Thursday, June 11, 2015

Conversation with an Olympian


This is Arsi Harju.

Gold medalist in shot put at the Summer Olympics in Sydney and bronze medalist at World's the next year. His best throw ever was a staggering 21.39 meters--73 feet with a 16-pound weight. 

Arsi came to train at the gym where I work in Tucson for a little over a month with another elite Finnish shot putter, Suvi Helin. Watching them train was cool enough; but I was also able to get one long conversation with him in between some of his lifting the week before he left. Unparalleled genetics aside, one doesn't get an Olympic gold by collecting bottle caps especially in an event with such a long and hotly contested history as shot put; so Arsi's insights are worth remembering. 

On that particular day Arsi was doing pulls and squats. That was what he generally did, actually--the only lifts I saw him perform over the course of the entire month were: 
-Squats (front or high bar back, no belt, no special shoes, done very upright with a completely full range of motion, for sets of 5 or so. I saw him do a little over 180kg for on back squats and something between 160 and 180 on fronts)
-Pulls (generally shrug pulls with a clean grip, for sets of 2-3)
-Power snatches (always done very light) 
-Close grip benches (usually working up to a top single. The most I saw him do was 355 but he apparently did 375 on another day. These were done with a big belly bounce and no pause but not a lot of leg drive)

This session went as follows. Shrug pull + shrug complex (that is, he did a clean pull with a heave and rising on his toes rather than a true weightlifting style pull at the top, and then another shrug with arm bend) 100kg x5 or so, 130kg x2, 150kg x2, 170kg x2, 190kg x2, 200kg x1. Then he kept going up but switched to deadlifts--220kg x1, 240kg x1, 260kg x miss x2 attempts. Later on, after coaching Suvi on some squat cleans (she worked up to 110kg) he did some heavy squats. 

I took the opportunity in between to ask him what his best deadlift had been when he was competing. "Two-eighty," he said. I remarked that making 240 and just missing 260 was pretty good, considering that he had not been training too seriously since then (he had previously explained to us that he really just lifted "for fun" now since he was coaching Suvi). 

"Well, yes," he said thoughtfully. "You know, if you do your homework... work hard... don't put anything in your ass, strength stays." 

His overall attitude was pretty exemplary of that philosophy. Train simply, work hard, stick to the basics. I didn't ask for clarification about drug usage, of course; but I did ask him about what his training was like when he was competing at his peak. "Lots of throwing," he said (I'm not sure if Finnish has an equivalent expression to 'duh' but his expression reflected it), "lots of running. And lifting.

"We trained three days, hard, twice a day. Throw in the morning; sprints, throws, then easy sprints. Lift at night. " 
"Every other day?" I wondered.
"No--Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday."
"Three in a row? You must have been very tired by Wednesday." 
"Yes, but then four days, easy. Aerobics. massage." 

When I wondered about the lifts they did: "Not so much deadlift, pull... lots of squats, and press" he made a bench pressing motion and then added a word in Finnish and mimed throwing a barbell overhead. "Snatch?" I asked. He nodded but did it again, slowly, without dropping under. "Oh--muscle snatch," I said, mimicking him and emphasizing the lack of knee dip. He nodded. "135kg, my best," he said, and then put his hands together. "115kg like this." 

I asked if he did any jumping or plyometrics. "Oh yes. Over boxes, boom, boom, boom"--he showed the bouncy, reactive hops--"and I also jump, 320cm." He mentioned that he weighed a little under 300 pounds at the time, so a 3.2m broad jump is pretty revealing of his power at the time even for those of us who don't have a good metric for the shot itself. 

My next question was how his training was arranged. I asked if they followed any sort of planned cycle tapering to new maxes (this took some explaining and odd analogies from both of us). Arsi shook his head. "Always heavy. In the winter, more sets, more reps. 5 sets of 5, for squats.... And we did lots of high reps. I did, 200 kilo for 20. 220 for 14. And also liked going for time... I liked 7 minutes. 100 for 7 minutes, 80 reps. Also rowing, I like rowing. My best time, 500 meters in 1 minute, 17 seconds." 

