A Middle Aged Adolescent  (who cannot possibly be the only one) A Middle Aged Adolescent (who cannot possibly be the only one) - Page 12

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Thread: A Middle Aged Adolescent (who cannot possibly be the only one)

  1. #111
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    • wichita falls texas december seminar 2020
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    (from above)

    Another classic tale is shaping up, I fear, one of secret dealings that will shatter when put to the test. Just as Brian didn’t know any better when he wandered into the enticing world of that bodybuilding gym, he’s doing the bidding of powerful men who know how to keep the law at arm’s length.
    The other possibility is that Broidy and his gang are in too deep; they’ve been found out in this age of enhanced electronic investigation. There’s precedent for that as well: Brian’s gym, the Herculaneum, was a dubious venture in its own right. It suddenly went out of business - and there was a story to that; the owners’ marriage had blown up, the husband had left town, and the wife decided to ditch the assets in a hurry.
    My coach was alerted to this by the father of one of our guys, who quickly got hold of a flatbed truck. They raced down to the Herculaneum and picked up a competition class bench, squat rack, two Olympic bars, and few hundred pounds of weights, and this is what turned our dusty little basement into a world class facility.

    If Elliot Broidy’s empire collapses into ruins flung to one side or the other like a set of blocking dummies, Brian could be facing federal authorities in a nutcracker he’s not ready to handle. That might be what the gods were foretelling on that Spring day long ago.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 4/30/18 3 sets of 8 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8) Tom 295 JC : 137.5
    2. Press (3x8) Tom 142.5 JC: 77.5
    3. Deadlift (1x8) 375 second session JC 205

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 162.5
    (#1 top range ) 162.5 (#4 top range) 162.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 235 JC: 110
    2. Bench Press: (3x8) Tom: 210 JC: 105
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 215 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 265 JC: 122.5
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 127.5 JC: 77.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 367.5 JC 140, 142.5x2

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 252.5, 282.5, 327.5
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: Kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  2. #112
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    Those of us who stumbled upon the feel-good story of the week are pretty late to the game. It turns out that all the stuff to feel good about started happening long ago.
    On Saturday, April 28, the Seattle Seahawks (American football team) drafted linebacker Shaquem [sha-KEEM] Griffin in the fifth round. It’s a dream come true: not only does he join his twin brother, who was picked up a year previously, he becomes the first one-handed amputee to be drafted by the National Football League.
    Fans of his University of Central Florida team certainly considered him worthy of a shot in the NFL. At the Scouting Combine, the rest of football took notice, as Griffin ran the fastest 40-yard dash in 15 years for a linebacker, and then with the use of a prosthetic hand - or, really, a locking clamp at the end of a hard plastic sleeve - bench pressed 225 pounds for 20 reps. Suddenly, television analysts were clamoring for game films. ‘This guy can play!’ they gushed.
    When Griffin was announced as the Seahawks’ pick, social media exploded with congratulations from NFL stars, one-handed former Major League pitcher Jim Abbott, and especially the parents of similarly handicapped children. Thousands of families became Seahawk fans in an instant.

    My mind went to the story of Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted, in 2014. I was rooting for Sam, for his own sake as well as the fact that his success would mean a great deal to many, many people. One day, however, I came across an interview with him that had been conducted in a weight room. He was working very hard, he assured the camera. Training camp was only a few weeks away.
    Behind him in the shot was a squatting machine - and my heart sank. At the end of two long arms were pads that would fit over his shoulders. The rest of the machine was a giant frame that housed weights in a stack. Sam would never have been really squatting in the thing; it was a crouch at best. The other camera angles revealed the gym to be pretty tame, all carpets and machines. ‘Dude,’ I whispered to the screen, ‘you’re done.’
    Sam was cut at the end of training camp.

    If Shaquem Griffin represents another important first, he would seem to be made of tougher stuff, which is the real feel-good part of the story. He’s the victim of amniotic band syndrome, where, as he and his twin brother were crowded together in utero, his hand had become entangled and constricted in part of the surrounding amniotic sac. The result was a deformed, painful hand. One day when Shaquem was four, his parents found him preparing to lop it off with a kitchen knife.
    They quickly scheduled surgery, which was an amputation at the wrist. Upsetting as the entire ordeal must have been, Dad must have grown thoughtful as Shaquem was wheeled into the operating room: this is a tough little bastard.
    Consequently, he did not baby him in the years that followed. In route running and pass catching drills in the backyard, Dad gunned the ball to Shaquem and his brother Shaquille with equal rib bruising ferocity. He built a device called ‘the book,’ a block of wood wrapped in cloth, to fit between the ends of his forearm bones and the bar in weight room pressing exercises. For pulling, he fashioned a strap and chain arrangement. The boys trained in their garage.
    A 2012 video produced by THE TAMPA BAY TIMES shows a rangy, high school aged Shaquem handling 225 pounds in the bench surprisingly well on slender arms.
    Still, it was never easy going, the obstacles being mainly the doubts, if not outright obstructions, put up by various coaches over the years. When they didn’t think he could - or should - work out with the other kids, Shaquem trained on his own, hardwired by this point to know that yet again he’d just have to show people what he was made of.
    At UCF, he was redshirted freshman year and then saw himself demoted from second to third string and finally to the scout team. He used to spend his Saturdays alone, watching his brother play in the games he streamed on his laptop.
    UCF had bigger problems. Winless in 2015, their coach quit midseason. The following year, the young man who replaced him, Scott Frost, in reassembling the team from scratch, would seem to have unleashed the beast - and not just in Shaquem’s case. They won six games, and in 2017 they were undefeated, including a victory in the Peach Bowl. Griffin was named Defensive Player of the Year in his conference.

