Q&A – 14

I hope everyone’s training is going well so far this year. Post your updates or weekly PR’s to the comments to celebrate PR Friday

Also, I don’t have confirmation on this, but apparently Allison Bishop (AllisonNYC for you CF vets) has allegedly committed to doing a max effort clean and jerk in a bikini if Donny Shankle gets to his fundraising goal (read the first part of this post). Now let’s get on with the bloody Q&A, eh?

sdanleyjr asks:

This week’s collection of articles has me all worried about balanced ham/quad development. If I look in the mirror I’d say I’m pretty quad dominant, however I just LBBS my way up to 405# before switching back to HBBS. If I’m doing all of the following once a week – HBBS, front squat, snatch, C&J, deadlift – should I be doing some RDLs as well?

Dear sdanleyjr,

I’m a huge proponent of RDL’s, especially for lifters who aren’t in the ‘later intermediate stages’ and beyond. I’d even to venture and say that the RDL’s will be better for your programming than the deadlifts — CRAZY TALK. It looks like you’re training for weightlifting, and heavy deadlifts are going to require significant local and systemic recovery. Not only are you using your limited supply of recovery credits on the expensive deadlift, but you may be inhibiting the clean, snatch, or squat workouts that occur after the deadlifting (even if they are the following week). If you’re primarily training to be a weightlifter, you’ll get good hamstring and lumbar musculature work out of the RDL and still have some zing for the rest of your program.

jaygreenshirt asks:

At the Chicago lifting seminar you discussed the phenomenon of one’s hamstrings sputtering during a heavy deadlift (you referred to it as ‘tut-tut-tut’). I can’t remember your explanation on this and was hoping you could explain it on the site. I recently pulled a one rep max deadlift and my hamstrings were tut-tut-tutting like The Little Engine That Could.

Dear jaygreenshirt,

It’s awesome to hear from you. For everyone else, Jay was one of two Jays at the Chicago workshop, and when I said the name “Jay”, my friend Jay S. kept saying, “What?” So I resorted to calling this Jay “Jay Green Shirt” since he was wearing a green shirt. Apparently Ellee still has him saved as that in her phone.

Anyway, this is a good question. The “tut-tut-tut” sputtering that occurs when locking out heavy deadlifts (watch the second rep at 625) is a neurological result of not being adapted to high levels of tension in the hamstrings. Assuming good mechanics (that would maintain hamstring tension), the intrafusal muscle fibers (in this case, the golgi tendon organ) of the hamstring are monitoring levels of tension in the muscle. If tension is too high, then the GTO will essentially shut the muscle off to prevent injury. Your conscious effort to pull the weight forces a resuming in the contraction, or “turning the muscle back on”. The GTO then senses high levels of tension and turns it off again. This back-and-forth could occur several times and feels like a stuttering lockout that I sum up as a “tut-tut-tut” (usually I mimic the move as I say it in a workshop).

So what the FUCK does all of that mean? You are relatively unadapted to the higher levels of tension that you were imparting on the muscle and it’s associated nerve functioning. How can this be fixed? Rack pulls are usually the go-to method of improving that ability to experience high tension. If you watched the linked video above of Chris first couple reps at a 600+ pounds, you can see it occur. Shortly after that I had him do rack pulls and he never had those tension issues again (see below for Chris pulling 655×2 the other day). RDL’s are also another good way to improve the hamstring’s ability to experience tension. The weight won’t be as heavy, yet the different mechanics will still stretch the hamstring and make it contract under tension. Regularly using both of these lifts will eradicate the tut-tut, yet also getting more reps with higher intensity deadlifts will help in the short term as well.

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nobodystopsdblob asks:

So I find myself in a weird spot where my work sets for dead and squat are the same and I am increasing them at the same rate. I don’t think I could go for increasing my dead by any more than 5lbs a week that I am already doing. I know these two weights should not be equal but it was just a fluke from my LP that they ended up near each other when I entered the TM programming. Should I just not worry about it and let the dead naturally progress past my squat as I stall or slow at that lift or should I take steps to actively move the deadlift weight past the squat weight? I am already using RDLs on my assistance day.

