Q&A – 33

PR Friday

Join the fun and post your training PR’s and updates to the comments. I PR’d by driving 2,000 miles across the country (4 days of driving) — I do not recommend this. If there was ever a time to learn a lesson from Justin doing something stupid, it is now. Pay someone else to move yo’ shit. It continued to destroy my lifting (travelling and GoRuck Challenge started that), reduced my food intake, ruined my sleeping ability, and annihilated my mobility. Pay someone else to move your stuff, trust me.

Weekly Challenge

Last week’s challenge called you to help a stranger by lifting something heavy and declining compensation. Did you get a chance to do so? That’s nice, Leroy.

Next Week’s Challenge:

Don’t let this be you in your training:

Week In Review

Last weekend the site theme was updated. This was long over due and something I have been working off-and-on. Thanks to Nick and Lucas (readers of the site) at Nytrix Media. If you have web design needs, then hit these fellas up. There will be a few more modifications, but the main updates are a better menu system and threaded comments. The threaded comments will allow for more seamless conversations.

Monday was a quick post on Beverly Crawford’s big squatting ability, but she also pulls some heavy weight. Tuesday was a quick post I wrote at 3AM (was travelling) about some of the concepts I teach at the seminars about belts, and it turned out to be a hot little number. Wednesday was the 4th of July, and I posted the Declaration of Independence (mandatory reading). Thursday was a blast from the past; I put up a story Jacob Cloud wrote in 2009 to which he responded, “Aww shucks. Thanks, Justin. Nice to look back a couple years and see that, though older, I’m hairier, leaner, stronger, and oh yeah, I have more hair. Heck, Floyd even has a new engine, but is still tickin’. Unfortunately, the jorts ripped in half long ago.”


Willey asks:

I started training a female friend of mine recently with a program formatted similar to SS, and she’s progressing nicely, but I can’t seem to fix one problem with her high bar squat form. I rewatched your hypermobility and toe angle videos, as well as the post on Navicular Drop, but I still can’t find the answer I’m looking for. When she squats, her knees go equal to or outside her toes, but at the same time she gets navicular drop. This happens with a toe angle of 10-15 degrees, no matter the stance width. I can’t figure out how to cue her to put the weight on the outside of her feet to keep her arch from collapsing inwards, and she doesn’t seem to have the mind-muscle connection to find out on her own. I checked how she walks, and she doesn’t walk duck footed, nor does she have flat arches. She just can’t seem to put weight on the outside of her feet, even with just the bar on her back. While locked out it is still there slightly. But because she is so flexible, simply pushing her knees out with a more forward toe angle doesn’t fix the navicular drop like it has in some of my male friends I train.

So how the hell do I help this? I’d hate to have her roll her ankle inwards mid-squat because of not being able to keep the weight on the middle/outside of her foot. Any advice/cues is appreciated. Or if you have other reading/videos for me to watch. If needed I can provide more info and/or take a video of her on friday and send it to you, as I didn’t think of that until now. She’s finished 105 3×5 today, at a weight of 115 if that matters.

Dear Willey,

Standard preface: I’d have to see it. Usually I can fix any for issues within seconds, but it gets weird when doing it over the internet, especially without video.

Regardless of the “amount of mobility” in a lifter, they can still have their knees shoved out while having a collapsed arch and ankle. The concept to try is to squat on the outer part of the foot. If the lifter focuses their weight on the outer third of their foot while properly externally rotating (but not doing so too far), then it can help distribute the force across the lateral thigh musculature (front and back). She may even feel more action in her lateral glutes and quads when doing this. Standard coaching procedure teaches the concept, then whittles it down to a cue. The cue can be “outside of foot”.

Note that this may require a drop in weight, because if she has progressed with a technique that allows inefficiency, her musculature may not be able to apply the force to use proper technique. Use the cue throughout the warm-ups and see how she fares while approaching work-set weight. If it gets sloppy, pull it back. It’s better for her to get the accumulated work with the correct technique than push the weight superfluously.

