Sunday, February 17, 2008

15lbs In 36 Training Sessions?

That's the goal.

I've been dreading going back to squatting 3 times per week so it's obviously time for a change. I was putzing around on the platform yesterday, when I thought I'd just call Alfonso and get his opinion on the "best" program for mass and strength for a busy guy like me. It's very interesting, because when you spend enough time with someone and apply what you learn from them, you start to think the same way you do. I was already thinking of two strength/mass days and two technique days. That's exactly what Al came up with. One dynamic/ballistic day and one grind day, interspersed with two technique days.

Here's how it's broken down:

Saturday: Technique, varied positions

Sunday: Snatch pulls from above the knee, based off 110% of best ever snatch (135kg)

Tuesday: Technique, varied positions

Thursday: Back Squat, based off best ever 1RM (500lbs)

The loads are as follows:

Weeks 1-3: 60-80%/6 x6; rest as needed (5 minutes for me)
Pulls: 70-75-80%
Squats: 60-65-70%

Weeks 4-6: 65-85%/5 x5; rest as needed (again, 5 minutes)
Pulls: 75-80-85%
Squats: 65-70-75%

Weeks: 7-9: 70-90%/4 x4; rest as needed (5 mins.)
Pulls: 80-85-90%
Squats: 70-75-80%

Overhead work can be performed 1-2 times per week, any loading parameters desired.

Today was brutal--coming back off being sick, I thought I was going to vomit after my first work set of pulls with 105kg/6. All the wind was ripped from my lungs. Fortunately, I started to adapt as the session went on.

Here was today's session:

A. Snatch Pull, AK: 105kg/6 x6; 5 mins rest. Tough. Definitely felt every muscle in my body.
B. Press: 70kg/6 x4; 3 min rest
C. Pistols: 16kg: R--3x6, L--2x6; Just wanted to throw these back in the rotation keep everything "balanced." Right knee had some lateral and patellar discomfort. I think this is from catch a pull with my right foot externally rotated.

Also, some weird stuff going on with my right leg: My body has dumped all the hypertrophy from that leg so now it's almost half the size of the left one. This is very recent. Up until two weeks ago, just before I got sick, the right was almost exactly the same size as the left. Very weird. I'm wondering if it's a result of being sick--some sort of neurological reaction to the virus. I'm sure I'll bounce back.

I have a feeling I'm going to feel like I've been hit by a truck tomorrow when I wake up. If I recall, this type of training produced a lot of mass when I was in college. I wonder if it'll do the same 15 years later. If today's post-workout feeling is any indication, 15lbs should be pretty easy to come by.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Next Year, I Think I'll Get the Flu Shot...

Been out all week with the "flu" or something viral. This left me in bed on Tuesday and Wednesday with the exception of forcing myself to eat and go see the doctor.

Went to NJ last weekend to see my coach, hang out with some friends, and revisit the past at Rutgers. It was a great trip.

I spent the entire afternoon on Saturday with Alfonso. It was just like old times and he hadn't changed a bit. The Cuban coffee was as strong and sweet as I remember it. He was glad to hear that I was faster at 35 than 25. However, he was incredulous when he actually saw it. This is one of the premises behind Z-Health: Truly becoming better with age. I snatched 102.5kg/2 x3 from above the knee and cleaned 130kg/2 x3 from above the knee. All were very fast, very easy, and very solid lifts. Al commented that my lockout on the snatch was much stronger than he remembered it. To be honest, it was much stronger than I remember it. This is undoubtedly from the cranial mobilization work I've been doing lately which has finally allowed me to feel "grounded."

Speaking of feeling "grounded," I spent all day Sunday at Rutgers walking through the campuses and various memories of the 10 years I spent there. It was pretty cool really.

