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Thread: Once More. From The Top.

  1. #301

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    • starting strength seminar jume 2024
    • starting strength seminar august 2024
    08.05.2017
    Bench Press, touch and go
    45 x 12 x 3
    135 x 6
    185 x 4
    225 x 4
    235 x 4

    Upper Back Block:
    Chin Up (@ 180 lbs w/ 50 lbs added) x 5 x 2
    Dumbbell Row 135 lb DB x 5 left / 5 right

    I've had a very rough couple of weeks and I have had absolutely no energy or motivation to train (which by itself is a very disturbing signal). I burned myself out emotionally on Thursday morning, but went in to test my squat anyway, just to test it out. I was unable to raise 265 out of the pause in the hole then. I squat again tomorrow and hope to see some progress.

    Today was a scheduled bench day and I'm seeing progress there. I was only able to bench 225 for a couple of doubles a couple weeks ago. This week, I got 225 for four and then 235 for four. I'm still 50 lbs off my best (estimated 265 max versus 315 personal best); but I'm weighing only 178-180 these days, so at least my bench is efficient (i.e., I'm benching about as much at this weight (and height) as I can reasonably be expected to bench. I gain about 3.5 lbs on the bench for every pound of bodyweight I gain, so getting back to the mid-190's should have my bench back at 315.

    I signed up for the 90 kilo class in the meet. The way things are going, I will barely be in the bottom of that weight class come meet day. I was hoping to be at a full 200 lbs the night before the meet -- and with a 1400 total ready to uncork -- then weigh in at 198 the morning of. But not even all the steroids in the world will let that happen now. I'll probably weigh 180-183 and total 1250. My only real concern is setting that deadlift masters record. It's 573 in the 82.5 and 540 in the 90. I was barely able to pull 410 a couple weeks ago. Honestly, it's very unlikely that I'm still in the running for that record.

    But (honestly) I look way better at this lean 178-180 than I did when I was a much more bloated-looking 198-200 or even ~190. My girlfriend says my body now reminds her of Idris Elba's who recently got in fighting shape for a role (and who also won a professional kickboxing match against a much younger opponent). Idris is a little older than I and considerably taller. I like to think I'm a little better looking, though.
    Last edited by Gary Gibson; 08-05-2017 at 07:47 PM.

  2. #302

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    Gym Closing
    It's been a hard week (again). My downtown bodybuilding gym has to close because the building owner is selling. I'm friends with the owner and I hate seeing this happen to her. She will be opening a studio soon and she knows how to run a fitness business so I'm sure she'll be okay. But being forced out after 25 years just sucks.

    She made arrangements to have memberships transferred to Anytime Fitness. I took a look at the nearest one to me and found a beautiful, shiny, "chrome and fern" (there were literally a few potted ferns sprinkled throughout) facility with three racks. But the benches are way too narrow and I could definitely see there being problems with me trying to deadlift anything near working weight since the free weight area was on the second floor landing that rested on the ceiling of another neighboring business. Also, the dumbbells only went up to 80 lbs.

    Amazing New Gym
    The membership coordinator there did me a real solid, however, and directed me to a new gym a few minutes south on the 101: Chalk It Up Strength in Cotati. This gym turned out to be so perfect that I signed up immediately and then immediately after that I wrote a glowing review on Google. This place is run by powerlifters and caters exclusively to the strength and power athlete. Six lifting platforms, specialty Rogue bars for each lift, four Power Lift racks, artificial turf for the sled, a yoke, bumper plates, etc.

    I hate that my friend has to shutter her business of 25 years, but I am dizzy with excitement about Chalk It Up. And they are holding a USPA meet in November. Finally a meet just 15 minutes from my house!

    Meet Plans
    I am still sort of planning to go to the meet in Elk Grove in a month, but I am going to take it easy on the squat and bench and save my energy for a big deadlift if I can. My deadlift is the only lift that is improving quickly enough for me to plan to care about at the meet. I also signed up for a deadlift-only meet on top of the full power meet.

    Plus, my left shoulder isn't as solid as I thought it was and I'm going to have a hard time improving bench right now. So I'm going to cut back on pressing and focus on squatting to fuel my pull and actually pulling. I need to add 100 lbs to my deadlift in the next four and a half weeks to get that masters state deadlift record. I was good for 510 a few months back and I was on track to hitting well past the necessary 540+ by September 10. Right now, it's unlikely but possible. If I'm not pushing the bench, though, I can restructure my training to squat twice a week and deadlift once after the second squat session.

    Counting on the Deadlift
    I couldn't even squat 315 (high bar, no belt/wraps) last week, but I was able to deadlift 435 comfortably even though I was exhausted from a long session of squats and paused squats. That was a 25-lb jump from the previous deadlift effort the week before. My deadlift just comes so naturally because of my anthropometry. My deadlift can get really far ahead of my squat and I'm going to have to let that happen for this meet.

