Thursday, March 29, 2007

New Shoes

Got my new weightlifting shoes today. Very fancy--silver, black, and red for only 160 clams. Well, if they last me as long as my old ones, that'll be 16 bucks a year so not a bad deal I suppose.

Hit a Back Squat session in them. Felt much different. Really felt my quads. My right VMO, adductor complex, and hamstrings were really singing--much more than my left. I'm also carrying the bar differently now that my left serratus anterior is actually firing. The bar is actually centered and for the most part level on my back. I felt very solid in my fancy new shoes. I'm looking forward to doing some real pulling in them on Sunday.

Today's session was a very high (for me) volume session, as was yesterday's and as will be the rest of the week's. My plan is to work 3 week cycles, where the 3rd week is actually a back-off week. I'll drop the total volume, increase the intensity, and up the rest periods. Today was a killer though. I make my own P+C drink using a high quality whey+egg+BCAAs protein and some pure maltodextrin. I normally make a shake using 25g Pro and 50g Malto. I had 1&1/2 during today's session. It was that demanding.

I'm really starting to feel the difference in my the left side of my upper body from the Z. There's a lot more movement. Feels more fluid and of course when I touch a bar, that new movement shows up in the lower body. I'm looking forward to seeing where I am at the end of the summer. I'm planning on being stronger and larger than before I got injured. I just have to remember that slow and steady is the name of the game.

Here was today's training session:

A. Back Squat: 60/5 x2, 85/5, 110/5
(120/5, 130/5, 140/5) x3 series; 2 minutes rest (approx)

B. Deadlift: 110kg/5
140/5, 150/5, 160/5; 150/5, 160/5, 170/5; 2 minutes rest (approx)

C1. Gironda Dips 5x5
C2. Chins 5x5; supersetted, 2 minutes rest

Took me about a full hour. Definitely reminded me of my age. I gotta get back on the KBs to get my conditioning up.

Yesterday, Wednesday, 3.28.07

A. Snatch Pull, from above knee to throat
(80/5, 90/5, 100/5) x3 series; 2 minutes rest (approx)

B. Narrow Snatch Grip Behind Neck Push Press
70/5, 80/5, 90/5; 80/5, 90/5, 100/5
2 minutes rest (approx)

C. Front Squat
70/5, 80/5, 90/5, 100/5
2 minutes rest (approx)

Tomorrow will be off. I'll probably hit some impromtu freestyle KB workout. Mostly just active rest and I-Phase. Gotta find a new place to get my Friday night pizza: the old place shut down. I'll be resting and relaxing for Saturday's high volume day.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Small Victories

I messed around with the KB yesterday--very light--24kg. I realized after finishing up that it was the first time ever that I performed them without any right knee pain at all.

That felt very, very good.

Look forward to more of the same.

A. TGUs: half ups x5+5, full GUs 1x5+5
B. C+Pr 2x5
C. Snatch: Corkscrew, Swing, RKC: 5+5 of each

Day off today. Too much rennovation work to do--schedule controlled me. So this week will be W-Th-Sa-Su.

Monday, March 26, 2007

Forgetting the Past = Paying Now

Admittedly, with all the stress I've been attempting to manage lately, I'd forgotten all the Z lessons I've learned about my body and some of the lessons I've learned about training myself over the last 18 years. Here is what I've been going over in my head for the last week but just haven't had the time to put on the blog til now:
  1. I am still myofascially wound in localized areas: I had forgotten that in order to keep this right knee healthy, I must perform A LOT of mobility work with my left shoulder in extension, and from that position perform elbow, wrist, hand, and finger mobility.
  2. I still need to perform extension and supination work at the wrist, hand, and fingers to counteract all the heavy gripping I'm performing.
  3. I need to perform extensive shoulder mobility work to counteract all the loading on my hips: Every rep I perform loads my hips, with the exception of strict pressing and chins/pull-ups.
  4. Hand and finger mobility is a must. When I fail to perform these drills, I swear my feet start to lock down. Combine this with old shoes that are too small and I have serious problems.
  5. I can't prove it, but failure to perform these things winds up [re]producing my visual and vestibular issues: I lose localized mobility and my body is forced to rely on more centralized afferent input.
  6. As far as resistance, I really truly favor the low reps: 1-3 is best for me--at least for my mind. But when I read my training logs and look at the tonnage I was able to lift in the past, I accomplished this by training in the 3-6 rep range between 60-80%. When I needed to peak, then the reps were lowered and the intensity was increased. Bottom line: I need to build mass to fill out the 105's. The surest quickest way to do this is to use the aforementioned parameters. My pysche doesn't necessarily like it, because, let's face it, the loads used are just plain lighter. I like heavy. But the proof is in the past. As long as I'm using the Elements of Efficiency, I'll grow like a weed again.
  7. If I want to build some beef, I've got to drop the specific work. Since I'm not going to Nationals this year (I'll be there next year--my goal for 2007 was just to be able to squat again and then compete again--so I've accomplished half my goals for this year already), I'll use a lot of partial exercises and pick up some specific work once a week at most. So lots of pushes, pulls, and squats plus meat and sleep should keep me in an anabolic state.

