My Body Is Ready

In a perfect world you could completely commit to training and devote every aspect of your life to improve you’re training. Alas! You aren’t special and don’t get paid to perform and compete (I know this realization is hard to understand). Instead, you might have a job, have to study for exams, or have to help wipe your child’s bum. Whatever the case, it may cut into your training and learning how to work around that is important.

Stress The Whole Body
I haven’t had regular access to a gym or a repeating schedule for quite a while (probably six months), yet I’ve gotten a bit bigger, a lot stronger, and rehabbed back from a gnarly hip injury. The key with shoddy scheduling is to train the entire body when finally getting access to a gym.

This doesn’t mean you hit every lift you can think of, but emulate what most linear progressions consist of: a squat, a press, and a pull. Some days I have just sn/cj while other days I’ve sn, cj, squat, pressed, curls, and did RDLs. One day I squatted, rowed, and did RDLs (with no press movement). I’ve benched, squatted, did RDLs, and weighted pull-ups. Each week I try to bench and press once each, squat and RDLs at least once, and dabble in various assistance (at least once each of rowing, curling, weighted pull-ups, and round back extension). The point is that each day has lifts that use a lot of muscle mass and work on the structures that make the body strong: hips, back, legs, and shoulders. If your schedule is shoddy, aim to perform some of the basic lifts a minimum amount of times throughout the week. This will save you from having to figure it out each time you step in the gym.

Don’t Wreck Yourself
When you do finally get to train, don’t be a wise guy. You wouldn’t want your lifting exposure to give you crippling soreness. Ease into heavier weight over time, be patient, and don’t aim to PR every day. Save the most stressful lifts, like deadlift, for the end of your training week (if you know when you’ll get to the gym again). Don’t hesitate to work in RDLs or round back extensions in its stead; these exercises can help augment the deadlift when you finally get the time to focus on it again.

Know When To Back Off
Just because you finally get to train doesn’t mean your body is ready. When I was in Australia, I only trained twice: the first day felt really shitty (I squatted, pressed, and did pull-ups), then the second day I matched a PR on snatch and came close on clean and jerk. However, if my body wasn’t ready on day two, then I would have just done some sets across instead of pushing the weight.

Recently I tried to snatch when I wasn’t feeling that great. Maybe it’s because I squatted and did RDLs two days before, but I just wasn’t feeling it that day. I ended up missing simple snatches to the point where I audibly said “Fuck this,” and left to go bench. Then my first set at a regularly easy weight on bench was difficult; I racked it after the first rep and was all pissed off. I declared that I was done training for the day and just did some DB rows and dips. My body was not ready.

Ease back the training session if you aren’t feeling great. You can do this by changing the exercises (remember the “When in doubt, train your back” post?) or reducing the volume and load of your intended workout.

Maintain Mobility
Some times the limiting factor is the body being all wound up from sitting at a desk, in a car, or on an airplane. If you have a good habit of working on your mobility on a daily basis, then these events won’t smash you as hard. Take care to do extra mobility work when you have been in any crappy position for a long time. “Crappy position” would imply that your knees and hips are bent and you are slouching forward. You can’t train well if you aren’t pliable enough to go through a ROM properly.

30 thoughts on “My Body Is Ready

  1. Round back extensions > just about every other assistance movement. I started these the same time I started rowing heavy and I went from having a REALLY jacked up worthless lowback to hitting a new PR set of 5 on the deadlift every week for the past 6 weeks. something like 385×5 to 415×5 and I am pretty sure I will destroy 420×5 when I come to it. It has also definitely helped my squatting A LOT.

    Excellent. Take note everyone. I’d probably use these at least once a week with RDLs for sexy results.


  2. I had a day like that yesterday. I programmed a OHS 3-3-3-3-3 day, but once I finally got the weight overhead; I didn’t have the drive to increase weight or finish that third rep.

    I’m getting better at realizing when I am overtraining. Lack of hunger, drive, and mental focus.

    Mobility Man squatting 520#

  3. quickly scanning over this post, I came to the conclusion that Wii Fit is indeed a good workout.

    I think I’ll be doing 5×1 downhill slalom followed by some Wii yoga tonight

  4. I definitely needed this post. I’m finally getting back in the gym and the last two visits were exactly that: squat, push, pull. I’ve messed around with Starting Strength a bunch but I always end up off it and out of the gym because of my schedule and get pissed off when my gains don’t stick with me. Seems like a squat, push, pull is the best option right now until I actually have some time to make it work.

  5. Justin, could you please explain a round back extension? Is this different to a regular back extension?

    I am doing the GSLP and feel like my low back is limiting my squat a bit (after I squat, it is usually sore). DL is going up steadily, and am doing Yates rows as my Wed DL warmup. Would you recommend any additional back work to help this?


    I got the idea from this video.


  6. @sapper09 here ya go man

    I actually started doing them because Brent had been doing them for awhile. Basically instead of doing a back extension at the hip you put you bend from your belly button to flex and round the spine down and then back to full extension. Do these weighted! I just put a dumbbell behind my neck instead of a barbell.

    There ya go, same vid. I can’t remember if Brent started doing them because of this video or not. I know he wanted jacked erectors.


  7. if you back feels like shit DO THESE start with bodyweight for 3×15 and then start adding weight behind your head slowly. I did do 3 sets of 12-15 but after a while I switched to 8’s to try and push the weight I could use.

    I’ve been using a dumbbell held to my chest. Have you primarily done it with weight behind your head?


  8. I’ve made the mistake of jumping right back into my previous weights and sets schemes after a layoff way too many times. It inevitably leads to my girlfriend and coworkers calling me grandpa.

