Showing posts from July, 2011

New squat groove feels less new now

The plan for today's workout was to work up to a training max (no pre-lift psych and stopping when the weight is grindy but not a gut-busting max) and then hit a couple of sets of pause squats. It would serve as a good bench mark with the new squat stance and power cues I've been implementing.

My warmup sets went well and my first singles with 415 and 435 were very comfortable and more importantly, I was keeping my form and not reverting to old habits. I increased the weight to 450 for my next single and it also stayed in the groove and moved pretty well. I went up 10 more pounds to 460 and this rep was nice and tight but started to grind just past the sticking point. I may have had another 10 in me but the point of today's workout was to get close to a max without having to use alot of resources.

I then went down to 345 for sets of 5 and then 4 in the pause squat. These are feeling very comfortable and I think they had very good transfer to my heavy singles as I felt…

Eight weeks out, time to start trying to push the volume

With the 100% Raw Easterns now eight weeks away, it's time to start my first four week mini-cycle. This four week mini-cycle will involve building volume via multiple sets with weights mostly in the 80-90% of 1 RM range. The second four week mini-cycle will concentrate in the 90-100% range.

Today's squat workout ended up at 17 total repetitions with weights between 80-90% of my last 1 rep maximum (372-418 lbs off of a 1 RM of 465). Each weekly volume workout will have a goal of at least 15 total repetitions up to as many as 25. My other weekly squat workout will concentrate on working up to 2-3 heavy singles with as close to a training maximum as possible followed by 2-3 sets of pause squats.

Total volume and intensity for each volume workout will depend on how fast the bar is moving that day. If any rep of any set gets 'grindy', that is the signal to back the weights down until I am able to move them with acceleration.

I'm still getting sore in the quads but …

Avoiding biceps tears but not callus tears

Ever since I started on this powerlifting 'comeback' in 2007, one thing that has always gnawed at the back of my mind was the risk of tearing a bicep due to using a mixed grip in the deadlift. All my life I had been a mixed grip deadlifter but a scare with a strained bicep from tire flipping in 2008 and a picture taken at the Nationals in 2010 really drove the idea home that I was risking a serious injury if I continued to deadlift with a mixed grip (one hand under, one hand over for the non-lifters out there).

The attached picture is blurry but you can clearly see my left bicep is under unusual strain. At that point all it takes is the smallest involuntary attempt at bending the arm and the tendon pops. While we all try to keep our arms as straight as possible when deadlifting, it's when the lift turns to a grind that sometimes a lifter will involuntarily bend their elbows in an attempt to help the weight past a sticking point.

Despite this fear, I still competed w…

a good squat workout but with more back pain

It's funny, earlier today as I was sitting at my desk at work the thought crossed my mind that I felt like 'smashing weights' at the gym. As it was only 1pm, I hoped that I would still feel like that by the time I was on my way to my 8pm workout.

At 6pm, as I was trying to throw some water on my rapidly dying lawn, I was thinking not so much about 'smashing weights' as about why my SI joints seemed to be so sore today. I figured I'd blame the bucket of balls I hit at the driving range two days prior since I could feel every golf swing twinge in the area around my sacrum. Anyways, it's something that I've just trained through and around for the past couple years. Probably hard headed of me but I figured that if it hasn't gotten worse and it's not making me weaker, that I'd just go until something broke or it went away completely. Heck, at my age, something hurts a little somewhere every day so I don't bother with waiting until there&…

getting ready for the 100% Raw Easterns

This week is the 9th week out from my next competition, the 100% Raw Eastern Championships on September 17-18. Since I like to train in 4 week mini-cycles, this week involves some final testing and determination of which weak points I'm going to focus on for the next 2 mini-cycles.

One tool I decided to add is pause squats. The ongoing technique and power cue work is going well as I was able to work up to very comfortable single reps with 415 and 435 (91 and 95% of my current max). I got the idea of doing pause squats after reading a reprint of Rickey Dale Crain's routine from the classic powerlifting book, Inside Powerlifting by Dr. Terry Todd. As in Crain's routine, I decided to use approx 100lbs less than my 1 RM max for the set of 5 pause squats or 345 for a set of 5 reps, 3 count pause at the bottom of each repetition.

Verdict: I like them. Not only do they significantly increase time under tension, I believe they will address a weak point with my core stability…

an old dog might be learning a new trick

Whatever bug got into me the past week seems to be leaving and my strength and energy levels are coming back. Today's workout was a marked improvement over wednesday's struggle.