He explained that before competition, the change was, of course, more throwing and less lifting. "Throws more important. We sometimes press 5 times in a week, after throws, already warm... easy. Just go up and stop." Apparently the 'one top set' done heavy but not to failure, was a staple as he mentioned "just up and do one" several times. 

One other thing he mentioned was strain on the body. The throws impacted the joints a lot more than lifting, and he firmly believed that powerlifting or weightlifting was less stressful than the shock of a throw especially on the shoulder. He also mentioned having a lot of ankle and knee issues, emphasizing how heavy he was when at his peak and how he had to be precise with his footwork in the circle; walking through the motion and pointing at where the torque affected his knee and ankle.

From left to right--Arsi, Suvi, Danny. For reference, Danny weighs about 210 pounds. 

In a different conversation, he told Danny Sawaya about how some of those injuries came about. Danny recalls: he said he only sustained injuries in his career when he felt his body slowing down on his lifts or throws and he decided to keep pushing. He also said when he would have a great training session how he learned not to push it and go for more that training session, but to save his energy for his next training session instead rather than over do it.
That was also reiterated to me. Lots of hard work in terms of both intensity and volume in the off season, then more frequent, easier training when a competition approached. 

As can be seen, a lot of the training was done by feel. I asked him about those high rep squats and if he started with, "say, 140kg, 20 reps, then next time 150kg...?" "No, we just did them," he answered with a chuckle. The most sophisticated thing seems to be the weekly template of three very hard days and then four very easy days. This meant that the loading/unloading cycle and subsequent supercompensation occurred within a single week, pushing into significant fatigue and then taking time off and bouncing back by the start of the next week. This would give the competitors more opportunities for relatively high end performances instead of trying to put everything on just one attempt per season (or year, or four years) resulting in many smaller 'top' performances trending upwards over time. And of course, the higher volume and intensity sessions in the offseason built strength and size; while the more frequent, lighter, less strenuous lifting sessions in the competition season maintained that physicality without a lot of effort and allowed the athletes to focus on their sport.

The lessons? 
1. Well, you're not Arsi Harju. Sorry. There are freaks out there and he was and is one of them. It's important to keep the role of kinda good genes in mind here. 

2. Specificity of training. You don't become the world's best thrower without throwing, a lot. And having that big base of general strength and endurance.

3. Sticking to the basics. Eliminating the excess. He threw, he ran, he lifted. Apparently not a whole lot else. The general strength and endurance came from focusing on just a few things, too, he wasn't doing eighty different strength exercises. 

4. Keeping the S&C in perspective. Throwers have to be big, strong, and powerful to throw far so their lifting is very important. But, Arsi's numbers, as good as they may have been, wouldn't win him any powerlifting trophies. Nor did they have to be that level.

5. The role of recovery. Training hard and then recovering for roughly the same amount of time to create contrast. Four days of massage and easy jogs? If you train hard six times in three days--you've earned it. 

6. The difference between systems and programs. Arsi didn't really follow any precisely pre-planned routines. However, his training structure as a whole was firmly in place and following the principles of that system ensured that he was always heading in the right direction and preparing for his competitions properly. A flexible framework based on a proven philosophy will in the long term be far more useful than a bunch of fragmented short term training programs strung together... find one for yourself.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Review of Al Ciampa's PT manual


A note: this is my first review of a product or other material on the blog. I might do this often... or not. If you'd like to see more; or have anything specifically you'd like my thoughts on give me a shout and let me know. 

 I've always been fascinated by the physical requirements of the soldier. Individuals serving in the military need to have a bit of everything, physically; they cannot afford to specialize on a particular physical attribute but should ideally be ready to perform a wide variety of tasks in a range of different circumstances. They do not always have a great deal of time to devote to their physical improvement or even maintenance, either. So training has to be simple, general, effective, and 'cheap' in terms of time and recovery.

A while back I read Al Ciampa's hardening the soldier for combat and was very impressed. Enough so that when I saw him reference a 'manual' that explained his system more in depth I purchased a copy.

