Q&A – 18

Did you have a good week?
Yes – Post the PR, cause it’s PR Friday
No – Update us on why you have failed.

Some things I read this week:
I got updated on Brent’s tlog.
I also got updated on Ben’s tlog. I hereby start a petition that requires Ben to upload one sketch each week.
This doctor is really good at simplifying science to understand why cholesterol levels are used inappropriately by your medical doctor (just one page of many).
This is a post about how honey is a bit better than standard sugar, which reminds me that this sugar post was top shelf.

The 70’s Big week started with a female post describing how certain exercises require a good “contraction of the muscles” instead of merely moving weight, yet the post is relevant to guys too. On Tuesday I cleared up that I don’t hate CrossFit because some people thought I did (though I obviously disagree with some things). The truth is I just don’t give too much of a damn what other people do and disliking someone for their training philosophy is just being a dickhead. Disliking someone (a bro) for walking in front of you is also being a dickhead. On Wednesday we inducted Ricky Bruch into the 70’s Big Hall of Fame. Thursday I told the story of how Sid Bream did the unthinkable and asked if you could live with yourself if you missed Donny Shankle’s shot at making the Olympic team (but also good luck to Chad Vaughn and Kendrick Farris).


And onward to the Q&A. Remember, I do these to clear up any questions or concerns you guys have with the week of posts. I legitimately want you to understand why I give certain pieces of advice, and it’s okay to question what I say. If what I say is proved with physics or physiological-esque objective analysis, then know that it’s not just my opinion. If what I say contradicts something else and you want clarification, then ask away. If you want to know more or challenge my opinion, ask away. If I can’t answer, then I’ll try to find someone smarter than me who can. Everyone remember: I’m not the guy that gets pissed when you question his teachings.

80smediumbryce asks:

Justin. What about palms up pendlay rows?

Dear 70smediumbryce,

That’s a fucking hilarious name; well done. Supinated (underhand) grip rows are definitely doable, though I haven’t used them. The angle of the humerus will be slightly different due to the enhanced shoulder external rotation. Something tells me that they wouldn’t be able to be done as heavy as regular “Pendlay rows” off of the floor. I have half a mind to say that they would be really good for developing musculature to support external shoulder rotation, but the regular pronated grip will be superior for strength gains. If anyone uses these, let us know what you think (especially in comparison to the regular grip).

Can’t remember who this question is from,

Since you are blogging away about high/low bar squatting, any chance you can tackle “bouncing in the bottom of the squat”, vs “pausing at the bottom”? Pros and cons, etc? I’d just like to read your take on it is all. Thanks

Dear guy,

I’m not a fan of paused squats since squats of any kind are dependent on a stretch reflex out of the bottom. Whether you’re a single ply powerlifter, a raw powerlifter, or a weightlifter recovering from a clean, the stretch reflex is important (Note: multi-ply training will be different and out of my forte). The low bar stretches and contracts mostly on the the hamstrings while the high or front squats will do so off of the glutes, upper hamstrings, and quads. Paused squats and box squats aren’t in any of my programming. They may have value for advanced lifters, but I don’t see myself programming them since it will only alter the necessary physiological processes to make a good squat. Also, if you remove the stretch reflex then you can’t lift as much weight in the squat and lose that effective neuromuscular training adaptation that transfers into other sports so well. Losing the efficacy and using less weight reduce the effectiveness of the exercise overall, therefore average strength trainees will waste their time in doing paused squats.

oldmansquatting says:

@criedthefox, are you 14? Grow up.
Justin about RDL loading. Do you continue to add weight each week or just get up to a reasonable weight and leave it there?

(I left that part where he bitches out Brian because I thought it was funny.)
Dear oldmansquatting,

Typically you would have started fairly light (to ensure the proper muscular work) and steadily increased over time. If you approach a weight in which you cannot maintain the lumbar position (which would result in slack hamstrings), then that weight is on the cusp of “too heavy”. A year from now we can worry about pushing the weight up for “strength purposes”, but getting proper muscular action is what will make you stronger now. Still, you could put on at least five pounds a week, but ten pounds is probably better. Like with most things, the jumps will decrease as the work set weight gets higher relative to your strength.

