Happy PR Friday
Post your weekly PR’s or training updates to the comments. Be on the lookout for a nice Christmas post this weekend. Happy Festivus in the mean time!
Kyle S. asks on the Facebook Fan Page:
What are some cues I should keep in mind for teaching my wife (or anyone) to high bar squat? I’ve looked on YouTube but I never know who is full of shit.
I briefly answered this in the wall thread, but figured it would be good for others to hear too. Irre-fucking-gardless of type of squat, the knees need to be shoved out. This will prevent hip impingement — a pinching of the femur and the ASIS (hip bone) that can prevent full ROM, prevent the lumbar from maintaining extension, and can pinch tissues like skin, fat, tendons, or muscles. There’s no point in explaining it further when a comprehensive article has already been written. So “knees out” is an important cue for any squatting, including the high bar squat.
The chest also needs to be up so that the thoracic spine is held in extension from the time the bar is un-racked until it is re-racked. I’ve been meaning to do a post on this for a while, because I see a lot of you fucking it up. Think “chest into chin”, which is the cue that means, “pull your chest up as high as you can, as if you were going to try and touch your chin without actually lowering the chin”.
The eyes need to be forward. Some look up, but this puts the cervical spine in extension and I’m not a fan of that. Eyes straight ahead will help maintain proper positioning throughout the entire spine.
Those last two things (the chest and eyes) are passive cues — the lifter shouldn’t have to think about them at all because they should be automatic every time. Assuming “knees out”, “chest to chin”, and the eye positioning is all correct (or at least the passive cues are automatic), then “heels” can be cued. That’s the cue to imply “drive the heels out of the bottom” in order to prevent any forward torso inclination during the ascent as a result of shifting the weight to the balls of the feet.
And for fuck’s sake, if you’re trying to high bar squat without weightlifting shoes then that’s the first thing to correct. Here’s the gear post.
Victor L. asks on the Facebook Fan Page:
Quick question…on 70sbig.com what do you put first when describing work sets…sets or reps? Does 5×3 mean 5 sets of 3, or vice versa? I think Rippetoe uses reps x sets in his books, but Gym Jones guys and some of my friends use sets x reps. Opinions? What’s more popular? It’s always been confusing translating people’s whiteboard scribbles on diff. sites/blogs! Thanks in advance.
We’ve already had a chat about this on the wall thread, but this is something else that would be interesting for other people who are wondering the same thing. Read 3×5 as “three sets of five” (we say “three by five” verbally). Read 405x5x3 as “405 for three sets of five”, but it literally reads “405 times five reps times three sets”. The 405x5x3 example makes the most sense for inputting data in your training log. It helps to say it out loud. You don’t ever say “five by three” to insinuate “three sets of five”, so we say “three by five” which is literally written as 3×5.
Michael Loucas asks:
I’ve always pressed with a pretty wide grip. I’d measure with my thumb from the beginning of the knurl and press from there. I’ve been reading though (from SS 3rd Edition) that you really want to have a narrower grip, like hand starting right at the beginning of the knurl. I tried that today with some light weight. Started with the bar, and worked up to about 70% of my 1rm, and did a few sets of 6.
I find it really hard to get into position. I’m about 5’11 229lbs. I feel like it causes a lot of stress on my wrists. I checked my form from the side and front via video to come to this conclusion. The only way I can get the bar to touch my delts/chest is by hyperextending my back a little bit. Another thing about the side view, its really hard for me to get my forearms under the bar enough to make my forearms vertical from the side. (and not be behind the bar)
I was hoping you had some tips for getting into a good press position. Maybe some mob tips? Work through it until I get used to it? Wrap my wrists? Lose some damn weight? All/some of the above? (Planning on doing more conditioning/dieting to lose weight again, in January when I’m finished with Smolov intense). I must say though this definitely feels stronger on the ascent for the rep, but at the bottom it is just so incredibly uncomfortable. Any help would be greatly appreciated.
TL;DR: He finally learned that he needs a more narrow press grip and is hyper extending his back in order to get the bar to touch his delts/chest.
I’m being a dick to you, but this is important and I want people to see it.
IT IS NOT A REQUIREMENT TO HAVE THE BAR ON YOUR DELTS OR CHEST IN THE PRESS
I see this ALL of the time and I’ve been meaning to make a video/post on it. I don’t have the third edition of SS, but I’m almost positive that it doesn’t say the bar should be on the delts and chest. Some people may be able to press like that, but it’s dependent on anthropometry (body dimensions).