Significant sets were:

Squat: 375 (80% of 1 RM) X 3 reps, 395 X 2 sets of 2 reps All felt strong and powerful. Kept the volume low to ensure no relapses of whatever had been ailing me earlier.

Along with working with a new squat stance set up (feet pointed straighter ahead rather than turned out), I've been concentrating on a new power cue. Whereas in the past, I've simply concentrated on coming up chest first out of the hole in the squat, the last three workouts I've been concentrating on just raising my hips, Rippetoe-style. Since your body won't let you dump the weight over your head, your chest comes up naturally.

I had no impression of what this might do but I figured what I had been doing wasn't working very well so I had nothing to lose. Three sessions and 44 reps wit…

back at it but with aches and pains

Made it into the gym today after a 7 day break. I guess I didn't need to worry about having too much energy. Everything felt heavy, as in 'not touched a weight in 30 days' heavy. I can only guess that the lack of power and the general feeling of inflammation in every joint were signs that I really was fighting off some bug.

Whereas I was able to squat 375 for 5 sets of 5 in my last squat workout, today, 4 sets of 3 felt like I was givin'er all I had. Bench presses felt equally oppressive as my shoulder protested with even medium weights.

At least I was back in the gym and not letting the doldrums secure too much sedentary time. Hoping to rebound on friday when I'm due to squat again and maybe do some stiff legged deadlifts.

Three months ago, I had thought I'd be able to give a good run at a 501 lb raw squat at the 100% Raw Easterns in September but after missing 468 in June at the Toronto Supershow, I'm hoping just to achieve that and hopefully have …

mid-summer malaise aka golf season

Tomorrow it will be one week since my last workout. 7 days will have been the longest break I've had since March. I'm definitely not burnt out but I guess I needed the break otherwise I wouldn't have found excuses to not go to the gym.

One excuse I enjoy as much as if not much more than training for powerlifting competition is playing golf. I'm a horrible golfer, lucky to break 90 on a good day, but I enjoy playing the game immensely. The weather has been fantastic lately, if a bit too dry for my lawn's sake, and Vivian and I haven't missed the opportunity to get out to a course on the weekends. I've also managed to mix in an evening or two a week at the driving range.

I can't say the work is helping my game but I find hitting a bucket of balls to be very relaxing. In the heat and humidity of the summer, it's also nice to work up a sweat without actually exercising. :P

In the meantime, I plan on hitting squats relatively hard tomorrow--purp…

heavy deadlift singles

Today was deadlift day and I was scheduled for three heavy singles. Everything felt pretty good during my warmup sets. 325x3, 415x3, and 505x1.

First work set: 555x1 not particularly fast off the floor but easy lockout
Second set: 555x1, slower but still no grind at the top
Third set: 555x1, even slower but no grind, just couldn't get it to accelerate.

Overall the workout went okay. 555 is just over 90% of my 1 RM of 606 and it moved pretty well considering I make a point of training without getting psych'd up. I have a ways to go before I can hope to match my all-time best raw deadlift of 644 lbs. Back then, my training logs indicate I was able to pull 625 X 2. Ha! Can't even pull that for 1 yet. If only I could turn back the clock...

Finished up with heavy, cheat barbell rows. I like to mix these in with more strict, pendlay-style rows.

Bodyweight is still 235-240. Finding it very hard to sustain the motivation to eat a lower calorie diet. Still need to …

squatting 5x5 and working on technique

Yesterday I decided to do 5 sets of 5 reps with 375 (80% of my 1 rep max). I combined that goal with some technique work. I continued to work with my new set up where my feet are not turned out as much as before and I concentrated on posterior chain involvement instead of knee extension.

The sets felt good, the 5x5 was accomplished, and today I felt some soreness in my hamstrings and glutes that I haven't felt in a long time. I'm going to stick with these form cues and see where that leads me.

Tomorrow is deadlift day and in my 4 week mini-cycle, I'm due for heavy singles from the floor. The deadlift rotation is:

week 1: 4" deficit deadlifts
week 2: 80% speed reps, 3 sets of 3 from the floor
week 3: heavy singles from the floor, 2-3 sets of 1 rep.
week 4: snatch grip stiff legged deadlifts

Training is going well so far.