Q&A – 27

PR Friday

Post your training updates and PR’s to the comments. Last week I put a challenge to 70’s Big readers to do mobility work every day. Did anyone do it? Next week’s goal: meet your daily protein intake with primarily meat; only allow 25 to 50g of whey protein for your daily allotment.

I don’t have any awesome stories like last week; I’ve mostly been inside writing (will announce some new things soon). Chris will be visiting me in Florida and we’ll do a Q&A video with him. Post your questions to the comments as well.

I was kind of irritated on Wednesday (this may have something to do with it) and decided to squat 405 for as many reps as I can after snatching up to 120kg. I was going for 12, but got confused when I was dying. Squatting strength is not a priority in my lifting, but I was still disappointed in this.

Weekly Recap

[spoiler]On Monday we reviewed and congratulated the performances of various 70’s Big readers on their success in powerlifting and weightlifting meets. Tuesday I responded to an article that Matt Wichlinski wrote about CrossFit; it focuses on efficient programming. Wednesday we talked about some general mobility topics and then specifically how “The Stick” can help with soft tissue work. Thursday looked at two articles from recent news; one was unfortunate while the other was interesting. [/spoiler]

Chris B., your question on hyper-lordosis that I promised an answer to is going to be the subject of a post next week.


Kyp K. asks:

I’ve been following the Olympic Weightlifting variation of SS (Edit: it’s the novice Olympic template I created) for the past several months and my Back Squat will be 150kgx5x3 tomorrow after which I would like to switch to a three day template and was thinking of a modified TM.

I had the TM eBook until some fuckwits broke into my house two months ago and stole everything including my PC.
I have two question I was hoping somebody might be able to answer.

1) The only posts I’ve managed to find on the interwebs of people doing FS in a TM have all been from individuals who utilize a Low-Bar approach to the Back Squat and do a 3×3 for Fronts. Is there any reason NOT to do 3×5 as opposed to 3×3?

2) In transitioning to a TM I was planing on doing my first week at
Day 1 – 132.5kgx5x3 High Bar
Day 2 – 107.5kgx5x3 Front Squat
Day 3 – 152.5kgx5x1 High Bar,
adding 2.5kg to each individual session each week.

Would this be the right way in going about it in order to continue to drive up my Back Squat in a linear (albeit from week to week) type fashion?

Dear Kyp,

Since you’re into weightlifting, I’ll assume you’re doing the lifts to some extent in your new 3x/week template. My suggestion would be using a Medium-Light-Heavy template with the lifts since that would coincide with using a TM approach to your squats. You could throw in push-presses on the Medium or Heavy days too.

1. Given that your program most likely involves the snatch and CJ on a daily basis, it might apply too much weekly work to use sets of five on the front squat. By using three triples (3×3), you can reduce the volume a bit. The lesser time under tension per set may help you recover a bit better so that you can go in on the Heavy day and lift well. On the other hand, doing triples would allow you to use heavier weight, so you still may be hampered. I used three ascending triples on a TM a few years ago (I low barred on the volume/intensity days), and it initially caused some fatigue, but wasn’t as bad when I adapted to it. You could use ascending triples to lower the overall intensity hit on the front squat day, yet still be able to hit a top set to help push your front squat and clean recovery.

2. Based on the discussion directly above, we could modify what you propose for your TM template. By the way, it’s not bad. I’d first point out that you would NOT want to increase Day 1’s load every week. It’s good that you aren’t using a 5×5, but if the 3×5 continuously increases, then your actual heavy set on Day 3 will be hampered because of a growing recovery deficit every week. The Texas Method E-book Part 1 states that we’d want to increase the heavy day (your “Day 3”) for three weeks before increasing the volume work (your “Day 1”). I’d emulate that in your program.

You can switch the front squats to ascending sets to ensure you’re still operational for Day 3. Furthermore, you could switch Day 3 to three ascending doubles to handle even greater amounts of weight. Doing a 5RM is fine in the early stages of a TM (first few months), but it’s time under tension is much higher than doing doubles or triples. And obviously you can handle more weight with fewer reps than a 5RM, and handling more weight for few reps is what Olympic weightlifting is all about. You could progress the 5RM weekly until it slows; while you do that, keep your Day 1 work load under control. Then switch to two triples or three doubles on Day 3 and progress that. There are plenty of options, but the optimal method usually revolves around not doing too much volume. Unless you’re on drugs.

juco asks:

Got a nutrition question. The wife’s due date is coming up (procreation PR), which means I won’t be able to regularly get to the gym in the first few months while the little bugger learns to sleep through the night.

When taking a 1-2 month hiatus, how should a lifter eat? I don’t want to start over from square one when I go back, but obviously if I still eat like I’m training, it’ll just get packed away as fat. Should I just try to eat clean?

Dear juco,

Congrats on your procreation PR. This leaves the scope of this answer, but you can still get some decent training in at home without gym equipment. They could be short, 15 minute sessions at home that focus on plyos and power.

