24 March 2011

Immaculate (mis)conceptions

It seems to me that a lot of people who strength train spend the same amount of time, if not more time on the internet talking about weightlifting and god knows what the fuck else regarding moving to look better, and feel better.  Which is fine, obviously I spend my fair share of time on the internet too.

That said, sometimes when I am in the gym, and sometimes when I'm fucking off on the internet, or sometimes when I am in God's gym, someone will inevitably ask me a question.  Some of these questions are as follows: "Why do you touch your toes after each set?" "What's the chalk for?"

Sometimes, I don't get questioned at all.  "You're doing your bench press wrong," as I am doing a reverse grip bench press. "What muscle does that isolate," as I do a deadlift.

Depending on how esoteric or exoteric the answer is, I will respond accordingly.  This is where the misconceptions begin.

The Toe Touch

I do not touch my toes after each set to stretch and get more flexible.

The toe touch is a test.  The better or worse it is, dictates whether I perform the movement, or not.  It is a range of motion, and it either decreases, stays the same, or increases.  I promised a video, which I will deliver.  In the mean time, look hard and you can find it on at least three other websites of the top of my head.  Dig through my comments on other posts to find the links until I post a video.

Abandonment of Written Programs

The premise behind pre-written programs is that they will get you better.  And they can, but will they lead you to your  best performance? However, if you took two people with the same competition max, and put them on a given program, their gains will not be identical, and in some instances they might not be close.  The smarter of strength coaches know when to break away from what's written based on how the client feels, and any number of variables.  Gym Movement is an extension of this.

Furthermore, periodization is not abandoned.  It's individualized.  For instance, my Long Cycle Clean and Jerk as of late tests fairly light during the week--16, or 24 kg pairs, and every week, I test a pair of 32kg bells.  So far, based on the trends, Volume and Density increase on the Long Cycle weekly, with the heavier pair of bells.  Adam Glass once tested his long cycle for thirty something days, and it got better.  Different progress, for different people, with different goals.

My double kettlebell snatch, has an alternating pattern of low volume, then high volume every time I test them.  If I were to test them (which I will do later), based on the trends I would likely experience a volume based PR. *

In conclusion, do you have to throw out your copy of Enter the Kettlebell?  No, not really.  However, you can take something that works for a good amount of people a fair amount of time, and tweak and test things and make it work pretty fucking well for you all of the time.  It might mean not going up to five ladders on your "Heavy day."  Tough shit, comrade.

"PR everyday is a crock of shit." 

This one is going to need some extrapolation.  Since I plan on competing in powerlifting soon, intensity PRs are pretty important.  But that is not what strength is.  I don't think Valery Fedorenko would be considered weak by any means, even though all he did to get his world records was jerk a couple 32kg kettlebells over his head for ten minutes and accumulate over one hundred reps.  Just something to think about.

In my mind, feats of strength are relative, in awesomeness.  It's awesome when Ed Coan Deadlifts 800lbs.  It's also awesome when some skinny beanpole does a one arm chin-up.  Both impress me.

The metrics for PRs are as follows:  Volume, Density and Intensity.  If you read this, and weight lift with a degree of seriousness you, should know what these are.

Briefly, Intensity can be calculated as a percentage of a one rep max, or a percentage of your max reps.  If you go balls to the wall and and can do 200 snatches non stop, in ten minutes, and you decided to do 100 snatches in ten minutes, the intensity would be 50%.  Clear?

Volume is the amount of weight lifted.  Using our example, 200 snatches with a 24kg bell is 4800kg.

Density is volume in time.  4800kg moved in a 24kg snatch in ten minutes, is less dense than the same volume moved in nine minutes.

Furthermore--and somewhere on the internet is an article Frankie Faires wrote stating what I am about to state--progress is not linear, and you will not PR in the exact same shit, in the exact same way every day.  We'd all be herculean gods if that were the case.  Whereas, I did a shit load of sets in my Long Cycle on Sunday, I might not do more sets, the next time, but the density might be better.  Or I will do my sets of Long Cycle, not PR and PR in a military press.

Is this a manipulation of what a PR is? No, however it is an expansion on the traditional definition of a PR which was always looked at from a point of view of intensity. 

How can you lift weight with no tension? 

I see many faces like this in the gym. 

