Q&A – 24

I started the week by trying to break the myth that all lifting will be perfect all of the time. There were tips for coaches and lifters on how to prepare trainees or the self for successful lifting. Tuesday I readdressed the issue of squatting to depth. I believe most of 70’s Big readers train properly, but just in case they didn’t, they know that a partial squat is not a squat. Wednesday we talked about the 70’s Big Workshop in Australia in April and I complained about lazy betties in the gym. Thursday I gave some pointers on the rack pull to ensure that trainees get the full worth of the movement.

PR Friday is a day where we talk about our training ups and downs. It’s a chance to keep other people on the site updated with your progress. The “regulars” all know who each other are and like to see how their internet friends are doing (“I met a cool guy on the internet”). Post your weekly PR’s, but also your training updates to the comments. You lurkers should jump on it too; we’re all friends here.

Weekly Reading List
[spoiler]Last night I finished reading Joe Abercrombie‘s “Best Served Cold” and really enjoyed it. It was the first stand alone book after “The First Law Trilogy”, which is amazing, and the precursor to the recently released “The Heroes”. “Best Served Cold” introduces some new characters, but also uses some side characters from the trilogy. The pacing seems different, as if this book develops more gradual. Instead of constant diabolical activity, it’s larger in scope and the characters develop and evolve throughout the book. Trust in the fact that Abercrombie won’t bore you with a repetitive plot; the second half of the book functions differently than the beginning. I found it interesting how Abercrombie interweaves grandscale plot points into the ending of the book that will resonate outside of this particular story. Since he’s signed on to do several books in this “world”, the books stand apart from one another yet you can see how he’s developing a behind the scenes plot in addition to the one on stage. Abercrombie’s books fit into the new “gritty fantasy” genre infused with medieval and colonial realism and topped with subtle viking overtones. His characters are dynamic, and, just like in George R. R. Martin’s work, the line between good and evil is blurred. “Best Served Cold” may start as a superficial revenge story, but it ends with the characters inadvertently philosophizing to validate the decisions and changes they’ve made. “Best Served Cold” is gritty, bloody, and poignantly satisfying.

Here are articles that were sent to me or that I found:
You Don’t Coach Exercises… – I don’t know much about Mike Robertson, but I agree with his observation here. The difference between us is that I got bored from coaching one-on-one much faster than he did, and “coaching people” still isn’t enough to harness my creative interest (with respect to one-on-one training). The writing style is pretty raw (particularly the constant page breaks), but I’m not a perfect writer. His message is similar to what I’ve been writing about recently regarding coaching the person in addition to the mechanics.

Art of Manliness collection of “Whole Men” – This may deserve it’s own post, but there are very good snippets of men who had brains and brawn.

The Death of Books Has Been Greatly Exaggerated – An article on how the book industry is still functioning with the advent of e-books and e-readers.

Things Happy People Do Differently (sent by Courtney)[/spoiler]



Chris asks:

Are you wearing New Balance Minimus shoes in that pic? if so, how do you like them?

Dear Chris,

Those are New Balance Minimus Trails (MT10), and they are my favorite pair of shoes I’ve ever owned. I got them last July and they are a fantastic shoe for running and wearing casually. If you remember some of my foot posts (Foot Awareness and Foot Drills), you’ll know the importance of good foot structure. I no longer wear flip flops all the time because of this and instead have been wearing the MTs without socks when I go outside (granted it isn’t extremely hot outside yet). I have sprinted and ran short distances in them (<2 miles) and they are very good running shoes that allow for good POSE technique. They are not good shoes for agility given the lack of stability in the upper and the lack of "grip" (via friction) in the sole, but they only have a 4mm heel differential and fit my foot like a glove (I have wide feet). I purchased the MX20s (cross trainers), and the sole was entirely too narrow so I sent them back (for a refund, haven't gotten any others). I would not like wearing the cross trainers for casual wear, but I would not wear the trails for lots of "met-con" work (if you're a CrossFitter). I will note that I've done conditioning in the trails and haven't had a problem.
Some “real trail runners” complained that the soles were not secure enough to avoid sharp rocks from hurting the feet, and I can see that happening. However, New Balance just came out with the Minimus Zero series that has a 0mm differential (compared to the previous 4mm), and the trails are supposed to have a harder sole to prevent foot damage when on an actual trail. I’ve never worn the Reebok CF shoes (probably over priced) nor have I tried on Inov8 shoes, but I really like the NB stuff.