Andrew G.,

Justin, I have a question you might find interesting. I am in Physical Therapy school, and because of the stress and long hours I have lost some muscle and weight. I want to keep doing Olympic lifting, but I need to gain back some muscle, too. I only have time for three or four ~1 hour workouts per week. I am 33 years old, squat two or three times a week, don’t stretch or do mobility, and have a little better than typical student diet. In terms of programming, what do you recommend?

Dear Andrew,

Good to hear from you again. You are in a unique situation, but at least you have some time from training. I think that you need to make it mandatory to do some mobility. If you plan it out before you get to the gym, you should be able to complete several good mobs in ten minutes of time every session. Given the fact that you are in a rigorous school that probably has a lot of time sitting down, I would always always always open up your anterior hip and external rotators. That leaves three other main categories that can have an effect on your Oly lifting: thoracic spine, ankles, and shoulders. We’ll come back to mobility in a second.

You have lost some muscle, and that’s a bummer. What I’m about to say will sound crazy to an Oly lifter, but I think you should have some pressing and rowing thrown back into your program. The strength movements will allow the eccentric/concentric with optimal loads to help you grow some muscle back compared to a Oly-focused approach. Not to whore myself out, but I would suggest this Oly template I made a few years ago. It’s more so geared to novice and weak trainees who want to work on their Oly lifting but still get stronger. I’d clear you to do whatever weights you wanted on the snatch and CJ days. The first “strength day” I would have you do barbell rows, the second I would have you do RDL’s (instead of deadlifts). I would still have you bench, even though you’ll get angry, but all I can say is that Klokov benches and he has rippling striations that make the womenz swoon. If you do this, you’ll still get to do your favorite stuff (the Oly lifting), but you’ll get good work in to build back some lean body mass.

As for the sessions, I’d have you do 10 to 15 minutes of mobility (this is mandatory) and then complete the workout. If you don’t really “care” about the presses, they could always be completed kind of quick if your squats took too long, and even heavy rows or RDL’s at 3 sets of 5 can be completed in about five minutes if necessary. 45 minutes is plenty of time to get that strength work in, and you should be good on your Oly lifts if you keep the tempo high. I wouldn’t even worry about hitting maximum loads on the Oly lifts for a few weeks. Let yourself adjust to the schedule and program, lift on a clock if necessary and get crisp reps above 80 to 85% if you can.

Do your best to eat plenty of quality meat, fats, and potatoes. Try and sleep as much as you can and consider the standard paleo supplements (vitamin D, fish oil, maybe magnesium and zinc). This will fuel your training, but it’ll make you sharp for school. Knock this shit out of the park, man. When you’re tired or not wanting to train or study, focus your mind. What do you want to be? A piece of shit PT who covers his ass and does the minimum? Or a PT who goes the extra mile for his clients and not only gets them functioning, but helps them perform better than before their first visit? Do you want to be skinny, weak, and strung out at your graduating ceremony? Or do you want to be confident, jacked, and naked underneath your robe? The choice is yours, now go kick some fucking ass.

Chris B. asks,

Hey Justin,

1) Should there be any shrugging up to hold the rack position for front squats?

2) How much elbow flare is too much on overhead press?

Dear Chris,

1. Negative. Thinking about shrugging is just going to complicate it for you. Think “elbows up and in”. By bringing the elbows in, it will externally rotate the shoulder which promotes thoracic extension (the opposite, internal rotation, will promote thoracic flexion). If you have long forearms, you may need a bit of a wider grip. This position is extremely dependent on mobility, so work on overall shoulder and thoracic mobility if you have issues.

2. Not sure if troll? Without a dynamometer, I can’t really quantify the degree of internal or external rotation on a press. “Flaring the elbows” is “internal rotation”. Keeping the elbows in is “external rotation”. An easy visual cue, if you lift in a rack or with squat stands, is to aim your elbows at the posts throughout the movement. Of course you need to have a good pressing position to start with, but that’ll take too long to explain here. “Elbows under wrists” often helps the external rotation in the press or bench because it makes sure the full belly of the triceps is involved (the triceps involvement is significantly reduced while in internal rotation on the presses).

