Friday, February 29, 2008

Trip down memory lane...

I decided to take a look back through the training log on the DD forum to kind of chart my "PL Journey"...
Started DLing again in Dec. or so of 05
March 25, 2006 - USPF meet - Bench 286, DL 501
March 29, 2006 - first Squat workout - 315 x 3,3,3
May 4, 2006 - Squat 405 x 1, 1 - had started using a belt in May
June 10, 2006 - USPF meet - Bench 303, DL 523
July 25, 2006 - Squat 425 x 2
(also hit a gym PR DL of 535 around the 8th)
Oct. 2006 - Move back to Pittsburgh and begin training in my current gym
Dec. 16, 2006 - AAU meet in Las Vegas - DL 540
Dec. 19, 2006 - Begin Pre-RSR for the squat
Jan. 17, 2007 - Squat 455 x 2
Jan. 22, 2007 - Pre-RSR peak - Squat 495 x 1
March 31, 2007 - ADAU PL meet - Sq 455, Bench 295, DL 560
May 21, 2007 - Begin Ryabinnikov Squat routine - High point of 515 x 2
Oct. 2007 AAU PL meet - Squat 518, Bench 286, DL 573
March 29, 2008 - ADAU PL meet?????

This March 29 will be 2 years of squatting and just over that for beginning to train for some DL meets etc...interesting to look back on the progress.
Rif busted me yesterday by congratulating me on my first "Westside" max effort day - Rack pulls and stiff legs for DL emphasis. But it took me 2+ years to get there. ;)

Training today:
DB bench 85# x 3, 3, 3, 3, 3
Pull-ups (BW with pauses) x 5, 5, 5, 5, 5
Ab wheel rollouts x 5, 5, 5
KB swings and snatches 28kg x 5 sets of 10

Felt good - there might be something to this daily activity thing ;)

Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fun Fun Fun stuff...

Decided to hit a quick session this AM and made it a "DL" session:
Rack Pulls (bar just above knee cap at start of pull- so a short range rack pull)
585 x 2, 635 x 2, 675 x 1 (5 sec. hold), 725 x 1

Stiff leg DL (Conventional pull to the top and then three stiff legs ala Marty Gallagher)
315 x 3,3,3,3,3

I have never worked rack pulls before and it felt good - Why Rack pulls? Because I wanted to feel the weight above what I am shooting for at the meet March 29. Didn't feel the weight really until 725 (first time having 700+ in my hands- Man I love Heavy stuff!).
Stiff legs felt good - different erector and hamstring work which should pay off come conventional DL time.

Yesterday I hit a 2 x 5 @ 80# in the DB bench as a bit of "a little of the hair of the dog" recovery workout from my DB bench session the other day. Yes - I was sore and still am a bit.

Let me say it again - I love heavy stuff - especially when I am picking it up!

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

We all have weaknesses...

One of the things about putting yourself up in front of the world posting workouts etc... is that your weaknesses are part of you and will come out - in front of the world. Most hide from this and only want to show the "strong side" of themselves. I try to be as open as I can be about where I am weak etc...and Rif's post the other day showing the dumbell bench as a great assistance exercise for the bench press revealed one of mine.

Since my training has been a bit scattered and I train on my own (getting lift offs from people at the gym), I figured the DB bench was just the ticket. And it is.
At one of the places I work the DBs only go up to 85# - and since I have hit the 100# DBs for sets of 3 before I figured a 5x5 type approach with the 85's should be great. Well it didn't turn out quite that way.

DB bench 85# x 5, 5, 4

Stopped cold at the 4 th rep of the third set!
(that's 11 reps short for those of you counting at home)

Turns out I found a weak spot that should allow me to progress my PL bench (no wonder I have been bumping my head against the same spot and not increasing my bench! I'm weak!)
Sounds like Westside - doesn't it? Yes but I "maxed" out my target exercise before I am going to a "special" exercise so it is my twist on the Westside "train your weaknesses" philosophy.
And I am still working on my form for the flat bench etc...

So I will be pushing the DB bench for the next three - four weeks and then a back off week and then the PL meet. Thanks Rif.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Absolutism vs. Freedom...

(Yes I was a Rocky and Bullwinkle fan as a kid - hence the two titles)

Rules - We all have them to "guide" us in our lives. And, there are many times where a guideline is established as a "rule" and takes on the status of Law.
Some follow the rules and other break them - who is right and who is wrong?