So this past week I've just trained light: I've worked on touching or just slightly exceeding 70% on every lift for 5 reps. Easy work. But here's what I've discovered: Not only do I seem to be using a lot of colons on this post but I'm out of shape to perform 5s. Since we are inherently pleasure-driven beings, this explains why I've been neglecting them--They're just painful--much sweating and heavy breathing accompanies their performance when one is used to performing half the work.

Here's yesterday's session:

Sunday, 3.26.07

A. Push Press:

90kg/5, 100/5, 110/5; 90/5, 100/5, 110/4; Didn't feel like grinding out the 5th rep--way too early in this cycle for that...

B. Front Squat:

90kg/5, 100/5, 95/5, 105/5;

I back squatted the day before upto 130kg/5 on a series so I took it very easy: I didn't want the knees to be wound up today. Back in the day, this was 150/5 x5. It will be again and then some, I'm sure of it.

C. Clean grip Deadlift

140kg/5, 150kg/5, 160/5; all very easy.

Rest for the entire day was 2 minutes between sets. I'm trying to build some beef so a lower rest period is required. I'll do this for 2 weeks and then increase the rest to 3 minutes to allow for a more adequate recovery and hopefully lift more weight.

The goal is 4 sessions each week with KB and extra Z on my off days. One day a week will be completely off. In general I rotate my priorities using a H-M-L system each day, based on number of lifts, not necessarily intensity of RM.

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

The Three Hardest Words to Say...

"I was wrong."

I was wrong about my body yesterday. I decided to train last night anyway. I wore my Nike 10/2 Frees and elevated my heels on a 3/4 piece of rubber mat and front squatted anyway. I had some issues right off the bat and asked a trainer from TPT to take a look. Left serratus anterior wasn't firing and that was causing the bar to elevate on the left side and overload the right knee. Once I got the SA working again, my problems disappeared. Worked up to a very, very easy 120kg.

Then I performed some Power Cleans from the floor: 92.5kg for 12 doubles with 60s of rest. These were peformed in the same shoes but without the 3/4 mat. It was the first time I've ever been aware of being truly square at the start. Some mild knee discomfort on the second pull on a couple of reps, but other than that, no problems.

Grabbed the 40kg KB and performed C+P's: 2 easy ladders of 1,2,3.

Overall, the session felt good. The I-Phase drills have definitely been helping. It was weird how I totally misread my body yesterday. I don't know why I decided to train--maybe just out of sheer frustration. I'm glad I did.

Found some scar tissue--quite a bit of it, actually--in my abdomen. My wife was doing some release work on me last night. Both my right and left sides are pretty bound up with it. She got a lot out of the left side. Made me feel "pukie." Very weird. This could have a lot to do with the knees. I'll continue to have her do the release work until it's all gone. Then I'll have a definitive answer.

Probably hit some heavy DLs today.

Monday, March 19, 2007


Spent all last week and this weekend living out of a hotel room and trying to get my knee to work. I was in the hotel room because I was having my home re-plumbed. I've been trying to get my knee to work since it hasn't been working correctly from the cruise and the heavy cleans in old shoes. The good news is I can now squat bodyweight pain-free, but not Back Squat. I have Front Squatted upto 80kg for 5 reps pain free. I can also peform reverse lunges pain free, most of the time and I can flex my knee with my hip in extension now without pain in my knee. These are starts. I can also perform I-Phase knee and hip circles pain-free. Beginning of last week I couldn't.

I think the heavy cleans combined with the cruise's toll on my vestibular system "poisoned" my CNS and forced me to revert back to old patterns. I've also been having some right hip "discomfort" getting in and out of the car, getting up from the floor, and of course, squatting.

This "poison" has prevented me from snatching or cleaning much over 55% of my max. Jerks are right out: That short, sharp dip produces a sharp, long-lasting pain in the patellar ligament.

