Friday 24 December 2010

Friday's fitness buff

This video is far more important than anything I have to say:

I do have a few things to discuss unfortunately, so here it goes:

My week's training has been refreshing, tough and very, very enjoyable. I had a wonderful Christmas Eve workout with Zag and few of our dedicated ECB members. We all trained well and Stephen Kinsella hit a huge pb in the Clean and Jerk; the more impressive part is that he got it after failing twice. Awesome. Zag also trained well and it is great to see him getting his training back on track. Aco is another new member in ECB and the man has an awful lot of potential, as does young Josh who is a beast of a 16 year old. I wish I had trained like that when I was 16.

As for my own training, today I Snatched 94kg for twenty singles in twenty minutes, lifting on every minute, giving me around 40 seconds of recovery. Again, my technique got better every lift and I really enjoyed the challenge. I Clean and Jerked straight after and did my 20 singles with 114kg in twenty minutes, giving me around 35 seconds of recovery between each lift. I followed this up with a max set of 5 reps with 140kg in the box squat. Yes, this is embarrassingly small, but it is better than last week and there is more there. I am aiming to push it more in week three and four.

As for my new program, there are a few points I neglected to make in my previous post. I chose the Box Squat over the regular Back Squat for the following reasons:

1. I am awful at the movement because I have a weak posterior chain and poor--but improving--hip mobility. My first day of doing 5x5 in the Box Squat had my hamstrings about to pop off the bone.

2. Both John Broz, David Spitz, Max Aita and Glenn Pendlay all told me the Box Squat would help me immensely for the above reasons. As well as that, Broz gave out to me in length about how I was Back Squatting like I should Front Squat and that basically, it was embarrassing. The idea is that performing the Box Squat for a few months will help me regroove a proper Back Squat and allow me to focus on a physical imbalance. When I get up to hitting 160 for five reps, I will drop down from a 14 inch box to a 12 inch box and build my numbers up again. Once I get stronger at this height, I know the proper movement pattern will be ingrained and some of my physical areas to work will have been strengthened.

3. I am choosing to do the twenty lifts in twenty minutes for a variety of reasons. Firstly, I got the idea from Glenn Pendlay who has used the program with his beginners with great success. The amount of repetitions helps lifters get a high amount of reps in to learn the movements; but more importantly for me: because there is very little recovery between lifts, rhythm, tempo and technique determine success and it is far more difficult to muscle up weights, which is something I have been very guilty of for a long time. My twentieth rep today with 94kg was far better than my twentieth rep with 90kg a week and a half ago. I was hitting the positions I want to hit far better after all the reps. Usually I would hit higher weights regardless of positioning and go on ingraining negative movement patterns.

Also, the lack of recovery time means that I dwell less on technique and simply focus on controlling my breathing, getting set and lifting the weight overhead. Basically, it gets me to shut up and lift. Another reason I chose this style of training because it is great for off season sport specific conditioning. It is very demanding on the heart and lungs, particularly the Clean and Jerk.

And finally, I actually enjoy the challenge of lifting this way. I have never done anything like it and it is my short term aim to hit twenty reps in twenty minutes with 100/120 within the next four weeks. I know I can do it.

I am really enjoying training again and this makes me happy. The most simple squatting system in the world is making me stronger and I am getting lots of reps in improving weights.

For all of you who love X-Factor, Christmas and comedy:

For people who love to laugh:

Everyone knows weightlifting is the same as bodybuilding, right?

Last one to make you smile. If it doesn't, I never liked you anyway:


Anonymous said...

That comeback video was so inspiring Barry. Thankfully im not flexible enough to use straps on cleans! I too am doing Glenn Pendlay routine and profiting from it immensely. Interesting take on the box squats.

Cedric said...


What are your thoughts on teaming up the box squat with a back squat? Did any of the coaches you spoke to mention that as an option?

For example 5 x 5 box squat on Monday, 3 x 3 Front squat recovery on Wednesday, Work up to Max 5 in the back squat Friday.

My thinking behind this is that Monday would groove the pattern, Friday would reinforce that pattern into the movement you are actually training for.

Would be very interested to hear what you or anyone else thinks


Eamonn Flanagan said...

Cedric, I would agree with this approach very much. I think with any use of an auxillary exercise (box squat), where the goal is to improve a different key exercise (back squat) that one cannot omit the key exercise entirely. You have to give yourslf the opportunity to apply what you are learning in the auxillary exercise to the key exercise. However, I would have thought that by implementing the key exercise to maximum in the same week that on would be more likely to fall back into old habits as the weight approaches and exceeds maximum. I would personally think that a better appproach would be to use the key exercise almost as a recovery exercise or a "light day" exercise. The strength focus and physical reserves can all be centred on the auxillary exercise we really want to improve and on light days or in receovery sessions some light back squat (60-80%) could be used to groove the motor pattern you are trying to improve at.