Dan C. asks,

Hi Justin,

How good is “Anatomy without a scalpel” for kinesiology purposes? I’m struggling understanding stuff like anterior/posterior shear forces, moment of intertia and general shit like that.

Dear Dan,

Anatomy Without A Scalpel” is a very good book, as is anything that Dr. Lon Kilgore puts out (and I mean that objectively, not just because he’s a friend). The book’s sole purpose is to teach fitness professionals about anatomy and how it functions with mechanics. I’m actually going to read it again after I finish a few other books for a refresher.

Kilgore is an excellent artist and draws all of the pictures. I’m actually a subject in some of the pictures, so if you want to see a skinnier version of me with my shirt off, then jump on that. I also squat my dog Leda. Aside from the detailed images, things are explained very well and it will compound on whatever other anatomy knowledge you’re involved in.

66 thoughts on “Q&A – 33

  1. PRs – trap bar DL, 220kg (485lbs) for 1, 200kgx5
    – bench, 120kg for 1

    Completed the challenge by helping the bar staff at work move big pieces of wood about (no euphemism). Did a load of heavy hamstring work and dumbbell bench, which i consider the week’s main ‘driving force’. An average week of the standard pain.

  2. After arguably months of retarded programming I thought was helping from wannabe guru programmers. I finally hit a squat PR with my own programming.

    Squat 365×7, probably had one or two in the tank but would of been ugly.

    Here is the video. http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=Wcw-CvBneE0

    My training is a little weird, kind of TMish schedule. But thats where it ends really. Using prilepin percentages for my bench and press, and 531 for dead and squat. But I added a lower supplemental lift day where I volume squat 3×5 and sub in some meidum to high rep pulling (like SLDL, block pulls, etc) and other various assistance stuff. Seems to be working.

  3. Bench PR – 3x5x160#
    I’m giving up on barbells and I’m going to start squatting my dog. Is it still considered a linear progression if I just keep feeding him more and more food?

  4. Life PR: Competed in my first PL meet (6/29/2012) in a singlet with a jakt n’ pale Uncle Sam on it.
    Squatted 177.5 kg/391.3# PR (I high-bar)
    Benched 65kg/165.3# (rebuilding my bench after some brotator cuff funk)
    Pulled 182.5 kg/402.5# (I hitched 410# back in May. This looked much better)

    Things I learned from the meet: 1) I’m a fat 181 lifting in the 198’s, 2) I need to pull more, 3) Do I even lift?

    Question: As a high-bar squatter, would speed pulls be a suitable replacement for RDLs early in the week in a TM template?

    • John, congrats on your first meet, and on a 400lb competition deadlift. In my programming, I think speed pulls can be extremely beneficial, especially with bands or chains. Try ’em. I have people do 5-20 speed pulls (on a timer, usually 5-10 singles or doubles, on the minute) early in the week and slightly lower volume on their “heavy day” later in the week. If you’re stuck on high bar, make sure you’re squatting heavy, often. Good luck, and get that RC fixed.

  5. No pr this week (again), bombed out on my bench >:( I fucking hate it. BW is steadily increasing though 100kg atm. Now I need more strength.

  6. Squatted 340 for a double…. most weight I’ve ever squatted. Just started TM about a month ago and after ending at 300 x 5 x 3 on my LP I’ve gotten 330 x 3 and now this which feels good.

  7. I lifted up some heavy rocks so my daughter could find frogs. Didn’t charge her a dime.

    Squat 315 1×4
    Deadlift 385 1×1
    Press 165 1×4
    No PR for the bench press. In fact if I remember right I regressed from 4 reps last week to 3 this week at 245.