 If you lift something heavy, you will tense up to a degree.  The idea--and what leads to being able to do our best every day--is to use the minimal effective amount of effort.  This means not cinching your asshole shut, and not hissing like a snake on a 24kg kettlebell press.   This premise teaches us how to not be tense all the time, as we generally do gym movements to get better at life movements.  Try not being so tense and using the minimal effective amount of effort next time you lift.  You will feel better after--maybe not psychologically, at first, because you don't feel exhausted like a whore who just got gang banged by ten guys.  Physically, you will feel better.  By the way, shit faces and other weird faces waste monumental loads of effort.  Case in point, a friend of mine told me that she was able to do her movements far better and for longer when she stopped the face making. 
Does anyone want to feel this way?

Here's an anecdote from my personal experience.  It also ties in to following written programs.  I used to follow certain aspects of written programs.  Much to my chagrin, I was uncomfortable at times, and struggled to make progress.  Using quality tested movements, testing variants, and testing my form, my progress has gone up in the movements I perform.  Before I adopted the Gym Movement protocol, I pulled muscles in my back several times from deadlifting--usually following bad internet advice and not trying to figure my own shit out.  Now, it has not happened at all, thankfully.  Quality movements reduce the risk of fucking your shit up.  Movements using the minimal effective amount of effort and that test well will make you better. Daily. 

Brittany Dailey

Pain and the Movement

Will WilliamsAdam Glass, and others relieved a shit ton of pain using the GM protocol.  I was not ever in a shit ton of pain.  So I have no experience with this, but the articles on both of their sites are filled with valuable information.

That said, it is not a cure all.  You can still get injured.  Notably, if you play sports, you can get fucked up there.  You should not be getting fucked up with training.  But, with anything there is a risk involved.  Frankie talked about this in a forum post I read recently.  You can still get injured, doing what you do.  You can get injured banging your significant other, testing an unloaded movement, or deadlifting 225lbs.  What the aforementioned people have in common though is that the GM protocol helped absolve them of their long standing fuck ups.  Read more about them on the links.

Movement Bias

I mentioned this in my review  and I feel as though it needs restating.  You don't always do the movements you are good at.  You can test them, and they will not always test well.  And what have we learned thus far? That we do the best quality movement.  It might not always be something you're good at, but the sky is the limit.  Things to note, do contra specific movements they will do wonders for your goal movements.  There's a reason why rows or pull-ups test well when a press won't.  There's a reason why hip extending movements test well (imagine keeping your bicep flexed eight hours a day.  This is what your hips go through while sitting at work).
The carry over is that the more good shit you do for yourself, the better you will get in everything.

The other question you must ask yourself is "why have I been told to do these movements?"  You can take the advice of anyone, but you can also test it for yourself.  For instance, my friend has a deficient left trap muscles.  God knows how he got it, probably from masturbating with his right hand only, and sitting at a computer most of his life.  Through testing his movements--lots of pulling motions and partial rep presses, he can now fully press about half his body weight, which equates to a 32kg kettlebell. 70lbs, for you novices to the metric system.  If you continue to do movements you only are good at, they will stop testing, and they will not make progress.  After that, you are forcing gains, not allowing them, and that is counter intuitive.

Working hard vs. Working smart

This goes along with use of tension, but deserved its own category.  The things we do in the gym are pretty fucking challenging sometimes.  But they are never something that could potentially break us badly.  Like, working to failure, getting exhausted and what have you.  Stopping when effort looms its head is the way to work smart.  You can get more done this way, than gassing yourself out on your training.  Save the effort for the competition.

Things to watch out for to avoid too much effort include breathing patterns, movement cadence, and tension.  When the breathing pattern changes, stop if you cannot correct it.  When the Cadence slows, and you cannot correct it, stop.  When you start to use excessive tension--shit faces, asshole clamping--stop your set.  You will allow yourself to do more.  And doing more of something better is smart.   

Joint Mobility/Foam Rolling

The premise behind joint mobility and corrective exercises can be confusing.  And it can be summed up by saying that if you do something that is good for you, you don't need to correct it.  So, test big movements instead of small movements.

The problem arises when people have literally fucked themselves into a shitty state of moving.  Gluteal amnesia, tight hip flexors, and what have you can limit your movement patterns.  These are instances where you can test mobility exercises.   For me personally, fucking with Indian Clubs tests well, and I enjoy it, so I do it from time to time.

