Wolf's Log: From Cub to Direwolf Wolf's Log: From Cub to Direwolf - Page 332

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  1. #3311
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    • starting strength seminar december 2022
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Wolf View Post
    Ha! Not bad Lex, not bad.

    Back isn't feeling as bad as I feared it would today. But based on how things have been going, unless it feels completely fine and normal again, I may just not even squat at all before the meet. I could probably squat 500 and pull 550 without any training of those lifts for months, which would be the case. Maybe even 5%-10% more. At this point I really won't have time to work things back up to 600 / 700 territory again so why go through all the pain and frustration. I could open at 455 and 495, or the kilo equivalents I guess, and just go by pain and feeeelz the day off. I won't get the ~1600 total I wanted but it'll still be nice to hit a solid press and get back on the platform for the first time in 18 months. I had very high hopes for this meet, but will just have to put em off. Again.
    I'd def play everything by ear on the squatting, I know it may be silly to ask but have you considered leg presses to just keep the legs going while you take time off from squatting?

  2. #3312
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    Default "Bend The Bar Across Your Back" and "Drive Your Elbows Down/Forward at the Bottom"

    One other random observation that occurred to me recently and that I chatted with Ryan about yesterday while our training overlapped a bit.

    Background: I was introduced almost simultaneously to Starting Strength, Crossfit, and Olympic Lifting just over 9 years ago, in Jan or Feb or 2008. I had never heard of SS before; I'd vaguely heard of Crossfit; and I had known of olympic lifting for years, but never actually did it at all. Throughout 2008, 2009, and 2010, I read a lot of different coaches' takes on things and tried a lot of different ways of doing things. No one can claim to have tried everything, but I tried an awful lot. As I've written about several times, I DID start squatting below parallel at that point, but never did a single low bar rep till 2011. Since 2012, I've been more focused on our community here and learning and engaging with SSCs and others who share our basic outlook. I still read and look at other sources, but with a more skeptical eye than before.

    But, one of the things I never did much experimenting with until more recently was adjusting my low bar squat grip. I always felt very stable and secure with the standard SS grip, and aside from two bouts of elbow tendinitis that went away after a few weeks of rest, never had any problems with it or reason to experiment with something different.

    Starting in 2015, I think, I did occasionally use a thumbs around grip for low bar, but that was only occasional. Maybe two dozen times, total.

    Recently I started having more severe and almost cripplingly bad right elbow issues that I could trace to my squat and the grip. So I've been playing with different grips and using the thumbs around grip a lot, and consistently, while experimenting with different widths and elbow positions.

    It has been while doing so, an insight occurred to me that I thought I'd share for others' consideration.

    In general in the PL world, some of the cues you hear a lot are "bend the bar across your back" and "drive your elbows forward at the bottom and as you start to drive up." SS doesn't use either of those cues, and in fact, we generally want a lifter's elbows to remain stably and consistently up throughout the lift. Not excessively up - see Jordan's article for more on this - but up enough to create a stable rear delt shelf and a lifted chest and tight thoracic area.

    As one of the few things I'd not really experimented much with, I never understood those cues. They seemed counterproductive (elbows down) or unnecessary (bend the bar across your back). And certainly never understood the sometime scorn I would see by other lifters or internet lifting people for those who squatted with elbows up, as if they were committing a huge blatant and obvious squat error, and as if these cues were crucial to the mechanics and performance of the squat itself.

    After a few months of consistent thumbs around , elbows more down squatting, I think I understand.

    Holding the bar with the thumbs around and elbows down means a highly extended wrist. The hands, therefore, are not in position to exert downward force and leverage on the bar and prevent it from rolling up the back as a lifter leans over into a low bar squat. The hands ARE in this position in a thumbs over/elbows up grip, and just the tiniest bit of effort and focus is needed to use that position advantageously to "pin" the bar to the lifter's back. But with the elbows down, that leveraged position is simply not possible. And while the extended wrists (probably wrapped) bear the brunt of the downward force and weight of the bar to prevent it from rolling down, there's nothing to prevent it from rolling up.

    Therefore, the cue "bend the bar (down) across your back" is needed to cue the lifter to pull the bar down into place to prevent it from rolling UP while the lifter leans over. While not in an advantageous position of leverage for the hands and arms, if you pull down, you can create this effect and keep the bar more stable than if you don't pull down.

    It could be that I'm simply not as experienced and good at it yet, but to date, I still feel like the bar is less stable and moves more on my back with this grip than with the standard SS grip. And I am therefore subconsciously reluctant to lean over as much as I should, and consequently have more knee slide. But that's my own issue. Back to the topic at hand.

    The "drive the elbows forward" deal, is, I think, related. Elbows up, again, makes it easier to prevent the bar from sliding down, but if thumbs are around and wrists back, with the elbows up, the hands have even less leverage to "pull down" on the bar and keep it in place from sliding up. And right at the bottom and out of the hole is when you're going to be most leaned over in the squat, especially if there's that slight back angle change as the direction reverses that we usually see at heavy weights. So it's a reminder to keep your arms in a position where "bending the bar down across the back" to keep it stable and prevent it from sliding up, is possible.

    If I am correct, the problem isn't these cues. They're perfectly understandable and acceptable for someone using this grip. It's that the cues are an artifact of the grip, not at all inherent or meaningful to the mechanics of the squat itself. But the thumbs around/wrists bent grip has been the standard for the vast majority of lifters for so long, that the community at large has forgotten the origin of these cues as side effects/consequences of the grip, rather than anything inherent in the mechanics or performance of the squat itself.

    That's my take based on my experiences thus far. Maybe it's not original, but I've never heard or seen it before and have read PL stuff that, at least, seems as if they think the elbows down and bend the bar thing are inherent squat mechanics issues rather than artifacts of the grip.
    Last edited by Michael Wolf; 02-28-2017 at 02:57 PM.

