I couldnt wait for monday!

Ok, so yesterday I posted my intentions for another 6 weeks of 20 rep squats. The cycle’s scheduled to start monday, but I couldn’t wait and went ahead and started today. It all works out, because tomorrow is packed with meetings, classes, and a physical so the gym might not have happened.

The last two weeks of technique work, just focusing on the exercises I enjoy, and total rest days were really needed and they paid dividends today.

Today’s workout will be the monday workout for the next 6 weeks. There are some exercises in it that will be changed or modified, but the basic scheme will remain the same.
The workout:
Warm up-
Some mobility work and a lite jog
The 5rounds of
5 x “Mr Spectacular” with 24kg kettle bells (from Military Athlete)
5x Burpee pull ups

Thick Bar Work (2″ axle)-
Over head press 3×12 at 75lbs
Bench press 3×10 at 165lbs
Bent over rows 2×15 at 135lbs
Curls 2×10 at 75lbs
Squats 1×20 today’s load was 280lbs
Dumb bell pullovers 1×20 at 50lbs
Calves raise 3×20 at 90lbs
Stretching

I kept the weight low with the Thick bar, and kept the form very strict. When I got to the squats, I did several sets working up to 280 to dial in my technique, and then went after it. To get to 20 was awesome, but damn, it hurt.

Lessons Learned and Applied today:
One thing I learned from last cycle was that I fail to force the belly out later in the set. This time I wore a belt. It was not set tight, but only snug enough to keep it in place. To have a reference point really helped me focus on my breathing and setting the abs every rep. Another improvement was my hands were closer together by about an inch on each side, and doing this kept the elbows under the bar making my body much tighter.

Today was a beast, but it will be the heaviest day the whole week. I will only squat one day a week, and friday will be dead lift work. After today, I am glad I made that decision. My hamstrings, hips and butt are already aching, and some cramping set in earlier today that was no fun at all.

I am applying lessons learned from last cycle, and seeing improvements in both my technique, and results.

Till next time,

Take care and good lifting,

Tim

The Next 6Weeks

I apologize for the lack of posts, but family and work issues have priority on both time and energy.

Today is saturday, and after long deliberation, I have decided to embark on another forray into the 20rep squat routine. I have already set my schedule, and worked out the sessions. Monday starts the cycle, and I am starting to get pumped up again thinking about the weeks to come.

My start weight for this cycle will be the 280 that stuck me in the hole last time. As it looks right now I will only be squating one time a week, and the second heavy day will be dedicated to deadlifting. The remaining days will be work capacity, stamina, and snow shoeing/ foot marching with equipment.

The last 2 weeks have been nice, and the focus on recovery have really helped get rid of some aches and pains. I set two PR’s during the last week, and found all the rest of my lifts maintaining.

my current PR’s for lifts are below. I have performed each of these during regular training within the last six months.
(*denotes a new PR)

Squat-
375×1
315×5
270×20

Bench (barbell)
305×1
265×5
185×22

Dead lift (barbell)
425×1*
225×29 in 1 minute (no bouncing, dead stop)
Trapbar
455
405x1x20 (20 singles, which took about 27 minutes to complete)

Barbell clean and jerk
200×1*

1arm barbell clean and jerk
120×1

Body weight
77 burpee pull ups in 20 minutes*
92 pushups in 1:15
89 situps in 2 minutes
2 mile run 14:49 ( really working on lowering my run time)

Kettlebell
24kg snatches
5 minutes 100. exactly. I have only done this one time.
10 minutes 177. I have done this on 4 occasions.

80lb Sand bag get ups
69 in 10 minutes.

That’s all for now. I have a big post I am working on, and trying to work some video into it.

Until next time,

Goerner’s “the chain” pt II

After reading about Goerner’s workouts again monday night, I decided to do a whole workout loosely following one his.

First up, “the chain” using dumbbells. Started at the 20 pounders, and worked my way up 5lbs at a time to 90lbs left handed, and 95 right handed.

Next were DB snatches. Started at 25 pounds and worked up by 10lb jumps to 95 left handed and 105 right hand.