Al originally designed this manual as a resource for his students, a supplement for his instruction concerning physical preparation for the military. The current version is more expansive, intended for a broader audience--anyone, really, not just Servicemembers--but is not a standalone teaching tool. It is a manual, not a book. However, I believe it to be a really great companion to any material written by Pavel Tsatsouline, Dan John, Gray Cook, or the Original Strength methods. If you are unfamiliar with their bodies of work, Al's manual will introduce their basic concepts in a very accessible manner. Then you can proceed to studying their material in more detail with this background in place. If you are already familiar with them, the manual will help you understand the possible applications of those methodologies in greater detail.

Al has been developing the manual even since I received my first copy. The current (most recent) edit is a little over 100 pages. Smallish font, a fair number of pictures. Some instructional, some historical. They don't distract from the content or take up much space. There is a surprising amount of info in here for just over a hundred pages, and none of it is fluff.

Table of Contents:
Introduction and suggested use
1. Movement
-The chassis
-Load & speed
-Pain & Injury
2. The Basic Plan
-Chassis reconstruction
-The 'algorithm'
-basic training
3. Towards mastery
-the extended basic plan
-training progressions/specific programs
4. Appendices
Posture, corrective exercise, bioenergetics, strength training, minimal shoes, selection prep

The manual is pretty evenly split between movement theory (and some of the best descriptions thereof I've come across) and a 'here you go: do this!' training progression with plenty of explanations as to the 'why'. In my opinion it's worth getting the manual just for the Algorithm and the Basic Plan especially if you're 'broken'. Seriously, if you've been sitting too much or lifting too much or running too much or have bad posture or are just worn down, it's a fantastic place to start. What Al lays out is simple, easy to implement, has a clear progression, and is applicable to almost anyone. Doesn't get much better than that.

Other parts that stuck out for me--some ideas on programming the kettlebell swing; very sensible running advice, a primer on rucking, and a philosophy of PT prep that is more sensible than others I've seen. Look at most military fitness preparation programs and you will see a not-so-gradual buildup to hellish volume of pushups and running with little explanation or insurance of a proper background. This is very far from that.

This is not an instructional resource regarding the movements involved, but you may pick up some useful tips here and there even if you already know how to do them; and the descriptions and accompanying images are very clear. You could probably learn most (not all) of the important movements particularly in the 'algorithm' just from the manual; though that isn't necessarily recommended. A few sessions with a qualified instructor would be enough for most people, though.

Most of the manual content is not new to me at all but I still learned a lot. It was also one of the most enjoyable reads of any training material I've come across recently, and it doesn't take a lot of time to go through a few times. Just about everything in here can be applied right away too, it doesn't have to be 'earned'--that's kind of the point. I cannot emphasize enough that the presentation of the material is extremely clear and easy to digest even for someone without the aforementioned educational background.

Bottomline: I think you should get this. (And this is in no way self-serving advertising, I'm not connected with this venture of Al's at all.) If you're a coach, it will help you teach these concepts more clearly--introducing them, if you don't know them--and possibly help you think outside some boxes. Give it to your students and they'll understand why you're doing what you're doing. If you're anywhere on the spectrum of couch potato to competitive athlete, it might well help you improve physically with minimal additional instruction. Plus, it's just a nice little gem of simplicity and sensibility to add to anyone's training library. Al is asking for a 'donation' of $20, with 5% going to the Wounded Warrior Project; it isn't being formally published/sold at the time of writing. Contact him at: with the subject heading "PT manual".


More posts coming soon! I've been busy but it's time to start writing again. Email me with any questions or requests:

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Great Squat Experiment, Week 9

Wednesday, 12/3/14

Competition Squats

 - 365x1 (added belt before this)

 - 405x1

 - 435lbs x 4 - PR +2 reps - had room for at least on more rep.

 - 405lbs x 3

Wider Sumo Deadlifts - moving closer to competition stance.

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

 - 455x1

 - 475lbs x 3 - +10lbs PR at 3 reps

- 455lbs x 3

Thursday, 12/4/14

More Low Bar Competition Squats!

 - 365x1 (belt is on at this point)

 - 405x1

 - 445x3 - PR!

 - 425x3

 - 405x2

Close Grip Bench (Paused)

 - 225x1

 - 235x5x4 sets - Felt fantastic, except for the last set. My elbows started to give me a little trouble at that point, which typically happens after a couple of low bar sessions. Still got the work in though.

Some random accessory stuff to finish out the day.