Anyway, if you follow the site you already know that I’m an advocate of lifters eating pretty clean regularly. That means a LOT of meat, potatoes, fats, and veggies. Realistically, if you drop the training out, then the only thing that would need to change is a reduction in dense carbohydrates and maybe the overall fat content. Judging by your question, I assume you do not eat like this when training, so the answer would be to use this opportunity to clean up your diet.

Remember: fat does not apply force to move weight. Everyone here should aim to be big, strong, powerful, and athletic. John Welbourn did a really good diet summary post for the power athletes. I stress this type of diet because you’ll have better performance when you are actually training, but you’ll also set yourself with very good habits for old age and longevity. I think it’d be really awesome if 70’s Big existed for the next 50 years and we all grew old and hated each other, but we were still lifting weights, running around, and having sex with our wives (husbands?). I’d rather not hear about a bunch of readers dying. “Oh, you remember CriedTheFox? He fucking died while driving his boat on the lake. They said he had a cupcake in his hand…”

willey asks:

I think I’m misunderstanding part of this. So I get that it helps keep you in external rotation, which will help you bench better without it, much like how a belt strengthens your trunk. But those sets you did, are those then easier (like when wearing a belt) or harder (like using bands on the bar)? I feel like your explanation and mark’s say are said in ways that sound confusing/contradictory.

Dear willey,

The Slingshot assists the bench movement by supporting the action of joints. A belt supports the trunk, a segment, by improving pressure. This is why a Slingshot would not be considered “raw”. I did sets of 185 and 275 in that video; they were easier because of the assistance The Slingshot provides. Normally I would need a lot more warm-up to get to that weight. Mark and I are saying the same thing, just in different ways.

ksik10 asks:

I have been having some elbow problems (probably medial epicondylitis). I thought this was from dropping my elbows when coming out of the bottom of a low bar squat, and thus putting a lot of compression on that joint. However, after paying attention to it for a few workouts, I’m still having some residual pain that seems exacerbated by benching and pressing.

Do you think the slingshot will help alleviate some of this pain? In your experience, does elbow pain result from incorrect benching mechanics (maybe incorrect wrist or forearm positioning creating a shitty moment arm?)?

Dear ksik10,

Pain in the medial elbow is almost always caused by poor low bar squat grip placement. Sometimes I’d almost prefer everyone to high bar, because this such a common issue. You will feel the pain in your elbow when pressing or benching because it’s stressed from shitty positioning when squatting. You won’t feel the pain during the set because it’s subtle, but the compounding stress will leave it sore.

Since I’m almost convinced it’s caused by the squat grip, the Slingshot will not alleviate your pain. If you are internally rotating while benching, then The Slingshot may help reduce that pain by improving your mechanics, but it still ignores the cause of the problem. Start mobbing your shoulders yesterday; just search “shoulder” and do two videos a day. Internal rotators, external rotators, anterior shoulder girdle, thoracic spine, and lats. Go.

Mark asks:

I can see how it (The Slingshot) helps with lift mechanics, but I’m confused about the benefits of it as far as “compressive overload” (I think that’s what I heard you call it in the video). Doesn’t the slingshot act similar to doing pullups with a stretch band? Even though more weight can be loaded on the bar, aren’t you effectively reducing the load when the slingshot is stretched at the bottom of the bench? Maybe I’m just not understanding it correctly…

Dear Mark,

I said “progressive overload“. There is some marginal or arbitrary amount of load that is removed from the acting muscles as a result of the assistance The Slingshot provides. However, the structures still support the load (and therefore adapt to the greater load), and the lockout is still 100% unassisted. Despite there being a little bit of “help” out of the very bottom, the rest of the “ease” is due to the improved mechanics. The shoulders are in external rotation which allows the elbows to be “under the wrist”, a position that I coach. This ensures the triceps are fully involved.

It’s not at all comparable to doing pull-ups with a band because that merely has an effect on the overall load. The Slingshot has an effect on the mechanics which in turn has an effect on the load. That’s an important distinction, and the very reason that The Slingshot is not a piece of shit.

Paul Sousa asks:

1. I am planning on getting one of these but made it a goal to not get it until I reach a 315 bench. Is that stupid of me? It’s mainly so that I force myself to be consistent in training since I know I can get to 315, but am I just slowing my progress by not getting one?

2. Speaking of overload, what are your thoughts on doing things like heavy walkouts, very limited ROM lifts, whatever, for someone competing in strongman? The reason I ask is because I tried the Conan’s Wheel for the first time this past Saturday, and it beat the crap out of me. Is there any structural and/or CNS benefit to doing huge overloads?

Dear Paul,

Do you comb or brush your beard? Do you Stroup? Cloud? I let my facial hair get pretty long, longer than I think it was in the winter. Then I realized it wasn’t a good idea in 90+ degree heat and humidity.

1. It depends. Is your bench form solid? Or do you have issues with proper external rotation? It could be that your mechanics are limiting your muscular development and inhibiting your climb to 315. If you aren’t in a good, externally rotated position during your bench, your triceps will not apply force and develop as well. This would have an effect on your press or overhead movements (Paul has done strongman in the past).