    As strange as it is at first to see Griffin’s deformed arm in the numerous highlight videos on YouTube, I found myself getting used to it pretty quickly, which must have been the same process for UCF fans and teammates, as well as any number of opponents who had to peel themselves off the ground after underestimating him. That’s a hard hunk of bone, they realized, and some determination in his hitting.
    Griffin’s draft selection touched off delirious celebration among his family and closest friends. I’d like to think that Dad had another thoughtful moment at some point, reflecting that he really did handle that kid well, hurling the ball at him, making him lift - and making him work two jobs when things looked bleak at UCF - while not accepting a great many excuses.
    All of the hoopla overshadowed probably the best news of the day, the phone call from Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. ‘We’re expecting you to come in here and bust ass,’ Carroll said. ‘Be humble,’ he advised further, which I suspect is something he says to every hot shot he speaks to on Draft Day. ‘You come in working your tail off.’
    ‘Yes, sir. Yes, sir; I’m going to give it everything I got,’ Shaquem gasped emotionally on the other end.
    Griffin has to know that he might or might not make this team. As validating as a draft selection must be, he must have truly appreciated this phone call. A lot of lesser men never rose to this level of character, but here was a coach at the pinnacle of the sport saying, man to man, We’re going to give you a fair shot.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 5/7/18 3 sets of 5 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5) Tom 345 JC : 157.5
    2. Bench Press (3x5) Tom 240 JC: 87.5
    3. Deadlift (1x5) 425 second session JC 205

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 165 (#1 top range ) 165
    (#4 top range) 165 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 275 JC: 125
    2. Press: (3x5) Tom: 162.5 JC: 82.5
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 225 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 310 JC: 142.5
    2. Bench Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 215 JC: 80
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5 Tom 367.5, 370, 367.5 JC 142.5

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 255, 285, 330
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  3. #113
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    The 8-5-2 routine is rolling along. I’m feeling ascendant once again, moving well, enjoying the workouts, and feeling as though my body has settled into a rhythm of adaptation. I’m free of worry, which is to say free from angst over any life-or-death max lifts or rep counts, and this has given me a chance to mull over a few technical observations.

    The box squat certainly isn’t anything new, though my appreciation for it has broadened. I now consider it gloriously imperfect, and consequently wonderful for rehabilitating injured or beaten up squatters. Getting all crippled up can be the price one pays for greatness, be it working up to a new max over a big, long progression or just handling top-tier weights for months on end. A month or two ago, I had that sore patellar tendon, which was probably really an unhappy, tight quadricep. Eight or nine months ago, I tore up an adductor.
    Box squats came to the rescue both times. I could ease down with a weight and settle onto a box. Then, sure that everything was relaxed and pain free, I could push back up and call it a rep. My adductors liked them, my knees liked them, but most importantly the reps were worry free, which was the best feeling of them all.
    Were these improper somehow? If so, then I gladly plead guilty. My defense, however, is that they steer one away from a greater crime, which is unduly tensing the quads or adductors at the bottom of each rep. That’s what was getting me hurt, putting the brakes on as the weights got scary.

    Louie Simmons, who has made box squatting central to the Westside Barbell brand of training, has written that with a properly sized box, an athlete never has to worry about squat depth again. That’s true, and I’m not sure that anything else about box squats is terribly wrong. Yes, all of the muscles disengage when an athlete commits his weight to the box, but then they all have to reengage when it’s time to head back up. Simmons considers this process an important training stimulus. Rippetoe does not go so far, yet in STARTING STRENGTH, he includes them among ‘Useful Assistance Exercises.’

    I’m the only one voicing reservations with terms like, ‘gloriously imperfect’ or ‘improper.’ This is based on one observation: box squats can give one a slightly false sense of balance. When I hurt my knee, I wrote that I was turning over a new leaf, and with the help of box squats was really going to train the vertical-shinbone, belly-down form that would be ideal for protecting my knees. I made a similar vow when I tore up that adductor: I’ll pass the TUBOW test by getting my hips back and really nailing down the form.
    I could do this with the box squat - at least more so than usual; I was probably never really belly-down, though my shinbones were pretty vertical. However, as I weaned myself off the box, doing butt-touches (without transferring my weight) to the box at first, and then squatting out in the open once more, I couldn’t hold the position, especially with heavier weights. Based on how the Good Lord made me, I have to be a bit more upright than belly-down if I want to keep my center of mass over the center of my feet. My knees have to be an inch or so ahead of my toes at the bottom of the motion.
    If that’s my true squat, I wondered, was the box squat wrong?
    Yes, a little bit. However, in the long run, the false sense of balance didn’t create any problems. In fact, those weeks were such a welcome break for body and soul that I’ve decided ‘gloriously imperfect’ box squats are perfect for rehab.
    (They don’t have to be wrong. The next time I need them, I won’t muck around trying to alter my form. I’ll just restore the range of motion tension free.)