    Since I'm not benching, I could also play around with some wider stances (like a narrow sumo or frog stance) to see if I can get an extra 40 or 50 lbs out of that. I was trying to be "pure" about which type of squat and deadlift I use to compete, but right now I'm willing to do what I have to hit that deadlift record at least. The thing is, however, sumo would make more sense if my leg strength were up to snuff. Right now I have yet to squat 315 any time in these last few months. So I should probably continue to rely on favoring my back strength over my leg strength and sticking with conventional.

    Proposed Routine for Four Weeks
    Wednesday:
    Back Squat, no belt, no wraps, doubles and triples
    Paused Back Squat, no belt, no wraps, doubles and triples
    Pulldown (chins would aggravate my shoulder injury)

    Sunday:
    Back Squat, belt and wraps, doubles and singles
    Bench (very light)
    Conventional Deadlift, belt on top sets, singles

    Addendum:
    I forgot to mention that Chalk It Up also has a Glute-Ham Raise. I tried that thing to day and was able to do two very hard reps after which my hamstrings threatened to leave me for someone else. Cramped very, very hard. I will want to incorporate these for sure. My high bar squats really favor the quads and glutes; and the paused squats make my glutes work really hard; the deadlift works my glutes harder than my hams; so the GHR really rounds out my lower body training by focusing on my hams while also making my glutes and lower back scream.
    Last edited by Gary Gibson; 08-10-2017 at 04:18 AM.

  3. #303

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    I have had a burst of progress and I'm sure it's from incorporating a couple of classic movements that have fallen out of favor in the Internet Age of Training:

    45-Degree Sled Leg Press
    Heavy Quarter Squats

    Leg Press
    I have championed the Leg Press before and I want to say again that for those who aren't built to squat, the Leg Press (done with squat shoes to allow for a fuller range) can become the primary driver of quad growth. I've raised the heel on my squat shoe again and that has done wonders for helping me keep mostly upright even when I barely make my squat (as my recent video with 420 for a second double shows). But the fact is I have shitty squat levers and the leg press produces better quad results for me than the squat. I am taking pictures and measurements to have an accurate before and after. It's just remarkable how much the leg press is feeding my quads and therefore my squat.

    My current programming actually kinda revolves around the leg press. I squat twice a week (one heavy/high volume, one light/low volume) and deadlift every other week on different day. And on each of those days, I do some form of leg press. On the heavy squat days, I wrap up with heavy, high volume leg presses with my squat shoes on and in a squat stance. The shoes leg me go DEEP/full range without endangering my lower back. On my light squat days, I'll be doing single leg presses with more volume for my slightly lagging right leg. On deadlift days, it's leg press with flat shoes, deadlift stance and reduced depth to mimic the deadlift start; this mimics the strategy of great deadlifters like Andy Bolton and the deadlifting god Bob Peoples.

    Heavy Quarter Squats

    I am confused by people who want to squat more but don't care if squatting more helps them move more forcefully when jumping and running. I like feeling like a superhuman version of myself, not just a guy who can only demonstrate strength in the confines of power rack. I don't want to be a powerlifter per se; I want to be Captain America. So I started looking yet again into what would help me transfer weight training into being more powerful overall and I found that the quarter squats has been getting a lot of attention since a study or two suggested that for already strong athletes the quarter squat has far better carryover to the field than full or half squats.

    I do these from a deadstop off of pins (like adarqi/honeybadger --with whom I agree on leg training-- does) and I'm already seeing results. These put a lot of stress on my VMO. My vertical is up an inch. I'm going to do a "switching phase" for speed after my November meet and will report if there is real improvement with my vertical and sprint times then.

    Additional benefits: the supra-maximal weights are making me very comfortable with heavy weight on my back. And my top end strength has improved. I think that's what let me fight my way through that second rep with 420 that I should have lost. Reps are lost because of lack of power at the bottom; speed coming out of the bottom is what carries a compound lift through the sticking point. But I feel I was able to fight for this rep because I'd been practicing with heavier weights from almost exactly that point. In fact, the bar went down a smidgen (so this wouldn't have counted in a meet) before I ground out a quarter squat to finish.



    This is all anecdotal, but the fact is I'm as strong on the squat and deadlift now at 185-187 lbs as I was at 195-202 lbs and getting stronger without putting on much weight. So I think I'm doing something better now than I did last year when my high bar squat first crested 405. I want to make it clear that I am still fully committed to the barbell back squat as the single greatest lift and the one that I enjoy the most. But there is a whole supporting cast of great lifts for the lower body and that cast includes more than the deadlift.

    And here is my top deadlift from my last session: 495 for a double at 185. Had to use a belt because my back was feeling fried that entire week. And the belt surely lets me lift 10 lbs heavier for the conventional dead. But my best ever deadlift was a beltless 500 x 2 at around 200 lbs. I am sure I will match that or beat it my next session in a couple of weeks while under 190 lbs.


  4. #304

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    Finally hit a 405 high bar back squat without belt or wraps again. I only did this once before and that was a year ago. I was a little lighter this time around and weighed 190-191 lbs throughout that day. Last time I was 193-194.