Cedric said...

Hi Eamonn,

Good to hear from you on here! Small world.

What you said about the possibility of reverting back to the "old" pattern on the key exercise if taken to max intensity makes sense to me.

In my mind this would be more the case in the initial periods where an aggressive re-learning is being targeted, but maybe this holds true to a lesser extent later on in the intervention (but obviously then some max intensity work with the key exercise could be gradually introduced).

Following your points what do you think of the following outline for this particular situation:

Mon: Box Squats 5 x 5

Wed: Front Squat Recov. 3 x 3 followed by 2 x 5 Back Squat @ 70-80%

Friday: Box Squats 5 x 5 (could later be changed to 1-2 medium sets of box squats as part of the approach to a max set of 5s)

Cedric said...

Sorry; Friday is meant to read as max set of 5s not 5x5.

cloystreng said...

Wow. Amazingly inspiring video.

Eamonn Flanagan said...

Hey Cedric, that seems like a good approach. I guess my thoughts are that if someone like Barry is using box squat it is because he feels he has a specific weakness that is manifesting itself in his olympic styl back squat. So without a period of box squatting to address said weakness, surely that weakness would still exist and come to the fore again under heavy loads.

But I guess with good coaching input one could squat as heavy as possible until the technical issue that the lifter is trying to improve is evident again.

andymurphy said...

Eamonn i think you raised a very important point in your last. Paragraph. I think you can do all the auxillary exercises you want but unless you have a good coach present or train very smart and use some feedback from whatever means you choose you are not going to be able to make the desired change in skill or squat. I think this is one of the major benefits of having a coach or an intelligent training partner they stop you doing stupid things and preventing you attempting silly weights with brutal form. Anyway just my input happy christmas to everyone from 73 kilo hungry murph haha

Eamonn Flanagan said...

why the flock are you 73kg? did you shave? You are probably still out snatching me.

Barry said...

Thanks for the feedback lads. There are some interesting ideas here.

I agree with Murph and Eamonn when they say that having a knowledgable coach to guide you in how heavy to go is ideal.

However, most people reading this blog will not be in this scenario and will have to progam accordingly. I mostly train on my own, but like most others, you do quickly learn what ideal positions should feel like. I was not hitting those positions in the squat, so I am training my body to learn those ideal positions. As the box squat is a weakess of mine for a variety of reasons, I feel that I am also training those weaknesses and I am confident that the strength gained will carry over nicely to the full Back Squat and that working on these imbalances can help me ability to hit better positions in the classical lifts.

Cedric's idea of integrating the final progression movement into the session is an excellent teaching methodology that is used across most sports and academic disciplines.

Some of the problems of this approach were correctly pointed out by Eamonn. If I was in an ideal scenario, I would do a few extra sets of light back squats simply to work on integrating the movement pattern I am currently training into the eventual progression, rather than work on mamimal strength.

If it turned out that I can not hit the desired position in the full squat just yet, the simple solution would be to transition from the 14 inch box to the 12 inch one. I also feel that the extra sets of Back Squats would work better after the maximum set of five reps on day three; the movement would be a skill based progression and with light weights could be far less taxing than adding extra sets onto the recovery day which I feel should be just that.

What do you think?


Cedric said...


Just out of curiosity, are you doing a sit-hold-release squat (i.e. westside style) or are you keeping it to a "tap and go"?

In my experience strength gained using either box squat strategy definitely carries over to the full movement, for my own training I have found that the tap and go method carries over more, but that could just be an individual thing.

I would say that the tap and go method is more elastic than the westside style squat, with the latter being a good way of teaching overcoming the inertia present "in the hole".

Depending on what you feel you need to work on, choosing one over the other (or using both?) may be appropriate?

Regarding doing the key exercise on the recovery day: In my opinion these would only negatively influence recovery if they are done too heavy.

The strategy you have outlined could work too though. It is worth bearing in mind that a skill is best learnt when "fresh", so doing it after a max effort series may or may not be appropriate depending on what you are looking to achieve.

Also, you of course already know that a video camera/camera phone can go a long way to help the individual that has to train on their own. Obviously not during a set, which is not ideal of course, but its better than nothing, dont forget to make use of it!

Your thoughts?

shepard said...


Could you explain this comment a bit further?

"As well as that, Broz gave out to me in length about how I was Back Squatting like I should Front Squat and that basically, it was embarrassing."

Barry said...

Hi Shepard,

I was basically basically back squatting without hinging my hips back at all and intead of initiating the movement with the hips and knees, it was mainly with the knees. I was squatting straight down and using mainly my quads and glutes and very little of my posterior chain.

Does this help?

shepard said...


Thanks, that helps a lot. That's what I've been assuming you meant, but just wanted to make sure.

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