Three weeks out

After realizing it’d probably be a good idea to prepare a bit for my upcoming meet, this past week has been dedicated to the three powerlifts. My current structure looks like this:

Day 1: work up to three heavy singles then do backoff. All three lifts. A bit of rows and pullups for support.

Day 2: 5-10 sets of 1-3 reps – this is a light day. Focus on speed.

Day 3: 10 singles. This is a medium day

So all in all what I’m doing is getting in a ton of quality work to work on the setup and moving the bar with good speed. Unlike what I usually do, I’ll be having my last heavy session Monday before lifting on Sunday – I’m pressed for time because I’ve been caught up doing other things.

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This week I’ll most likely only train twice as I’m going to the TFW instructors cert 2 at the weekend. I’ll cut out the lightest day and might even go a bit heavier than “medium” on the “medium” day. Since I coach myself (I know, it’s idiotic, but I enjoy playing with my program) I have the option of adjusting on the go.

Weight has stabilized now and I’m focused on maintaining. Great.

One final thing – I’m sorry I don’t update as frequently right now, but I’m at the finishing stage of my Master’s thesis and trying to focus on that as much as possible. I promise I’ll post more regularly in just a couple of weeks.

Have a great week people.

 

Most underrated exercise for athletes

I’ve touched upon the subjekt before in several posts on functional training, training athletes and here I am again. This time around though, I’ll share a specific exercise (or rather group of exercises), that I believe is a top 5 choice for pretty much any athlete and weekend warrior alike.

What exactly does this make you good at?

If you’re a regular reader, you probably know that I’m a big fan of Dan John (and if you are too, you probably already know where this post is headed). After reading intervention, I started implementing this in my own training as well as the programming and coaching I do for others.

The best part about this exercise probably is that any coach, no matter how retarded he might be, can coach it. It’s that fundamental, and it’s that easy. It’s also very good.

What I’m talking about is the weighted carry.

The weighted carry is a great way to challenge your midsection while moving – it’ll also strengthen the upper back and (depending on variant) the grip.

Pud-Farmers-Walk

The most common variant from this group is the farmer’s walk and while it’s great, there are others worth mentioning:

  • Waiter walk: holding an implement (most often a KB) in one hand over the head. This challenges the shoulder stability. Make sure you don’t go to failure.
  • Crosswalk: One KB in the waiter position, one in the FW position. Same as WW, with the added bonus of having to stabilize between sides.
  • Sandbag: grab a heavy bag in a bearhug and start walking. Or shoulder it.
  • FW with straps: though many see this as pointless “since the FW is a grip exercise”, I find that view very narrow-minded. Straps let you work the gut and upper back even harder, while still getting in some forearm work. It works great with regular FW either on alternate days or as a mechanical dropset.

Learning to brace the midsection under a heavy load will make you better on whichever field you’re on on Sundays. Though often overlooked, quite a few sports also require strong hands (football and basketball for example).

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Go carry that weight!

Wendler 531 Cycle three week two wrap-up

It’s on now. This week is the last hard push towards TSK Cup.

Press: 5 reps at 82,5kg – this is good. Really happy.Followed up with benchpress and figure-8 benches. Did batwings and chins for support.

Closed level 4 pushups and pullups which means I get to do full pushups and pullups now. Yay. Also got 4 sets of uneven hangs as well as some crow stands and extra ab stuff. A very good training day.

Cardio: 686kcals burned in an hour doing light sprints and BW exercises. Managed a 5 s hang in the diagonal split clutch hold and put in some very asexual work on pullups, pushups and squats. All in all a good little session, though it’s a bit annoying that it wasn’t dark outside at 7am. I prefer doing my morning sessions in pitch black darkness.

Squat: Horrible horrible workout. Got 3@155 and then went on to fail at 170 lol. Oh well, rather have an embarrassing fail at the gym than on the platform.ย Support included 12x120kg RDL, some PSQ, GHR and abs. Went home to get a nap and some (alot of) food. I’m pissed now.

And that workout right there made me do something I should’ve done at least 5-7 weeks out – end this cycle.

However, I was having a ton of fun so I stuck with it and figured I’d see how I felt on meet day. Now I’ve got less than three weeks to fix this trainwreck. Shit just got interesting. ๐Ÿ™‚

Wendler 531 Cycle three week one wrap-up

Deload done. My deloads need to be shorter – had ~10 days which is way too much.