2. First, I don’t like the phrase “CNS Fatigue” (ctrl+f “CNS” to find relevant portion). There is some utility in undergoing those types of stresses, yet the adaptation would probably be most relevant to strongman. Yoke walks, fahmahs, Conan’s wheels are all badass, but we would need to keep the goals of the program intact. Is the goal to prepare for strongman? They need to be done. Is the goal to get stronger in the squat? Then squat. Heavy walk outs may help a guy think the weight is light, but it might be occurring at the expense of fatiguing him. Instead, if he had more recover prior to his next heavy session, then the weight might feel lighter. In other words, the heavy walk outs might be something that compounds stress, puts him in a recovery deficit, and doesn’t make his next heavy session feel lighter. But that would depend on the program.

A general strength trainee can get benefit out of these “overloaded total body stresses”, but he will need to program accordingly. Especially when he’s not adapted to them. Sure, it’s cool to be a tough guy and endure an ass kicking yoke walk randomly, but it’s only detrimental if it inhibits the next squatting workout. Put it in context of the program and goals. The lifts/activities can definitely act as strength training, but they would require a proper progression into them (at least for the sake of joints, even in “fit” lifters).

60 thoughts on “Q&A – 27

  1. Long time reader, first time poster. Gettin in on this PR thing. Im basically a rank novice at everything except press (where im just regular novice) because i do it far too much. 42.5kg 6×3 yesterday… at ~80kg 6’2” without much muscle or strength.

    I’ll do SS when i get a proper bar that i can DL and PC with. Brief history on me…always getting injured and its always either back or knees and that stops me from pretty much doing everything good, so i just stop training altogether then. Plus i just dont eat and thats my biggest problem.

    Anyway, glad to be here. Time to get 70s big!

    If you see this, don’t give up hope. Just make small progressions, and work on your mobility and technique before advancing the weight. I’d also have you do RDLs (you can do those in the absence of deadlifts or power cleans).


  2. @matthewjd

    No kidding… A certain 1RM calc says he should be able to squat 540 after that… I’d say that’s quite respectable.

    So, after bringing yourself up, Justin, what are you training for nowadays? (After a year of lurking, I’ve certainly gotten the impression that you don’t want to talk about your training so much, but I’ve been getting curious. Smack me if it’s too impertinent.) Is it Oly lifting? Your use of the high bar would suggest so, but most Olympic lifters would say that they are quite keen on upping their squat. Or are you just focusing on swoller-trophy? Stranger things have happened… Oh, and, is your 120 kg Snatch a max? Or was this a light day? (My best Snatch is 90 kg, but my long term goal is at least 143, as a 94 kg lifter… I’m curious to see where I’ll have to be to reach that goal…)

    Lol. #noseypersonontheinternet

  3. @the guy who asked if I do service work in the HVAC/R field. I do! Currently only part time (my fulltime job is a desk job for a bank) but I work for a local contractor doing all the units he doesnt want to do when I can. Basically if its a split unit he makes me do it. never and easy package unit. :( Currently not a ton of residential work which is CAKE lots of commercial stuff. Which is good and bad if you know what i mean.

  4. Two pr’s this week. Snatched 140 lbs, c&j 230 lbs. Messed up old-man shoulders really affecting my snatch. MOBing almost daily though.
    Been going to oly nights 2x a week at a local cf gym for a few weeks and the coaching and focus has helped a lot.

  5. Congrats TBone and karibot on your PRs. I love hearing about female powerlifters lifting more than half the dudes I know.

    sdanleyjr: Dude, we have to catch up. I guess I’m missing out on all the exciting events (hemmorhoids) in your life now since all I do is study for the bar and lift.

    Anyways, I hit a huge fucking clean PR (82 kg) this week after a couple weeks of erratic lifting. I am in PT right now working through a labrum strain in my right shoulder, so my snatch has been piss poor and steadily digressing. I’m still trying to qualify for the American Open this year, but I might have to C&J 100kg to do it, because my snatch has been hovering at 50-52 kgs for what seems like decades. Meanwhile, I’ve put 16 kgs on my clean since March, thanks to some great coaching and almost-daily lifting.

  6. Training Update:

    My training has been good recently. I have been doing a little LP after taking a couple weeks off before I switch back to an intermediate program (probably Hepburn again).

    Squat: 325 3×5
    Bench: 240 3×5
    OHP: 140 3×5
    Row: 200 3×5
    Deadlift: 405×2, back off sets

    Nothing super heavy (for me) but this is still hard. I looked back at my training notebook and believe that the most I ever did for 3×5 was 325 on squat, but that was over a year ago when I was still doing LP.

    I have been doing mobility work every day. I have done at least 20 minutes or so daily for about four months now. I have missed a few days, but not many. It makes a HUGE difference.

    Speaking of memorial day, I watched Vietman in HD last night (best thing ever since WWII in HD). If anyone wants to see good mobility and squatting, check out the Vietnamese villagers shown in some of that old footage. Those people know how to sit in a comfortable, super mobile squat.

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