  3. #3313
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    Quote Originally Posted by Lex_Anderson View Post
    I'd def play everything by ear on the squatting, I know it may be silly to ask but have you considered leg presses to just keep the legs going while you take time off from squatting?
    I'm not motivated enough to pay for another gym and make a separate trip there, to do movements that I dislike, which may or may not help retain my squat strength till I get better. If my gym had them, I'd use some leg machines, sure. I'll probably belt squat again tomorrow and then see how I feel Friday but might be smarter to just wait till it heals and feels truly 100% before trying to squat heavy again.

  4. #3314
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    For the reasons you mentioned--elbow pain and bar rolling up my back--I've changed my grip and I don't lean over as much as I used to in the LBBS. The bar rolling up my back became a huge problem, caused or exacerbated by my tendency to go into thoracic flexion right away. It would cause the bar to drift over my toes, and I would have to use a lot more calf and quad power to right myself, which I now believe is the cause of my hip pain.

    When I squat more upright, and I don't let the bar roll up my traps, I feel little to no hip flexor pain. But if it does roll up my back a little, and I'm leaned over too much as a result, I can feel the pain almost immediately.

    It took a few weeks off squatting and coming back to realize this, thanks to an injury. But my poor shoulder mobility causes my thumbs-over grip to find a more comfortable place, which was rolling my wrist over the bar, raising my elbows, causing the bar to roll up my back, and, well... it was a chain reaction of disaster. But thumbs around the bar and a slightly more vertical back angle basically cured me of 90% of my hip pain! For now...

  5. #3315
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcf View Post
    But thumbs around the bar and a slightly more vertical back angle basically cured me of 90% of my hip pain! For now...
    This was a very reasonable solution to try for your problem and I'm glad it worked. I think we may have even discussed trying it a bit at one point? But not sure what you're getting at, Herr Flores.

  6. #3316
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    Explain what you mean by this statement:
    "It's that the cues are an artifact of the grip, not at all inherent or meaningful to the mechanics of the squat itself."
    I think I know what you are saying but I want you to say it before I agree.

  7. #3317
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dwayne_KONG_Wint View Post
    Explain what you mean by this statement:
    "It's that the cues are an artifact of the grip, not at all inherent or meaningful to the mechanics of the squat itself."
    I think I know what you are saying but I want you to say it before I agree.
    I thought I did say it but I'll try to be clearer. Generally non-SS lifters/PL coaches/internet lifting celebs often say it's important to "bend the bar across your back" and "drive your elbows forward and under the bar" when you squat. The way they have said it indicates that they feel those things are important things to do inherently in the squat. Like every lifter should do them, regardless of how they're gripping the bar and any other considerations. That's how I've interpreted them, based on context and tone. I think I remember Wendler saying this more explicitly in 5/3/1 but I'd have to look it up.

    My thought, based on my still not extensive but now greater experience with the thumbs around and elbows more down grip, is that these cues are
    1) irrelevant (bend) and counter productive (drive elbows down/forward) for someone taking the classic SS grip
    and
    2) useful cues for someone taking the thumbs around, elbows more down grip
    but have
    3) nothing whatsoever to do with squat mechanics and are simply necessary to correct things that are more likely to screw your squat up when taking that grip, that aren't issues if you use the classic SS grip
    and
    4) been around for so long and used so much that their origin and reason is obscured in the sands of time, and a lot of lifters/coaches now think they are, in fact, things that are inherent to the performance of the squat itself, and not cues used to fix problems that would not exist without this particular grip.

    Now, some of us have to take that grip for other reasons, so in our cases these cues are good and useful. But they're still not anything to do with the actual mechanics of the squat. They're problem solvers for issues that arise because of the thumbs around, wrists bent, elbows down grip.

    How bow dah?
    Last edited by Michael Wolf; 03-01-2017 at 01:45 PM.

  8. #3318
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Wolf View Post
    This was a very reasonable solution to try for your problem and I'm glad it worked. I think we may have even discussed trying it a bit at one point? But not sure what you're getting at, Herr Flores.
    We did discuss it once, I tried it, I hated it, and stubbornly kept on going on. Desperation forced me to give thumbs around a chance, finally. The only thing I was getting at is your observation about thumbs/bending bar across back/elbow stuff extends beyond just those things. For me, I believe it helped me keep bar over midfoot better since the bar isn't rolling up and down my back, and as a result, fixed a bunch of other crappy problems I couldn't figure out.

  9. #3319
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    Quote Originally Posted by marcf View Post
    We did discuss it once, I tried it, I hated it, and stubbornly kept on going on. Desperation forced me to give thumbs around a chance, finally. The only thing I was getting at is your observation about thumbs/bending bar across back/elbow stuff extends beyond just those things. For me, I believe it helped me keep bar over midfoot better since the bar isn't rolling up and down my back, and as a result, fixed a bunch of other crappy problems I couldn't figure out.
    OK. But that's exactly what I was getting at. That's one of the reasons those cues are important if you take that grip - because they prevent the bar from rolling around, and all the problems that causes. My fault if I didn't communicate that clearly.

  10. #3320
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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Wolf View Post
    OK. But that's exactly what I was getting at. That's one of the reasons those cues are important if you take that grip - because they prevent the bar from rolling around, and all the problems that causes. My fault if I didn't communicate that clearly.
    I totally get it now. At the time when we were talking about thumbs around grip, it was because of my elbow tendonitis getting so bad that I couldn't even bench press. This time I did thumbs around for the same reason--fried elbows--and all the other stuff that came along with the new grip was just a happy consequence.

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