    Nothing hurts, which is the case 95 percent of the time. It’s not my form that’s the problem; it’s the wear and tear from long slogs through heavy territory, which I will I have to bear in mind.
    For now, I’m having fun, hitting depth freely as I keep an important cue in mind: Drop easily until you realize you’re coming back up.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 5/14/18 3 sets of 2 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2) Tom 385 JC : 172.5
    2. Press (3x2) Tom 182.5 JC: 85
    3. Deadlift (1x2) 475 second session JC 225

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 167.5
    (#1 top range ) 167.5 (#4 top range) 167.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 307.5 JC: 137.5
    2. Bench Press: (3x2) Tom: 270 JC: 115
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 347.5 JC: 155
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 165 JC: 77.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 367.5, 370x2 JC 142.5, 145, 142.5

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 257.5, 287.5, 332.5
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: Kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  4. #114
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    How does one wrap their mind around a topic as huge as conditioning for youth sports?

    It probably begins with stating that no one else has, either, at least in any widely accepted way, and then throwing out some analogies to reveal the scope of the problem: some months ago, when I was writing about isotonic-isometrics, I came upon Bud Charniga Jr.’s indictment of America’s Olympic weightlifting program through the years. Isotonic-Isometrics had played a large part in the approach taken by Bob Hoffman, who allowed his financial concerns for his York Barbell Company to cloud his judgment when it came to the science of preparing world class athletes.
    That’s precisely what the problem has remained, Charniga says. The wrong-headed Hoffman dominated strength sports for decades, but even after he was gone, weightlifting has careened from one commercially based fad after another, none of which have proven truly effective. By contrast, the Soviet Union gathered their scientists into a single institute to test and develop the science of athletic training. The difference in results has been significant.

    With rare exceptions, this isn’t the American way of doing things. President Kennedy’s call to ‘put a man on the moon by the end of the decade,’ is probably the best example of America’s greatest minds coming together in common cause. When Vice President Joe Biden called for a ‘moon-shot’ approach to curing cancer, the metaphor was not merely that this is a lofty goal. He meant also that our greatest researchers have to work together.
    That’s not the way things happen in a capitalist society. Conditioning for youth sports is no different.

    The subject came up during a visit from my young friend, the football player whom I’ve coached every so often. He had news from Spring football training, and Summer conditioning is only a few weeks away.
    Here’s the punchline for today, at the risk of heresy on the STARTING STRENGTH website: maybe the football coaches we criticize so often are taking the right approach to conditioning their kids - especially since they’re encountering a new breed of pillow-soft non-athletes.

    The shooting the breeze in my garage was a little all over the place, but here’s the latest as I understand it:
    - A bunch of college coaches and scouts were visiting the weight room over the previous few days. They’re allowed to meander around and observe the kids - but interestingly, they’re not allowed to say anything to them, since that would violate some kind of rule on making overtures to an athlete. The kid’s view of this was that the scouts weren’t that interested in their lifting, anyway.
    - The only exercise that did interest the college coaches - and will interest the high school coaches between now and the season - is the power clean. Their winter of (what they considered) strength training is wrapping up. The summer will be mainly running.
    - They’re not even having Spring football practice, which is to say they’re not strapping on equipment and playing the game outside. Apparently it’s been some years since they have.
    - Teams might no longer be allowed to hold double sessions in August, when they do strap on the pads. That rule has not taken effect yet, though the kid seemed to think it’s coming.
    - The conditioning sessions can go all Summer long, provided they’re not ‘football’ practices, and the way they enforce this is that no ball can be on the field. They will run, leap onto tires, over dummies; they’ll flip tires, do power cleans, and push sleds, but no oblong throwable leather objects can be present.

    I had two general reactions, the first being, ‘No Springs? No double sessions? They don’t make teenagers like they used to,’ but while I was being kind enough not to say that, the kid brought it up himself: ‘It’s just that kids these days don’t do anything physical; they can’t handle those kinds of practices,’ he said.
    Also, I momentarily had the standard STARTING STRENGTH reaction to the idea of a summer spent outside running around: That’s ridiculous. The time would be so much better spent in a weight room. Get these kids strong . . . let the skills take care of themselves during practice . . . .
    That’s a dated premise, it dawned on me. It’s probably completely wrong. A lot of these kids must be such basket cases that they need to develop some fundamental athleticism first.

    According to my young friend, a great many kids have difficulty maintaining a 17 second time in their 100 yard runs, done in a set of 12 reps separated by 30-second rests. ‘That’s not just the bigs,’ he said, referring to the lineman, ‘but the skills as well,’ which are the backs and ends. If 4.5 second 40-yard dashes are very fast, 5.5’s are average, and 6’s are glacial. The kid is saying, essentially, that his classmates cannot shamble along with 6 and 6 seconds to make 80 yards, and then 5 seconds more to cover the last 20 - or if they do it a few times, they can’t sustain that output. Backs and ends can’t do that?
    Coaches must wonder what the Hell planet they’ve landed on. Six or seven years ago, when I was running a CrossFit Kids program, the kids could adapt to the running, swimming, or jumping well enough; it was the skills of throwing and catching a ball that they needed to practice.
    ‘Get them to do lots of somersaults and cartwheels,’ CF Kids management urged. ‘They need the stimulation to their vestibular systems.’ It took me months to get one eight-year-old girl to do a simple somersault. The poor thing used to collapse bodily with every step in a run - until I got her squatting; I taught her to swim; I’ll never forget her very first day, as she was climbing on my pull-up rack and hanging with her feet six inches off the ground, terrified of the drop. (I toughened her up but always felt her parents should have been prosecuted for neglect.)
    Dozens of high school football teams have posted conditioning videos on YouTube, presumably to fire up players and parents. However, you’ve seen this brand of kid already, anyway: fatty and pill shaped, with absolutely smooth, featureless, cylindrical limbs that betray no evidence of sinew whatsoever, whatever they may be doing. Some of these videos show them struggling with empty weight bars, holding them awkwardly, unevenly, as if they were trying to hoist pianos overhead.
    I had a kid like that this past winter. He was six feet, 185 pounds or more, and had a driver’s license, yet 95 pounds in the squat would crush him, a face-plant at any second being a real danger. 135 in the deadlift was a challenge. He’s playing football in the Fall.