Next I did some barbell work-
1 hand barbell clean and jerk singles. Started at 95lb and added 5lbs up to 105 left handed, and 115 right hand.

Now I switched to 2 hand clean and jerks.
I did 4 sets, of 3 hang cleans and then a jerk at 115. This was something I had never done before following all the 1 hand work, and I have to say it took all 4 sets before my technique came back.

Once I felt comfortable with the clean and jerk, I moved to power clean and jerk singles. Started at 135, and added 10lb each set until I hit a new PR of 200lbs overhead.

I will admit to not being very good at 2 hand barbell overhead lifts. I always seem to do better with one handed lifts, and most of my overhead work is done with high rep kettle bells, but to finally get 200 locked over head, I can’t wait to see how long it takes to get the 225 up. Now I have a new goal.

After the workout, I did some mobility work and stretching. It was a great workout, and all of it based off an iron history icons work.

Take care and good lifting,
Tim

Goerner’s “the chain”

One of my interests has always been history. We seem to forget sometimes that we as weightlifters have our own unique history, and that sometimes going back into the record books and biographies, we can find many effective exercises and routines no longer seen in the gyms today.

Herman Goerner is one that has always interested me. Reading about him, his training, and his many records have motivated me time and time again.

From his biography “Goerner the Mighty” by Edgar Mueller comes “die kette”, or “the chain”.

In the gym Goerner attended, they had a row of 19 Kettle weights, with weights starting at 13kg, and ending with 52.5kgs. They were all set in pairs, with 5-10 pound increase per pair. There was only 1 52.5kg kettle bell though.

What Goerner would do, going from lightest to heaviest, was with one hand do a swing to over head, then lower it to the shoulder; then press the weight overhead, next he would lower the weight to the shoulder and then to the hang position, from there he would curl the weight to the shoulder and then press it over head, from there its lowered and set on the ground. He would then move to the next KB, and do the same with the other hand.

To clarify, that is a swing, shoulder press, curl and shoulder press with the right arm, then again with the left hand, before moving up in weight.

He was able to do this with all the weights including the 50kg bells. He did not curl the 52.5kg bell, which he would only swing and press. This would take about 40 minutes.

Finding a gym with a large selection of kettle bells might be difficult, but doing this dumbbells is just as effective.

I have done this with dumbbells off and on for the last several years, and it is awesome. Simple, effective, and is a warm up, or the whole workout. I usually start at the 20 pound db, and if I am warming up, go up 5 pound increments to about 75 pounds before form is shot on the curl. If this is the whole workout, then I continue on, the presses become push presses, and the curl becomes a cheat curl/ hang clean up to 115R, and 105L.

(The swing is another old school lift, and is a little different then what is done normally. To do the swing set the DB on end between your legs, behind the heels. Grasp the handle, squat down, and much like a DB snatch, but keeping the arm straight through out, swing it up in an arc to overhead. Ensure you have a good grip, or else the mirrors and fellow gym members might not appreciate your efforts.)

Put this one in your kit bag and give it a try. It is a great full body workout, really hits the shoulders, arms, and the breathing.

Take care and good lifting,
Tim

Injuries should not stop you

I am always amazed at the excuses people give to not train when they get injured. Injured hands, arms, feet and big toes suddenly make training impossible for them. The whole body now suffers because of one of its parts. The “wounded/ sick deer” mentality takes over, and soon mental strength begins to decline.

“Wounded/sick deer” get singled out, separated from the group, and the wolves feast. Men should never accept this mentality.

A broken foot, shattered hand, 2 hernias, hip injury, shoulder arthritis, dislocated fingers and toes etc., have not kept me from training. Each injury made me adapt, and develop training plans based on what I could do. I took a lesson from people who are inspirational, and never focused on what they couldn’t do. We have men and women who are severely injured or maimed but are out there running marathons, jumping from airplanes, and driving on. The video of the wrestler born without arms or legs doing exercises some healthy people can’t do, is just outstanding.

When you do become injured, take it as a challenge.

Look at what you have available for equipment, what effects the injury has on your movement, ROM, and load bearing abilities. Set a goal for the end of the recovery period.

