Raw Lifting and Linear Periodization

I’ve had to do a lot of thinking over the past couple of years as far as deciding what I want to do with myself as far as training and goals. I dabbled with powerlifting for years, but it wasn’t ever satisfying to me as a competitive sport. I like hitting big weights, and I even like competing from time to time. What I don’t like is how gear has become such an integral part of training and competing. Even in the IPF affiliates it’s gotten a bit wacky, and don’t get me started on the multi-ply feds.

This isn’t a swipe at geared powerlifting. If you enjoy it, then best of luck to you. But it’s not what I signed up for. The reason I lift weights is, for lack of a better phrase, because of “physical culture”. Bodybuilders back in the day actually had to lift weights in their contests. The earliest powerlifters trained more like what we think of as bodybuilding today. That’s the old idea of physical culture: that you develop both strength and the physique with well-rounded weight training.

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Observations on Bulgarian-inspired strength training

As I’ve alluded to in the past few posts and many of my Twitter updates, I’ve been experimenting with high-frequency training in a half-hearted manner for the last few months and with more commitment over the last six weeks. I’ve amassed a number of general observations and nuggets of practical wisdom that I want to … Read more

Research indicates athletic performances may have peaked

From here: http://www.physorg.com/news185738503.html There’s some interesting points raised, regarding inherent genetic limitations, the greater involvement of athletes from a wider talent pool from across the world, and the influx of both drugs and “technological solutions” into sports. Most interesting: “Future limits to athletic performance will be determined less and less by the innate physiology of … Read more

A Defense of Round-backed Deadlifting

Roundbackers Unite!

Most of us know the Deadlift as an exercise that works the lower back, along with its effects on the glutes, hamstrings, traps/mid-back, and just about everything else.

Nearly everyone stresses the importance of keeping the lower back extended or at least neutral while deadlifting, or doing any other movement for that matter – that is, keeping your back arched or, better, flat. Stuart McGill, one of the foremost experts on the spine, considers that neutral spine position to be both the strongest (from the standpoint of minimizing damage) and thus the healthiest.

Accordingly the deadlift is taught with a flat lumbar spine. The rationale is to protect and stabilize the spine – which is the role of both the spinal erectors, the numerous abdominal muscles, and most everything else in the trunk. This is good advice, in general. However, there’s reason to question the notion that you must never let your back round under any circumstances.

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Using Spreadsheets to Plan Training

Everybody likes to have a plan. A well-written, well-designed workout means you don’t have to think too much when you go to the gym. You just show up, do what the plan says, and go home.

I won’t lie; I like a good spreadsheet. It’s fun to fiddle around with the numbers and see how things crunch when you put them together in a program. It’s a useful way to track progress and see how things work together.

Here’s what prompted me to write this piece, though. What I want to know is how you’re using a spreadsheet to calculate percentages for the 5×5 routines, when those programs specifically state they don’t use percentages to calculate weights.

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‘Functional’ Cross Training vs. Specific Training: General Means General

“Fitness training for a given sport is not simply a matter of selecting a few popular exercises from a bodybuilding magazine or prescribing heavy squats, power cleans, leg curls, bench press, circuit training, isokinetic leg extensions or ‘cross training’. This approach may produce aesthetic results for the average non-competitive client of a health centre, but it is of very limited value to the serious athlete.”

– Dr. Mel Siff, Supertraining

With all this recent hoopla surrounding ‘functional’ or ‘cross training’, ranging from all the hype over ‘300‘ a few years ago (and the resulting attention that Mark Twight of GymJones fame received) right on up to the, shall we say ‘interesting’, antics of CrossFit, it’s something that’s really stayed off my radar.

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5×5 Workout Routines: Not Just a Program

The 5×5 workout is a classic staple of strength training. It’s named after the set/rep arrangement that’s commonly used: 5 sets of 5 reps. Clever stuff, right? The 5×5 workout is more than use a naming gimmick; if used properly, it’s a very flexible and easily-adjusted methodology (note that, please!) that can be used by … Read more

Excluding the Middle: Not Just a Fallacy

In virtually every textbook and manual about strength training that I’ve ever read, the suggestion for “hypertrophy” workouts is always something like 3-5 sets of 10-12 reps at around 70-75% of your 1RM. This tends to double up as a suggestion for beginners, as well – the rationale being that they need to use lighter weights and build a foundation before moving into heavier weights.

Of course there are some differences of opinion there; Bill Starr suggested sets of five, and this has been continued by Glenn Pendlay and Mark Rippetoe with their ongoing use of the now-classical “5×5” workouts.

In reality it seems that it just doesn’t matter much what beginners do. They’ll grow and get stronger regardless of the program as long as they’re showing up and trying to get stronger. And in Maximum Muscle, I questioned the idea of the “hypertrophy protocol” to begin with. This entire notion is based on these beginner gains, firstly, and secondly, on the notion that the hormonal response elicited by this kind of training actually correlates with muscle and/or strength gains.

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Konstantin Konstantinovs is a Badass

Konstantinov is a Badass I mean, it just goes without saying at this point, but this guy is spectacular. For those of you not aware, I’m talking about Latvian powerlifter Konstantin Konstantinovs. Why is he awesome, you ask? That’s 954 lbs for a triple, in a belt only. Yeah the plates are on 6-inch boxes. … Read more

Problems with Over-specialization

I’ve been slack with my blogging lately, I realize. I’ve been busy elsewhere, doing other Internet things and spending more time out in the Real World. I’ve not abandoned you, my five readers, I promise.

Specialized Training for Casual Lifters

The last six weeks or so I’ve been training for a powerlifting meet, which is in a little over a week.

To train for this, I adjusted my training away from the very generalized program I’ve been doing while trying to starve myself pretty (which I call MattFit to avoid trademark issues).

I’m now wondering if this wasn’t a mistake. My deadlift has gone up compared to my local maxima PR* of 230kg (506 lbs) at the end of September, as I hit 232 and 237 (512 and 523 lbs, respectively) the other day, and plan on at least 240 in the meet. This is good news, because it’s one step achieved in my plan to get back up into the 250+ (550 lb) range. The ultimate goal of course is to break 600 lbs, so the target is 272 hopefully before the end of 2010.

* Which means I’ve done more in the past, but these current lifts are my best post-trainwreck status

However that’s about the only good news. My raw benching hasn’t really gone down, but it’s not up any, either. That may or may not be a big deal, since I’ve been doing a heavier shirted bench session in my Titan F6 as well. Not much past data to draw on here, so I can’t really say either way.

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