In the fitness world (and in life) there are two extremes - Absolutism and Freedom.
Absolutism - as defined by Unabridged (v 1.1) - is any theory holding that values, principles, etc., are absolute and not relative, dependent, or changeable.
Freedom - as defined by Unabridged (v1.1) - the power to exercise choice and make decisions without constraint from within or without; autonomy; self-determination.

So Rules would seem to take us in the direction of absolutism - but do they?
And Freedom would seem to take us in the direction of breaking the rules - but does it?

I don't want this to become too esoteric but I think it is necessary to understand that we as humans are always fighting the internal battle between these "polar" opposites.
We love freedom and do not want someone imposing their views/rules on us but we all seek our own absolute answers and want to be "right".
And few things fuel our freedom vs. absolute battle like "experts", studies and "proof".

"Never train to failure" vs. "You have to train to failure" is a common exercise philosophical battle - who is correct?
Both can actually be correct - before you start feeling like the robot from Lost in Space (does not compute, does not compute...)- I will try to explain.

As Pavel has stated many times - strength is a skill and training to failure can be detrimental to the goal so you should avoid failure.
Pavel will also tell you that if you are going to train for something like the Navy Seals - you had better find where "failure" is for you and learn to go beyond it.
Power to the People advocates low reps and low volume but ETK and the original RKC book advocate high reps and volume!!??

Not at all, if you understand the goal and exercise your freedom to apply the correct absolute for the situation.

Training to failure is simply a tool - how you apply it and WHY you apply it are the key variables to whether it is "correct" or not.

There are many things out there that I do not "agree" with because I don't feel it is the proper application of the tool in order to reach a desired outcome - However - I may find myself in a situation where the "thing" I disagree with is the exact right thing to do.
Absolutes turn out to only be absolute within a certain context and Freedom is only free within the constraints of the specific situation.

Hope I haven't muddied the water too much but "exact" answers are difficult to come by and the concept of situational correctness needs to be learned by many.

When you are following a program there are the priniciples of the program that guide the design and application - these are usually adaptable to the goals and individual needs. Find principles to guide you - not rules to dictate.

Jack Reape had this to say on the forum...
Using "rules" gives you a way to experience an approach or philosophy and learn how it works for you. Once you have that knowledge, you can try different things and build a "bag of tricks" for your training. i mix things up a bit now but i figured out how to do that by trying thinjgs long term. Yes, you can have a cheat day or freestyle day once a week, but you can't just keep moving forrward without a backoff no matter how good you are..

Great advice - the Rehband Bard strikes again.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Quick training today:

405 x 1, 455 x 1, 405 x 1, 495 x 1, 405 x 1, 475 x 1, 405 x 1, 455 x 1

Felt decent - not great - but that is the way it goes. Set up is improving and I am feeling solid on my squats.
Monday Rant - (i could get used to this)...

The Steroid mess in Baseball and other sports -

A now infamous baseball star is going to great lengths to proclaim his innocence. Stating that he thought the injections were vitamins etc....
This seems to be the common defense - "I thought my trainer was just giving me supplements and vitamins" - BY INJECTION...or by some unknown cream etc...

I have been in the Athletic Training and Fitness Industry for 19 years working with individuals of varying levels. High school athletes, college athletes, olympic athletes etc... and I have NEVER used a syringe to inject ANYTHING into any of them.

How does a supposedly intelligent individual allow an untrained (meaning a person with no medical training) person to inject them with anything?

Ignorance is a poor defense!

Supplements are or are becoming a huge gray area as more of these "supplements" actually provide "drug like" effects - Where is the line?
When does a Pro-hormone "supplement" cross the line into providing a testable positive result?
Is the "supplement" tainted because it is produced in the same equipment and production lines as other "drugs/supplements"? - a who put this peanut butter in my chocolate situation...

One should be very informed and cautious about what they are putting into their body and the reasons for doing so.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

Quick one today:

28kg KB
Arm bar + Get-up x 5 r+L
Bent Press x 4 r+L
Swings and Snatches x 5 sets - various reps

Just enough

Friday, February 22, 2008

A couple of rants for the day...

I don't usually do this and maybe it is lack of sleep and what not but I have to rant a bit on a few issues - advice, self evaluating, and strength.

Advice -
Advice is only speculation.
It is (or can be) a well intended collection of facts, figures, opinions or experiences offered in the hopes of helping someone.
And it is almost always speculative and incomplete because there is no way to properly guide someone based off a vague question. The statement of - "I want to gain weight." - will be met on internet forums with advice such as - "eat a lot, squat, take creatine, etc..." People with an injury will seek advice - "my shoulder hurts when I..." and the internet experts will chime in with any number of tips and pointers - books, exercises and therapies galore come flooding out.