As far as training goes, it's all been light the last week and not really worth writing about. I have noticed that my KB work is a little rusty: Tried a series of 5s on Saturday in the snatch: 32kg/40kg/48kg. Made 3 rounds (60s between sets and 120s between series) before I tore a hole in my right palm. Oh, well--I've done worse.

My plan for this week is to continue in the same vein: Lighter barbell work and probably some heavier KB stuff plus lots of I-Phase drills. This week should be better: I'm sleeping on my own hard mattress instead of a soft one and won't have some fatty (individual going to the Rice Diet here in Durham) clomping around in the room above me at all hours of the night for hours at a time.

More later. Just looking up right now.

Tuesday, March 13, 2007

The Holding Pattern

I haven't written anything in the last week because I've been trying to get my right knee to calm down. It's been screwed up since I went on that cruise. It's still swollen and my second pull is shot. Even my first pull was starting to get screwed up: As soon as I'd push the heel into the floor I'd experience pateller tendon pain. Squats are out too. Been down that road before. Dr. Cobb and I came to the conclusion that it's my 10-year-old weightlifting shoes: They have my old patterns worn into them so my feet and susequently my body were picking up those patterns, especially as the load increased. So, time for some new shoes. In the mean time, I'm going to be pulling barefoot. Load makes the biggest difference in changing my body, so I'll load again barefoot. I'll put a board or some matting under my heals and squat barefoot too.

All this means that the meet on the 25th is out. Can't pull or squat when my right knee is twice the size of my left. I'm getting too old to pull the "tough guy" act. I want to be able to move if and when we have kids. Training has once again become truly a daily issue where I have to ask myself what I can do on this particular day. Just as well, I guess. Lots of other more important irons in the fire.

There would've been a time not too long ago where this type of news would devastate me: All this hard work getting back on the platform, etc, etc. Not anymore--I can't emotionally afford to get all worked up over the knee. I'm sure I'll learn something from this even if it's as simple as remembering to get new shoes. So now I'm just in the holding pattern trying to pull and squat again pain free. I was completely there right before the cruise. I'm sure I can get back. Between the Z and the enzymes, I should be feeling pretty good by the end of the week.

All I got done last night was the following:

Power Snatch above knee: 50%/2 x 9 sets.
Knee started bothering me and wife called (staying in a hotel while I'm having the plumbing in my home replaced). So I stopped.

Today will probably be slow heavy stuff. It's all about getting past the knee...

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

You're Not Doing It Right...

I recently read a post on a forum about Z-Health by somebody who's been through R-Phase but doesn't have the support system I have--i.e. no band of Z brothers surrounding him. I have tremendous respect for this individual who I will not name. But his response was something like this: "...I met with Dr. Cobb twice about my elbow. It got worse, not better. Sorry, no Z miracle for me."

I didn't post on the forum to his response--my response wouldn't have mattered so I thought better of it. I can unequivically (sp?) say that he was not performing his Z correctly. How do I know? Because I saw his DJM work at the R-Phase cert: It was fully compensated. When he did his neck cloverleafs, his lumbar spine moved. Now he's performing Z without the accountability and support that I have, which is my former company. He also has very high mileage on him from his sport and a lifetime of sport--sports that produce injuries. He's very, very tough and can move in spite of pain. So if Z doesn't work for him, I can only conclude based on his background that he's doing it wrong. Bold statement, I know. But Z is a binary process. The question you ask the body is, "Do you like this?" The body responds only "yes" or "no." This shows up during the assessment and re-assessment.

How can I say this? Because one year ago I was physically broken. Today, for the first time in 2+ years, I pulled myself under 140kg in the clean (twice) with minimal warm-up--no foam roller, no stretching, no movement prep, no activiation drills (well, not exactly true--I did one new one with Dr. Cobb--but I had already been moving so it was more of a "tweak"), no dynamic warm-up. pain-free. In September of last year, I had abandoned the hope of ever doing so. So, how did I get here? I studied the system, bought into it (drank the Kool-Aid, if you will), understood the principles of the system, applied those principles correctly, had a group of like-minded people around me, and I asked for help--frequently.

I can wholeheartedly say this: If you're not getting the results you want from Z-Health, or any training program actually, then you are either asking your body the wrong question, or misunderstanding the answer it's giving back to you. The body is never wrong. Our interpretations of what the body is trying to tell us frequently are. It does the best it can in any given circumstance.