Two major conclusions were reached while I was there:

  1. As the Strength and Conditioning Coach for the Wrestling team, I had a major impact on the success of the team and the lives of those young men. So said the Assistant Coach when I saw him. He came right up to me and just told me how it was, with no solicitation on my part. In fact, he told me it was a major loss for the program when I left and that none of my successors measured up. This was very important for me to hear because I always wondered if the time I put in mattered, if my passion made a difference. It was good to see that I did. Every man needs to know that the battles he fights matter. I've been dreaming about this for almost 8 years, especially the last year, probably once a month. It's good to have some closure.
  2. As I walked near my old house and another part of the campus, I was keenly aware of God's presence and His working on my heart. What He was gracious enough to show me was that I have essentially spent the last 20 years living with the fear of the uncertainty of the future. This is EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of living by faith. Life, as John Eldredge says, is an adventure to be lived, NOT a problem to be solved. I have been "living" just such a way--as if life was a problem and I must find the solution. What a waste of time and energy! God has been teaching me through another area in my life to walk moment by moment trusting Him for the outcome. It was good to see the pattern revealed so now I can do something about it.
Having returned home, I have had a chance to practice this as I was miserably sick, lying in bed for 2 days. Instead of worrying about what I haven't done, I've just been attempting to be content to take each moment as it comes. However, the temptation has been to beat myself up for not getting my work done. And I have caught myself and been caught thinking this way. I must confess, there is a sense of peace from not trying to anticipate the future, but to just savor the moments in which I'm currently living.

What has all this to do with strength?

Quite a lot, really.

I am continually and repeatedly learning that strength, all strength, ultimately comes from God, whether I acknowledge it or not. Man, after all, is created in the image of God, and God of course, is strong. Faith then, or spiritual strength, is just like physical strength. It must have an object of focus and it must be exercised routinely. Just like physical strength, the more faith is exercised, the more of it you get. Unfortunately, I'm not sure you can periodize faith. You just have to look for it in the moment. It's kind of like always keeping your eyes open for a squat rack as you walk down the street, only better.

What did I learn about pain while I was gone? Absolutely nothing I didn't already know. The bottom line on why pain exists, from a philosophical perspective is simply this: Pain exists to draw us closer to God. That's it. Nothing more.

Why pain?

Because when pain is loud enough, we look for answers outside ourselves. This is where God comes in. This is where He gets our attention.

Interesting, huh?

More thoughts later, I'm sure.

Tomorrow, I hope to get back on the platform without my lungs burning. Should be fun. Probably plain ol' power snatches and power cleans from the floor.

Thursday, February 07, 2008

Last Minute Trip to NJ

Off tomorrow night for a last minute trip to NJ, my old stomping grounds, to revisit the past and investigate further the issue of the purpose of pain.

Will get to spend a good deal of Saturday with my weightlifting coach, Alfonso, and will hopefully train with him, his schedule allowing.

Sunday I will spend all day at Rutgers. Should be interesting to say the least.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Back For More--Weeklong Update

Last week was a complete wash. Got sick and never made it back to the platform. Nothing except some kettlebell and bodyweight work. Oh yeah, and some heavy Windmills and Bent Presses. Always fun.

Some things I've been thinking about lately:
  • Pain: I know what it is, but I forgot its purpose
  • Weight gain: Is it really possible to gain 20lbs for an advanced trainee in 12-16 weeks? Does it really matter?
  • Z-Health: Re-wiring the CNS so your new patterns are more efficient than your old ones--but then are they really your old patterns?

Each of these will most likely be my upcoming blog posts. Lots of meat in them I think.

Met with Dr. Cobb Sunday AM. We were finally able to do some cranial work. First session with him ever without some sort of sympathetic response. CNS was ready apparently. After mobilizing some joints in the skull, I was able to increase active hip extension on my right hip by about 15-20 degrees. I also felt grounded, or rooted, as we speak of in the RKC for the first time in my life. That was very weird. Posture improved even more, which is very surprising since most of my colleagues in the fitness industry already think I have good posture.

Thought about working the Smolov. Attempted that. I was right. I suck for reps. The first workout was for 70%/9 x4. I got two sets. Then I had to stop for fear of injury--my legs were so wobbly. Probably a good thing right now as I have a lot of things going on behind-the-scenes. So I'm just going to stick to my 2 week cycles of hypertrophy/strength and strength/power.

Back to the platform tonight.