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  1. #131
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    • starting strength seminar june 2022
    • starting strength seminar august 2022
    • starting strength seminar october 2022
    I wish I were there, but what happened today suggests I am not ready to join the rack pull cool kids club yet...

    Volume bench - 5 X 5 at 109 lbs

    This went so well that it gave me false hopes about the deadlift session I was to complete afterwards. However, I did notice that my arms felt a bit beaten - not quite muscularly, but structurally, I'd say, as if my bones were sore (not my joints though). That feeling reminded me of something I experience in the summer when I ride my road bike a lot. I have always assumed this feeling was caused by the vibrations transferred by the bike. Anyhow, not a big deal right now, just something to monitor. It is probably a temporary side effect of my increased pressing volume and frequency.

    Deadlift - 3, 1 at 232.5 lbs - FAIL

    Today's planned session was 2 sets of triples, but I miserably failed my second set.

    On the bright side, I think I did a much better job at setting my lower back and keeping it set. However, there is still some rounding happening in the mid-back, which is clearly a reaction to the bar drifting forward. I was not able to keep it over the mid-foot during any of those reps. Fun fact, all reps display the "tremor" or "shaking" that I have seen mentioned elsewhere. This is a first for me and it is not pretty to watch (think jiggly cellulite).

    What now? Option 1 is to reattempt this training session next time and hope for the best. Maybe today was just a bad day (though the bench press session suggests otherwise). Maybe it is a consequence of that extra deadlift session I did last week (i.e. Bill was right and is thinking "told ya" as he is reading this).

    Or maybe I am "legitimately stuck" and have reached the point where my form issues cannot be addressed while performing limit deadlifts, and where those issues have become an insurmontable obstacle to further progress towards a 2 X BW deadlift.

    It also seems unwise to risk failing again in a week. So I am afraid that Option 2 is a reset. What do you think?

  2. #132
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    Jun 2019
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    Nope, "told ya" is not my thing. We're all figuring this out. It wasn't a "bad day," but a under-recovered day for only the deadlift, as the bench was very strong.

    Since you did your PR Deadlift on Friday, just four days ago, you haven't had enough time to recover. That frequency puts you back in BBRx Program 1B: Early Novice (pg 188), which you clearly aren't. Even Program 1C: Novice (pg 188) puts the frequency at every nine days, as does Program 1D: Advanced Novice (Pg 193). Even moving into HLM or other Intermediate programming has it once every 7 days. The shaking/tremors makes perfect sense today since you weren't recovered. So recover and move forward. That means Option 1. Don't throw this session out and reset, whatever you do (your Option 2).

    After Friday's PR Deadlift, the thing to have done would have shifted your schedule around to move your next heavy deadlift to late this week or early next week (7-9 days after that session) and programmed lighter pulling between the two. That's probably what you have going for the rest of this week headed into next week's programmed heavy deadlift. So instead of 235lbs for that one, crush your 232.5x3x3.

    As far as rack pulls, whatever. Sure, they seem to be getting a bunch of attention lately, which is good and bad. Good, because people are becoming aware of them, Bad because some will be doing them in lieu of heavy deadlifts when they can keep progressing those deadlifts. I fall into the "Bad" category, as I could and should be progressing my pull from the floor, but I also balanced where that stress and recovery fits in what I want to do outside the garage. Take your time and just know they are there when you get there. One under-recovered day does not mean that you are there.

    Keep at it!

  3. #133
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    Thanks a lot for this, Bill. Really. I will listen this time and reattempt. Option 1 it is.

    I was pretty discouraged after yesterday's workout. I'd rather not do a reset unless I absolutely have to, so thank you for talking me out of it. I suppose a time will come where I will have to do a reset, but I'd rather reset from 250 lbs than from 230 lbs.

    For the record, I didn't think you'd write "told ya"; I just thought it would cross your mind as it crossed mine. You're like my virtual voice of reason.

    As far as the rack pull thing is concerned, I think I need to fix my bar path issue first. The bar moves forward as soon as it leaves the floor. I doubt rack pulls can help me correct this. I didn't want to post this because it is quite embarrassing, but see for yourself. This is yesterday's first and second set. I did attempt a third set but the bar didn't move.

    On the other hand, though, rack pulls could be a good tool to learn how to use straps. A limit deadlift from the floor might not be the best place to implement that change overnight. I might add rack pulls sooner than later, but not this week. For now, I will stick with chin ups for my light pull day.

  4. #134
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    I have to agree with Bill and especially concerning the deadlift, at least for me. For me it's an extremely fickle lift. X number of pounds will feel fine one week then feel like it's glued to the floor the next week.

  5. #135
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    Option 1 is a great option. Option 2? Not so much (yet).

    Looking at your first set, it looks like you're trying to lift the weight off the floor (yes, I know it's a deadlift). When you're doing that, it looks like you start to lead with your hips as you would a squat, which shifts you forward a touch, which gets your shoulders out too far in front of the bar. So the bar follows. Since you're initiating with your hips, your back rounds in reaction to a heavy bar that isn't moving yet.

    Push the Earth away from the bar.