Gluteal Amnesia? I think not
While on the subject of micro and macro movements, we must start with what we have.  If joint mobility tests well for you, and you can't do much else, do it.  It will be beneficial.  Frank Berean--follower of GM protocol--went for a decent amount of time not doing military presses because only rows (a contraspecific movement) were testing well.


The Ultimate Conclusion

 You can do whatever the fuck you want to do. If you have a doubt, or a question about any of this, test it.  You have nothing to lose by testing a movement, or any of your gym practices.

Work towards your goals.  If your goal is to squat more, eventually you're going to have to squat.  Same for Olympic lifting.  You will have to do it eventually to get better at it.  Just do them when they test well.  And find variations to test.  Use the path of least resistance.  Make the difficult look easy, and the easy look effortless and you will be on the path to perpetual progress every day.

*Sure enough, I was right.  I took a break from writing and trained more, and got a volume PR.

06 March 2011

Everyone loves a log

11 Feb

Presses-50lbs 5 sets 28 total reps 5m20s

Staggered Grip Pullups 15reps/6 sets in 2m45s

16kg snatch 142reps in 9 sets 10m40s

13 Feb Faizal Enu Double snatch challenge--doubles snatches for 15 minutes with 2 24kg bells. I only got 95 reps.

14 Feb

Happy goddamn valentines day.  32kg Presses 22 reps in 6 sets 8m53s

Staggered Grip Pullups 17 reps in 3m54s

15 Feb

Asymmetric Squats 135x4, 185x3, 205x3, 225x2,1,1 13m53s

DB Bench- 55x10, 70x6,5,5,4 7m7s

Thick Bar deadlifts 135x5, 185x5, 225x3,4,5,5,5,4 19m45s

17 Feb

Asymmetric Squats 135x4, 185x4, 205x3, 225,245,245,245 13m5s

Close Grip Bench- 135x6, 155x4, 185x4,4,3 7m35s

Deficit Thick Bar Deadlifts-135x5, 185x5, 225x4, 275, 275, 275, 275 12m35s

Thick Handled Dumbell Rows- 60x6,6,6,6,6,6,4,4,4,4,3,3,3 10m32s


LCCJ 2x50 8,6,5,5 6m35s

Snatch 20kg 86reps in 12m37s

Press-50lbs 10x5 12m15s


Chin-ups- 6,4,4,4 in 8m50s

Snatch 20kg L/R 10,8,6 in 4m

8lb sledge hammer levers to my face L/R-2,1,1,1,1 in 7m5s

22 Feb

Asymetric Squats- 135x3, 185x3, 205x3, 225x2, 255

Reverse Grip Bench-135x3,155x3, 135x4,4 4m

Trap Bar Deadlift- 135x5, 185x3, 225x3, 275x2, 315, 365, 405,405,405  21m

plate curls 25lbs 3x2 L/R in 2m

24 Feb

Asymmetric Squats-135x3, 185x4, 205x3, 225, 225, 185x2,2,2 9m5s

Bench- 135x5, 185x3, 205x2,2,1,1 10m35s

Defecit Deadlifts- 185x3, 225x3, 275x2, 315x2, 365,365,365 15m30s

DB Rows 80x6,6,6,5,5,5,5  6m45s

27 Feb

BB military press- 115lbsx3,3,2,2,2  4m25s

Snatch 32kg 3x5L/R 3m5s

1 March

Pistols 25lbs 2,1,1,1,1 6m9s

Close Grip Bench-205x3,2,2,2 4m25s

Thick Bar deadlifts- 225x4,3,3,3,3,3 5m50s

plate curls-25lbs 5x2 L/R in 3m31s

Weighted Chinups (25lbs) 3,3,2,2 3m8s

2 March

Staggered Grip Pull-ups 5,3,3,3,2,2,2 5m51s

Dbl Snatch--16kg 8,8,8,6,6 6m35s

4 March

Tactical Pullups, weighted (12kg)- 2,2,2,1 3m20s

Long Cycle 16kg 8,8,6,4,4,4 7m5s

Push Press 20kg L/R 10,10,8,8,6 in 6m

Snatch 20kg- L/R7,7,5,5,5,5 5m50s

Huge PRs in the pullup section.