Dear nobodystopsdblob,

The first thing I’d have you do is use a triple on Intensity Day for deadlift. It’s also possible that deadlifting every week is going to peter out soon. The TM E-book Part 2 will help that.

casanoah asks:

[Related to the Olympics:] What determines the number of competitors we are allowed to send? What determines the number of women competitors at 2 and the men at 1?

Dear casanoah,

Short answer is performance. It’s an objective and quantifiable method determined by the USOC. Here’s a paste of what cassio598 responded with:
The number of slots for each country is determined by their athletes’ performances at the previous 2 world championships, and additionally by performance at their continental qualifier. Men’s country qualifying is separate from women’s.

At the world championships, each country is represented by a team of up to 6, and their totals are added up for a team score, and the summed across the two meets. The top 6 mens team scores earn 6 slots for their country, 7-12 earn 5, 13-18 earn 4, 19-24 earn 3. Because there are fewer weight classes for women, there are fewer slots available, and fewer teams to earn them. The top 9 womens teams earn 4 slots, 10-16 earn 3, and 17-21 earn 2. Presumably the women earned their 2 slots this way.

In addition to the qualification slots earned at the world championships, countries can earn a single slot by placing high enough, again as a team, in their continental qualifying event, which for the US is the Pan American Championship. The US Men must finish in the top 7 teams in order to earn 1 slot in the Olympics.

Nick R. from the Facebook Fan Page from a couple weeks ago asks:

Thoughts on back-off sets in an LP for swolertrophy?

This method definitely can work; we’ve seen it work in the Greyskull Linear Progression. The difference is in the GSLP, the third set of five is taken for reps. In the last year, I have experimented with doing a backoff set for reps or several backoff rest-pause sets (discussed in the TM E-book Part 1). The regular backoff merely drops some weight and gets a set with at least 8 to 12 reps. The rest-pause method lowers the weight and hits a set of about 8, rests about 15 seconds (but no more than 30), hits another set for reps (hopefully at least 8), and then rests another 15 seconds before hitting a third, and final, set for reps. 8 reps is an arbitrary number but fits very well in the “hypertrophy rep scheme”. The reps per set will probably depreciate over the three rest-pause sets, and that’s fine. While getting the reps AT LEAST to six and more like 8 reps will help, the significant stressor here is the short rest periods. Higher reps and short rest periods are what help grow muscle bodybuilding style.

Either of these methods can also count as muscular endurance work, especially for lifters who have been primarily messing with triples or fives in their programming. They could also be used in “fat loss” type programs along with a good diet and some high intensity conditioning.

Roy asks:

Question for you about dead lifting, strength and elbow pain. I’ve found that that the mixed grip helps me lift significantly more weight than the double overhand grip does, but the tradeoff seems to be elbow pain to the side that goes under the bar (in this case the right elbow). I read somewhere that it has to do with a compromised shoulder position. Thoughts on using the mixed grip? The elbow pain / shoulder position?

Dear Roy,

The alternated grip works better because your hands are torquing the bar in opposite directions. A non-hook double overhand grip applies torque to the bar so that it rotates towards the end of your fingers. The alternated grip still applies torque towards your fingers, but since you’re applying that rotational force forward and backward, it balances out and creates friction in the hands to hold onto the bar easier. Neato, huh.

I’ve already confirmed that your right arm is the one that is supinated (or underhand) in your alternate grip, and there are two things that could be causing elbow pain. The first is if you are hypermobile in the elbow joint. Usually guys don’t have laxity in their joints, but it’s possible to have a bit of a hyper-extension in the elbow — even when pulling a deadlift. I don’t remember seeing any laxity in your joints in the time that we talked (I know Roy) or trained together, so let’s move onto the second thing.

