Saturday 8 January 2011

Saturday's school report

Ok, I can report back from my four week training program that I posted a while back. I actually did three weeks of that exact program and a week of the squat progression and 20/20's in the Snatch and Clean and Jerk. I have a very busy week coming, so this is the perfect time for a download week.

Here is where I wrote out my actual program for the month and here is my school report over the last month:

Texas Method squat routine: A

I started light because I was not used to the 14 inch box squat exercise and the volume. Week one I started off light and hit the 5x5 with 125kg and 130kg for the intensity day. Today, four weeks later, I hit 145kg for five reps and earlier in the week I hit 132.5kg in the volume day. Embarrassingly weak, but a start to get my strength levels back up and actually improve on them. The 5x5 is a tough protocol after the twenty Snatches in twenty minutes, but the squat routine does exactly what it says on the tin: it gets you stronger. Simple is beautiful. The light Front Squats also have my squatting to full depth and reinforcing the movement pattern that I am trying to and am changing. So, I am getting stronger and getting a better squat technically. So far at least.

RDL's: B

I included the RDL's in the program on Day one after the Snatches and squat volume day. They were originally before the squats but Zag correctly pointed out that I was emphasising the squat so that was what I should be prioritising first. I have gotten stronger in the RDL's and I picked the movement to work on mainly because it works on my weakest areas: my posterior chain and strength staying over the bar. I started off with three triples with 120kg and this Monday I hit 130kg with strict technique. I find this exercise very difficult which is a sure sign that I need to stick with it! When done properly, this is a very tough exercise for me and I am shockingly weak at it. This and the squat MUST get stronger and so far, they are. Enough said.

20 Snatches in 20 minutes: B

I am extremely happy with how my Snatch has progressed over the last month. I started off light with 90kg on day one and today I did my twenty lifts with 96kg which is between 80 and 85% of my 1RM which is 118kg. I had been really struggling with positioning over the last six months and my hip injury made matters worse as did an enormous case of paralysis by analysis. When I lift on the minute, I get around 40 seconds rest and there is no time to think or over-analyse. My positioning has vastly improved as has the tempo and rhythm of my Snatch because of the nature of this loading protocol. I am forced to stay lighter where I have better positioning and it becomes more automatic.

20 Clean and Jerks in 20 minutes: B

This is far tougher than the Snatches for obvious reasons and your heart and lungs really feel it--as do my hands! I started off with a modest 110kg and today I hit 117kg. Over the month, like the Snatch, I was hitting far better positions consistently and getting a more fluid tempo with my lifting. With the Clean and Jerks, you get around 35 to 40 seconds rest in this loading protcol. I adapted nicely to the demands of lifting on the minute and even though you are breathing hard, you can keep going and let the rhythm and technique do the work rather than relying on what I used to do, which was simply horse the weight up. I think I had an epiphany with my Clean today with Wayne's help, but I shall discuss that in another post.

Press/Pendlay Rows: B

I have not done any upper body strength work in over two years so it was fun doing these two exercises once a week. In both, I used a basic step-loading 5x5 protocol and essentially only ended up doing one top set in each exercise. In the first week I finished with 4 reps with 67.5kg and two weeks later I finished with four reps with 72.5kg. Embarrasingly weak, but I will press bodyweight in no time. I also really like the exercise alongside the Pendlay Row. Here is the Glenn Pendlay demonstrating the exercise:

I finished off with 5 reps with 75kg in the first week and two weeks later I did five reps with 82.5kg. These do not feel heavy at all but I am being very strict and taking my time learning the movement properly. As a horizontal pull, these hit the obvious muscles but they also work the rest of my posterior chain isometricaly, which makes me like the exercise even more. I take this exercise pretty easily but I will start to push myself more on the numbers side over the next few weeks.

Overall impressions:

This program has been hard and I could not train any more than three days a week with it, but everything I needed to work on improved slightly. Because of my manic life over the last six months and the fact that my hip injury set me back, my overall strength and weightlifting conditioning slipped back quite a bit. This program has gotten me back on track.

I will regain my previous strength levels and surpass them. It will take more time, but not having a double bodyweight back squat is possibly the most excruciating thing to admit as a weightlifter, but if I do not admit it, then I won't get better! There, I said it. A 180kg Back Squat weighing between 95 and 97kg would get someone stabbed, or at the very least slapped in some countries and rightfully so. This can no longer be the case and it won't.

Anyway, back to the effects of my program. I have better general weightlifting conditioning now and I was happy with how quickly I adapted to the lack of rest. I was really happy with how this loading protocol affected me physiologically and technically. What is tough is obviously the volume coupled with the squatting program. Both are working nicely and both are tough. Today, after my Snatches I felt great and it turned out that my twentieth rep was my best of the day. After the Clean and Jerks however, I was feeling pretty woozy and I took ten minutes to get some sugar and recovery before the max set of five in the Box Squat. My hamstrings were screaming at me later that day, but that means I am hitting the right areas so I am happy.

I was chatting with Wayne and Sami after the session today and we will decide where I will go from here. As Murph very correctly pointed out in a comment on the page I linked earlier to what the full program looked like, there needs to be a better overall structure to the program. Four weeks will not burn anyone out, but a poorly executed plan will. I basically wanted to do something different than I had ever done before and work directly on my weaknesses. I will have to decide where to go from here and will listen to what Wayne, Harry and Saami have to say. If you have any advice, please leave a comment below. There are a few things I know I am sticking with:

The Texas Squat method--I want to get up to 5 reps with 160kg and then I can either transition to the 12 inch box or simply squat ass to grass again.

RDL's and once a week upper body strength work--I really enjoy doing them and the RDL's focus on where I am weakest.

20 reps in 20 minutes: Even if I only do them once a week, they have a very positive effect on my lifting. Positive is good. But proper structure and positive is even better.

Core work: I have enjoyed doing this twice a week again and it is very basic hanging window wipers and horizontal extensions on one day and the good ole' ab wheel the next day. Strong core is good and the ab wheel feels nice for counter-acting the weightlifters' lordosis.

Flexibility: I have been stretching my hips a lot following Kelly Starret's approach and principles. His coaching methods and hip flexibility make me want to be a better man. Because I stretch every day--I did not stretch on Christmas day and Stephen's Day though--I am not better in the starting position and getting locked into the lifts in general. I also like the fact that I am improving my hip flexibility. The reality is that if I do not stretch every day at least twice a day, I will not improve to where I need to be. You do it and shut up, or you don't do and shut up. I was just not doing and not shutting up.

Enjoying training again: I have really enjoyed my last month's training and that is the most important thing. I can be my own worst enemy in weightlifting and if you need to enjoy what you are doing. I am and I hope you are.

How are you training and what do you think of my weightlifting school report?


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