But what if the person wanting to gain weight is skipping breakfast, wants to be vegan and thinks that bananas are a weight gain food (and lets not talk about the adult beverage liquid calories)? Add to this 12 hour work days, family stress, oh and a history of low back pain and a previous ankle fracture - and they don't know how to squat properly and are filled with movement restrictions and asymmetries. Would your advice change?

What if the person asking for the shoulder advice has a history of a hip injury, car accident and neck pain? They continue benching even though it hurts - oh and they forgot to mention that they work as an electrician and work overhead 10 hours a day -oh and did they mention that they are diabetic?? Would your advice change?

Responsibility in the area of advice runs both ways -the person giving the advice must realize that the advice is general and speculative and that it should be given with caution - the person receiving the advice has to still make their own decisions and take into consideration all of the specifics that they did not provide when they asked for advice. It is a two edged sword and can cut both people.
Think before you give, ask for and receive advice - BTW this may sound funny from someone in the "advice" business but this should indicate how seriously I take handing out advice and some of my thought processes.

Self evaluating -
"I am sore all the time, feel like a wreck and can't make progress towards my goal." Does a person providing this information really need an outside person to "clue them in" to the fact that they are overtraining and headed for trouble?
There is a difference between letting the weaker side of your mind pull the plug on your efforts and ignoring the warning signals being sent - you must self evaluate and make wise decisions based on your information.
Are you listening and self evaluating?

Strength -
Strength is a responsibility - meaning I think everyone is responsible for achieving "strength" in their lives - and - they are responsible for using that strength wisely and for good purposes.
Strength (physical strength) can take many forms - 1 rm squats may not be someones idea of strength but being weak and out of shape is not in the ball park either - decide what strength means to you and persue it.

Just a couple of rants...

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Training 2/20/08

405 x 1, 455 x 1, 405 x 1, 475 x 1, 405 x 1, 455 x 1, 405 x 1
315 x 3 paused

275 x 1, 315 x 1, 225 x 5 (close grip)

Squats felt great and with the improvements in my set up (bar/upper body tension and hip loading) the squats were deep and solid. I'll be sticking with a very similar set/rep/weight set up for my squat sessions but will be working my way up till the PL meet.
Also -since I was just hitting singles my recovery was much better and rest time could be shorter - this makes my lazy self happy ;)
Bench didn't come off as well - I couldn't find the sweet spot and the hand off was part of the issue - so I will have to continue to work on this.

Lots of Z - I teach a Z class at one of the places I train and then use it with my clients during the day - feeling good. And I am back in my Nike Free 3.0 shoes at work and my feet are doing well.

Still need some sleep and I am getting caught up on my emails and work before I go to the Netherlands in two weeks.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

A visit to the Rifstonian Institute and the San Jose RKC...

After an early flight on Thursday I had the opportunity for a session under the experienced and expert eye of Sr. RKC Rif at the Rifstonian Institute - and what a session it was - Rif, Pavel and I spent a couple of hours coaching each other through squats, bench and deadlifts (I was the only one squatting and benching and Rif coached but didn't lift). This is what I miss so much in my own training - experienced and critical coaching to keep progressing - there is only so much you can do on your own.

First up - Squats
I have been having some "issues" with my squats not feeling quite dialed in and I found out why... I have been reversing the "treat your light weights heavy so your heavy weights feel light" by mentalling feeling that I had reached a certain "level" with my squats so that certain weights should feel "easy". This lead to several things - not enough tension at the lift off, breathing pattern being off, not loading the hips enough etc...
So I spent some time getting my upper body tension set before I unrack the weight (lats, lats, lats) and having my breath coordinate with this and not losing IAP - while setting my hip angle and loading my hips while maintaining upper body tension through the lift.
What a difference!
405 x 2, 455 x 1,1,1, 405 x 1, 315 x 3 paused

Second - pulled a couple of DLs
worked up to an easy single at 495 just to have Pavel and Rif evaluate my form and it looked good so I moved on to Bench.