Random pic: me communicating with fake Klokov at the Arnold.

aramirez asks:

Justin, you bring up the noncoached trainee. How would you recommend a noncoached trainee stay motivated when multiple failures/resets happen?

Dear aramirez,

Your question is broad, so it’s difficult to get specific with my advice. The first thing I would say is that there’s always a reason that failures occur. Whether it’s due to mechanics, a bad program, too much frequency or volume with a given lift, poor nutrition, bad sleeping, and, the most common, poor mobility. One thing you can do is film your sets and send them here. The other you can do is learn as much as you can about programming (I routinely try and teach it here), but you can also questions on this site, Twitter, or the Facebook Fan Page. For example, if you’re on a 5×5 program, that would probably explain why you’re unable to recover. If you’re squatting 3x/week and near the end of your linear progression, you probably should look into a 2x/week squatting program (Greyskull LP helps a lot of guys that had trouble in later stage SS). You might be trying to make progress too fast, or you may be trying to do much. Who knows? But I do know there’s a reason you’re failing, and so let’s figure it out.

Oh, and constant resetting is not going to be conducive for progress. If you’ve reset several times and are (allegedly) recovering properly, then you probably need to stop banging your head into the same program.

Maslow asks:

Last year you gave me some very helpful advice for choosing my powerlifting attempts. Lisa and I are competing on April 14. I think I know what to do, but I’m not sure how to choose her attempts. I’ve read about how females tend to have a 1RM that is closer to their working weight. Since this is her first meet I just want her to go 9/9, but I also want her to lift something that she can be proud of. She’s been doing a 3×5 linear program.
Here are her recent working weights:
Bench: 95 lbs (attempted 3×5, got 3,2,3)
Deadlift: 215×5
Squat: 170 3×5 (a few were close to being high)

E-mail continues talking about strategy leading up into the meet and choosing attempts. I trimmed that part off.

Dear Maslow,

Here is a table from “The Texas Method E-book – Part 2” from the “Using the Texas Method for Powerlifting” chapter. Primarily look at the “Intensity Day” sessions at the end of the week since you guys are not using the TM (click to enlarge):

You can see the overall strategy. Note that two weeks out, all of those singles are starred. This is because I don’t think they should be maximal efforts, but they should be at least “second attempt efforts” (this is explained in more detail in the chapter). When you said you guys were going to deadlift maximally two weeks out, instead I would “single on up” to something that isn’t nut/ovary-busting, but something that breaches into the “maximal” arena. The squat and bench singles are there so that they lifter can perform them with the judging commands; this will be a good refresher for you, but good for Lisa given that this is her first meet. Have someone sit in a chair in front of you guys and perform the normal “squat/rack” commands, and do the same on bench. If Lisa hasn’t paused her bench yet, then this will give her some practice with it. Just like in your plan, there is no deadlift the week before. At most there could be a few speed pulls just to practice the movement, but that is only necessary if the lifter hasn’t been deadlifting full ROM reps (perhaps they were doing haltings, or something else I wouldn’t recommend).

As far as choosing attempts, stick with the mindset of “easy opener, moderate second attempt, match or set a PR on third”. Especially with Lisa. You want her to crush her opener. It might even be something like 150 pounds. Sure, she’s doing 175 for reps, but some are high. The point is you set her up for success early, but don’t make too big of jumps. You will probably make a 10kg jump to her second, and then a 7.5kg or 5kg jump to her third, depending on how it looks. I’d suggest aiming to hit a third of 180 or 185, so 175 on the second, and 155ish on the opener? Remember that she probably isn’t adapted to the higher intensity lifting, so be more conservative than you think you need to be.

If she hasn’t been paushing on bench, I would aim to get a 95 lbs meet PR. You could see how she does in the next few weeks, but 100 may be doable. With experienced guys, I know that if they can double it touch-and-go, then they can pause it (but don’t apply this to Lisa yet).

On deadlift, I prefer the strategy of
1st – last warm-up
2nd – intermediary jump between 1st and 3rd
3rd – the target weight for the meet

NolanPower is the first person to have drilled this idea into me. The first meet or so, we kinda did this, but he developed the idea for me. Notice that Chris opened DL at 595, then went 650, then went 705 at this last meet. The announcers commented on how much of a huge jump it was to the second attempt. Not really; he can pull 650 for multiple reps. But it was the intermediary jump to get to the 705. Had Chris done something like 640/665/700, he wouldn’t have had any gas in the tank for the third. I think this is where raw lifting differentiates itself from geared lifting; wearing gear (even though it doesn’t help as much on DL as it does on squat) may allow the lifter may be able to do multiple near max deadlifts, but raw lifting doesn’t.