Your concern over shoulder inflexibility is most likely the case (I do remember some inflexibility in your movement). When the forearm is supinated for the underhand grip, the shoulder is put into external rotation. This contracts the external rotators and stretches the internal rotators. If your internal rotators are tight (as the commonly are in today’s desk jockey warrior society), then the externally rotated shoulder won’t be in a very good position. It also maybe possible that your external rotators or thoracic spine are tight. Tell Shana (his coach) that you need to “mob” your shoulder with various external rotation positions (she’ll know what to do). For the rest of you, the five-way shoulder is a good place to start. Also, Roy, use the “peanut”, or lacrosse balls taped together and work on your thoracic spine. If you have bad posture (which would be indicative of your problem), work on lifting the chest towards your chin a little bit during the day. Every day you should do at least one stretch for your internal rotation (which would be a stretch that puts you in external rotation) as well as rolling your thoracic spine with lacrosse balls (Shana will know some variations of how to hit the areas medial to your scapula, too). Have fun, mate.

All right, that was jolly fun. If a lot of you guys are gonna be home for the NFL playoffs, maybe we should get a chat room going during the games? Have a solid weekend.

43 thoughts on “Q&A – 14

  1. PRs:
    My Occupy a Squat Rack shirt came in the mail yesterday. It’s my new favorite shirt. I’ll wear it to the McPhearson square encampment/rat farm one day soon and see what happens.

    Deadlift: 415 7×1; 335 4×3 (monday)No tut tutting involved
    Squat: 370 9×1; 305 5×3 (tuesday)
    Bench: 280 10×1; 240 2×3

    My legs still haven’t recovered from Monday and Tuesday’s work. The quads and glutes just felt tired but the hams were in serious distress. I tried to squat anyway last night, basically just ignoring some very intense, one foot in the pain cave, hamstring soreness. I got 4 singles with 370 before deciding to save it and move on to benching. I also missed some OHP reps on Tuesday. I’ve trained 43 times over the past 11 weeks and 8 of my off days were spent hiking/hunting, so I’m going to take a 3-day rest here (read: 3-day buffet feasting and sleeping). I’ve added 15-20 pounds on each lift during this time while maintaining a constant bodyweight of 195. I hope to achieve similar gains over the next 11 weeks before I taper for a powerlifting meet.

  2. Squat PR: 285x5x3 on Tuesday, 290x5x3 yesterday, I see no problem in hitting 295 tomorrow (my LP got on Tuesday/Thurs/Saturday somehow). First squat PRs since June 28.
    Chins – 4 sets of 4 (spread throughout the day) on Wednesday.
    BW – holding steady around 226 to 228.

    I’m feeling real strong right now and expect my LP will peter out in a month or two, then it’s TM time. I’m looking forward to having room to program some conditioning. I’m looking to drop my body fat by about 10% this year (will know for sure later, getting it tested soon). Reducing carbs, especially at night, is helping a bit visually but I know I need the conditioning before I make real progress. Barbell complexes, DB snatches, and intervals on the indoor track at the gym and maybe some steady state fasted cardio around the neighborhood in the mornings are in my future.

  3. I have a question for a future QnA.
    I’m 40yo, and my very last disc in my hips is mashed, it gives me occasional sciatica and weakness in my left leg. This is usually alliviated when I squat and deadlift. I’m back after a layoff, and am on the Greyskull LP, and hit squats for 250 x 10 on the last set today. I can feel my right leg working more when I’m under the bar, so much so that I make an effort to concentrate on my left leg working. When I’m done, my right leg is much more sore than the left, and also a bit bigger in the teardrop by the knee.
    I know I could do single leg work, but I’m whipped after the big 4 and curls(of course). And I hate to interrupt progress, as I need to get to 315x3x5, like yesterday.
    Thanks Justin, I love your site, been lurking since the idea came up on the old SS forums.

    Is there question somewhere in that mess?

  4. I have a question that’s not really related to anything discussed today, but here it is: is it reasonable to assume that doing 5/3/1 would help someone advance in their swollertrophy goals as well as strength, albeit the strength gains would be slower than in a TM set up? I haven’t done it, which is why I’m asking; anybody can feel free to tell me this is a stupid question, though.

