Saturday, November 25, 2006

LIFE: A Problem to be Solved or an Adventure to Live?

I must admit, I tend to view life as the former: A Problem to be Solved. This has served me well in many areas: lifting, business, and...uh...hmmm...Upon further inspection, my view has been a more than a little bit myopic: I've missed having fun because such situations didn't fit into life's equation. My wife has been more than a little upset at me more than once.

What has all this to do with strength training? Simple. Because strength training is strength training, not working out as most tend to view it, there are lessons to be learned on every rep of every exercise of every training session. Training is an adventure, not a problem. I've have lived my entire training life as a problem. Since I was 15, it was always for something, toward some goal, a part of some bigger equation. When I took up weightlifting, it was consuming: I had to lift more all the time. More, more, more, more. I failed to learn and more importantly, to enjoy. This problem attitude led to two things: training as a duty and injuries.

Not being on the platform the last two years due to injuries has taught me a lot, most of which I only just realized this week. It was Peak Week--the goal was to lift 80% of my previous competition maxes (which by the way, are 6 years old--I can't believe it's been that long), from above the knee, completing each lift in the power style, or 90 degrees of knee bend or above. Not only did I Power Snatch 105kg, but I also hit 110kg, which the last time I lifted that, I believe was last December at Rif's place, and I weighed 20lbs more.

However, I got buried with 180kg on the Back Squat. 170kg x2 was no problem--it flew up. But my body just shut down on the 180kg. It went down fine--felt strong. But when I went to stand up, it was as if somebody shut the power off. So I had to jump out from underneath it. My legs were a little jello-y after that. I knew I was tired. But still, the last training cycle that had 160kg in it was in Feb. of '05 and on that first set, I tore my right quad tendon--not completely, but just enough to know that the right hip problem was serious. That was the last cycle with 160kg in it. So, after not squatting for 22 months, rehabbing 2 hips and 2 knees, and being 20lbs. lighter, I'm feeling pretty good about the 170kg for a double Back Squat. However, this miss had it's toll on my CNS.

I fell 5kg short on the clean--I didn't finish the planned training week out. I was really tired Thursday after the snatch and the squat. I was definitely overreaching; my desire to lift was diminished, I had restless sleep, and I was getting irritable. Of course, life off the platform had a lot to do with that. So yesterday, I took the day off. Still feeling beat by 5pm, I decided to stimulate the ol' parasympathetic nervous system: I jumped on the foam roller and then performed some static stretching. When I got done, I was wiped. My wife was tired and went to bed early. I ordered a pizza and watched a DVD. Here's the interesting thing about the pizza: I ate 7 out of 8 slices and saved one for my wife. But I was still hungry--really hungry. Something to pay attention to in the future.

Now, normally, I would've beat myself up for not being able to finish the week. But now I see it as a learning experience. I had a lot going on in both my businesses last week--some pretty big stressors. That stuff affects what happens on the platform whether I believe it or not. No big deal though. Just have to adapt the training program to life outside of the training program. And, I'm still pain free.

Because of this attitude, I was able to listen to the needs of my body over the last four weeks. So I jumped on the platform today and made it a light day. (This next cycle is going to be 12-24 weeks of gaining strength and putting muscle back on.) Because it was light, I was able to concentrate on what was going in inside each rep of each lift. And I learned a lot--things I can apply tomorrow on the platform and for every subsequent training session hereafter. It felt great to not only move, but to move, or attempt to move, correctly.

There's something truly fun about the feedback you can get from training. And today really was fun. I performed two lifts I've never performed before as part of a training cycle. (I only performed them because of reading I've done and feedback I've received both in the past and over the last four weeks.) I listened to what each lift, each movement was telling me and the position of my body during/through those lifts. My goal is to perfect those movements with the lighter weights so as the load increases, I'll be able to perform them correctly. And because they're assistance exercises designed to be applied to the snatch, when I start performing the classic snatch again, I'm hoping that what I've learned will have transferred.