You can also gauge progression on “soreness factor”. RDLs can cause near crippling soreness, something that can be debilitating to subsequent training sessions in the week. I don’t think you should go high enough to wreck your hamstrings and ruin the next workout. I’ve kept my weight constant for several workouts to account for this. Training shouldn’t destroy the body, especially if it destroys the next session’s efficacy.

mattciupak says:

well-written post, Justin, I just have one concern. I thought more weight=more muscle, regardless of form (to an extent). back when I did BBing stuff I remember reading that Arnold did cheat curls fairly often, and it’s obvious that you can move significantly more weight while cheat curling. also, this is anecdotal, but there’s at least a few guys at every globo-gym who are fucking HUGE but do half, cheated, or force reps with just about every exercise. also, kroc rows.
i’m not trying to prove you wrong or disagree with you as I don’t have any factual evidence myself, i’m just curious.

Dear mattciupak,

Everyone remember: I’m not the guy that gets pissed when you question his teachings. You don’t have to tip-toe around the sensitivity of questioning me, though I appreciate your concern.

You are correct in that progressive overload is necessary for strength increases, but also hypertrophy. The latter is the case since if you can lift more weight for more reps, you’ll be “more big” than had you not had the strength to use that weight.

Cheated exercises like cheat curls or “kroc rows” are very specific methods to put more stress on the related exercise. I would argue that Matt Kroc cannot improve his range of motion due to the size of the dumbbell. You could argue that I do “kroc rows” here, but notice that I go through a full ROM with a little assistance out of the bottom due to my leg assistance.

More importantly than debating each movement, we must understand why we would use a given movement in a program. In someone who has a lack of musculature in their upper back and shoulders, doing cheated pull-downs would a) alter the mechanics so that the targeted muscles aren’t moving the apparatus, b) not work the muscle through a full range of motion, and c) not get quality work in that muscle. I want and need the muscle to develop — a term that would imply muscular growth and strength increase — in order to improve it’s use in more important lifts (like pressing, benching, squatting, deadlifting, etc.). It does so by improving it’s leverage (via growth) and force production ability (via strength increase). All the professionals you see doing “cheated movements” have established strength and musculature where an overload in a partial ROM will help stimulate development. The goober you see in your gym doing cheated ranges of motion is simply copying advanced lifters, a mistake that has been made by ignorant trainees for decades.

Remember that handling the most weight you can with proper mechanics and through a full range of motion is how you will get stronger and train all of the muscles fully. The post I wrote mostly was focused to assistance exercises, especially those designed to develop musculature to improve strength training. Remember that you, unlike Arnold, are not on steroids. And if you were, you don’t train like him anyway (I assume).

Many people were going back and forth about whether CrossFit was a sport or not.

I don’t think it’s a sport because it doesn’t fit in with having a ‘standardized set of rules’ across all competitions. People will usually cite strongman as something that is “just like CrossFit”, but it’s very different. If you look at the rules of most strongman organization, they have a very specific guideline on how a competition is formed. There are different types of events, like “overhead”, “deadlift”, and “carry”, that have a list of activities that fit within that type of event. The competition selects x amount of certified activities within that type of event to make the competition. The competitors know what events they will be doing before the event occurs.

In contrast, CrossFitters don’t know what the events are until they show up. And even if they did know the events before hand, there isn’t a standardized method of selecting the events. This is the primary thing that removes CrossFit from “sport” classification. And it has nothing to do with me “just not wanting CrossFit to be called a sport”, because I really don’t give a shit. It’s definitely a competition and can be both entertaining and fun, but depending on how “sport” is defined (and there isn’t a good definition”, CF would be left out of this designation.

On a side note, most of the people in the discussion create their definition of a sport based on what they do or do not want to be classified as a sport. That’s something Kim Jong-il would have done.

Shellie C. asks,

I have a question/issue that if you could shed any light on whatsoever it would greatly appreciated: I have 4 dislocated vertebrae/rib heads in my thoracic spine. I’m in the process of having it corrected, but in the mean time I have not been able to train. I had intended to compete again in June and this injury has obviously derailed that somewhat. Is there anything you would suggest for working around an injury of this sort or at the very least how to maintain as much of my strength as possible while I wait to get back into my normal program?

