Front Squats and Bench Presses

My lower and upper back was pretty wrecked from Monday's squatting and pressing and Wednesday's deadlifting, shrugging and pressing but knowing that next week will be a travel induced de-load, I looked forward to pushing things today and then taking advantage of the rest later.

Prior to hitting the gym, I read a great blog article by an Olympic Weightlifting coach and competitor named Matt Foreman.  I follow a lot of strength and fitness blogs but until today wasn't aware of the Catalyst Athletics site.  I guess it's because I don't do Cross-fit or Olympic weightlifting.  Anyways, it's a great site with tons of great articles and videos and it's part of my google reader subscription list from now on.

The article I liked a lot was one Matt Foreman wrote about Ibuprofen.  He's about 5 years younger than I but with a lot more iron mileage on his body.  It was very re-assuring to read about his and other athletes' most excellent experiences with the wonders of Ibuprofen.  I'm also glad that my strategy of not using it until big workouts near meets or for meets wasn't out of line with what he recommends in his article.  Even though I felt pretty beat up today, I didn't take any Ibuprofen because I'm not in a pre-meet peaking cycle and I knew I had a week of recovery coming up.

For today's workout, I planned on going up to a heavy Front Squat single and then do 3-5 back off sets with approximately 80-85% of my gym max.  Using the wrist strap carry as I did last week, I worked up to a double with last weeks' top weight of 275 lbs.  It felt better than last week but I did notice I was having a hard time keeping my elbows up.  My upper back was just shot from Wednesday's deadlifts, shrugs and overhead presses.  However, since I was here to do a heavy single, I loaded 295 lbs.  This weight is 10 lbs off my best front squat accomplished earlier this year with the california carry.

Today, the 295 felt easy from the waist down but from the waist up, was a bit of a fight.  Rather than try a second rep, I racked it and then re-loaded the bar to 255 lbs for my back-off work sets.  My first set of 3 was a debacle.  I had no structural stability and I could tell I was dangerously close to incurring a muscle spasm in my lower back.  For me, a big hint is when I get tingly feelings down my lower legs to my ankles.  It's not a radiating pain as in something nerve related, it's more like the referred pain from a trigger point.  Anyways, I knew that it was time to shut it down and let my back cool off.

Front Squats:  135x10, 185x5, 225x3, 255x3, 275x2, 295x1, 255x3

Bench presses were next and things went about as well as I could've expected.  The only interesting thing happened at the end when I had planned to finish with a few sets of close grip bench presses.  Reading many of the internet articles out there, it's clear many experienced lifters find a closer grip resolves issues of shoulder pain incurred from bench pressing with the full 32" wide competition grip.  My current grip is not that wide, being about 26" but it's certainly not as close as one might see in youtube videos of Konstantinovs, Wendler, Paul Carter (Lift Run Bang), etc.  I had hoped close grip bench presses might give me a pain free option to increase my supine pressing volume but alas, it was violently not to be.  I couldn't even lower the first set to my chest as both shoulders, not just my left one, instantly protested the second the bar had dropped more than a few inches.  I guess I'll have to keep with the 2 days of OHP/1 day Bench Press routine for the time being.

Bench Press:  45x10, 95x10, 135x5, 185x5, 225x3, 255x3, 275x2x3 sets, 255x3x3 sets.


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