Press: 6@77,5kg – this is bad. Bench was fine, though I managed to fail a rep in the pinky grip figure-8. Roll of shame. Duh.

Did backwork as a triset batwings->chins->BOR which was ok. As soon as I get my lower back 100% I need to do some heavy backwork instead of all this dicking around though.

Managed to close the level 3 progression from CC on pullups and pushups, as well as level 2 on squats. Still on level 1 for HSPU (headstands) and level 2 for bridges. This is fine though as the book actually suggest you wait with these two. Headstands are tough when you try to support as little as possible with the hands.

Squat: Wasn’t really expecting to move mountains, as my SI-joint is still off. Getting it fixed before DL-day though. 5@145kg with relative ease. 3×5@110kg paused as backoff.

Managed to close level 2 bridging, level 3 HLR and level 1 grip. Yay.

Cardio: Saturday morning hill sprints and bodyweight stuff. Got in some quality work on clutch holds and my squat progression. Did short sprints, sprints with flying start and played around with changing direction too. Worked up a good sweat. ๐Ÿ™‚

Bench: kept bench at just an easy 5@100 and went a bit heavier on the figure-8s instead. Up to 5@117,5kg. Did batwings and weighted chins as support as well as some easy easy work on the BW progressions. Finally managed to crack 120s headstand, so that’s good.

Finished off with neck, gut and grip.

Deadlift: 5@167,5kg was easy. Ready to push it now. Support was really good as well.

I’ve reached the first “real” bridging” exercise, and it feels fantastic. So excited. Finished up with some abs and grip. ๐Ÿ™‚

On relative vs absolute strength

More or less every time people post something about strength on FB, you’ll see these two responses:

  1. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 135 at 60, I’m stronger than you compared to bodyweight.
  2. You did 200kg at 100kg, and I can do 201kg at 125kg so I’m stronger than you.
  3. (this is actually 2A): If your house is burning and you have to lift a crashed car – do you think it matters how much you weigh?!

As always, the internet is retarded. ๐Ÿ™‚

How about this question: “is it more weight than you’ve lifted before at a comparable bodyweight?”

Obviously bodyweight plays a huge role in strength sports – that’s why there are weight classes. Looking at weightlifting and powerlifting respectively, you’ll find that they use Sinclair points and wilks coefficient to compare across weightclasses. This is because a straight weight lifted/bodyweight equation favors lighter people. For that reason it’s always the weak skinny guys that want to compare lifts using that equation.

Absolute strength IS important. VERY important. A friend of mine recently said “there are no weightclasses in my sport”, which is very true. HOWEVER and this is really important:

Relative strength is by far the most important strength-related quality in sports.

Let me explain.

When I talk about relative strength, I’m not talking about a 45kg guy being able to do endless chinups. Obviously, that guy isn’t going to do a tackle worth mentioning. The other end of the spectrum though is the 200kg guy, who’s probably going to be too slow to get in position to tackle.

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Relative strength is this: getting stronger while keeping your waistline in check.

For me personally, I’m closer than ever to hitting a 2x bodyweight squat. Did I get stronger? Actually no, I got weaker. I lost more weight than strength though. Because I was fat(ish) dropping a bit of weight has made me faster, even if I got weaker. Without a doubt.

Getting stronger relatively for me, is building strength, while staying lean. Unless you’re eating 6000+kcal a day, you’re not training for absolute strength, you’re still training to get stronger relatively. Even though you’re not a skinny twig.

Relative strength is NOT about being the skinny guy who can do a ton of bodyweight exercises. Relative strength, is about getting stronger without getting fat. For all except the absolute elite level lifters, this should be number one priority as it’s a great way to get to the Fame Boy Fitness Commandment number one “Thou shalt train to feel good”.

Train to feel good. Be strong and lean.

Bodyweight bonanza!

Recently I’ve been adding more bodyweight exercises to my training. I used to do quite a bit of BW-stuff, and I’d forgotten why. I hope I’ll keep the memory fresh this time around. I’ve also pulled up my old copy of this book:

I think it’s a really great book that’s easy to read, practically oriented and informative. It has 60 different progressions split into 6 exercise categories plus tons of other great information. With BW-training – inspiration for exercises is key as minor changes in leverages can make a movement a lot harder/easier and help you progress. I’ve also ordered a couple of other books as well as bought a couple of apps (I’ve provided links to these at the bottom).

What’s so good about bodyweight training, you might ask?