If the bar is going to be primarily in the heel of the palm (my workshop attendees know this as the Nic Cage) with a closed compact wrist joint, then the bar will most likely not sit on the delts because of how long the forearms are. If you’re lanky or have long arms, assume that you fit this category. You’ll find that most guys who have the bar touching their delt’s and chest have a really shitty wrist position. A shitty wrist position will not apply force as effectively and start distributing force throughout the shoulder joint instead of directly through it; this can result in overuse injuries with prolonged exposure.
Funny thing: I just wrote the previous paragraph before seeing a few comments down that if Michael keeps the bar off his chest, then his wrists hurt. Re-read the grip portion of the press chapter and standby until I create a video on this. It’s possible that Michael needs to address some mobility issues (like front rack and overhead external rotation — these can also help the mid-ROM external rotation of the press), but it sounds like he’s not mechanically sound.
Justin – I had a follow-up question after Friday’s Q&A. You were advising not to alternate cleans and deads every workout in a LP, and perhaps instead do cleans Monday and deads Friday. Roger.
So, can you briefly elaborate on this? “RDLs on Monday will do more for you than cleans will.” I’m intrigued – do you mean they’ll do more for my deadlifting performance, or for overall strength/size development? And are you suggesting dropping cleans?
Despite there being a plethora of books, videos, and websites dedicated to optimal lifting technique — and despite some people doing the lifts for at least a year — I still see trainees who have learned to do everything without the use of their hamstrings. Even when they are low bar squatting two or three times a week and deadlifting once a week, they manage to do it improperly for a variety of reasons (I could write several paragraphs on that alone). The majority of trainees think that if they have a decent or big deadlift, then their posterior chain is solid. Not so.
If every new lifter did RDL’s twice a week for 12 weeks, then the musculature and tensile strength of the hamstrings would be so much more improved that it would augment the squat and deadlift. Or, if now deadlifting was done in that period, it would allow that lifter to do them optimally when they do start deadlifting (since they have an exceptional awareness of their hamstrings).
So, yes, I’m suggesting dropping power cleans — for a little while. Another problem with most programs is that the trainee does too much. If you did RDLs Monday, power cleans Wednesday, and deadlifts Friday, that may be too much if you’re a stupid person and don’t ratchet back the work when you need to (I’m guilty of this too; I did power snatch/deadlift/power clean on M/W/F on my LP). You could do something like 3×5 the RDLs, 4×2 the power cleans, and work up to a HEAVY TRIPLE on the deadlift. But if you’re a linear progression cherry, then keep the deadlift at a set of five for a couple months.
Paul Sousa asks:
Justin, I fit this description (Edit: he’s referring to Tuesday’s Foot Awareness post), but only in my right foot/leg/hip. I was thinking it was a glute imbalance of some sort causing me to externally rotate my leg, but maybe its bad foot positioning?
I admit that biomechanics of the feet is not my forte, but I have some educated opinions. I’m not so sure that there are foot issues as a result of hip imbalances. Why would it be so crazy to assume the opposite? It would depend on the history of the person. Let’s assume it’s someone who started lifting again in life after having a layoff (maybe a break between high school sports and getting a job in the mid twenties). If that person has a funky gait, then the structures in the hip would adapt as a result of the funky gait. Then, they have mobility issues as a result of being wonky for years, and this is represented in their lifting. The lifting probably exacerbates the existing problem by drilling through hundreds, maybe thousands of reps with this subtle weirdness.
It’s a chicken-egg kind of deal, but I don’t think that imbalances cause it, I think the imbalances are the result of weird feet articulation, but the reverse can certainly be true. In your case, there’s no way of knowing. But if you have a hip funkiness and a foot funkiness, then the foot is definitely causing or exacerbating the hip because you’re in a fucked up position. Address it.
IRregardless of what caused what, we need to fix it. As with anything else, there is no quick fix. You’re not squatting 600 tomorrow in the same way you won’t fix your funky foot tomorrow. Foot issues are interesting because you use your foot every single day. Imagine the hundreds of thousands of repetitions your foot has had walking around year after year. If you’re trying to straighten your toes in your gait, you’ll have to get at least a few thousand reps just to feel somewhat comfortable. Then you’ll have to consistently mob all the structures in your lower extremities. We’ll get into this more in some upcoming posts.
Shannon’s answer: “I found doing extra grip work did nothing for me, but know of other people it has worked for. The biggest things that improved my grip were – D.O.H deadlifting, Power Cleans with the Axle, tyre flipping and farmers. For deadlifting we warm up d.o.h till we can’t grip the bar, then hook grip till we can’t grip anymore, then mix the grip.”