Friday, 12/5/14

Beltless Paused High Bar

 - 365x1

 - 375x2 - PR +1 rep

 - 355x4 - PR +1 rep

Some accessory work, and done. Squats are going fantastically.

Saturday, 12/6/14

High Bar Squats w/ 4-count eccentrics

 - 365x1

 - 395x3 - +10lb PR

 - 365x5 - new 5RM on this lift

All this despite feeling very crappy going in. The end of the week always feels very crappy for me, probably due to the accumulated volume throughout the week. Finished up with some rear delt work, some transverse ab work, and a little stretching of the external rotators and called it a day.

Sunday, 12/7/14

Front Squats

 - 315x1

 - 365xfail - bar was just not sitting in the rack like it should. Dropped it on the way down and said screw it.

 - 315x2, 2

Called it a day. Kinda pissed off about the performance here. Positionally it just wasn't there today.

Monday, 12/8/14

Bench Press

 - 225x3

 - 245x3

 - 270x3 - ties a PR triple

 - 245x3

 - 225x3

Some miscellaneous circuit work involving glutes, anti-rotational work, and hanging

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Daily Decrease


Have you read 'How Much Land Does a Man Need'? A greedy landowner enters a deal wherein for a set price, he can buy as much land as he can walk around in a day's time. Of course, he tries to cover far too much ground and dies in the process (it is a Russian story, you understand). How much land did he need then? Six feet.

When it comes to training, it's always seemed more constructive to me to find out how little you can get by on and then adding pieces onto that foundation, instead of trying to find out how much you can do first and working backwards from there. I recently saw a program designed by someone who supposedly knew what they were doing (BA, MS, CSCS, bunch of years in the fitness industry, trained people from all walks of life, etc.)--here's what it looked like:

-joint mobility warmup
-activation drills
-dynamic stretching
-olympic lifts
-bodybuilding 'finisher'
-cardio 'finisher'
-two different kinds of cooldown stretch

Yes, that was all in a single session. Progressions were carefully laid out, as was nutrition, deloads, a supercompensation phase, etc. How much of all that mess was practically usable? Probably none of it. The guy (or girl, I honestly forget where I saw this) was so concerned with doing EVERYTHING in the BEST possible way that they lost sight of practicality and common sense.

On the other end of the spectrum is a hyper-minimalist program that takes out as much as possible. Pavel's 'Simple and Sinister':
-minimal joint mobility warmup
-100 one arm kettlebell swings in 5 minutes
-5 kettlebell turkish get-ups each arm in 10 minutes
-minimal cooldown stretch
Done every day or almost every day... two main movements, takes about 20-25 minutes total.

Me going through the 'simple' goals (a 32kg/70lb kettlebell)

Which of those two programs do you think is more usable? Most definitely the latter. Better to do too little than too much, as long as the 'little' is chosen intelligently. Especially because the 'skeleton' program can easily be added to, if the trainee wants anything more. My friend Andy did just that with S&S to great success: check out his approach here.

The best question regarding these types of plans is not "how little can I do" (where's the objective there?) but instead "how little can I do and still improve?" Dan John's 40-day plan is one excellent example. It may not be deliberately progressive and it's extremely abbreviated; but it has made quite a few people stronger.

John McKean's strength work is another model. He made himself and many other lifters very successful in competitive powerlifting and all-around weightlifting using routines that were often comprised of just 2-4 lifts for 3-10 single repetitions. One of those might look like this, lifting twice weekly:

Day 1: squat, bench
Day 2: deadlift, close grip bench

Each lift working up to one top single and then 3 backoff singles with ~70% of the top lift emphasizing speed, possibly done against band resistance. There is no fluff whatsoever there. No accessories, no base building, and it probably would involve perhaps an hour or two of lifting each week. McKean himself squatted 600 at 148 with no gear and no drugs using routines like that (in fact, I believe his 600 squat routine was simply: day 1, work up to a max in the squat; day 2, do isometric squats at the sticking point by pushing against pins in the power rack). And many of his own programs throughout the years did not have planned progression either. He called it 'constant weight training.'