  5. Long story short, I was away from the gym for over a year and started lifting again right after Thanksgiving. I was down to about 155 lbs. Before my hiatus I had done SS and then Crossfit for a couple of years. I’m 25, 5’8″, and right now about 175 lbs. My biggest short term goal is to squat 300 x 5. These aren’t PR’s but I think I’m on the right track. When I was squatting this much a couple of years ago on SS my form was shit and the bar felt really heavy. I feel pretty good about it right now. No pain and the sets are all fairly easy.

    From this morning:

    Squat – 255 x 5 x 3
    BP – 175 x 5 x 3
    DL – 275 x 5
    Weighted Pull-ups – 15lb x 6 x 2, 20lb x 6

    From Wednesday:

    Press – 120 x 5 x 3
    Weighted Chins – 15lb x 7 x 3
    HPC – 115 x 5 x 3

  6. PR: Squatted 310×3. Tried a second set and got 1.

    6 months ago my 1rm was 315. Been doing starting strength (again, correctly) since end of October. Feeling pretty fried. Not sure if I have the will to reset and continue. I miss conditioning. Am I just being a bitch?

  7. Thanks for answering my question Justin. I think I got a bout of “training ADD” when I put the deadlifts into my programming. I will swap them out for RDL’s early in the week (as my O-lifting is done on weekends mostly).

    Speaking of which…

    Snatch PR last Saturday = 190# = a shade over 86 kilos.

    Here’s another question for a Q&A – is there a “Golden Standard” for ratio of Snatch:C&J? I feel like my snatch is lagging a little bit (190:260).

  8. Today’s PRs:

    Bench: 125×3.
    Squat: 155×5. This is a post-injury PR for pain-free and mechanically sound squats. This felt rullllllll good.
    DL: 230×5. I was breathing FIRE, you guys. FIRE.

  9. When is it okay to have my wife start deadlifting? Her RDL’s are up to 125 and her squats are 95 (only started squatting two weeks ago, been doing the rest of the LP for about 6 weeks now). I told her another month just to be safe but she’s really enthusiastic about it. Taught her the lift yesterday and her form was fine but I’m just worried about over-stressing her recovery limits right now. Also, thoughts on programming the deadlift for women?

  10. @harvey

    I had my fiance (age 25, 5’6″, 145 lbs) start deadlifting right from the start. She had previously been doing cardio videos like P90x and Turbo Fire. For the past 12 weeks she’s done a standard 5×5 linear progression. So 3x/week lifting, squatting every day and alternating rows with deadlifts, and presses with bench presses. She’s had to reset once on each lift during that time and has missed reps a couple times here and there. I started her deadlifts at 95 lbs and now she’s up to 165 with good form. So based on our experience, why wait? You can always dial it back if she doesn’t recover well. I believe going through a 5×5 progression builds character as much as it builds technique and muscle, which is arguably more important in the long run. Others may think this is a little bit reckless, but so far it’s working and she’s discovered what Arnold would call her “pain barrier” and broken through over and over again.

  11. @harveymushman

    34/5’11″/192lbs. 3.5-4000 cals/day. 200-275g pro/day. 8 hrs sleep. No silly bullshit. 10 weeks in. Gained 10 lbs.

    I generally try to eat at least 1lb of beef a day, plus my post workout shake (and all the other food I eat). For the last few weeks, when I felt shitty, I would just eat more meat, have a shake, eat a sweet potato take a shot of olive oil and stfu. I think deadlift has just beat me down in terms of recovery.

    I’ve been lifting about 3 years now and thought I would try to squeeze more out of SS since an intermediate program didn’t seem to have enough stimulus for me. I also suspct the first time I did SS I didn’t really follow the program strictly enough. I know I could reset and probably eek out another month. Just not sure if its best at my age and/or if it will just fry out my CNS.

  12. Thank you, Justin.

    I highly recommend Justin’s seminar to anyone that gets a chance to attend one. He’ll fix your lifting technique and give you programming suggestions but best of all he will point out mobility restrictions and give you pointers on fixing them. I have probably worked harder on mobility than lifting since the seminar in September and yet I have gotten stronger and feel better. Very valuable stuff.

  13. @Zac: I don’t know enough to help you if you’ve got all that in line. Maybe move to deadlifting once a week, at the end of the week with RDLs at the beginning? I know Justin has recommended this here a lot recently.