    The vast majority of football coaches would not disagree that a decent strength program would do kids a world of good, but I think they know they have neither the time or ability to provide it - even in the hugest, most deluxe facilities. The rate of return diminishes very quickly in a high school football weight program, in terms of both the amount of time spent and the number of kids processed through. The proof is in all those team-spirit strength videos on YouTube. The more kids there are and the more fired up they get, the worse their form. This is some quirk of human nature in which group dynamics degrade individual quality. Squats are above parallel, backbones are bent on cleans and deads, and butts rise into the air during bench presses. Very few kids are legitimately putting up big numbers.

    The college scouts know this, which is why, as the kid told me, they had no interest in anyone’s lifting - unless they happened to spot someone who showed signs of being an actual athlete. Theirs would be a name to keep an eye on during the coming season.
    The football coaches can’t all be morons, despite what some strength training experts might think. They talk to the scouts; they know the dirty secrets about their weight programs. I’m sure they have websites and forums on which they agree first things have to come first: they have to get many of these kids functioning as bipedal humans in a gravitational environment. A summer full of running and drills is an attempt to cram a childhood of outdoor play into two and a half months.

    Strength and sport coaches are poised to debate how best to proceed, broadly speaking, but this is based on the mistaken assumption that kids at a given age are more or less at the same level of athleticism. Anyone imagining that the present generation’s physical preparedness is anything close to that from their own experience is dead wrong.
    By the way, that whole point at the start about careening between one commercial fad after another is just as true in youth sports nowadays as it’s been for American Olympic lifting over the decades. I did try to find coaching articles for youth and high school football; a great many of them were actually commercial pitches for all kinds of devices: 3-D imaging technology for tracking bar path, banded jumping platforms, and even The Frog, a pretty wacky go-kart powered by an athlete doing ‘core-building’ squat thrusters.

    However, before strength and sports coaches retreat to their respective domains to do the best they can with what they have, the crisis in American youth fitness does deserve a moon-shot collaborative effort. Yes, STARTING STRENGTH coaches are going to have to intervene at the kindergarten level, devising little skill programs to complement those of gymnastics, soccer, or T-Ball coaches. Otherwise, nobody is going to have a great many talented teenage prospects.

  5. #115
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    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 5/21/18 3 sets of 8 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8) Tom 315 JC : 135
    2. Bench Press (3x8) Tom 215 JC: 80
    3. Deadlift (1x8) 380 second session JC 177.5

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 170 (#1 top range ) 170
    (#4 top range) 170 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 252.5 JC: 107.5
    2. Press: (3x8) Tom: 145 JC: 75
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 235 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 282.5 JC: 122.5
    2. Bench Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x8) Tom: 195 JC: 72.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5 Tom 370 JC 142.5, 145x2

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 260, 290, 335
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  6. #116
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    Last week’s piece on football coaches was ripe for two criticisms, based mainly on one provocative statement. For the most part, I was praising football coaches, saying they were making the best choice on how they trained today’s would-be players for the season. These sedentary, often weak kids are a long way from being talented athletes, and the fantastic weight rooms and winter-long programs in many schools seem to be providing only limited benefit. Specifically, I said: ‘The rate of return diminishes very quickly in a high school football weight program, in terms of both the amount of time spent and the number of kids processed through.’

    I even said that a lot of coaches probably know this, which is why they emphasize on-the-field conditioning. If someone had taken offense to the above, they’d have two lines of attack:
    1. Dude, you go on and on about your magical high school experience a million years ago. How come yours was so great while ours is not?
    2. Do you think you can do better?

    The difference is in the numbers. In my high school club, we had at most 11 guys at a time, according to my yearbooks, and some of those guys showed up only for picture day. This would mean that a handful of motivated kids, most often six or eight on a given day, in a 20-by-20 foot room, under the close supervision of a former collegiate shot-putter, were bound to get very strong.
    Of the 11 kids pictured in my senior yearbook, three - maybe a fourth - squatted over 400 pounds. A slightly different three - and maybe a fourth - benched 300 pounds.* Three would be collegiate football players, one of them a pro, the same guy who was a state champ discus thrower and had incline benched 350 - in high school. One of us won a Junior Olympic National Weightlifting title while in college.
    [* - Some of these lifts were made a year or two later by kids who were underclassmen at the time of that photo.]
    Nobody was weak - for very long. Even those who did not become top tier lifters were respectably strong, squatting 275, benching 200.
    We were out of the statistical norm, based on an alchemy of small group dynamics, a talented coach, an ethos he had established through years of producing champions, and the sheer desire we all had to join their ranks.