  8. rear leg elevated split squats 205 lbs x 1

    This was a heavy single, but still a 10 lb pr for me. I’m going to do these as my main “squat” movement for 6 months or so because I’ve always wanted to see what kind of carryover they’d have on my squat, and as a tall, long legged guy I can sink into a pretty deep split, so it’s fun.

    • As a fellow tall / long-legged guy, I gave those a shot too. Really liked them except that there was a pretty big discrepancy between my two legs, and I got frustrated after a few months. Happen to have a log I can follow?

  9. Program is going well. Finally missed my triple on deads (well, I got it, but there was some hitching and a bunch of grinding.

    Notable lifting this week:
    Push Press: 180×8
    Bench: 195×4
    Squat: 305×2 (form looking better than 295 last week)
    Deadlift: 465×3(f on 3 due to hitching)

    I’m running a TM for lower body, and 531 type split for upper body work. Squatting three days a week just seems to work for me, and the heavy/light deadlift split has done well. Moving to doubles for my heavy deadlifts. Feeling good overall with the work.

    Also, after a year of avoiding RDLs, I quit being a pansy and am on week 4 of doing them. Even after starting to up the weight, I don’t even get sore from them anymore. Very good sign. Moving up from 135 to 185 in the not too distant future.

  10. I didn’t really lift any weight for this kid, but I feel like I saved his life and saved me from lifting the weight off him. Short story long, this idiot kid (maybe a 20y/o) with an online training certificate was doing squats in a seated press rack. I was in the squat rack doing my squats (thinking about curls) when I notice he’s doing squats out of this press rack, so he’s doing 135 so I think ok he’s fine. So he does one set, then goes to 185, does another then 225. As I’m watching him he’s lifting the barbell out of this press rack, stepping over the foot hold to push with your feet when your seated pressing and then squatting. So he’s walking out like 6 ft, and over an object. I’m like what an idiot. So finally he goes to 275 and I text my fiance, who’s on the elliptical that this kid’s going to kill himself and probably someone else. I was just going to watch him try this, since this kid needs put in check, but I stepped in and told him I had one set left. He finally, after I told him how unsafe this was and if he waits 1 minute he can have the rack, finally agreed to wait and use the squat rack.

    So in an essence I helped him lift/not kill himself.

    PR this week BBRow 5x3x210lb and deadlift tonight 1x5x375lb

  11. Helped a friend move a boat ramp into the water. I was unfortunately paid in beer and could not decline.

    PR was an 8K run at the same cottage. no time. I just managed to run 8k. (I am not a runner) just didn’t have any weights and wanted to work out.

  12. Still on LP but don’t know for how much longer:

    Squat 3×5 275lb (PR) (not easy; 280lb on monday is gonna be fun)
    DL 1×5 320lb (PR) (pretty easy, but as I type this my erectors are feeling pretty toasted).

    I’m thinking that the next time I fail on my squats (which at this rate is gonna be pretty soon, maybe next week) I’m gonna stop adding weight every session. My question is, should I move on to an “advance novice” stage where I keep adding weight on Monday and Friday, with a light day on Wednesday, or just bump my squats to TM? What should I do about my Deadlifts? Should I keep doing a LP there, alternating twice a week/ once a week or just move them to Friday? They still feel pretty easy but I don’t want them to interfere with my squats.

      • Yes, several in fact. A next reset would be my 5th one. I know it’s customary to end LP in a lift after a 3rd reset, but I feel my numbers on the squat (and all my lifts for that matter) are still too low for TM or 5/3/1. I promised myself I’d try to aim for a 300lb 5RM squat before jumping onto an intermediate program, but that’s starting to seem unlikely, since my recovery isn’t up to par (I’m 33, by the way)

        • As a fellow 33 year old I can tell you your lifts aren’t too low to move to another program. If you are hitting a wall over and over on your current LP program then you’ve most likely maxed it out. If you move to TM, 531, etc. your gains may not come as quickly as some of these whippersnappers riding LP into the 400s, but they will come.

