Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Support? Who Needs It...?

Recently, doing some research, I discovered that bodybuilding legend, John Grimek, attributed his great strength and bodybuilding success to "heavy power training." Included in that training was the use of heavy "support" work--that is, holding heavy loads for given periods of time. Apparently, he supported 800lbs (!) overhead and over 1000lbs in the straddle lift (a combo deadlift/squat) with straps and could've done more if the straps had been stronger (!). All this from a guy who was 5'9" and approximately 210lbs.

Anyway, I've decided to incorporate some of this into my training. Not so I can win a Mr. America title or anything like that, but to re-accustom my body to the heavy weights. So far it feels pretty good. In fact, I'm doing some different things that I'm not necessarily used to or have don before.

Last Thursday, I decided to do some partial deadlifts from mid-thigh. I worked up to 675lbs with a 10 second hold. It felt great! I didn't concentrate on just holding it, but actually pushing back against it--feeling my feet flatten and press through the floor and really trying to extend by body under the load. It felt exhilarating! I could feel every muscle in my body contract! It has been a long time since I've done anything like that. After that, I dropped the weight to 495lbs and hit 8 sets of 3 with about 60 seconds of rest between sets. Felt great. This has inspired me to work on some progressive movement training as developed by the late great Paul Anderson. Essentially, using the same load, you add a little greater range of motion to a movement and your body adapts to the load over the course of time. So the "progressive overload" is the range of motion and the load remains constant. I think there are about 15 more pin holes until the floor in the rack I was using, so I have plenty of time to get to the floor. I just have to be patient.

Tonight, in a similar vein, I performed overhead supports. I worked up to 405lbs. Hardly Grimek weights. But the interesting thing about support work is you definitely find your weaknesses.

My training template then is something along these lines:

Heavy support work (isometric) --> RM work (maximum effort) --> 70-80% of RM for 18-30 reps (submax work for hypertrophy).

Tonight's work looked like this:

A. Overhead supports, 10s: 405lbs (135lbs/225lbs/275lbs/315lbs)

B. Military Press, 3RM: 195lbs (shoulders were a bit tired after the support work), followed by 90% (175lbs) for (3,2,1) x3; 60s rest. I hit the same 3RM last week, but without the support work. Last week I used 155lbs as my back down weight for (5,4,3,2,1) x2; 60s rest.

C1. Underhand Barbell Rows, 145lbs/8, 10, 7 supersetted with
C2. Parallel Dips w/ Scap. Depression, 10, 10, 7; rest 60s

D. 45 Degree Hypers: Bodweight/10 x2 sets; 60s rest
My hammies have been screaming at me from this exercise, so I thought I would skip what I had planned and hit a recovery day just to get rid of some of the intense soreness...

Regarding the platform: I'm staying off it right now until I get my strength back. Many of the patterns are already grooved. I always maintain my speed and my lack of strength is my limiting factor. I'll jump back on at the end of the month.

Here's an interesting article on some of John Grimek's training: http://www.fitflex.com/johngrimek.html

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

The Spirit Is Willing...

...but the flesh is weak...as the old saying goes.

This past week I've struggled to iron out the problems with this left hip.

I've decided to do what I can do, and do a lot of high quality "that" in order to build muscle. I'm also using patterns and movements that I believe I am currently weak in that will serve as assistance lifts to my lifting.

One such movement is the 45 degree hyperextension. This blasts my hamstrings more than anything I currently do. In fact, I feel weak as a kitten. I am only performing sets of 10 with just my bodyweight. My hamstrings have been perpetually sore from this exercise for the last week. I'll be interested to see the carryover to the platform.

I'm also moving to an upper/lower split to 4 sessions per week. This allows me to put more volume in. Currently, the only kettlebell exercise included is the single arm press. I cannot currently perform ballistics due to hip compensation except for lifts on the right side. The good news is the Z-Health eye work seems to be helping. Patterns are slowly starting to normalize.