    Without all of these elements swirling in the mix, I don’t think any coach can do much better than the football programs I described last week. This includes me.

    For two months this Winter, I put 30 kids, boys and girls, mainly high schoolers with a few college kids as well, through a novice linear progression. Strength training was completely new to about 75 percent of them and not their primary interest; this was preparation for a Spring sports season.
    The results would probably make for a pretty normal statistical spread. Among both the boys and girls, I had about 15 percent slackers at the bottom end and 15 percent - maybe 20 among the boys - achievers at the top, kids who trained hard and progressed significantly. The remaining 70 percent put forth solid effort - though absences affected consistency - and made reasonable gains.
    ]
    - The top boys gained 100 pounds in the squat and deadlift sets. A few rank beginners hardened up, put on 10 pounds of bodyweight, and were squatting 205 and deadlifting 225. The benches went up by 50-60 pounds, and the presses by 40.
    Among my top achieving boys was a thin cross-country runner who did not have numbers like that, but he did work up to 165-pound deads and 135-pound squats from the empty bar. His presses were up by 50 as well.
    - The average boys got up to 155-pound squats and 185-pound deads, with 115 or 135-pound bench and 95-pound press sets. Some less talented kids or truly long limbed stringbeans were squatting 115, deadlifting 135, benching 95, and pressing 75. Most of the gang in the ‘average’ section started the lifts with an empty bar or 75 pounds, just to learn the motions.
    - The slacker boys were the guys who didn’t show up consistently, never wore the right pants to train, wouldn’t squat below parallel, or would generally hide among the crowds at each platform, socializing but not lifting. The strongest kid in the entire place, capable of 275-pound squats and 365 deads, was among the greatest slackers. He claimed one-time maxes far beyond what any of his sets would suggest; my impression was that he had tired of sports and training. Senior slump was setting in.

    - My two top girls were experienced lifters who had been to CrossFit or commercial gyms with their parents. They could knock through 165-pound squat sets, having started with 75 or so - and one of them could handle just about all the boys on the deadlift platform. She was terribly shy, and I would urge her to join the lads’ rotation and, “Show ‘em how it’s done.’
    This is apparently mortifying to a young lady, as out-lifting the fellas is not a way to ensure popularity. She would, however, get a friend to take Instagram photos of the occasional bar-bending big lift, and one day when I told her an entire girls’ rowing team was giving her the skunk eye from across the room, she put on a clinic. Shyness has its limits.
    Two other girls were in the top achievers category. Once was a fairly slack-a-delic senior who suddenly saw the light; she was trying to earn a Navy ROTC scholarship, where fitness was one of the qualifications. She was deadlifting 135 for sets, squatting 95, after goofing off for probably a month. Normally, this wouldn’t be that praiseworthy, but she was a senior, she was cool, and the other girls looked up to her. When she suddenly got serious, a lot of them did, too.
    The other girl I wrote about once before; she literally had no idea how to squat. She lacked the bodily awareness to get her hips down while keeping her backbone straight. Progress was slow - but she put in a good faith effort day in and day out. Interestingly, she had to have weight on her back to grasp the balance that came into play. She ended the season with sets of 95 pounds.
    - 95 and 135 is where most of the pack wound up with squats and deads, though a lot of them probably could have deadlifted more. The girls, as a species, were a little reluctant about adding weight. When I made sure they loaded the big, scary 45’s onto the bar, they’d yank 135 off the floor, practically at power clean speed.
    Benches and presses started with an empty bar, or in some cases, 25 or 35-pound foam covered exercise bars. They ended at 55 or 65 in the press, with some up at 75, and at 75 or 85 in the bench, with one or two at 95 - maybe even 115, in the case of my quiet and and unfailingly polite deadlifting champ.
    -The slacker girls, like the boys, stood among the crowd and got away with doing very little - which raises an interesting question: what were they doing there in the first place?
    The slackers were on the teams from single-sex Catholic schools. Hanging with friends and mixing with the opposite gender was worth the risk of being forced to squat.

    If I did anything better than some of those coaches in the football videos, it was to establish good, safe technique among all my lifters, which I managed probably because I had 30 kids and not 90. In the first month, this was a mad rush everyday, from the moment in our warm up when I’d make everyone hit the deck for a Superman hold: ‘We want safe, strong lower backs!’ I’d hustle from rack to rack or platform to platform, straightening backbones, getting chests pushed out, or squats to proper depth.
    Otherwise, I experienced some of the same large-group dynamics other coaches face. Most of the middle-of-the-pack boys and girls would train with whatever weights their friends were using. Sometimes this would be too heavy, and I’d catch them, but most of the time it had a dampening effect, keeping everyone a little lighter than they could have gone.
    In those football videos, I’d imagine the same thing is happening in a way: some of those kids were also training with what their friends were using, though in that environment, especially when people were wielding video cameras, the effect was to keep everyone a little heavier than they should have been. That’s when their form went to Hell.

