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?
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
[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?
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.
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?
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.