Q&A – 4

Happy PR Friday! Post your training PRs and updates to the comments. What kind of progress have you made this year?
Don’t forget that this is Movember and we’re raising money to kick cancer in the BALLS. Don’t shave, show off your beard, or grow a mustache. Whatever, just join the team and raise funds.

bohdi asks:

I have a question that doesn’t really apply to the podcast though, but rather dead lifting.
[spoiler show=”Show the wall o’ text” hide=”Hide the wall o’ text”]A lot of what I’ve read seems to make the case for a relatively narrow stance for the conventional dead lift due to mechanical advantages and so on. Due to some mobility issues I began dead lifting with a narrower stance (roughly 6 inches in between feet) because it felt more comfortable to get down and also because my own research seemed to advocate for the narrower stance. Thanks to you, Justin, my mobility is greatly improving and I feel almost back to normal with my previous wider stance (feet approx. just outside shoulder width). I pulled an easy 445# yesterday with the wider stance and 480# is my current PR before the stance/mobility issues. I’m curious, since I seem to be going against what most consider an ideal stance, is this just a product of my specific body type leverages and I don’t need to worry, or is there something else going on that I’m doing wrong and I’m trying to counteract other inefficiencies. My short term goal is to get over 500# in the 181 class so I have a little ways to go but I want to make sure the basic efficacy of the lift is solid. The only other noteworthy aspect is that my weak point has always been off the floor, and the wider stance seems to help. Lockout has never seemed to be an issue. Thanks.[/spoiler]

TL;DR — He wants to know how a narrow stance would be more beneficial in the deadlift.

Dear bohdi,

A narrow stance on the deadlift is more efficient and important, and is usually the one thing that most people can correct to improve their deadlift. The ideal stance is best summarized as “hip width”, which is quite obviously more narrow than “shoulder width” (a typical squat stance, which is also usually too wide in most people). This will be no more than ten inches for most people. I measured my stance, and it’s nine inches from heel to heel. Don’t worry about the specific measurement; just use a hip-width stance.

First, the narrow stance can improve the set up. If the stance is more narrow, then the knees can be shoved out more compared to a wider stance. Shoving the knees out more is external rotation, and that means there is more external rotation at the hip with the narrow stance when your knees are touching the arms. More external rotation will do two things: 1) it will contract the external rotators more and subsequently use them to maintain tightness around the hip and to apply force and 2) externally rotating will bring the femur away from the ASIS, or hip bone, so that there is no, or less, hip impingement. Less hip impingment will allow you to put the lumbar spine into extension more effectively. See Mark Rippetoe’s “Active Hip” article if you’re confused. This externally rotated position with a narrow stance utilizes the muscluature of the quadriceps and hamstrings much better than a wider stance, improving the overall efficiency of the lift.

Secondly, the narrow stance will allow for a more narrow grip. The grip should be close enough so that at lockout, the hands are on each side of the legs. A more narrow grip will shorten the distance that the bar has to be pulled. If you’re confused, then consider deadlifting with a snatch grip; the bar will have to travel a greater distance due to the wide grip. Having a narrow grip will shorten this distance, yet it will also allow the chest to be squeezed up more than if there was a wider grip. If you’re confused, observe back angle changes when placing your hands on the inside of the collar of the bar compared to putting your hands on the inside rings (where the knurling starts). The back angle will be more vertical, and thus more efficient, with the narrow grip.

These are two compelling points for using a hip-width stance on the deadlift, and these are two corrections I have to make in every workshop I’ve ever done. Along with these corrections, the lifter just needs to drag the bar up their legs and they will achieve a B grade deadlift. An A is awarded to sub-maximal lifts when the back is not unlocked and the hamstrings do their job of maintaining the angle off the floor and extending the hips for the lockout.

benzc asks:

Since the lats aid in internal rotation, would fucking sweet lats help make an overhead position in the snatch more stable? If not does lat strength have any real carry over into oly lifting?

Dear benzc,

In a proper snatch rack, the shoulders will be externally rotated. This is the position that will be most efficient and safest at the shoulder, elbow, and wrist. As we know from the bench discussion, the lats will stretch when in external rotation.

Lat strength will certainly be one factor improving stability in the rack position of a snatch, but snatch technique will be largely more responsible. If the skill of a proper rack isn’t learned or the bar path throughout the entire lift is funky (i.e. looping around the head), then impressive lat strength won’t be enough to hold it in place. However, greater shoulder strength will be beneficial for hitting heavier snatches provided that the technique is there…but it usually isn’t. Having a good base of strength and musculature will be important when learning the movement and can help account for lack of technique by muscling the bar into position, yet good technique will reduce the need for severe over corrections.

The Wheel of Pain asks:

Yo Justin, what do you think of IIFYM (If It Fits Your Macros (then eat it) as a nutrition approach. Basically, build your diet around whole foods blah blah blah, but if you want a bit of ice cream, a cheeseburger, or some tacos and beers with friends, enjoy–as long as you adjust your day’s (or week’s) total intake so that this stuff fits within your macro scheme. This way you’re not totally avoiding pleasurable foods like an orthorexic freakshow just because they’re not on an approved list of “pure” or “good” or “clean” foods.

I just heard this acronym today and realized it describes my nutrition approach pretty well.

Dear The Wheel of Pain,

This method would imply that ice cream and snickers bars will be no different than a nutrient dense carb source like a sweet potato. This is sort of related to the Zone vs. Paleo thing that went down with CrossFit a couple of years ago. Eating shitty quality food in an optimal ratio will be better than just eating shitty amounts of copious food, but eating higher quality food will always be better than eating shitty of food. Besides, it’s not like people overeat and get fat or diabetes from blueberries and sweet potatoes.