For Lisa, I would suggest an easy opener (like 190), then 215 on her second (she’s done it for five), and then go from there. Perhaps 231? 236? (Those are the kilo jumps of 105/107.5). Either way, it’s cool that she either pulls 225 lbs or 100kg in her first meet (the same way that benching 100 lbs in her first meet is cool). They are milestones in a lifting career. The data you collect in the “singling on up” training session can help you. I wouldn’t have her pull more than 220 or 225 in that session though, and I would need to see the rep before that if I was going to clear her for 225.

Overall, my coaching strategy for meets is to be more conservative than not so that the lifter has more success. Remember that it’s about tacking on pounds to the total. If you go too high on a third attempt and miss it, you’re left with only your second attempt and the total is lower than if you made a smaller jump to the third. Once a lifter has done a few meets, then you can start pulling the trigger. I pulled the trigger on Chris’ 650 deadlift in 2010, and it didn’t happen. I pulled the trigger on a 666 third deadlift attempt at 2011 nationals and he got it. We programmed his training better and I pulled a big fucking trigger on the 705 this month at the Arnold, and he got it. It’s all about the lifter and coach learning together, but third attempt success can be traced back to the program itself. The point is, early in the “career”, be more conservative, especially when the lifter hasn’t been hitting maximal reps in training.

Dan T. asks (in response to the half squatting article),

Dan Tara Do the same anterior forces apply to the knee during dip/drive from a push press and or jerk?
I edited it slightly for clarity

Dear Dan,

It depends; such a glorious answer! It depends if the lifter is utilizing his/her hips in the dip/drive or if they are primarily intending to use their knees. If the lifter “uses their hips”, then their knees typically go out and they also bounce off the stretch in their posterior chain. If the lifter “uses their knees”, their knees translate forward and they primary bounce off of the knees and quadriceps. I do not like the latter because it neglects musculature that I train people to get strong in and it puts a lot of anterior stress on the knee. As stated in the half squat post, achieving a full depth squat will engage the hips — even if it’s a high bar squat. But the dip/drive has a limited range of motion so mechanics will need to change if the hips are going to be used.

The best example I’ve seen of the hips being used is Ben Claridad’s homie, CC:

She’s pretty awesome, huh? Here is an example of someone that shifts their knees forward. I do not like the “knees forward dip/drive” because I think its mechanics are inferior in how they use the musculoskeletal anatomy; it reduces the amount of musculature used and puts unnecessary stress on the anterior knee.

How can it be cued so that it looks more like what CC is doing above? I’d have to see it in person, but placing the weight on the heels (“heels”) and shoving the knees out on the dip (“knees out”) can help. However, a demonstration drill is probably necessary. The hamstrings and posterior chain need to be engaged, so the hips will move back slightly, but not so much that they angle the torso forward. A trainee can practice this by standing up (without a bar), and only bending their knees to dip/drive. Then they can dip/drive with their knees and hips while keeping their chest up. I typically run someone through this drill and make simple corrections (difficult to do via text), and then shift them back to the bar. It’s easy to coach, yet hard to explain from afar.

Overall, yes, the dip/drive in a jerk or push-press can create anterior knee force. This is why a workout like Fight Gone Bad can result in sore knees (via push presses and box jumping). However, if the posterior chain (which includes the hamstrings) are utilized in the dip/drive, then it reduces the anterior knee force. Besides, if we’re going to spend time getting the posterior chain strong, then we might as well use them in the dip/drive.

53 thoughts on “Q&A – 24

  1. Safety bar squat:
    1 x 103 kg

    Clean grip deadlift:
    1 x 125 kg

    That is not an all time deadlift PR, but it is the most I have pulled with a clean grip without straps and the most I have ever pulled with a hook grip.

    It’s been 6 weeks since I fucked my wrist. My PT has me out of the splint during the day except for lifting. I get to dumbbell rehab stuff now too. Woo.

  2. Hey Justin, Thanks for answering Maslow’s questions. We figured out our max attempts on Sunday at the gym, I’ll let you know how I do. In pounds I was able to get 190 squat, 100 bench and 225 DL. I tried 230 DL but I thought I was going to blow my guts out hahaha. Overall, I’m proud of these numbers and am kicking ass for only 5 months of training. I’m happy that I attended the 70’s big workshop, it was well worth it. I still refer to my notes before my lifts.

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