To look at a less abbreviated but still 'as simple and as little as possible' example; look at some of Bryce Lane's ideas (which I wrote about here and here); or what Alex Viada does by taking the bare bones of two different programs and combining them in an intelligent manner. Viada summed up his philosophy as being "only do what you have to, do it well, and do it controlled." Here is an example of what he does. It succeeds because it takes all but the essentials out of a plan to create progress in two demanding sports that are on completely opposite ends of the spectrum of human ability.

These last two examples are important in another respect where  minimal training is concerned: they both involve, potentially, a whole lot of work. The basic example of Bryce's 50/20 involves doing 100 reps of barbell clean and presses, and 100 reps of squats, each week, with 70-80% 1RM, with short rest periods. That is hard work and a fair bit of it, too. Viada's programming, too--the running portion might be low volume for an endurance specialist, the powerlifting portion might be low volume for a full time lifter, but taken together--it's a demanding week by most standards. 

I believe it was Jack Reape who wrote that to get stronger, at some point an individual must either 
1. Get heavier
2. Do more work, or 
3. Use performance enhancing drugs. 

Thus, increasing volume or frequency--i.e. doing more work--is an important aspect of programming. Many seem to associate that increased workload with 'druggsss!11' but look at the strongest people from the drug free era. Their training was all both very simple, and involved a lot of work either in terms of frequency or volume; or, for some (Anthony Ditillo comes to mind) both. This is the second big advantage of a minimal program: more work can be added more easily than to something that already has a whole lot of excess odds and ends tacked on to it. Moreover, when done properly even a very minimal routine will involve a pretty fair amount of total work done--again, see the 40-day plan.

The main danger of uber-minimalist training is, of course, that one might end up taking just a bit too much out and paying the price in health. 
Personally, this is the least I did to become stronger (as defined by setting several all-time personal records in several different movements). I was in college at the time, with little time to train:

  • 3-4 days per week: Stiffleg barbell deadlift, up to an EDM (roughly 90-95% 1RM) or multiple (5-10) singles with ~80-85%. This generally took about 10 minutes. 
  • Daily: one arm pushup and pistol squat practice. Focusing on tension with the OAPU, and centering my balance with the pistol. Maybe 2-4 sets of each, in between other stuff. 
  • 2-3 days per week: several one arm chinup singles each arm, always pulling from a relaxed dead hang. Occasionally, static holds at the top or middle of the movement. Generally followed up by some ABC chinups--climbers call them 'frenchies', I think--chinups with embedded statics. Mainly because my girlfriend at the time seemed to enjoy watching me do them. (About as 'functional' as any exercise can get, really!)
  • When walking to class I got into the habit of doing breathing ladders. This was my only concession to heart health/breath control/aerobic work, but it made me feel pretty good. 
With perhaps an hour and a half of training each week, I noticeably improved in each of the movements I was practicing, setting all-time PRs in the pistol and the one arm chin, and big PRs in several odd deadlift variants as well. 

The biggest problem (that I discovered later) was my shoulders. I've always had 'closed' shoulders, and all the above certainly didn't help with that. The deadlifts were pulled in a slumped, Bob-peoples-esque style; an experiment that yielded huge increases in strength and comfort when it came to other odd deadlift variants but did little for my scap retractors and general posture. The pushups and pullups of course are all internal rotation, too. The result: my shoulders adopted an even more rounded position, certainly not the healthiest thing. Also, for the first time I abandoned elbow prehab while doing the one-arm work. This too was not a smart idea. In this case, a bit of shoulder and elbow work and some spine extension work would have been a relatively small concession to make in terms of general health and gone a long way towards making the plan sustainable. 

I'm most definitely going to write more in the future about bare bones programming, but for now, here's a five-step checklist to help make some sense of your programming: 

"What am I trying to do?" Identify your goals... 
"What do I really need?" ...and a progression towards them. Preferably one based on your past successes/mistakes (i.e. what worked and what didn't under which circumstances). 
"Am I covering all bases?" Make sure you've got a push, pull, squat, and hinge in some form. An anterior chain movement and then something in the transverse plane are the next things to add in, if you can. This is where your plan fills out. 
"Is this sustainable?" Make sure your progression isn't too ambitious, your overall workload isn't too high, you haven't added too much extra 'stuff' on that last step. Streamline....
"Is it healthy?" As with my last example; make sure you aren't going to screw yourself up, physically, with some aspect of what you're doing. You may end up sacrificing general health for performance--that's your call. Just be prepared for it to come back and bite you! 

