Q&A — 23

It’s PR Friday, so post your training updates and weekly PR’s to the comments.
Question of the Weekend: What is a piece of training information you learned recently outside of 70sBig.com? This can be from an external source or based on personal experience.

Weekly Reading List
[spoiler]Unfortunately I haven’t read many internet articles this week because I’ve started Joe Abercrombie’s Best Served Cold. I actually started reading The Heroes, but realized BSC comes first. They are stand alone novels, but there are some characters and plot points from BSC in The Heroes, and I didn’t want to read them out of order. For those of you who don’t know who Abercrombie is, he wrote the amazing “First Law Trilogy”. If you have a vague interest in diabolical plots, dynamic characters, mild fantasy, or viking and barbarian violence, then you need to read that trilogy as soon as fucking possible.

Here are some articles that I’ve been linked in the last week. To be honest, I haven’t read them, but I think that they will either be good, or will spark some discussion. I’ll get to them and try to post my thoughts in these comments.

From Mike H.:
Interview with Dr. Stuart McGill
Eric Cressey on “lower back savers”
Eric Cressey and hip internal rotation
Cressey on ankle mobility
Cressey IR hip stretch
From Courtney:
“What We Need Is A Smaller Government”
Stuff I found:
Joe Abercrombie on swearing in fantasy writing.
Do zombies poop?[/spoiler]

Q&A Time

Hi Justin,

After reading some of Rudy Nielsen and Louie Simmon’s observations on training using the Prilepin table, I’m wondering if you had any thoughts on the applicability of the table to conditioning. Would it make any sense at all to include the lower end of the table (55-65% of 1RM) into any continuous activity? For example, with a deadlift max of 500lbs, would a conditioning workout consisting of 6 continuous rounds of 4 reps of deadlift at 275lbs coupled with some other exercise (lets say pushups) make any sense, or would the lack of rest completely destroy any benefits of such a workout? I suspect it might, but does that mean that anything above 55% of 1RM is verboten for conditioning work?

Just got my copy of ‘Fit’ by the way, and will be using it to get my head screwed on straight after three years of CrossFit. Thanks for that!


Dear canuckian,

I don’t think I’ve ever seen “verboten” used in a sentence before. Regarding your question, I do not base conditioning stress on Prilepin’s table, but I suppose it could be used as a guideline. Prilepin’s table exists to serve as a guideline for strength training. “Conditioning” is a loose term; in FIT, we define it to mean:

(A) habituating structures to tolerate new activities,
(B) improving the cardiovascular and respiratory systems ability to supply energy to the
working muscles in order to sustain a task over time, and (C) developing the ability of the
muscle to take up and utilize the energy delivered.

In your case here, we’re specifically referring to the body’s ability to sustain work for an arbitrary time. When I program for a goal like this, it’s mutually exclusive from strength training. If I aim to condition, then I want the most efficient conditioning workout given the desired adaptation, so I’m not going to blend the two. There are some instances where the trainee only requires “light conditioning”, and this can be accomplished by performing the session’s assistance exercises in sequence (like circuit training) to get the heart rate up and create more of an endurance element. However, if the program aims to effectively condition the gained strength (whether that conditioning is very specific or general), then I will not fuse strength training into conditioning since, by definition, they are different things.

That being said, Prilepin’s table can give you an indication of what not to use in conditioning. Given that the maximum repetition range at 55% is 30 reps, it should tell you that if you go beyond this rep range with this percentage, you are applying too much of a stress. I will point out that these rep ranges are typically dependent on very fast bar speed to illicit a good strength training stress; by using these percentages for conditioning, the effect is entirely different. That means I would really creep into that range to begin with if strength training is the goal (since it will interfere with proper strength training recovery).

If your goals demand conditioning in addition to strength, then the ‘window’ is more ‘open’ on what percentages you use. If you are training for the CF Games, like most of Rudy’s trainees, then you will probably have to breach this percentage realm, albeit intelligently (he seems to do so). These are just my thoughts and what I would do given general S&C trainees. Rudy may have thoughts on whether he uses the table for his purposes.