Dear Shellie,

Yikes. The basic answer: do what you can. If the area is really flared up and inflamed around your thoracic spine, than ice it every day, take fish oil, and do your best to mob the areas around it. Can you run five way shoulder well enough? If muscles are tight around those ribs, then it will be harder for them to get fixed. Of course, your chiro or doctor’s opinion trumps mine. If you were my lifter, I’d see what you could do without pain and have you do that. I’d even pursue machines like leg press, machine bench press, and machine overhead press. If something gives you pain, then you should probably avoid it unless it’s a small amount that you don’t think will make the issue worse. I highly suggest you ice it regularly; never before training, but always after (even if mobbing is “training”). Light horizontal rowing could help get some work in the area, but that’s only if the ribs are in the correct spot (think of this as something you do when it’s on it’s way to being more healed compared to when you’re still super tender). You could also do some light band work (doing standard movements with very low resistance). Whatever you do, ice it regularly every day and take fish oil.

74 thoughts on “Q&A – 18

  1. Pretty good week. Still fighting back after losing 3 weeks to bronchitis. Despite some chronic hip tightness, which my doctor is saying is causing my patella to track funny, I’m on pace to hit my old PRs in squat and deadlift next week. Just need to keep mobbin’.

    As for this week:

    Bench 280×5 (ties an old pr)

    Followed that up by hitting a triple with 285. It’s a PR, but I would’ve preferred a nice clean set of 5.

  2. Not PRs but I haven’t updated in a long time
    Squat 295 3×5,
    Bench 220 3×5
    Snatch 150 5×3
    Press 150 3×5
    C and j 190 5×3 (forced to do this in a globo gym w/stop sign plates)
    Deads 295 3×5 (again w/ stop sign plates)
    Pulled my hamstring playing football on thanksgiving so just working my numbas back up.

  3. Finally got 265 1×5 on the bench, that is 3 or 4 workouts in a row that I have been trying to push it by adjusting the bench volume and adding dips and cuban presses. I hope you can tell me why I am such a loser at the DC seminar.

    I also got 435 1 x 3 on the deadlift.

    Also, form check http://youtu.be/1aMvoaFCMCI


  4. Squatted 215kg x 1 with shit form
    Benched 140kg x 1 paused but my ass came off the bench

    not really sure if these are PRs to be happy about, the depth was even borderline in the squat. got a meet in 2 weeks. yikes.

  5. Went back to training after long and annoying illness.
    DOMS is the word of the week (because I’m an idiot and not able to not rush into it again)
    No PRs obviously, but good to be back in the gym.

  6. 5/3/1 still going strong. Managed 170 for 12 reps on bench. Could only do 10 2 weeks ago. I have a question about squatting. Is there anyway to prevent “butt wink?” My pelvis starts to roll under slightly right above parallel and, well, that’s just shitty. Is it normal for the pelvis to do that just a little bit when squatting to parallel? I believe it’s putting some stress on my lower back and for the last month I feel like I have a pinched nerve in my hip area. Squats are getting heavier every workout and I don’t like doing them anymore.

  7. Nice lifting, Stonkus.

    No PR’s for me, I’m all fucked up. I was finally able to squat on Wednesday, first time since Dec 30th. Only did some sets with 315, but at least it didn’t hurt…too much.
    At least I can still DL, chin, and close grip.

  8. Squat PR: 195x3x5, last reps of each set were a hell of a grind.
    It’s nice to have a rack to squat out of finally. My new WL shoes are pretty amazing too.

  9. It was a good week overall.

    2 x 56 kg
    7 x 50 kg (don’t ask, but it happened)

    Power snatch:
    5 x 50 kg (again, don’t ask)

    I triple cleaned and double jerked 70 kg.

    Max rep cleans at 75 kg for 4 total.

    I don’t know that these were PRs necessarily, but I front squatted 8 x 70 kg and 5 x 75 kg. Since I normally do singles and doubles, it was a PR in having my fucking mind right during a set because I didn’t know how to breathe or see straight after the first 3 reps or so.

    Caleb came and did a seminar last Sunday, and then Rip came to visit this weekend, so there was a lot of awesomeness at my gym.

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