One last thing to consider. 

As Mark Reifkind told me: "You should know your body better than anyone else. Honestly, if you can’t write yourself a program and follow it, and make those decisions, make those sacrifices to become better, you don’t deserve my respect." (That was his thought regarding coaches and trainers, of course, but I assume most everyone reading this is one of those.) 

On the other hand, Dan John (I think that's three references to the guy in one blog post, is that going to summon him or something?) said: "If you coach yourself, you have an idiot for a client." 

Who's right? Both of them. I firmly believe everyone should go it alone and do programming for their own goals at least sometimes. On the other hand, I know a lot of smart people who just can't seem to put it together in that regard. For them, finding an appropriate idea from someone like Pavel, or Bryce, or Dan, or just about any strength athlete or coach between 1900 and 1960 would be a great place to start. Never be afraid to try and cut out as much of the excess as possible. Remember the Pareto Principle... and imagine how focused your training would be if all of it was comprised of 'the 20%'. 

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Great Squat Experiment, Week 8

Josh Trammell

Lots of driving this week, which means I've had to do a lot more in the way of warm-ups to get ready for lifting. Still getting the work in though.

Wednesday, 11/26/14

Competition Stance Squats w/ Belt

 - 365x1

Add Belt

 - 345x1

 - 385x1

 - 405x1

 - 420x5 - PR 5RM - I was expecting somewhere between 2-5, based on how the first two reps felt. Told the spotter the same. Turns out, the first 2 reps felt easy, the 3rd rep felt easy, the 4th rep felt easy, and the 5th was slightly grindy, but I had one more rep in me. Very, very, very happy with this PR. Biggest PR of the cycle, in my book.

Sumo DLs w/ Belt

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

Add Belt

 - 405x1

 - 465x3 - +10lbs PR - my goal is to just add 5-10lbs on my triples each week leading up to the meet on this day, eventually transitioning to heavy doubles, and max effort singles about 2 weeks out or so. Again, happy with this.

 - 425x2 - hexagonal plates were rolling all over the place, whether it was into my shins or away from the body. I got pretty pissed at this point and just called it at 2 reps.

Friday, 11/28/14

Competition Stance Squats w/ Belt

 - 365x1

Add Belt

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

 - 435x2 - PR 2RM. Felt pretty crappy after long days of traveling and sitting down in a car. All the sitting down wrecked my hips and threw my groove off (again), but I managed to hit this on a pretty bad day, all things considered.

 - 405x2

Close Grip Pause Bench

 - 185x4

 - 225x5x3 sets - fairly happy with this. Again, max is probably sitting around 270-275 or so. Some elbow pain, not quite as bad as last bench session though.

Saturday, 11/29/14

High Bar Paused Squats

 - 365x1

 - 365x2

 - 345x3

This day felt like absolute crap. Came in and put in the work and called it a day.

Sunday, 11/30/14

Eccentric-Emphasis High Bar Squats w/ Belt

 - 365x1

 - 385x4 - +1 rep PR

Deficit Sumo Deads:

345 x 1,1,1,1,1

355 x 1,1,1

365 x 1,1

Playing around with this more than anything. Just an experiment. Tried to move bar as fast as possible off the floor.

Monday, 12/1/14

Front Squats

 - 315x1

 - 345x1

 - 365x1 PR + 10lbs

 - 345x2 - new 2RM PR

Week really thrown off, but I ended up with a couple of nice PRs.

Sunday, November 30, 2014

The Great Squat Experiment: Week 7

Josh Trammell

Tuesday, 11/18/14

Still recovering from food poisoning, but I wanted to get in the gym and see what I could do. Wasn't going in expecting much - my goal was to come in, work up to 315-365, see how it felt, and if I felt like crap, leave, if I felt good, go a little heavier.

Low Bar Squats (Beltless)

 - 365 x 1, 1, 1, 1 - was very out of the groove. A couple of adjustments plus just working at this weight loosened me up and things felt better. Felt good enough to move up.