  1. Controlling your body is essential in pretty much any sport and in life. Weight training should always begin with a decent foundation of calisthenics.
  2. Bodyweight training will build strength and muscle, just like weight training. There’s nothing inherently muscle-building about lifting weights. Muscles respond to stimuli, not specific equipment. If you’re able to do ten push ups today and two months from now can do ten perfect 1-arm push ups on each arm, all of your beach muscles will be bigger and stronger.
  3. Bodyweight training is not about endurance!!!! I can’t stress this enough. For the uninformed it might be, but if you know exercises progressions, you can stay right in the 5-15 rep zone.
  4. Most bodyweight exercises have a balance/stability component, which makes them more difficult. This is good and bad. Bad for absolute strength/mass, good for longevity.

Depending on your goals (obviously) bodyweight training isn’t going to be the optimal training form, so don’t sell your Eleiko bar just yet. It does however provide a valuable tool in the toolbox and can be used (especially for athletes and older/banged-up lifters) be a great way to get some more work done, without loading up your spine.

smuknumse

Personally, I used bodyweight exercises to accomplish three things:

  1. Get me warm. This is an absolute must for everybody. I go through a list of about ten exercises I find invaluable. I also use calisthenics in my extended warmup. Though unintentional, this fits perfectly into Rooney’s hierarchy of training: 1. Feel good. 2. Relative strength.
  2. Feel good. There’s something almost magical about calisthenics that makes you feel better. They also usually force you to stabilize most of your body, which is a great way to strengthen yourself from feet to forehead.
  3. Cardio. A handful of rounds of something as simple as push ups, squats and sit ups will make you sweat and breathe hard. Just don’t go full retard and do insanely high reps – even though you’re just using BW, you can still get (very) sore. This is particularly true for lunges.

How does it fit in a “regular” training program?

  • As your first or second supportive exercise after the main lifts
  • Instead of everything but the main lift when deloading
  • On a separate weekly training day at home
  • As a short cardio piece at the end of a session

I don’t think anyone should go 100% BW, but I do think it’s a great supplemental way to train. It also has the added benefit of being pretty much the only kind of training where you get stronger as you lose weight, which is great motivation when you’re recomping.

Recommended books/apps:
You Are Your Own Gym: The Bible of Bodyweight Exercises

Gorilla Workout app – great inspiration for short BW circuits. I use these for cardio and extra abz.

Sworkit – another great little tool. I particularly like the 5 minute stretch. Yay wellness.

Rooney’s Pushup Warrior – has a billion different pushup variations

Wendler 531 Cycle two week three wrap-up

Final week of the six-week cycle.

Press: only got 4 at 85kg, which is ass. Got the fifth halfway up. Bench was decent considering I’d just burned out on the press, and I got five solid singles at 115kg and three singles with the figure-8 at 125kg.

Kept support to exercises that spares the lower back, so got in a huge amount of batwings. Yay batwings!

Squat: Took a few days off because of a sore throat – no point in risking anything, thinking long term. Hit a triple @ 157,5 in the squat, which is pretty sad, but my lower back didn’t feel fantastic. Only did two sets of paused squats, before deciding this wasn’t the day. Did some GHDs, BSS’, hack squats and bearhug carries. All in all a decent day, where I managed to get a thorough warmup and a bit of squats in. Could’ve been worse.

Cardio: 15 hill sprints on a lovely sunday. Did 14 different warmup exercises in my livingroom (yay testing!) and then 5 warmup sprints, 5 technique sprints (at a decent speed) and 5 at full throttle. Woo hoo. Max HR 172, Avg HR 133 (including warmup) and 453 kcal burned. I aint complaining.

Bench press: 6@110kg and a single with stop at 120kg. Good good. Three triples up to 125 with purple band in figure 8 and pinky grip, also very good. Support work was fine, but still feel like I need to take it easy on the lower back. Will get physio on it ASAP.

Bench days are going really well recently and I’m feeling a better flow in the motion. Still have a bit of an issue with the right side, but it’s getting there.

Deadlift: had physio on my lower back the day before, so took it really easy. A single @182,5 and 5 singles @ 142,5 sumo from deficit. Finished up with SG block pulls, some quad, hammie and gutwork and finally some isolated jaw-training and a coffee. <3

This marks the end of the first 6 weeks of training (think it’s actually 8 weeks) and I’ll be deloading for 4 workouts now. Really please with the way everything is going – training is great and I’m feeling better than ever. Yay.