If you have the R-Phase manual and aren't getting the results you want, pony up the cash and attend the 6 day R-Phase Cert. It's 6 days for a reason. Think about. How many other certs. are that long? And there's not a day, hour, or minute of wasted time. It's all packed with juicy information about how the body, your body, really works. Your bottom line will increase; your clients results will increase; your credibility will increase.

I'd tell you not to take my word for it, but then again, that's the point of many of these posts. Do take my word for it. Who am I? Just a guy with multiple tears in his hip labrums, arthitis in his hips, articular cartilage missing and damaged in his hips, a dislocated knee that was never rehabbed, a torn oblique, a broken arm that was never rehabbed, two fatty hernias, who was told to give up weightlifting or be faced with joint replacements who can now lift almost as much now as he could when he was in his prime with one year of Z-Health under his belt and only four months of lifting on the platform (performing Olympic weightlifting movements). If you're a fitness or rehab professional, you won't be disappointed. And if you are disappointed, just remember, you're doing it wrong...

Thursday, March 01, 2007

"The Best Workout Is..."

"...the one you're not doing."

This seems to be a popular quote these days in the fitness industry. On a base level, it sounds good: "Yeah, I really need to change it up..." But the reality is, it's just a stupid saying. It's a cliche and an overused one at that.

The reality is, the best workout is the one that gets you closer to your goal based upon your background and also keeps you from getting injured. I came to this realization today after talking to my friend Brett Jones, SrRKC. This guy knows his stuff and if you need help designing a training program, you should contact him right away. (

Coming back from this cruise, I planned on changing my training sessions to early in the morning. Well, it sounded good on the cruise but the reality was, I didn't get much sleep on the cruise and I've been making up for it by sleeping in. Not only that, the training program I designed violated my own personal belief system of not using components of the Olympic lifts or the lifts themselves for conditioning, whether strength related or speed related. Kettlebells are for conditioning, especially for athletes with a more advanced training age.

I've always wondered why the longer I trained the less reps I could do with particular weights, even though I could lift more (maximally). Then I read Charles Poliquin's Question of Strength on T-Nation. Here's the question and his response:

A: Yes. What happens is that most hypertrophy gains usually occur between 70 and 85% of max. (That's a gross overgeneralization, but we can use it as a rule of thumb.) Now, an untrained individual will do between 7 and 12 reps in that range, but for an advanced lifter that's only 4-6 reps. If you're experienced and neurologically efficient, the amount of reps you can do at a given percentage of max actually goes down.

Now, there's some evidence in the literature contrary to that, but the majority of it agrees that the number of reps you can perform at a given percentage of max diminishes with training experience, particularly if the athlete has been training properly. This is especially true if levels of maximal strength have increased a lot, as in double bodyweight raw bench press.

This is exactly what I have experienced over the years. Upon closer inspection, it was either Roman or Medvedyev who stated, based on experimentation, that highly qualified athletes (in this case, weightlifters) made improvements in strength by increasing the intensity (% of maximum) of the training sessions, not the volume. (Of course, if the total number of lifts is constant and you increase the load, then volume will go up. But this is different than increasing the total number of lifts and this is what I mean and what the aforementioned authors mean by volume.) Volume is the foundation upon which the lifter builds his strength. I have also personally found this to be true. Therefore, all training programs are not equal and not appropriate for each individual, whether he's got all the necessary equipment or not. In my case, 150 total reps (which is what I had planned) in a training session is just way, way, way too much. I thrive on the lower rep range and the higher intensity end of the spectrum. Whenever I push the volume too high, it's too much for my CNS and I actually lose weight, primarily muscle. I realized this talking to Brett today. (Sometimes I read too much and forget this.) So, I promptly ditched the program I started on Monday and went to a lower volume training program which I designed to fit my highly stressful lifestyle--one that comes with building a new business.

Today's training, Thursday, 3.2.07

Felt rusty--I haven't been on the platform in almost 2 weeks.

A. Power Snatch from Floor:
50kg/3 x2; 60/2; 70/1; 80/1
(85/1, 90/1, 95/1) x 6 with 60 seconds rest
I figured that I only compete with 1 rep so I better start learning to put it all in the first rep. These felt bad until I finally hit the groove I wanted around the fifth series.

B. Back Squat:
(120/5, 140/3, 160/1) x3; 2 minutes rest

These also felt awkard. I think the last time I hit a heavy back squat was almost a month ago. My intention here is to work some hypertrophy, max strength, and limit strength. 160kg felt slower than it should have. Still moved it though.

Tomorrow will be cleans and heavy overhead work.