    The most important difference between large and small groups is that coaches are facing two entirely different objectives. The objective for managing 30 or more people (probably 20 or more, really) is to spur the group to move with a common cause. It’s about setting the group in motion, NOT getting a bunch of individuals to lift weights well.
    The kids are the ones who keep the rotations moving, change the weights, and spot their friends. The coach can run around reminding people about standards. He can be part of singular moments here and there: a big set or fixing a technique problem, but 95 percent of the kids’ interaction is with their friends and the collective mindset.
    Coaches realize this means picking one’s battles. You have to let stuff slide sometimes, like the kids who are goofing off or or the pull-up or row sets that don’t get done as time winds down. If the entire group can get a certain amount accomplished, that’s your victory for the day.

    My wife asked me about our young neighborhood friend. ‘Why doesn’t he train with you?’
    ‘He would die of boredom. He’s in it to hang with his buddies. Anyone who trained with me would have to be an outsider, someone bent on progress, not being one of the boys.’
    ‘Then what would be the difference between the team and your guy?’
    ‘My guy would kill them all.’

  7. #117
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
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    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 5/28/18 3 sets of 5 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x5) Tom 355 JC : 160
    2. Press (3x5) Tom 165 JC: 85
    3. Deadlift (1x5) 430 second session JC 205

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 172.5
    (#1 top range ) 172.5 (#4 top range) 172.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 285 JC: 127.5
    2. Bench Press: (3x5) Tom: 240 JC: 122.5
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 240 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 525
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 320 JC: 145
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x5) Tom: 147.5 JC: 77.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 370, 372.5, 370 JC 145

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 262.5, 292.5, 337.5
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

  8. #118
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    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
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    I’ve stumbled upon another one of my revolutionary discoveries, which, like all of the others, is something so basic that I’m embarrassed I didn’t know it any sooner. It has to do with being in balance during one’s lifts, which has made a real difference on the platform.

    Not long ago, I read a paragraph here on the Forum about priming one’s position for the deadlift. This is where an athlete takes some tension against the barbell and makes any necessary shifts to set their back and ensure they’re in proper position to engage the full load. (This was also featured in a ‘front-page’ instructional video around the same time.)
    I hadn’t often used that trick, but with this new 8-5-2 routine and my decision to be strict about not releasing the bar between reps, I figured I ought to be sure I could get into the right place consistently. You know how this goes: you hunker down but then let your hips float a little higher, which means you can set your chest and back more thoroughly. However, the surprise in my case was in letting my body sway to the front and back a bit. I’ve been lifting with my weight too far forward, I realized. It’s been in the balls of my feet and on my toes, which has created a lot of unnecessary tension and restricted movement.
    I now rock back and feel the weight along the length of my Adidas Adipowers, which makes me far more balanced and relaxed.

    In the deadlift, this makes for a nice, straight bar path right up the front of my legs. It settles right into a nicely centered spot, and allows my upper body to stand upright without my shoulders or chest collapsing. That’s not a 1-2-3 set of consecutive steps. Being balanced allows me to keep my chest in one piece and the bar along my legs, which puts the weight right into that sweet finishing spot.

    In the power clean, an athlete has to find a different sweet spot, earlier than in the deadlift. That’s Rip’s ‘jumping position,’ where the bar touches the thighs just above the knees, right at about the base of the quadriceps, and where the lifter launches both body and bar upwards solely with leg thrust.
    We have to stop here for a second. This is a centered, wonderful place to be, a few inches below a tall and beautifully completed deadlift. If you had to lower a completed deadlift to the base of your quads and hold it there, your knees would be well forward of the weight. Your upper body would be inclined a little, and to stay in balance, you’d want to feel the ground evenly along the soles of your feet. Then, to stand back up, you’d press solely with your legs.

    In thinking about motion once more, what’s really happening as the bar passes the knees is that the lifter is sliding their knees forward under the bar to hit that balanced position, even when they might think they’re raking the bar backward. There, provided the lifter maintains some presence of mind, they can drive with a quick, small, hard boost from the legs - not unlike that of an Olympic jerk - to finish the lift.
    All of this, the running the knees forward, driving with the legs, and even having mental clarity, is not possible if the lifter is on the fronts of his feet. I’ve had to learn not to be fooled by lifters who fly through power cleans. If you don’t see a jump, or if they swing their backs with their feet on the ground or back away and catch the bar in a lousy, wrist-wrecking rack, then they’re out of balance. The problem started when they were teeing up before the lift.

    Squats done out of balance are needlessly difficult. I thought about this mid-set the other day, when a rep or two pitched forward. No, that’s not my hamstrings ‘kicking on’ and making my hips rise, as I used to think. That’s me collapsing forward an inch or two, and my balance going to the fronts of my feet. I had to settle back, feeling the weight throughout my shoes, and drop straight down, not forward.
    At the beginning of each set, as I step back from the hooks, the process of making sure I feel the floor throughout each foot makes me stand taller than I did before, which in turn makes for a better adductor stretch reflex at the bottom of each rep.
    That’s another way of saying that it’s easier to get below parallel when you’re balanced. If you can’t hit a good deadlift or power clean sweet spot when your weight is in the wrong place, then the same is true for the squat. Craning forward or sending my hips too far back in the name of technique made for poor leverage and a compromised ability to generate force against the bar.