TL;DR — Do not fuse conditioning with strength. Condition with lighter stuff. In FIT I give parameters on repetition ranges and percentages for conditioning. Prilepin’s table can provide a guideline of “don’t go above this percent”, but keep in mind it was designed for the sole purpose of building strength (and it’s lighter percentages are best used with very high bar speed).

This is a random picture of Chris and Ellee from the Arnold.

Hi Justin,
I was just wondering what a “respectable” press to jerk ratio would be for someone that lifts weights to supplement other sports as opposed to someone that specifically trains Olympic lifts. For example, if I can press 150, what should my jerk be, without spending years specializing in the O-lifts?

I dig the site,
Rob R.

Dear Rob R.,

Thanks for diggin’ the site. I really don’t have an answer to this. CrossFit folk may have an answer given that they press and jerk enough to get some data points, but my opinion is that this isn’t easily summed up in an average. The jerk is a skill movement; if you suck at it, then you won’t jerk much. I know people with pretty good presses that jerk like shit. I also know of weightlifters who don’t press very much, but jerk quite a bit (I have heard that Caleb Ward pressed around 70k when he clean and jerked 203kg — even if he pressed 90 or 100k, that’s still huge).

Basically I don’t think it’s something you should worry about. Instead of comparing yourself to the average, or even comparing yourself to others, compare yourself to you. Rhetorically, what is your best jerk? Why is it not higher? Does your grip or foot position suck? Your dip/drive? Your foot-work? Aim to improve those things (among others), and your jerk will improve. The same goes for your press: if you’re pressing 150 lbs, do you want it to be higher? If so, what can you do to improve it? Who gives a shit about other people, just be the best that you can be, assuming you are wanting to do so. Let me know what you figure out.


I’m a long time reader of 70’s Big. I am finally competing in my first powerlifting meet on April 7. It’s an unequipped meet, but they alllow kneewraps and belts. I tried the kneewraps and I hated them, a lot.
I have however seen a lot of guys (including Chris in the video’s you posted) wearing blue knee sleeves. What exactly are these and what do they do? Should I look into getting some for my meet?

Thank you,

Dear JR,

Thank you for being a long-time reader. You may remember this post that has some info on knee sleeves. I was going to chastise you for not searching the site, but there isn’t a whole lot of knee sleeve info here (though there is in that link above).

Neoprene knee sleeves encapsulate the entire knee joint in neoprene in order to provide some proprioceptive tightness and reflect the body’s heat back onto itself. The proprioception just “feels better” in that it provides a little bit of compression, but mostly just makes the lifter’s knee feel a little tighter and subsequently safer. The ‘body heat’ thing increases the temperature and pliability of the superficial structures of the knee. So the patellar tendon and ligaments along with the other connective tissue is warm, pliable, and less prone to experience pain.

I hear you on the knee wraps thing. Knee wraps will actually add assistance to the extension of the knees (not in my definition of “raw”). Knee sleeves will not provide much assistance, if any. But they will feel better and you may find that you perform better in them. I don’t think they are critical, but they can help keep the knees feeling good when lifting frequency is high.

aramirez asks:

Justin, I don’t know if this is slightly off topic but I am 6′ tall and have obtained pretty good growth in my hamstrings and glutes due to low bar squats I was doing for about a year. I see some growth in my quads but not much. I tried doing high bar squats to get more growth in my quads but my previously injured right lateral knee flares up. I am thinking this is due to the more forward knee potition in the high bar (the sme reason I injured it in the first place before I learned how to do squats properly). So I went back to low bar and no pain. Do you think I was doing high bar wrong, or is my knee doomed forver thus no quad development?

Dear aramirez,

It’s a misconception that the high bar causes knee pain; if it did, then weightlifters everywhere would be rendered useless due to their ballistic high bar style. However, if you spend at least a year doing low bar, then you will require a progressive adaptation process to high bar or front squat techniques — even when you are doing the correctly. Again, even if you have good technique with high bar or front squats, and you have been doing low bar for a year or so, you will need to progress the vertical style stuff slowly to let your structures adapt. I was told at 23 or 24 years old that I wasn’t going to be able to improve the knee pain I had as I front squatted more (I had low barred for almost 2 years at this point). Bullocks. If you never do a movement, and then suddenly do it, then your structures and connective tissue won’t be adapted, plain and simple.