Third (and the lift I most needed help with) - Bench
Where do I start? I have a saying for the teaching of the swing -"there is a difference between swinging a kettlebell and knowing how to swing a kb" - well - there is a HUGE difference between benching and knowing how to bench!
I thought I was getting tight at the start etc... but I had a lot to learn.
First up - getting my arch and getting the lats set
Second - loading by pulling the bar down into the lats
Third - using the lats as a base to press from in addition to pressing from the feet
(did I mention lats?)
Results - 275 for a few singles which felt like an empty bar - very different. Then hit some close grip with 225 working on the same feeling in the lats but finally hitting some triceps.
Then hit 315 x 1,1,1 - which felt very good once I hit my set up and breathing correctly
Now I can't wait to bench!

San Jose RKC
The first RKC in the USA outside of Minneapolis - roughly 89 attendees and a great facility!
A big thanks to Chris Holder and his staff at San Jose State University - what a great situation - many of them are RKCs and great strength coaches to boot.
The Dragondoor gang was there and of course made the weekend flow easily - thank you.
Pavel, Andrea DuCane, Myself, Rif, Doc Hartle, Sara Cheatham, and Michael Castrogiovanni were ready to put a hurt on the San Jose "victims" and we did ;)
I had a tremendous team of RKC hopefulls that really made huge leaps in improvement - I was a very proud instructor at the end of the cert.

On Saturday night Tyler Bramlett and Logan Christopher brought out a bag of phonebooks and steel and we had an improptu grip session.
I finally learned the Dennis Rogers style of phonebook tearing thanks to Tyler - and I really like this style of tearing.
Got to do a little bending and some sledge levering etc... It was a great way to finish up the night.
Thanks Tyler and Logan.

We continue to learn and progress the RKC School of Strength!

Not sure if I will hit a training session today but we shall see...

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

On the Road Again...

Headed off to San Jose tomorrow morning for the first US RKC outside of Minneapolis and I am very excited to see a lot of friends and the RKC hopefulls.
These are always intense weekends that require a lot of energy but are extremely rewarding!

Joe Sarti had an excellent blog the other day - check the link on the right.

Keep swinging...

Sunday, February 10, 2008

Training today...

Squats - 405 x 2, 445 x 2, 495 x 1, 1, 315 x 3 (paused)

Bench 295 x 2, 305 x 2, 225 x 5

32kg KB x 5 sets swings and snatches (between 15-20 reps)

Lack of sleep and such made this a tougher workout than it should have been and I have to stick to the plan - I should have gone for 485 x 2 but my stupid wheels started turning and I didn't get my double at 495. Stupid is as stupid does....

Now rest up and get ready for the San Jose RKC

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Training today:

Band Squats 245 x 3, 3, 3 (doubled over monster mini bands)
DL - 515 x 1, 545 x 1
Stiff leg DL 335 x 3, 3
Chins 45# x 5, 3, 2
Dips 100# x 5, 5
40kg KB swings x 10, 10, 10, 10

A pretty good day of training.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Quick one today...

Sneaking workouts in - loads of fun.
all with 28kg KB
Arm bar + Get-up x 3 singles each arm
Swings and snatches x 5 sets - various styles - 20 rep sets
Windmill x 3 each side

After putting the KB back in yesterday I woke up feeling about the best I have felt in a long time and expect to feel better yet after today. KB swings and snatches especially are therapeutic. The key is controlling volume and intensity. Which I started to do on my powerlifting yesterday and will continue with leading up to the ADAU meet at the end of March.

Z drills later today and feeling good.

Monday, February 04, 2008

Training today and Jet lag...

Hit the gym this afternoon -
Squat 405 x 2, 445 x 2, 475 x 2, 455 x 2, 315 x 3 (paused)

Bench 275 x 2 (paused), 295 x 2, 225 x 5

32 kg KB work - 5 sets of swings and snatches (various reps) with a couple sets of chins and dips thrown in for good measure

Felt good and decreasing the volume and intensity is certainly a good thing - I finished squats and bench feeling like I could have done a good bit more.

Jet Lag - I usually don't suffer from jet lag and travel issues but this trip kicked me in the pants a bit. Late night getting in on Thursday - had a high energy workshop on Friday and a private session + catching up with friends and business dinner - Saturday another high energy workshop at Iron Core and then a couple of hours to spend at the Cove in La Jolla (one of my favorite places on earth) - and then catch a red eye back to Pittsburgh by way of Charlotte and get back in around 9:30 am Sunday. A whirlwind trip but a great trip - now just need to catch up on some sleep prior to next weeks RKC in San Jose.

So considering the jet lag and work I am very happy to be back in the gym today and have a good workout.

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