          • Thanks for the replies guys. I’m gonna try to milk my LP to the last pound and I’ll switch to TM next time I fail or I hit 300lb, whatever happens first.

  13. Good workout today: Squat 395x5x3 and Dead 450×5. I am a terribly weak presser at 125x5x2, 8 and chins 12, 10, 8. Chins getting better, I’m on the hunt for a dip belt to weigh me down as I do them.

    The Deadlift is a PR for 5.

  14. I’m doing a 3 day move next month. I’m not paying anyone to move my shit. Great.

    Squat PR: 195. I’ve been pulling sumo every other week. I can’t say that I like it, but it seems to be the only way I can pull comfortably with a mixed grip.

    I’ve received an unsolicited spot at least four weeks in a row now. Hands off, bros. I got this.

  15. I also completed a move which wasn’t too bad but I also just flew back and forth across the country within the span of three days. Sub-par nutrition/mobility work. Took the whole week off from training.

    I have no idea what to shoot for on this week’s intensity day

  16. all too familiar with this moving by yourself thing…moved from Virginia to Colorado, then one more time in Colorado, then went ahead and moved back to Va… move a couple of more times…finally bought a place and gotta stay here for a while… no pr’s…huge storms here last friday…no power, no internet…didnt get a chance to ruck, but i did carry my now 10 week/pound baby girl around while we messed around at a country water-hole …had her in one of those reverse backpack type contraptions that has you and the kid belly to belly…good god damn was my lower back barking at me after like 30 min…also didnt find anyone to help push or lift anything, but will keep y’all informed for future chances

  17. I am proud to say that due to the storm last Friday (I live in VA) I had plenty of people for whom I could lift things.
    PRs: HB squat 340×3
    Bench 280×1

  18. Oh Boo, when you move cross-country you’re supposed to do it in a week’s time and visit friends and see places along the way. Or caravan with a friend, like Renee and I are doing in 3 weeks as we drive from AZ to VA :D

    Moving on to the PRs (bw: 150#)
    C&J– 180#
    push press– 155#
    split jerk– 180# x2
    front squat– 210# x2
    back squat– 265# x2

  19. SSLP: Squats 250x3x5 PR! (prior best 1x1x265) Press 137x3x5 PR!(prior best 1x1x142) This was a grind today but got all the sets/reps in. Going to GSLP (Monday) on Justin’s recommendation in an earlier post of his. Once through the first wave of GSLP and have to reset I will be going to TM or the Starr Method out of Practical Programming. Nice to see all of you guys/girls SFW’s. Keep up the great work it will always be worth the blood/sweat/tears!!!!!

  20. General life PR’s:
    5 week old baby girl is bulking up rapidly. It’s amazing how much the human body grows in such a short time, relative to the entire life span. She’s slowly getting into a regular sleeping eating schedule, which is letting me get back to some normal training, somewhat.
    Meanwhile 2 year old boy’s single-leg takedown is coming along nicely.

    Just about hit the wall with 5-3-1 in the strict press, was only able to bang out one rep on my “1” for the heavy week’s workout.
    I also got some good advice re: lifting belts, and plan on investing in a nicer one ASAP.

    Did not lift anything for anyone this week, but I will be lugging around some wayward tree debris from the backyard pretty soon, and some of that is my neighbor’s tree mess, so I’m going to count that.

  21. Some pressing PR’s from the last few weeks:
    Bench 300×3 (then 295x3x2)
    180x5x3, 3×3
    Conan’s Wheel – 550lb x 1/2 rev x2x2 among other dreadful experiences
    Getting lots of chest to bar on the chins.

    Press – 170x8x3 (rep-set PR)
    Viking Press – 245×15, 275×7 a few min later

    Squatting has been all over the place, went from hi to low now back to hi bar. Lots of mobility issues in the shoulders and upper back to sort out, as well as hip flexor pain.

    We’ll see how squatting pans out tomorrow. Also hitting deads and stones. 90+ degrees in an old brick storage bldg, arms coated in tacky…should be fun.