It’s possible your technique was crappy as most un-coached people have crappy technique, but it’s also possible you did too much too soon. Regardless of what your actual strategy was, if you attempted to do them again, you’ll have to do progress it slower than whatever you did before, because it didn’t work. There is hope for your quads, my friend. Just take time as you introduce high bar or front squats into your training.

Terrible asks:

So would the feet coming up off the ground and onto the lateral portion of the foot the main indicator of insufficient ankle flexibility?

My feet sometimes do this when I’m really pushing through a tough rep, but I never understood why. I have to squat with toes out about 30 deg., otherwise I get knee pain (but my mobility started off absolutely atrocious and is only now slowly improving).

Dear terrible,

If your feet are laterally shifting at all, including one side coming off the ground, during your squat, then that is not good. Figure out what is causing it and aim to fix it. You’ll never be as strong as you can be if you’re not stable, regardless of toe angle.

All right, folks, have a good weekend. I typically don’t get on the computer over the weekend, so Twatter is the easiest way to interact if you want to harass me.
P.S. Twatter can be typed entirely with the left hand.

36 thoughts on “Q&A — 23

  1. Age PR, 33 today.

    I discovered that locking out an axle overhead, with a suicide grip, recruits the lats more than a regular bar with thumbs around.

  2. Happy Birthday Paul Sousa!

    Mobility: MWODs 23-27, additionally daily couch stretch & 5-way shoulder band stretch
    Deadlift: 425 10×1–pr
    Squat: 380 9×1; 325 3×3–pr
    Bench: 275 10×1–easy
    Front Squat: 135×5, 185 3×3
    OHP: 150 4×1; 130 2×3–deloaded
    Bicep Curl Machine: 5×10 every time I lifted. I think it’s working ET.

    The man who originally taught me to train really hard (my former college professor) was in town for the first time in a long time and we were able to train together for the first time in almost two years. So that was really fun. He taught me to front squat properly and to get a good enough rack position so that I could keep the bar racked with my arms straight out. That produced some soreness! I’m going to add front squats to my program. He is a beast and used to train with the Canadian Olympic team. He pulled in the mid 500s (bodyweight of about 240) for reps even though he’s only been doing kettle bells for the past few months. I was able to bench heavy for the first time since messing up my rib. This is encouraging. T-minus 22 days to my competition.

    Is anyone else going to this tomorrow? http://reasonrally.org/about/

  3. PR’d amount learned on teaching the Snatch and Clean and Jerk I attended Glenn Pendlay’s USAW Level 1. It was really good also found out that my knee is not totally just a strained ACL and a small piece of meniscus floating around causing havoc time to get a scope….. anyone get a scope recently and how long till they were full ROM and back to 100%

  4. Finally feeling good again. I didn’t lay off enough last week after the lifting comp and I was feeling really beat up. Kept volume low this week and have been sleeping 9+ hours a night, feeling way better.

    Bench: 175×5

    Mobility PR: In the past week I went from heels over half an inch off the ground to being able to sink into a full BW squat and hold it for 30 seconds without holding onto anything. It’s a start.

    Squat: I dropped down to 225/275 and have been drilling knees out to keep my form perfect. I’ve actually gotten sore in my upper hamstring and abductors, which is totally the opposite of where I normally get sore (usually in the adductors/inside hamstrings). I take that for a good sign that I’m getting different activation. Or something.

  5. 18″ deadlift 365×3 yesterday (DOH, hook grip). comes out to 2x BW. I generally only base PR’s on 1rm’s, so not sure if that’s a PR or not, but decent for me I guess.

    As to Rob’s Press-Jerk ratio, I think it depends on Jerk technique. My press is about 50% of jerk, however I know people with 75-80% ratios that are working on bettering their jerk technique. Remember, the jerk is a leg exercise, so pressing strength doesn’t have a whole lot to do with it.