    Side note: I know a lot of guys (and 70s Big women maybe?) on here love to hunt. Is anyone else pumped for the start of bow season? I know this varies somewhat state-to-state but it starts in Maryland on Thursday. Saturday will be my first time.

  9. Woops, hit submit by mistake. Anyway I’m pumped for the possibility of getting my first deer this weekend. Bow hunting for one of the smartest animals in the forest/50 lbs of truly free range meat is a noble pursuit. So is hauling that fucker back home. If I get a deer that’s less than 200 lbs field dressed I’m definitely carrying it back fireman/Forest Gump/Buba style as far as I can.

    Speaking of which, one of the best systemic/total body stresses I’ve ever given myself was by taking a sandbag (30-40 lbs) to a field and simply throwing it as far as I could, picking it up, and throwing it again until I was on the verge of puking. Waiting a few minutes, then going back. My lifting mentor calls this “Scottish Strongman” training. We would also take turns fireman carrying one another up a large hill. You could always use a stone in place of the sandbag and do this type of thing as a substitute when on the road.

    I want to start hunting for this reason alone — 60 pounds of deer meat is very alluring.

    Nice idea with the sand bag.


  10. I’ve been doing back extensions lately as a warmup before lifting, and they definitely seem to help.

    I’ll usually do 2-4 sets of 8, start off with bar (ez curl bar or in my case we have a small 10kg bar) and go up to 20kg or so.

    Body weight back extensions can be a good warm-up for a sore lumbar/sacral area, but I think that giving the area rest and strengthening it over time will help eliminate that as much as possible.


  11. My access to equpiment was pretty limited before I got a weight set for the garage, so I followed a protocol just like this one for quite a while. It was hard to get out of the CrossFit mentality of high reps and compromised form but I’m sure I am way better off in the long run. Doing some solid presses, squats, and deadlifts feels like I’m being so much more productive anyway. Nice post.

  12. What is the proper pronunciation of “mob?” Given the fact that it is a shortened form of the word mobility, I would think mob is pronounced with a long O like m-OH-b. Although whenever I say it, it pops out of my mouth like mob in “mob squad.” Speaking of pronunciation, I got a fresh new pair of zubaz (pronounced zoob-uh-z) pants yesterday. Those puppies combined with a fresh tank top are a lethal combination.

  13. Justin or Patrick Stroup:
    Thoughts on whether a garage warrior with limited equipment might try a version of the round back extension standing with barbell?

    I am thinking something along the lines of getting into a row position and then flexing and extending the lumbar spine. Starting with superlight weights obviously.

    If this sounds legit, do you recommend bar on the back GM-syle or bar in the hands RDL style?

    I prefer RDLs until they have been used consistently for a long time. If you have a bench then you could probably emulate a round back extension, but I wouldn’t have you do it standing because the point is to have your hips supported.


  14. I do it with the DB behind my head seems harder that way. plus I do mine on a GHR bench so I get a bigger range of motion with it behind my head.

    Yeah and if you dont have a back raise bench or GHR I would just hammer the fuck out of pendlay rows and RDLs.

    I’d agree with the rows/RDLs until you can find a method to support your hips in the garage.


  15. re: rounded back extensions

    i stopped doing these for a while because i got sick of doing them on a reg back extension bench but now that i have a GHR i’m gonna start doing them again (maybe reverse hypers too heh heh heh)

    but ye they seemed to help my dead quite a bit by about week 2 or 3

    I like reverse hypers, but I’ve never had regular access to do them weighted consistently.


  16. @Maslow: I’m surprised people don’t talk much about hunting around here. A freezer full of free range deer, turkey, pheasant, grouse, salmon, etc is great for recovery.

    Michigan’s bow season opens up October 1st, but small game starts this weekend. I can’t wait to haul another deer or 2 out of the woods.

  17. Justin (or anyone else), wouldn’t RDLs and rounded back extensions serve somewhat different purposes, since the purpose of RDLs is to keep a flat back (as well as because the RDLs obviously involve the hamstrings much more)?

    Of course they would. But the dude said he didn’t have a way to do the round back extensions, so RDLs are better than nothing.


  18. I used to really enjoy these until my gym was refurbed and a lot of equipment was thrown out.

    Anyone got any ideas of how I could do these without the specific equipment used in that vid? Good mornings just don’t ‘feel’ right to me.

    Again, I’d recommend RDLs before GMs. But if you’re talking about the round back extensions, you just have to find a way to rest your hips on something while allowing your torso to flex over it. You could probably use a flat bench, but your head would be close to the floor and you wouldn’t be able to anchor your feet for heavier work.


  19. I’m glad this post was made. I felt pretty bummed out after a crappy day at the gym. Adjusting to night shift didn’t help any and I had waaaaaaay too much caffeine so I got sick. Even making myself throw up didn’t help so I packed my bags and left.

  20. There is no chance I’m leaving this gym because of one piece of kit haha, I’ll just have to make do with GM’s or put in a request to get a new one put in!

  21. re: doing back extensions without back extension machines

    you can do them somewhat half-assed using an at-home bench that has the leg extension attachment, and the option to go into “decline bench” mode. May take some rigging of the leg extension part, but you should be able to figure it out.

    also, in a commercial gym I have done them with slight success on the leg curl machine. Pin the stack, and instead of leg curls do back raises.

    others have suggested using the lat pulldown machine as a glute-ham bench by putting the ankles under the pads normally for your knees.

    The old russian programs include a lot of good-mornings either seated on a bench or on the floor. Can be seen here:
    and here:

    I wouldn’t recommend the seated good mornings to novices, and if you’re gonna do them note how light even world class olympians are going (hint: very fucking light)

    World competitors also don’t use a lot of weight on good mornings — I thin Pisarenko only used 100k. Doing the movements correctly to stress the musculature properly is key.


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