    • Press was 180x5x3 not bench. I’ve been using a 3 week wave for the overhead press, something like:
      wk1 – 3 sets of 8
      wk2 – 4 sets of 6 (add 10#)
      wk3 – 4 sets of 4 (add 10#)
      Seems to be working; my reasoning is the press seems to respond well to volume so instead of heavy 3s and 5s I try to get as many reps in as possible.

  22. Been holding out on posting PRs until I hit my 300lb back Squat goal BUT I’m still about 4 weeks away. I think.

    Anyway Volume PRs of:
    Front squat PR of 180lb 3×3
    and I guess bench 160lb 3×5
    and back squat 240lb 3×5

    And mobility PR 1 year, no injuries.

  23. bench PR – i dropped my paused bench (i will be doing meet a year from now so…) and instantly
    531 first week 95kg x 10 reps – smooth.
    deadlift rep PR too – 170kg x 10 reps
    overall im happy with it. Also food PR yesterday, my friend got married (Polish weddings are the best ;) ) and i ate some wild game – mostly boar and deer ^^
    kind regards from Poland :)

  24. Squat: 157.5kg/347lb x 5 back into PR territory!
    Bench press: 107.5kg/237lb x 5 ditto squats comment.
    Deadlift: 165kg/363lb x 5 still a few weeks away from PRs

  25. No PRs for me; back still fucked.

    Liking the new site layout, though.

    And a fucked back is giving me more time to read FIT, which I just bought.

  26. Valsalva PR this week. Finally stopped taking large breaths with the bar on my back and noticed an immediate improvement in my lifting mechanics and ability to move weight. Definitely will take a while to hold onto that tension for more than three heavy reps though.

    I read last weeks “challenge” and thought it was a great idea but that no opportunity would present itself to help someone move something heavy. The next day I loaded a kayaak into a middle-aged lady’s minivan at a Dick’s Sporting goods store. Challenge or no challenge I would have helped out, but definitely cool coincidence.

  27. No PR’s this week, busy trick at work thanks to storms left me sleepy then traveled to Niagara Falls to celebrate America’s Birthday and see its greatness, threw off my training. Back to trying to set PR’s this week.

    Like others, the recent storms helped me complete this weeks challenge by removing heavy debris from peoples cars and houses. Maryland was helpless for a few days.

  28. I changed my back squat volume sets to 3 ascending sets of 5 instead of sets across. It definitely makes the volume day easier.

    BS 410×2, 420×2, 430×2
    Bench 240×2, 250×2, 260×2
    Speed DL 245x1x10 OTM (still getting used to these)

  29. Challenge completed: Helped a middle aged lady carry two suitcases down the multistory carpark at work. Got a smile and a compliment as payment.

    Knee PR. Testing my right knee on range of movement and pain after the doc prescribed 10+ days of rest, can do sets of 5 front/back squats loaded at around 23kgs (one child) without any residual pain during the movement. Things are looking up.

  30. Thanks for the reply Justin. I’ll get a video of her this week and email it to you if I can’t cue her correctly.’

    No PR’s this week besides Klokov pressing 105 3×5, which will still be going up every time.

    Matching my squat PR of 350 3×5 tomorrow, and hopefully surpassing that on wednesday. I should set a deadlift PR sometime this week of 315×5 (ya ya, I know).

    Weight PR of hitting 200 on the dot last week. Heaviest I’ve ever been, and I’m staying pretty lean doing it, so I’m very happy about that.

  31. Recovering from tearing every ligament in my ankle three weeks ago. Can’t really squat properly, so I tried out trap bar deadlifts for the first time since ankle flexibility isn’t nearly as important. (@135# bw): 215×3. pretty pleased.

    And, I did get to complete the challenge. Saw two girls moving into my apartment complex and both struggling to get one of those really old giant tvs up the stairs. Picked it up on my own and carried it up two flights of stairs. I wasn’t actually sure I was going to be able to pick it up at all, so that was a nice surprise.

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