    I’ve learned to trust the leverages that have been provided: the bar placement, the weightlifting shoes, and the bone lengths the Good Lord has given me. The greatest difference I’ve noticed with balanced squats is in the speed of each rep.
    The cue I’m giving myself these days is to stay aware of my feet. Stand tall, breathe freely between reps, and be fast.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 6/3/18 3 sets of 2 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2) Tom 390 JC : 172.5
    2. Bench Press (3x2) Tom 275 JC: 130
    3. Deadlift (1x2) 480 second session JC 235

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 175
    (#1 top range ) 175 (#4 top range) 175 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 315 JC: 137.5
    2. Press: (3x2) Tom: 185 JC: 85
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 245 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 535
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 350 JC: 155
    2. Bench Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 247.5 JC: 117.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts - off rack - 3 sets of 5 Tom 370, 372.5x2 JC 145, 1475.5, 145

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 265, 295, 340
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: T-bar sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  9. #119
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
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    Below is the schedule I’ll use to work around an upcoming jaunt out of town. Since I’m only getting two out of three lifting days for the next two weeks, I have to be sure to hit my priorities.
    One of them is my partial presses. My weights are climbing nicely, both in the seated press and in the bench, and this is driving progress in the conventional lifts. Just this week, I was able to hit 3’s with weights designated for 2’s. Granted, I started the 8-5-2 routine pretty conservatively, but I’ll happily bench 275 for 3’s and put those extra reps in the bank. The 185-pound presses for 3’s were not that ground breaking, but they felt nice and easy.
    Potent as they are neurologically, the partials make for very perishable gains, I fear. When I took a week off in April, my body definitely needed the rest, but when I came back, my partials had all crashed by 15 pounds.

    Two more observations:
    1. The beauty of this 8-5-2 routine is that the blood pumping, air sucking sets of 8 are a great way for the body to shake off the effects of the heavy 2’s the week before - better than how the 5’s cured the effects of the 1’s in the 5-3-1.
    2. That might be a sign of aging, above, but so might this: I’m 10 weeks into the 8-5-2 without any de-loads or days off, so maybe this trip is coming right at the right time. I am feeling a little beaten up from the 2’s this time around, particularly the 480-pound deadlifts. Beyond not doing any harm, maybe the lost workouts will do some good. Left to my own devices, I’d probably train and train for months straight and end up completely thrashed, the way I’ve done twice so far in the time I’ve kept this blog.

    The subject I planned for this week has been hampered by a lack of research, to some degree a lack of legwork on my part, as I’ve been unusually busy elsewhere, but otherwise I can’t find any information on a phenomenon I’ve experienced for decades: beer makes me faster.

    I don’t know about stronger - but I’m talking about my running, swimming, or rowing over the years, where I’ve noticed that on a Saturday, after a brew or two the night before, I perform noticeably better than earlier in the week or any other Saturdays when I’ve not had anything on Friday night.
    This past week we took in Flogging Molly and the Dropkick Murphys as they kicked off their summer tour at our river front, an occasion which clearly called for a tall, cold 16-ounce Goose Island IPA. The next morning, I hit a 6000-meter row - with my ears still ringing - and watched as my pace hit a lot of 2:03’s and 2:04’s instead of the usual 2:07’s and 2:09’s per 500 meters. I finished a good 40 seconds or so faster than usual. Holy Cow, it’s happened again, I marveled.

    I’ve been a sparing enough drinker to make some very clear comparisons over the years, and this NEVER failed back in my endurance days, regardless of the day of the week or the event: in the context of an otherwise dry week, I’d be noticeably faster with a beer or two in the tank from 10 or 12 hours before.
    I have not been able to find anyone else describing a similar experience on-line, though some ultra-marathoners claim alcohol during a run helps with pain management. This was a secret of mine until we were in stationed in Guam in the mid-90’s. We trained in run-swim-runs and triathlons with a great many SEAL’s, EOD folks, and hospital corps-people (male and female) who also made a point of loading up the night before an event.

    The subject deserves a better examination than I can give it now. The drop in my rowing time the other day, a recent record, represents a 2 percent improvement.
    The two most logical guesses at the cause are that the carbohydrates provide a ready source of energy, or that the alcohol makes for improved sleep. It could be a combination of the two.
    Other carbs, such as spaghetti or rice, do not have so dramatic an effect.
    I have some textbooks upstairs to scan, but the problem with articles or research on-line is that any discussion of drinking has to do with people who drink regularly or heavily. Nobody has studied the very few of us who experience noticeable bumps in performance or for whom a beer or two represents a noticeable bump in decadence.
    This will be among the mysteries pondered as the summer progresses.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 6/11/18 3 sets of 8 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x8) Tom 320 JC : 140
    2. Press (3x8) Tom 147.5 JC: 80
    3. Deadlift (1x8) 385 second session JC 205

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 177.5
    (#1 top range ) 177.5 (#4 top range) 177.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 255 JC: 112.5
    2. Bench Press: (3x8) Tom: 220 JC: 105
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 372.5 JC 145, 147.5x2

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 267.5, 297.5, 340
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: Kettlebell sit ups

    Week of: 6/18/18 3 sets of 5 reps week
    WEDNESDAY
    1. Squat (3x5) Tom 360 JC : 160
    2. Bench Press (3x5) Tom 245 JC: 120
    3. Deadlift (1x5) 430 second session JC 207.5

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 180 - ?? (#1 top range ) 180
    (#4 top range) 180 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    THURSDAY - Conditioning (optional)
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    FRIDAY
    1. Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets Tom: 287.5 JC: 127.5
    2. Press: (3x5) Tom: 167.5 JC: 80
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 372.5, 375, 372.5 JC 147.5
    possibly cleans or shrugs instead

