A new gym PR, finally a grinder, and Anderson Squats

On my current workout scheme, I squat to volume one day and to a training max on the second day. Tuesday was my volume day so that meant today was to be training max day. Earlier in the day I figured I might as well give 470 a ride since I hit 460 last week and my all-time training max was 465. Warm-ups went okay and to be honest, my last sub-90% warmup with 415 didn't feel as explosive as I thought it should.

Still, I stuck to the plan I had made earlier today and loaded 445. This weight felt pretty good. Not feather-light but it moved well and the extra weight seemed to set up easier than the prior single with 415. Onwards and upwards to 470 then. The weight didn't feel too heavy on my back and I was immediately struck by how solidly it was anchoring my heels to the ground. I took that as a good sign. The weight went down and up with only a bit of grind through my current sticking point. It felt good enough that I decided I'd do one more single with it but not easy enough to load another 10 lbs. The idea of a training max is to find a max without having to get a contest psyche going so I thought repeating a weight I just handled would be better practice than having to psyche up for another gym PR.

This second single set up well like the first one and down I went. I came up out of the hole to just under half squat position and grinded to what felt like a complete stop. I'm sure the bar was still moving but to me it seemed like it stopped. In that moment that seemed like many seconds, I never felt like I would lose to gravity. I kept pushing and eventually the weight started moving again and I finished the lift. This was a big breakthrough for me.

I have remarked to my training partners that I am not very good at grinding out a limit squat. Typically I either get it or fail with it very quickly. This rep, partially due to the fatigue from the previous single, put me in the advantageous position of having to successfully grind out a limit lift. Having no memory of ever having done this before, I'm going to blame/credit the pause squats with helping to build the core strength necessary to support a grinding effort.

Due to the effort expended in the two singles, I decided to forego the pause squats and try Anderson squats (also known as dead squats). I had seen them in a video in a blogpost by a trainer named Marisa Inda who apparently trains in Los Angeles. I know nothing else about her other than her blog came up in my google+ "powerlifting" feed. For those that like to read other's lifting exploits, she also has a very good post on her first powerlifting meet--she competed raw in a drug-tested federation and did very well, 225/132/303 at 114lbs.

Anyways, I digress. I felt like I should do some squatting with more bar speed and I thought why not make it harder by doing them Anderson style. I loaded the bar with 340--approximately 72% of my 1 rep max--and lowered down to the pins. The position was a couple inches below parallel. Not knowing what to expect, I relaxed for a count and then tried to explode upwards. Weirdly, the first rep felt almost like there was nothing on the bar at all. Subsequent reps didn't feel quite so easy but it was an interesting sensation. I ended up doing three sets of three.

After it was all over, it confirmed what I had thought from earlier workouts in this training cycle. That the weak sequence in my squat is not from the glutes and hams (bottom position) but with my quads (middle position). I need to get alot stronger in my quadriceps to eliminate that half squat sticking point. As much as I dislike leg presses (because the sled is a pain to load and unload), I think I will need to implement some heavy leg presses to give my quads a chance to catch up and pull their weight. I was also happy/relieved to get 470 because it gives me temporary dominion over the 468 that I missed twice at the Toronto Invitational in June. While nothing matters until done in competition, I will be closer to having 100% confidence that 468 will go as a second attempt in September.

The only fly in that ointment will be my bodyweight. I woke up today weighing 233.5 which was lower than the 238 I cut from to make the 105kg class in June. Stronger today yet slightly lighter is the best of both worlds but being 233.5 right now puts the 220lb class in play for mid-September. I don't know how my strength levels will be affected if I get down to 225 or 226 before the weight cut to 220 but I know in the long run, I'll be better off if I continue slimming down.

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