    Keeping your back tight, focus on pushing the entire Earth away from the bar with the center of your feet. Your back will be kept tight as you use your lats to keep the bar against your shins. Pushing against the Earth, your knees will extend while your hip angle remains relatively fixed, keeping your shoulders above the bar. When the bar gets to your knees, that's when your hips will start to open up. When the bar gets a bit above the knees, that's when you drive your hips forward through the bar until you lock out.

    For me, once I've got my back set and the bar is tensioned, the only thing I think about is feeling the pressure between my heels and balls of my feet to make sure that I stay centered mid-foot. But really, it's just focusing on pushing the Earth away.

    As far as straps, don't hesitate to start using them if/when you think that your grip is starting to be your limiting factor. Especially if it's a limit deadlift close to 2x your bodyweight. They don't absolve your of your responsibility to squeeze the hell out of the bar, but it instantly removes the sensation that the bar is going to peel out of your fingers (likely an unconscious response that led to that missed pull in your second set). As my coach told me recently as I was on the fence about straps - "Don't let a relatively weak grip get in the way of strengthening your hips and back" (or something to that effect). Of course, if your focus is on competition, you'll need to figure out how to work that grip strength at those weights, but I don't think that's your focus right now.

    Re: rack pulls. Don't worry about them right now. Your deadlift is still going up fine (yesterday notwithstanding and it looks like we know why). Get your form and programming fixed and it will continue to go up for a while. Only when you've got those fixed and you're starting to miss reps a few weeks in a row should you start thinking about the switch to Haltings/Rack Pulls. I think Nick says something similar in that Rack Pulls 101 article. But now is also the time to start making sure that you can make that transition, since it does require a bit of extra equipment, like hose for your safeties or blocks to get the weight off of the floor so the bar is at the appropriate height. And straps.

    Keep at it!

    ETA: check out the post today on TheStrengthCo's Instagram page (I'd link it, but every time I try to open it, IG sends me to the login page instead). There's a quick video with a young lady pulling from the floor, with voice over and checklist. Watch her hip and lower back.
    Last edited by Bill Anders; 12-29-2021 at 11:45 AM.

  6. #136
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalan View Post
    I have to agree with Bill and especially concerning the deadlift, at least for me. For me it's an extremely fickle lift. X number of pounds will feel fine one week then feel like it's glued to the floor the next week.
    I've now realized that when that happens, the first thing I need to look at is recovery issues - sleep, food, etc. Then programming issues - time, relative stress between squats & deads, etc. Fix those and the next session is usually just fine.

  7. #137
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    Thanks, gentlemen.

    You're right about the hips. That's what keep happening; when I focus too much on one thing (like my back), something else slides. And there are so many things to focus on before initiating the pull. I end up spending way too much time bent over the bar running a mental checklist in my head.

    Competition? Not interested whatsoever, and that won't change. It's just not my thing. Initially, I did not want to use straps because building grip strength was important for me. Training the deadlift without straps has somewhat cancelled out the effects of my RA. RA weakens my grip but to a much lesser extent now. I can grab and hold on to a sandbag with more ease now than I could before I developed RA. The reason I am still not using straps is that it further complicates my already endless deadlift setup. Yet another thing to focus on, and even more time bent over the bar trying to get into the correct position. I often have to start over because my hamstrings get fatigued from the setup itself.

    I might use that light pull day to practice the deadlift setup with straps. I need to get quicker at it. If I use a weight that is just heavy enough to simulate an actual deadlift (like 125 lbs) for a bunch of singles (to start the setup from scratch), this should not interfere with my next deadlift training session.

  8. #138
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Anders View Post
    I've now realized that when that happens, the first thing I need to look at is recovery issues - sleep, food, etc. Then programming issues - time, relative stress between squats & deads, etc. Fix those and the next session is usually just fine.
    Agreed.

  9. #139
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    Quote Originally Posted by tiny&mighty View Post
    Competition? Not interested whatsoever, and that won't change. It's just not my thing. Initially, I did not want to use straps because building grip strength was important for me. Training the deadlift without straps has somewhat cancelled out the effects of my RA. RA weakens my grip but to a much lesser extent now. I can grab and hold on to a sandbag with more ease now than I could before I developed RA. The reason I am still not using straps is that it further complicates my already endless deadlift setup. Yet another thing to focus on, and even more time bent over the bar trying to get into the correct position. I often have to start over because my hamstrings get fatigued from the setup itself.

    I might use that light pull day to practice the deadlift setup with straps. I need to get quicker at it. If I use a weight that is just heavy enough to simulate an actual deadlift (like 125 lbs) for a bunch of singles (to start the setup from scratch), this should not interfere with my next deadlift training session.
    Long term, your grip will continue to get stronger, even while using straps on your work sets. Don't use them for your warmups, except perhaps for your very last warmup, which should be a dry run for your work set. As your workset weights climb, your warmup weights will follow. That should help continue to keep your RA in check. And I think that's awesome!

    You know how to set up your deadlift. You just need to trust yourself to do it quicker, because if your hamstrings are getting tired while you run through your mental checklist, then you're taking too long. Yesterday's issue was more systemic fatigue for that lift than anything.

  10. #140
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    Jun 2019
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    starting strength coach development program
    Continuing the thought, here's Nick in his recent video with Ray where they're talking the NLP in-depth and Nick is discussing the deadlift:



    Just in case it jacks up, the salient point starts at 26:04.

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