Now do research and find all the options you have for exercises based on the injury, and equipment you have. Implement the plan, and make adjustments when needed. This is the perfect time to start doing some of the exercises that you neglected while healthy.

Hand, and arm injuries are a perfect time to focus on core and leg strength. Do hip bridging with weight, glute-ham raises, leg presses, step ups with weight in a back pack. Think your dead lift and squat will suffer- do zercher squats, and zercher lifts off the pins. Put lots of weight in a back pack, and do squats or loads of step ups.
Want to do shrugs, use the standing calves raise machine, and shrug away at the shoulder pads.

Shoulder, upper torso injury- hit the lower body. Use the hell out of the machines. They help stabilize the body and isolate, so use them to your advantage. There are tons of body weight exercises to choose from.

Lower leg and foot injuries- no better time to do all the upper body work you want. Get the guns, chest and back you’ve always wanted. Hit the pull up bar, and all the ground based body weight exercises you can. String them together into circuit training and keep your cardio and work capacity up.

Core injuries- use the stabilizing benches, machines, and ground based exercises. I hated working back from double hernia repair. You never really know how much your core does until you injure it. The hernia repair was my most challenging in that it hurt to do most anything involving hanging, or stretching the abs. One of my goals during this time was to just hang from a pull up bar for 30 seconds without pain, let alone do a pull up. My core work during this time focused on breathing exercises, Pilates, and stretching.

After you have implemented your plan, adjusted when necessary, met your goal, you need build a plan to get the injured area back up to par. Follow your therapists recommendations, and build on that. I will tell you from my experience that most PT’s are not used to dealing with serious trainees. If you are lucky enough to get one that understands your needs, great. I am just saying my experience has been less than ideal.

The “wounded deer” mentality is one of my biggest pet peeves, but also my biggest challenges. I have to deal with guys all the time that, once they get hurt, take physical training and put it to the wayside believing they can’t do anything until they are all better. Usually it is through not knowing the options available, and sometimes its just pure laziness. I use personal example, instruction and motivation for the clueless, and repeated swift kicks in the ass for the lazy. It seems to work every time.

Just be smart. If you are continually learning and seeking knowledge, an injury is just another learning experience. Having a goal during this time to aspire to, takes the focus off what you are unable to do. Maybe the injury was a result of improper technique, or imbalance. Take this time to fix things, and come back stronger and smarter; a great combination.

(NOTE: Now, I am not a doctor, a certified trainer, or physical therapist. I am not saying to ignore the “doctors orders”. Only you and your doctor know you. Do what you think is best for you. As long as you are not being a wuss, its all good)

Take care and good lifting,
Tim

STANDARDS

We have all been either asked, or have asked the infamous question, “how much do you ________?”. The question could be about any exercise, but usually its Bench, Squat, or Deadlift that get the most attention. Some people have an answer based off of recent training. Some answer with what they used to lift. Some have no idea, or do not do the exercise. The truthfulness of the answer is sometimes debatable, and here is where “fish stories” and the gym meet. Maybe the real question is, “how much do you ______, and how?”. Why the added how? An experience in the gym a few weeks back  helps illustrate:

  A young guy walks in, and has a coach training him for football. The kids in high school. He does some warm up and drills, and the watchful coach makes corrections, and maintains good form. They set up the squat rack, and the coach asks the kid “how much do you squat?”. To my surprise, the kid says 535 for one rep. This blows me away. Awesome. I’m still working for a 400 squat, and he has blown that out of the water. I’m impressed as hell. They load the bar to 225 and the coach says they are going to work up to 400 doing low reps. Coach puts wraps on the kids knees, and is giving him tips on knees, and back position. The kid unracks the bar, and does a 1/4 squat. Then another. Coach says good job, and they add more weight, then more 1/4 squats. The coach gets under the bar and tells him to watch him do squats, and does several 1/4 squats himself. I am now not so impressed, and more than a little disappointed. I went from “awe”, to “what the hell?” the more I watched. Somewhere, someone is going to ask this kid “how much does he squat?”, and he will answer 535, possibly a scout for a school program, who knows. Sometime down the road someone is going to tell him he is not doing a full squat, and he is going to have years of bad technique to undo… Its a shame.