Eventually, I will get into barbell and kettlebell complexes along with some lower rep/higher volume lower body training. To make up for this lack of stimulation, I am performing "heavy" support work twice a week--once for the squat and once for the deadlift. It feels good to get under some heavy weight.

Today's training session:

A. Military Press, barbell, 3RM, then 80% for 5,4,3,2,1,4,3,2,1
90kg/3, then 70kg/5,4,3,2,1,4,3,2,1
The descending ladders are to minimize fatigue but keep the quality of work high.

B. Underhand Bent over Barbell Rows, 4x8
40kg/8, 50kg/8, 60kg/8 x2.
I perform only overhand pulling so I thought it might be time for a change. Much weaker than I thought...

C. Parallel Dips, bodyweight only, with scapular depression 2-3x10

D. 45 Degree Hyperextension 5x10, 60s rest
Bodyweight with stick on traps (BSQ position)

Training felt good overall today. Weird not squatting or pulling. Will pull on Thursday.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Old Patterns...New Learning...

Some old patterns are creeping up on me.

The left hip is still tight posteriorly. I'm having a hard time sitting back on simple exercises like 2 hand kettlebell swings. My hips are shifting to the right and I'm having to aggressively "force" the hips back straight. I can keep the proper pattern only on the right side.

The right knee is starting to "sore up" after squatting--interestingly not really while squatting but after...

Not really sure what's going on--probably just remnants of stress from the last quarter. Gut is still wound up but healing daily with the addition of grapeseed extract and HCl. Probably time for a massage just to help me r-e-l-a-x...Probably should've done that before starting up training again.

However, speed on everything is up. Strength feels fine--lifts although light, feel incredibly easy...

Seem to be getting leaner--as if it is accidental. Right...anyway, I like eating carbs again. I forgot how much I missed eating things like rice and beans with cheese.

Have to set up that massage tomorrow for later this week...Definitely looking forward to that.

I am currently investigating exercises to include into M-W program to help counter the effects of the Olympic lifts. I'm looking for exercises that stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system. This includes R-Phase and some other exercises modified from some other disciplines.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

End of Week One

...And I feel good. Better than I've felt in awhile.

I still have some intermittent chronic right knee irritation that bothers me when I'm walking, but for lifting, it's fine.

This first week was very easy and one of the notable features is that my squat stance has (intuitively?) changed. My feet are a bit wider, which is better since they are approximately where they are upon receiving the bar in the classic lifts. I think one of the mistakes that led to my hip injury in April is that I wasn't this specific in my training. I was leaving that foot spacing to the lifts themselves. Anyway, it feels better.

My experiment with the carb rotation plus one cheat meal feels ok. Still too early to tell, although visually waist is smaller, abs are more defined, and scale weight is down. (I know, it's supposed to be going up but I'm not concerned about that in the short run. It'll take another 2-3 weeks to evaluate this strategy.) Muscularity is up, so I'm guessing there's a net gain of muscle and a net loss of fat. The key of course is not to provoke a serious threat response in my body so that progress comes grinding to a halt. The key is provoking positive change.

Interestingly, this is really the first time in my entire training life where I'm not in a hurry. I know where I want to be and when, but I'm in no hurry to get there. Strange. I'm just trying to enjoy the ride. This, I think, may be key for my long term success both health wise and performance wise. I'm pretty sure this is what Alfonso was trying to teach me all those years ago.

I'm looking forward to next week.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

"Easy" Days

These are the days that I'm not on the platform.

They're designed to be easy from a relative intensity point of view. They are also designed to augment my platform days by making up for weaknesses that the platform work doesn't address: Overhead pulling toward the body from above and unilateral work from snatching.

Right now it's just neutral grip chin up ladders and very light kettlebell snatches with the 16kg, one minute on, one minute off. The goal is to get up to 75 reps or so on the chin up ladders and 20 minutes of snatches, 10 minutes of work, 10 minutes of rest. Once I get there, then I'll start adding weight to the chins and pushing for more reps per minute on the snatches. No rush though.