I’m an advocate of the palelothic diet because it not only makes sense, but it is high in nutrients and low in foods that cause a lot of problems. I pretty much eat within the requirements of a “paleo diet”, yet don’t shy away from a good double bacon cheeseburger and like to have a little bit of wine and beer every week. I think that the paleo diet is the standard for food quality good outline to follow for longevity and health. Along with some other tweaks, it is also very good at reducing body fat and gaining muscle.

In other words, no, I don’t think that eating whatever you want within the boundaries of your macros is an optimal way to eat. Besides, macros are so individualized and training dependent that hardly any of us will know what is an optimal ratio anyway.

Josh Says:

I have a question about the Push Press. I saw this video from CalStrength a while ago, showing Donnie Shankle PP’ing from his traps…so, like, a “behind-the-neck-push-press”. Is this the movement that Glenn is referencing when he talks about the Push Press? Is it a significantly different movement (wrt to strength development and carry over to other lifts)? I am as yet unable to rest the bar on my delts, so this is an attractive alternative to me.

Dear Josh,

I will ask Glenn if that’s what he was referrig to. Behind-the-neck push-presses will yield heavier poundages since the force that the legs produce is transferred to the bar more efficiently than if it’s racked on the deltoids. It’s also easier to maintain a vertical torso with the bar on the back. In other words, you’ll be able to lift heavier weigth behind the neck than in front of it.

However, keep in mind that Donnie has been lifting seriously for over a decade. He is as much of a professional as you will find in our country. I point this out because the behind-the-neck push-press isn’t something I would recommend that a beginner try out, especially because of the descent. If you are unable to rack the bar on your deltoids, you can try raising your elbows up and maybe taking a wider grip. It’s okay if your elbows are pointed completely forward in this movement as the drive from the hips will get the bar to at least eye level.

gumbo says:

Training question for Justin and the gang: what are some cues for squat depth? I want to do USAPL meets next year, so I’ve been obssessive about going deep. But – my coach said last night that I’ve been going too deep (“bottoming-out”) and losing hamstring tension in the process.

How do y’all find that sweet spot that’s below parallel, but not ass-to-grass?

Dear gumbo,

You only need to go about an inch, maybe two, below “parallel” as this will be the optimal positioning to stretch your hamstrings. Any further and the knee angle gets too acute and it shortens the hamstrings, thus decreasing their tension. Your coach has a good eye.

The cue “cut it off” is simple, but then it helps to have the coach be there so that he can give immediate feedback on each rep in case they get too high. I often will make a noise indicating when the person should start the ascent, and if that doesn’t work I’ll use a tactile cue on their butt at proper depth. If that doesn’t work, I’d set them up in the position without a bar on their back to show them the correct depth. The whole process takes less than two minutes.

59 thoughts on “Q&A – 4

  1. Week 3 on TM, and I was a BEAST this week. Pressed 80lbsx5. This is a PR. I was stuck at 75 FOREVER on GSLP. Squatted 145×5. This is a post-injury PR, and felt super-easy and pain-free. My deadlift stalled for a little while, but I hit an easy 195×5 yesterday. I credit rounded back extensions and RDLs.

  2. @Behemoth – I lol’d. I don’t mean to cramp your style bro, I say we call a cease fire and be friends. I hate reading when people say stuff like, ‘weak, I know…’, and I realized that’s what I do when we fight over the title. We should get together and watch some Brent Kim videos sometime.

    PR from earlier this week: weighted ring pullup 1@65#.

  3. Squat: 420×5
    Harder than I wanted it to be I believe due to some creeping form issues.

    Have what seems to be a shoulder impingement from pressing on my TM light day. Been an issue in the making that I ignored by not fixing nagging mobility issues. Wtfever though gonna fix my shit and be back in the game soon.

  4. Trained Intensity Day while on-call for the hospital. The 3 phone call interruptions really messed with my focus and I missed 2 PR’s.

    I thought of an earlier post regarding bad days in the weight room and at least finished the day. I will repeat the training week and destroy it this coming Friday.

  5. “The grip should be close enough so that at lockout, the hands are on each side of the legs. A more narrow grip will shorten the distance that the bar has to be pulled. If you’re confused, then consider deadlifting with a snatch grip; the bar will have to travel a greater distance due to the wide grip.”

    At first glance this makes sense. But then I realized that when comparing hip/shoulder width pulls, this will probably turn out to be minor. Your legs being narrower, lengthens the pulling distance because you are standing up taller. Thereby negating the lengthening of the arms by having them more vertical. So unless your anthropometry is really weird (long arms, long femurs, and short tibias), it stands to reason that it would even out.

    I think the main reason that people find it easier to deadlift with the narrower stance is it allows you to have your arms at shoulder width. This allows for the minimal grip strength required for a given weight. Picture your arms as vectors. The force transferred through your hands can be calculated as bar weight/cos(angle b/w arms and body). So in a snatch deadlift your hands will feel a force that is approximately 1.9+X (assuming 45deg) that as a narrow stance.

    Taken to the extreme, the two ideas combined could be used as a good argument for the physical mechanics of the sumo stance (I’m not sold on the biomechanics of it).

  6. Pingback: » Veteran’s Day, Q&A – 5

  7. Pingback: » Q&A – 10

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.