  6. Squat: 127.5kgx5
    First time with my new bar today, dropping forward/hips shooting back – the shittiest of form. I’ll hit that weight again next week but better. Valar Morghulis.

    Valar Dohaeris.


  7. No PRs. Squatted 185#x4x5 last night with respectable depth. Entering week 2 of my second round of PSMF. Goal: get to a body weight of 220, which with my current LBM, will put me between 15-18% body fat which is good enough for now. 26 pounds to go.

  8. Squat 325×2/315x3x2

    Bench 245x4x5

    Deadlift up to 335 w/ no belt. First time I’ve done that in years.

    Tire drag PR: Made my own tired drag for conditioning, which is cool in an “I hate myself” kinda way.

  9. When I get really amped up for heavy barbell presses I get light headed during lifting and have to stop. Does anyone know why that’s the case? I still breath in between reps.

  10. just switched to MWF, so I can finally particpate in PR fridays. obviously the main motivation behind it…

    Bench 180 3×4 all time PR
    Deadlift 335 3×4 Rep/set PR(previous best was 335×5)

  11. SQ PR: 395×7

    Happy B’day Sousa.

    This week I learned from Donny Shankle that a trip to the beach can involve training your body and soul, via a accessory exercise called Wave Smashing. Read about it on his blog.

    Also, forgot what a fox Ellee is. Gotta love a gal with jacked wheels! Chris…not so foxy. But devilishly handsome.

  12. Hey any of you guys have a glute that doesn’t fire as well as the other? I can flex my right one really hard but not my left… Anyone have any tips?

    Still plugging along so I won’t be weak forever
    Squat 300×5
    Bench 225×5

  13. No PR’s since I reset everything last week. Broke my collarbone a little over 13 months ago, and had surgery to correct it 3 weeks after that, so its been about 9-10 months since I’ve been back to lifting. Went in for a checkup xray yesterday, healed perfectly and also got my low back checked while I was there. Confirmed that it wasn’t a disc issue, he said I most likely did something to my sacroiliac joint, and agreed with my suggestion to drop all my weights down low and work back up. So impatient, but this last month has sucked with a tight back all day.

    So, squatted 135×15 or so for a couple sets yesterday. Going to go 4-5 times a week for the next week or two and then cut it back to 3x a week on SS style programming adding 10lbs a workout to squat until somewhere in the mid 200s. This has given me time to work on my form a lot though, and I feel my squat/deadlift are about as good as I can get them on my own, so I’m trying to improve my cleans since I still suck horribly at them. Alright I’m done rambling.

  14. I learned that it doesn’t help your training to drop an object on your left big toe that requires an Urgent Care trip where the doc removes your toenail.

  15. Deadlift: 365×5
    Bench: 285×4 (Next time I will get that fifth rep or I will die trying)

    Career PR: Covered a NCAA national championship game for the Associated Press tonight. It was okay.

  16. Deadlift PR 480 x 1.

    I tried for a 2nd rep and only got it up about 3 inches. Instead of dropping the weight, I held on to it as it hit the ground. This earned me a nice strained back, luckily it’s feeling much better 48 hours later.

  17. Picked up TM for 2 weeks while taking a break from the oly lifts due to tendonitis in my shoulder.

    Squat 5 RM – 285, I’ve never done a true 5RM before, so I was pretty excited. Will try for a new 1RM next Friday before going back to oly the following week.

  18. For those of you that have transitioned from one set of 5 deadlifts to a set of 3, are you doing any additional work or is 3 still enough for adaptive stress?

  19. Squat 425×1, 20# PR
    Press 185×1, 10# PR
    Deadlift 515×1, 15# PR

    Two months training time in between the last PR’s and these recent ones. Pretty pumped with the recent accomplishments.

  20. Master Olympic lifter(38),doing the lifts since 2009,73kgsnatch/93kg c&jerk,seeing no progress since last year,max squat 115kg,fsquat 100kg,tall and skinny(75-78kg).Being so weak,i’m thinking of doing an hibrid of 5/3/1 or Texas with the oly lifts,maybe 2 days for the lifts and 2 other more strength orientated.
    Any suggestions??



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