The really fascinating part of this whole experience is I never would be in this position if I hadn't gotten injured and then focused a lot of my training on kettlebells--not because I wanted to but because it was the only thing I could do without pain. Because of the offset loading and unilateral nature of KB training, you are really exposed to the sensation of your muscles contracting and working, much more so in my opinion than barbell lifting. If I hadn't had this experience, this opportunity, I wouldn't be back on the platform enjoying myself. Because of the KBs and the lack of progress using traditional methods of rehabilitation, I became interested in Z-Health and used the joint mobility exercises to re-educate my CNS. Both of these systems/tools, allowed me to experience the adventure that is training. What started out as a problem to be solved truly has become an adventure to live.

The New Cycle:

My new cycle will probably be 4 days on the platform: 2 days of light work focusing on speed and positional work (50-80%) and 2 heavy days (70-100+%) focusing on well, going heavy--gaining strength. Reps on speed work will be 2 per set and all other sets will be between 3 and 6 reps to produce maximum protein [re]synthesis. Two days each week will be devoted to GPP and recovery. GPP will be jumps and KB swings and recovery will be foam roller, static stretching, and sauna.

Today's training session:

A. Power Snatch from below the knee: 50%/2 x 12 sets; 45s rest
Believe it or not, this position was very taxing on my hamstrings.

B. Pressing Snatch Balance: 5-7x5; 90s rest
bar/5, 40kg/5, 40/5, 50/5, 55/5, 55/5, 60/5;
55kg was probably the perfect weight today. Legs felt very worked after these.

C. Snatch Pull from above knee, medium grip: index fingers on the ring: 4-6x4-6; 90s rest
60/6, 70/6 x4
Good positioning all the way thru: 1) long spine the whole lift; 2) finished the lift on my toes with big chest; 3) got the bar to float the whole way up and hang right under my chin

More training tomorrow but with my weightlifting partner.


Anonymous Anonymous said...


you've been off the max loads for a while. that level of work capacity takes a bit to return.and, as you say its tough to fit optimal recovery time into real life. hard enough just to get quality gym time much less optimize recovery.

its also so easy to write stuff down but the body doesnt always work that way.especially as we get older( sorry bro, I dont make the rules eh?).peaking is one sticky wicket, especially on multiple lifts.

and yes heavy ass training like that do make you hungry. thats why its so hard to make gains when you are trying to keep your weight down. high calories so help recovery!

do you think if you had done 170 for 1 instead of 2 you would have had enough left for the 180? or were you just done? as I said increasing work capacity so that one can do the 3-6 lifts at 90% or above( as per prilepins table) takes awhile.
it's amazing how much work capcity it takes to do just a few heavy lifts eh?

eat up and rest up, win lose or draw, next day its back int he gy because you are right, THAT is the adventure.

8:58 PM  
Blogger Geoff Neupert said...

I dunno, Rif, it's possible I would've made 180 if I had only done 170/1. But I'm not really worried about it. I'm thrilled with the snatch. And the clean is so much more of a strength dominant exercise than the snatch. For me especially, my legs need to be S-T-R-O-N-G to make gains in my clean. I don't look for my clean to improve much past 160kg until my front squat is upto or past 200kg. That of course won't happen until I put some weight back on, because right now, my legs look like two rulers!

Now it's time to build that work capacity. Medvedyev states that heavy's and SHW should spend most of their time training in the 4-6 rep range for 2 reasons: functional hypertrophy and work capacity. Plus, it's harder for the big guys to recover from the heavier loads. That's why Prilepin's Table uses ranges I guess. More reps for the lighter guys, fewer for the bigger ones.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Geoff - having rehabbed myself back from the dead (RSI/stress - not ever wanting to revisit that place again) I am thoroughly enjoying your online dissection class!

For hunger try

and have a poke around that website too.

good stuff!

5:12 AM  

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