    @Maslow: I think you’re right. I’ll have her start at 105 (I taught her with 95) and move the RDLs to her other day.

  14. Squat – 245x5x7

    Mobbing my whole body like its a dirty little thing

    Getting my life on track and cutting the drinking out and focusing on what’s important – lifting.

  15. Benched (as a lil testie to see where I should be for my transition to ascending doubles)

    125 1×4
    and then 130 1×3
    and then 135 1×2

    All PRs. EEEEEEEEEE!!!!! Thank you, Justin! :)

    Training has become real cereal in preparation for the meet in April that the Chicago 70’s Big Lifting Group will be competing in. Including BOTH Jay S and Jaygreenshirt. We will be meeting tomorrow, Saturday the 14th, at 1 PM. Conviction Fitness on Montrose and Western. All are welcome!

  16. PR, squatted for the first time since december 19th. Worked up to 80% for an easy single, left it there per Justin’s suggestion. Did some light deads as well.

    The past three weeks I’ve done nothing but rest and eat healthy and and KB overhead press. I recently bought a 50 lb and 70 lb KB and wanted to get my press up from junk. Went from 10ish with a 35, to pressing 50×12 each arm, and pressing the 70 for(3R/1L). Very happy with the gains.

  17. Justin, jaygreenshirt, or anyone that’s been to a workshop – what’s the student/coach ratio like? I really want to attend the DC workshop, but the finances are a bit tight.

  18. Started 5/3/1 this week with the recommended 90% training max. I’m doing 3 days per week. A lot of assistance stuff I’ve never done before, including arm work and dumbell stuff.

    DL PR: 375x10x1
    Bench PR: 210x10x1

    Closed the CoC #2 straight out of the packet the other day for 5 reps.

  19. I’m relatively strong at the top of the deadlift, and never had a real issue locking out. A couple weeks ago, when I first tried rack pulls, I was hit with the tut-tut-tuts hard. I did them again today and it was almost gone.

  20. PR: DL 425×9. Meh.

    Re: Tut-tut’s. I’ve observed that this gets (much) worse in trainees who aren’t properly hydrated.

    Djay: Yes, 5/3/1 can be set-up properly as a swollertrophy program, but make sure you’ve demolished your LP gains first. There’s no point in attempting a swollertrophy program if you aren’t strong already.

  21. Squat 215x5x3
    Bench 140×5,5,4
    Push press 120x5x3
    Good week with the LP. Squat for has been hit and miss but some of that is because my right femur is stuck in external rotation. Trying to mob it loose, but a massage should do the trick.

    Also got a mobility PR. My right shoulder’s been stuck in a crap position for the last 5 years, and my chiropractor managed to loosen it up enough so I can mob it into full range of motion. I’m pretty psyched.

  22. 3 PRs from yesterday:

    Squat: 475×3, not quite as solid as 470×3 was last week, but still pretty good.

    Press: 200×1, work sets didn’t go as planned, so sure why not do a PR single? (Cloud’s idea)

    Deadlift: 385×7, anything x7 is a PR.

    Pressing 200 is a joyous milestone.


  23. Started the new years changing to 5/3/1. I really wanted to do Texas Method but with my work schedule and wanting to get some more conditioning, I would have been dead. Love the boring but big protocol. I took the advice of doing RDL’s instead of deadlifts for a while and my deadlift went up quite a bit as well as squat.

    DL 335×2
    Squat 320×4
    Both are really easy now.

    Great to hear that RDLs have helped. Thanks for the update.


  24. Did heavy Pow Snatch triples today. Heaviest triple @ 86%

    10×3 Dynamic Effort Presses and Deadlifts @ 65%

    Then 10X3 Snatch High Pulls.

    Next week is an unloading week…THEN OLY PR’s!!!

  25. Worked my way up to 5×280.5# on the DL, which ties my previous PR. This set felt much better than last time with less rounding of the lower back.
    Then, feeling a bit reckless having not done anything new that day, I loaded up every plate I had to for a new 1RM @295.5#
    Pretty stoked!
    New goal: pull my whole damn weight set for a fiver.

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