've simply forgotten, but have you used the banded distraction to try to move past this? If you can't use distraction, I find that working just behind that "block" feeling and doing very long, gradual stretches can help move into and beyond the block. It will take time and patience to use this method, though.

We never talked about this, but I've searched in the forum and found some people mentioning “banded distractions”. I have a yoga belt, maybe it could do the job! Thanks!

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On 10/21/2018 at 12:22 PM, Nathan said:

Also: today I fucked up by training with a mild fever and sore throat. I managed to increase my squat numbers, but afterwords I felt like shit.

My suggestion is to miss the session under these circumstances, or have a very light session—the chemistry of what the body is doing when you have a fever/sore throat can increase your numbers, but you can end up paying for it, too. This is especially so if recovering from an illness—you feel strong in the gym, and you use that energy to lift heavy—but you have a relapse of the cold/'flu. I have seen this many times, and it has happened to me, too.

@jaja: can you point me to the sleep thread you started, too, please.

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