Using this post as a bench-mark. As of the 21st of February 2011, the Max lifts (1RM) of myself and Ross are as follows:

Sean Cassidy @ 82.5kg:

Bench Press – 85kg
Bent-Over Row – 90kg*
Military Press – 50kg*
Deadlift – 150kg
Back Squat – 140kg

Ross Lang @ 80kg:

Bench Press – 90kg
Bent-Over Row – 80kg
Military Press – 60kg
Deadlift – 140kg
Back Squat – 145kg

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The weighted-pulls listed before won’t be a part of the Interm. 5×5 programme – instead, we’ll be working on machine loaded pulls (with Max’s available after this evening).

* = Movement effected by injury, potential future re-test

————

IMPORTANT POINTS:

TECHNIQUE – Each of these movements could have been carried out at higher weights but with compromised form. Each movement was carried out with a very strict eye for error – basically if it didn’t make the grade, the score was scrapped.

TECHNIQUE 2 – Due to the manner in which these 1RMs were tested, there may be room for error in that they may be a few kilograms short of a true, fully prepared, well fuelled effort. This is purely down to time constraints resulting in us having to shorten some rest periods. This, however, is the point of this blog…nothing in life is going to go off without a hitch and you can only make do with the tools you’ve got.

AESTHETICS – This blog is interested in the development of STRENGTH. Big muscles, believe it or not, are not a reliable marker of someone’s strength within specific movements…Skeptical? Why does Arnold Schwarzenegger not hold any world records in power lifting? As such, we will not be posting measurements of muscles other than their STRENGTH output. If you’re really that interested, I’ll gladly post up photos every few weeks of myself busting out Mr Universe poses, but rest assured, muscles are a by-product, not an specific aim.

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1RMs – How we did them and why.

Ross Lang has been training for a very long time. Since his pre-teens, he has been an avid martial artist and, quite frankly, a lunatic in the gym. Karate, boxing, muay thai, kick boxing, wrestling, brazillian jiu-jitsu, swimming, distance running, sprinting, jumping and other general bad-assery. So why didn’t I just throw him into doing 1RMs? He’s highly active, can clearly handle a tonne of volume and when he punches/kicks/throws, he does it with power far beyond that which his strength seems to be able to call upon. In short, the key you’re looking for is technical prowess.

He has very rarely ever bench-pressed, deadlifted, squatted, rowed, pressed or completed a pull-up. We spent two weeks first getting these movements, those we are testing, into solid form. The gains were quick and satisfying. In deadlifting alone he went from being unable to shift 125kg without looking like a one-legged giraffe to being able to hoist up 140kg with solid form. This happened over only 4 sessions of deadlifting spread over the 14 days. This is not adequate time to add on 15kg to any manouver…but it is, in Ross’ case, adequate time to learn a manouver to an extent which he is able to perform within acceptable boundaries. Over the first weeks of the 5×5 plan, these gains will progress even further as Ross gains strength alongside being more versed in the manouvers we are practising.

The two week effort:

Monday –

Deadlift – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort.
Military Press – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort.
Pull ups/Machine pulls – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort – but finished with a “finisher” 6 pull ups, then 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 – compromised technique in final 2/3 sets)

Tuesday –

Bent-Over Rows – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort.
Bench Press – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort.
Back-Squat – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort.

Friday –

Deadlift – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort. (INCREASED WEIGHT FROM PREVIOUS SESSION)
Military Press – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort. (INCREASED WEIGHT FROM PREVIOUS SESSION)
Pull ups/Machine Pulls – 4/5 sets with decreasing reps (begin with 8-10, finish in 3-6) with increasing weight, never reaching maximum effort. Repeated Finisher. (INCREASED WEIGHT FROM PREVIOUS SESSION)

We continued alternating sessions, with each session being able to shift more and more weight with better technique and less time/energy wasted.

The following week we tested the 1RMs over 3 days, separated squats/deadlifts as far as possible, but testing antagonist movements (that’s movements that counter each other, ex. Bench-press/Bent over Row).

It was done simply by getting an initial warm-up with the bar alone before hiking up the weights in 15-25% jumps completing only 1-5 reps each time, less as time went on, going absolutely no where near maximum until we were in the ballpark region we’d estimated to be a 1RM.

Really, it is that simple.

Get familiar with the techniques you’re wanting to improve yourself in, then gradually increase the resistance. The key here, in my opinion, is not going to an absolute maximum, but getting close enough for you to have experience of pushing, in those movements, against a heavy load.

Two weeks was enough to make Ross’ technique of an acceptable level – this will not be the same for everyone. He is a seasoned, keen athlete and has been using his body to learn and practise movements for over a decade. Less active, less motivated people may take longer to carry out such an endeavour.

Excuse any errors, I’m running late, but I may edit this later.

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