It'll be interesting to see what effect these days have on my platform days. Honestly, I'm quite proud of myself for coming up with what I think is a very sensible program. Each "easy" workout should take no longer than 40 minutes ever. Today's was about 20 minutes primarily because I was "slacking" with my rest periods on the chins.

More squats and pulls tomorrow. Should be fun.

On another note, had to do a PREP test due to non-stop knee pain. Positive. Eyes up. Pain immediately diminishes.

Monday, January 05, 2009

Modifications of a Long Lost Program...

I once asked Alfonso what one of the best programs for Olympic lifters was for putting on mass. With most questions, the real answer lies in a story which he told me.

One of the Soviet coaches he met earned his Master of Sport in Weightlifting by helping an injured weightlifter return to glory on the platform. This particular weightlifter was 165lbs. By implementing his non-conventional methods, he ballooned his weightlifter up to 242lbs. Were drugs involved? Maybe. It was the Soviet Union, so, really, it's more like probably. Regardless, these kind of results in--I forget the time frame--6 months or less, are truly astounding.

What was the program?

Here it is. It looks simple. But it's brutal. It requires a TON of sleep, a TON of food, and a TON of patience.

Days 1, 3, 5-Workout A

Bench Press

Days 2, 6-Workout B

Overhead Squat

Now the squat is either back or front.

The snatch and clean is any form from any position.

The pulls can be fast or slow, but tend toward the slow and heavy side of things. For me, it was a lot of snatch-grip deadlifts.

The last time I did this program, I was 28. I am now 36.

Am I going to do this program again?

H*ll No!

That would be crazy. I gained a good 10lbs on a 6 week cycle the last time I trained on this, but I pushed w-a-a-y-y-y-y too hard and burned out early.

I will modify it to a M-W-F routine. M-F will be Workout A and W will be Workout B. I have started with a very low volume at an intensity based on RPEs, with an RPE of 5. I am going to take my time, for once, and eat, eat, eat and sleep, sleep, sleep.

On T-Th, I will do some very easy GPP work--bodyweight and unilateral KB work. VERY low intensity, but movement nonetheless. For example, snatches with the 16kg.

How do I expect this to work out?

I want just want to gain some of my muscle back from what I've lost over the last year and feel like I'm "in-shape" to lift. Ultimately, I want to get back on the platform at the NC State Championships in May.

So how'd this start?

Sunday, 1.4.09

BSQ: 70kg/5; 100kg/5, 105/5, 110/5
P.Sn, AK: 50kg/3, 70kg/3 x3
Push ups: Bdwt/10 x3
PCl, AK: 70kg/3, 90/3 x3
BSQ: 100kg/5, 105/5, 110/5

No problems except with the BSQ groove.

Felt good to be back on the platform.

Saturday, January 03, 2009

New Year, New Look, New Posts...

2009 is here.

I decided to change the look of the blog and start posting again as I'm in the mood to write again.

As I look back at 2008, I realize I haven't posted in 4+ months. In fact, some of my friends have taken me off their links. Rightly so.

Fortunately, not much was happening training-wise and I had some major training ADD. I never seemed to recover from that hip injury back in April while training for the NC State Championships.

This year, my major goals are, well, not that important.

I am bound and determined to get back on the platform and compete again. Perhaps for the NC State Championships in May. I have about 30lbs to gain as I am now a soft, weak, 210lbs. I talked to Dave Whitley, SrRKC, the other day, and we're reconnecting on our goal from 2 years ago--meet at 240lbs.

I will get up and running on the platform again this week. I will be digging out some workouts from Alfonso, my former coach, and modifying them to suit my current condition, with of course, the goal to gain a large amount of muscle in a short amount of time. Fortunately, I haven't been training hard--"softening up" as Pavel calls it--so packing on some appreciable muscle mass should be relatively easy.

This will be an interesting start to the New Year.