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 270- -??, 300, 342.5
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    swim 1 mile

  10. #120
    Join Date
    Dec 2015
    Location
    Washington, DC
    Posts
    268

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    starting strength coach development program
    We are home from Iceland, a vacation and adventure destination I recommend highly. The island’s numerous landscapes, be they coastal, mountainous, or feminine, are breathtaking, the inhabitants laid back, approachable, and as amazed as the rest of the world at their incredible showing in the World Cup match against Argentina while we were there. We drove through Thingvellir National Park listening to the game on the radio, though not understanding a word of Icelandic. At one point, the announcers went bananas, so we figured it had to be something good. They don’t use the word ‘goal,’ however, as in a prolonged, ‘GOOOAL!’ Rather, it’s, ‘MAAARK!’, which we didn’t catch at the time.

    The trip does not appear to have affected my training too significantly. The morning after I got back, my deadlift reps went up nice and fast, which was a change from the weeks prior, but the 360-pound squats for fives were a little slow. My quads felt like they had some play in how the fibers were reeling themselves together, as if to warn, ‘That’s not enough sleep - or enough protein - for a few days there, buddy.’
    The bench reps went fine, but as I feared, the magical partial presses faltered. I was pushing the envelope before I left, but it was the long flight and the sleep disruption that hosed things up, or the fact that I swam the day before I lifted and possibly burnt out my triceps.
    Our Monday activity was a six-hour horseback ride into the wilderness. Six hours of bracing and balancing with the thousand little muscles you don’t usually use so hard was the most brutal athletic event I’ve undertaken in decades, and this goes back to the run-swim-runs with the lads from SpecWar and serving as cannon fodder for Olympic Judo players. We got back to the house barely in time to collapse for the night.
    I had to do something the next morning to work out the stiffness and soreness, so I hit a local pool - Icelanders love their pools, geo-thermally heated and out in the open air - to get the blood flowing.
    The night before, I could barely hold my head up long enough to drink my beer with dinner, but as I was saying two weeks ago, Beer Makes You Faster, and I actually knocked through a mile pretty well. That night we flew six hours, the next morning I lifted, so something along the line robbed me.

    Otherwise, I spent much of the weekend thinking I was pretty hot stuff. Our first activity was snorkeling in the Silfra Fissure. Google this; it’s phenomenally beautiful, a gorge between the tectonic plates of Europe and North America. The water is glacial runoff filtered by a few miles of volcanic rock, so it’s some of the purest and clearest in the world. You’re encouraged to drink your share as you swim along. Since the water is barely above freezing, you wear long johns and bunny suits beneath big dry suits, which for snorkeling are a giant hindrance because they make it very hard to dive to any decent depth. Everything is very buoyant even after you’ve ‘burped’ all the air out of your suit by way of a valve. Still, I was able to muscle some free dives down to about 20 feet, which our guide said was among the deepest he had seen for someone not weighted. ‘It’s good to be strong,’ I was saying to myself.
    My 14 year old called me a show-off.

    I do have to pay attention to the squats. Even the 8’s the week before I left felt kind of heavy, and it’s a little early for this kind of difficulty. Really, this tells me that the last time I was in this territory, the isotonic-isometric squats were working for me, so I have to add some partial reps, done from a dead-stop, probably on Wednesdays, for a little enhanced motor unit recruitment down near the sticking point.
    I’m off to the bookcase upstairs, to look up some numbers in STARTING STRENGTH, and then out to the garage, to select pin heights.

    Heavy-Light-Medium
    Week of: 6/25/18 3 sets of 2 reps week
    MONDAY
    1. Squat (3x2) Tom 395 JC : 175
    2. Press (3x2) Tom 185 JC: 85
    3. Deadlift (1x2) 485 second session JC 230

    4. 3 sets heavy pull ups
    5. Seated Partial PRESSES (#5-down, close holes) 180
    (#1 top range ) 170 (#4 top range) 172.5 JC - dips
    6. barbell curls: 3 sets
    7. abs: banded pull downs

    TUESDAY - Conditioning
    sled pull 2 miles; 45, 25

    WEDNESDAY
    1. JC: Squat (80% of Monday’s weight) x Monday Reps, 2 sets JC: 137.5
    Tom: 3 sets PARTIAL SQUATS; DEAD STOP holes 9-13-17 - 225, 275, 315
    2. Bench Press: (3x2) Tom: 280 JC: 117.5
    3. Power Cleans 3x3 Tom: 230 JC: 75 - 95
    4. 4 sets of heavy shrugs 520
    5. abs: hollow rockers

    FRIDAY
    1. Squats: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 355 JC: 157.5
    2. Press: [90% of Monday’s weight] (3x2) Tom: 167.5 JC: 77.5
    3. Romanian Deadlifts 3x5 Tom 372.5, 375, 372.5 JC 145

    4. 4 rounds gymnastic rows with vest
    5. 3 sets of partial bench presses holes (- 4 -8 -12) . . . . 270, 300, 345
    JC: close grip bench press, T-Bar
    6. 3 sets 5-6 curls
    7. abs: Kettlebell sit ups

    SATURDAY - Conditioning
    row 6000 meters

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