 - 385 x 1 - felt good, moved up

 - 405 x 1 - felt easy

 - 415x2 - new 2RM. No video, unfortunately. Wasn't prepared to set a PR after food poisoning.

Paused Low Bar

 - 365x3

Called it quits. Who says you can't set PRs after getting sick and not eating much at all for 3 days?

Wednesday, 11/19/14

Low Bar Squats with a Belt

 - 365 x 1 (add belt), 1,1

 - 405 x 1

 - 425 x 1

 - 450 x 1 - PR +5lbs

Conventional Deadlifts w/ Belt

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

 - 455x2 - PR 2RM - Not really KK/ Pete Rubish like. First time I've videoed these. Felt good though.

Sumo Deadlifts w/ Belt

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

 - 455x3 - PR +1 rep

 - 435x3

Thursday, 11/20/14

Felt very exhausted going on. That's why, typically, the day after deadlift days is a Pause squat to reduce absolute volume/loading and compression on the spine.

Pause High Bar Squats

 - 355x1

 - 375x1 - could've gotten 2, but it would've been a real grind. Decided against it.

 - 355x3 - PR 3RM +10lbs I believe

 - 315x3

Short ab/decompression/stretching circuit, and called it quits.

Friday, 11/21/14

4-second Eccentric High Bar Squats w/ Belt (That's a mouthful...)

 - 365x1, add belt, 1

 - 385x1

 - 405x1

 - 415x1

 - 385x3

Not a particularly big fan of these, but I never work on the eccentric phase of the lift, so I figured it was time to do so. Plus, it is a nice change of pace.

Saturday, 11/22/14

Felt absolutely wrecked going into this session. Tired, worn down, not really ready to get a lift in, honestly.

 Low Bar Squats w/ Belt

 - 365x1 - add belt

 - 345x1 - moved down to get my groove

 - 385x1 - felt horrible

 - 405x1, 1 - both sets felt awful. This is something I did earlier in the week, without a belt, with ease. Just called it quits here. Still got quality work in that 85%+ range, so it's all good.

Sunday, 11/23/14

Front Squats

 - 315x1

 - 355x1 +10lb PR. Haven't done these in like 6 or 7 months, so I was very pleased with the speed of this on camera. Also pretty obvious that there are some left-right differences in front rack flexibility from this video. Not very comfortable looking front rack, probably due to the fact that I just haven't done them in a while.

 - 315x3 +40lb PR

'Speed' Sumo Deadlifts

 - 345x 1 x 10 sets - about 60-90s rest between sets, focusing in on maximal velocity off the ground to lockout. Felt decent.

Paused Bench Press

Haven't been able to bench press due to elbow pain, but I got my compression cuff in, so I wanted to test it out.

 - 225 x 3 x 3 sets - not too bad. Had a couple reps where the left elbow just gave out on me, but I'm still probably good for about 270 right now. Could've done all sets for 5 reps. Decently happy with that. Need to get my speed back, but everything else was fine.

Monday, 11/24/14

Remedial circuit and recovery work. Nothing of note to post about.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Great Squat Experiment, Week 6

Josh Trammell

Wednesday, 11/12/14

 Wide(r) High Bar Squats w/ Belt

 - 315x1 - Add Belt

 - 315x1

 - 365x1

 - 405x1

 - 415x3 - PR + 10lbs - around a 10 RPE though. Went a little too hard. Was pissed from the struggle all last week though.

 - 385x3

Narrow Sumo + Belt

 - 365x1 - Add belt

 - 405x1

 - 455x2 - ties previous PR at a narrower stance

 - 425x3

Felt like crap, so I stopped.

Thursday, 11/13/14

Beltless Low Bar Squats

 - 365x1

 - 395x1

 - 405x3 - Rep PR + 2 reps (also, PR + 20lbs)

 - 375x5 - Rep PR +2 reps

Felt like crap, but it appears fast on video, so I'll take it.

Friday, 11/14/14

Birthday Pause Squats (low bar)

- 365x1

- 395x3 - PR + 40lbs (haven't done triples for weight in a while)

- 365x3

Saturday - Monday:

Ate at my favorite restaurant for my birthday, and managed to get food poisoning in the process. Thus, no training happened on any of those days.