  In the military we have the Physical Fitness Tests. There are specific standards set in the Army for the push up, sit up, and run events. Now when we get someone new, we ask about their scores for the events. If a guy says 85 push ups in 2 minutes, we are pretty sure he did them. The events graded by an NCO that enforces the standard and only counts the reps that meet it. The problem we run into when a guy is graded not to standard due to poor leadership. We have to undo all his bad technique, and his performance drops dramatically in that event. The guy gets all bent out of shape, and wonders why he did so poorly and all we can tell him is he didn’t meet the standard.

  In the gym, people train for different reasons. Bodybuilding, weight loss, strength etc. Depending on their goals and physical limitations, certain exercises are done differently, or not at all. This being said, there are many sources out there that show the proper technique for each exercise, and on the big compound lifts, a baseline standard is set. We need to adhere to those standards, and personalize them. When we train alone, and get a new PR, the PR is to the standard, and if it isn’t, then don’t count it. A PR made to standard can never be taken away, or belittled by anyone. It is when we compromise the standard that you invite trouble, and sometimes ridicule from others. Since we don’t all compete in competitions, the only trophies we receive are PR’s.

Research all your lifts and exercises. Find the competition rules for their performance, and put them into practice. Continually learn from mistakes and failures, and never stop striving for better execution. Faith, education, simplicity, experience, and effort are the keys to success. The next time you ask, or get asked “how much do you squat, or bench, add the “how” to the question. Show how its done. If there are discrepancies with the standard for the exercise, find if its due to ignorance, newbie mistakes, injury, or just bad advice or coaching. Make the corrections when needed, and accept corrections when things are wrong. 

 Take care and good lifting,

Tim

Stamina

During the last 6 weeks, Wednesday is dedicated towards stamina. I started with a base workout I believed was possible to complete in 40 minutes or less with practice. The first time I did this I did it just over 56 minutes.

The base workout was simple:
Time starts-
Warm up of 1/2 mile run @ 3:30+/- 15 seconds

5 rounds
10 “Mr. Spectacular” (please go to http://www.mountainathlete.com in the “Exercises” tab to see the exercise) Each round, the reps drop by 2.
5 windshield wipers from the pull up bar
(Drop 1 rep per round)
500m Row on level 2 of the Concept 2 rower @ 2:14 x500m pace or better (drop 100m per round)
Run .2 miles after rowing every round ( it is 10 laps to the mile at our gym. At -20 degrees outside, its nice inside, and gives an even count)
Time stops after last lap on round 5

To clarify on the reps and distances per round, here they are again by exercise, per round. This is your workout for the first 2 weeks. Week 2, grind through it, keep it under an hour, but don’t worry about the timer.
“Mr Spectaculars” 10/8/6/4/2
Windshield wipers 5/4/3/2/1
Rower 500/400/300/200/100
Run .2 miles each round after rowing

Add a round each week for weeks 3 and 4, and increase the workload with extra reps and distances. At week 4 your rounds look like this-
“Mr Spectacular 14/12/10/8/6/4/2
Wipers 7/6/5/4/3/2/1
Rower 700/600/500/400/300/200/100
Run .2 each round after rowing

Let me tell you it adds up, and gets pretty tough. Week 5 I had to skip this workout due to work, and I suggest you do too. I did do 10 minutes of kettebell snatches that day, but I really needed the extra day of rest.

Week 6, go back to your original reps/distances, and time it again. The week 6 time I posted was 38 minutes. It still sucked, but my breaks were short, and I was able to string the exercises together faster though. My 500m time dropped to 1:46 each round, and I was able to sprint the first lap rounds 1-3.

This with the heavy loads of Monday and Friday really take it out of you, but I adapted, and so will you.

This stamina/ go forever workout combined with the mental game of the 20 rep squats have really delivered on the psychological side of training. Can’t wait to take this on again and see where I end up.

I am writing on the other two workouts for each week, and will post them soon. Till then I have several other articles ready to post.

Take care and good lifting,
Tim