    Sadly, my deadlift seems to have stalled and regressed. Honestly, it's like I can only really deadlift heavy from the floor once every two or three weeks. I'm one of those guys who deadlift best by not deadlifting too often. If I take a few weeks off from actual deadlifting, I always come back and set a PR. But if I continue to try to work the deadlift weekly, my numbers very quickly drop.

    I'm also hamstrung by a hamstring injury I stupidly incurred by messing around with the GHR on the hardest setting the day after I got decent volume on that movement on an easier setting. The hamstring raise on the GHR is the movement most likely do cause a muscle pull. I never have this problem with any upper body pushes or pulls or any hip hinge movements.

    Anyway, I was able to squat 435 that day with a belt and wraps, but my hamstring injury didn't let me push past that. Aiming for a 2-3 second pause with 405 within two weeks. I may be able to get up close to 500 lbs with belt and wraps for the meet in five and a half weeks.
    Last edited by Gary Gibson; 10-13-2017 at 06:02 PM.

  5. #305
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Posts
    883

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    Hi Gary, just wanted to say hello after not having spoken to you in years. It appears your training is still going quite well.

    As a person who is also old enough to be retired from most major sports (37 going on 38), I appreciate your thoughts and insights into dealing with injuries etc. As a thought on your bench press, I notice you seem to gravitate towards a wide-ish grip with a fair amount of elbow flair. I've now had two shoulder surgeries (SLAP repairs on both sides), and have found that my shoulders tolerate one of the following much better than that style of benching: floor presses in general (you avoid the most aggrivating part of the ROM), neutral grip dumbbell benching (underrated exercise), and a close-ish grip bench of the hands on the rough/smooth border with more elbow tuck. Without knowing what's wrong with your shoulder, it's obviously hard to say what will/won't work, but unless you're competing in the bench press there are pretty viable alternatives. I've long thought that a combo of floor presses for standard strength progressions supplemented with neutral grip dumbbell bench over a fuller ROM would cover almost everything that a full ROM barbell bench would, and probably be much safer on the shoulders. Even a closer grip style bench with more elbow tuck may work, depending on what's wrong.

  6. #306

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    Quote Originally Posted by blowdpanis View Post
    Hi Gary, just wanted to say hello after not having spoken to you in years. It appears your training is still going quite well.

    As a person who is also old enough to be retired from most major sports (37 going on 38), I appreciate your thoughts and insights into dealing with injuries etc. As a thought on your bench press, I notice you seem to gravitate towards a wide-ish grip with a fair amount of elbow flair. I've now had two shoulder surgeries (SLAP repairs on both sides), and have found that my shoulders tolerate one of the following much better than that style of benching: floor presses in general (you avoid the most aggrivating part of the ROM), neutral grip dumbbell benching (underrated exercise), and a close-ish grip bench of the hands on the rough/smooth border with more elbow tuck. Without knowing what's wrong with your shoulder, it's obviously hard to say what will/won't work, but unless you're competing in the bench press there are pretty viable alternatives. I've long thought that a combo of floor presses for standard strength progressions supplemented with neutral grip dumbbell bench over a fuller ROM would cover almost everything that a full ROM barbell bench would, and probably be much safer on the shoulders. Even a closer grip style bench with more elbow tuck may work, depending on what's wrong.
    Agreed. I have given up on standard benching. Like low bar squatting, it just isn't friendly to my body type.

  7. #307

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    I had a decent low volume squat and press session today despite lingering hamstring and shoulder injuries so I'm sharing some vids again:

    2-count Paused Olympic Back Squat, no belt or wraps 375 @ 192
    Standing Press 135 x 6 @ 192
    Front Squat, no belt or wraps 315 @ 192



    Still avoiding supine pressing of any kind. My bench is going to stink at this meet, but I think I can get my raw squat with wraps and deadlift to total over 1000 on their own. I'll have to wait till next year to total 1500.

  8. #308

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    Hitting the intensification phase for the last five weeks. Right ham and right shoulder still janky, but I can squat; just can't supine press. But that means I can really focus on squatting. And today I had a huge lifetime PR on the high bar/Olympic-style back squat with no belt and no wraps or sleeves: 425 @ 193. This was after a ramp up with an amazingly fast 405 and then a 415. I recorded the 405 and 425:



    This is my best squat progress ever and I really think all the volume I've been doing on leg press has made all the difference. It also helps that I haven't been doing much upper body work because of my shoulder; most of my effort and recovery can go to the lower body push.

  9. #309

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    Frequency is working for the squat! Another two PRs today: 5 lbs to 430 during the ramp up and then 15 lbs to 440...



    I beat a couple of dudes at the bar in arm wrestling matches and I used my left arm for the second match. It's been hurting along the distal lateral tendons of the humerus since Sunday. Today after the last squat single, the pain was so bad I could barely lift my arm. I hope this clears up in the next few days.

  10. #310

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    starting strength coach development program
    New deadlift PR at the Halloween deadlift party at my gym: 535 conventional beltless at 190 with hook grip.


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