I am feeling it today.

Since Monday’s squats, I’ve been feeling it in my quads. This was fine today, but now after the session’s deadlifts I’m thinking my hamstrings/back will punish me tomorrow.

I’ve said before that I think deadlifts are the greatest exercise in existance and that is just something that will never change. Your grip strength and your entire posterior chain get a proper shellacking in a way no other exercise can.  If you’re not deadlifting, you’re a muppet – end of story.

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The only thing lacking in this 5×5 regime is vertical pulling – i.e. pull ups/machine pulls. To make up for that, we’ve been doing exhaustive pull-up sets twice a week at the end of our prescribed session.

We begin with 8-reps and carry on, each set removing a pull-up – 7,6,5,4,3,2,1. We’ve been using them basically as finishers, but there are other benefits to adding these pulls to the regime, other than just getting the vertical pull movement included. Pullups are a good way of gaining grip strength – one of the main problems with deadlifting/bent over rows. I feel doing these, alongside rows and deads, is getting more grip work into our training without taking us into over-training. It’s nice to have one of the movements outside of the 5×5 actually, purely because it’s allowing me to be creative with at least one part of my current regime.

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I’ve been reading up on some work by a guy named Christian Thibaudeau (who just posted an article about range of motion that is complete blasphemy – until you read more)who specializes in putting explosive mass on athletes (think rugby/NFL/MMA going up a weight class). He preaches that doing anything that adds more training volume without exceeding your body’s recovering abilities will give benefits – which I completely agree with because it’s common sense. Work gives you benefits…recovery allows you to do more mork. No recovery = less work = less gains…So, do as much work as you can without going so hard you don’t recover enough to give your best each and every time you train.

To harness this “more volume” approach, I’ve decided to work on the deadlifting weakness – my grip strength.

I take a tennis ball with me everywhere I go. I do this for a number of reasons – it’s good to rub out muscle pain (myofascial release) , it cures boredom and, now, it gives me something to squeeze. About 4/5 times a day, I’ll take out the tennis ball, squeeze it lightly a few times and then squeeze it as hard as I can for about 3 seconds in each hand, 4/5 times in each hand. It’ll be interesting seeing if this brings benefits to the deadlift, but it’s a method of grip training I’ve seen/used before and I expect it to carry over into the deadlift. It’s basically mimicking a set of deadlifts, from a grip point of view.

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Today’s session was the mid-week deload for squats and the military press/deadlift day.

Squats at first were improving (technically) as usual, today focusing on the descent – taking 3/4 seconds on the way down. If you look out for “eccentric contractions” online you’ll find that humans tend to be 40% stronger in eccentric movement (tension under an elongating muscle).  Actually, a lot of people find that training only the eccentric portion of a lift will give more gains to their “concentric” movement (the muscle contracting to produce movement) than concentric training alone. As for now, however, we’ll be sticking to using both in the 5×5 regime.

Military press was great – technique improving as usual and, of course, lifting a heavier weight than last week with the same effort. GAIN.

Deadlifts, as usual, left me feeling as though I’d died and gone to heaven. For the love of God, get them into your training regime. In fact, from now on, Deadlift/Deadlifting will always have a capital letter.

“It deserves as much” – Ross says.

Again, it was hugely pleasing lifting the day’s maximum with solid form, explosively on the way up and slow/controlled on the way down.

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Today’s gem’s of information are:

– As much volume as your body can handle with adequate recovery
– Weak grip? Squeeze things real hard.
Solid form will make you feel better.

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Expect a post about recovery methods soon…

I’m thinking I’ll compile information into a single post and create a “Perfect Day at the Gym” post – what you should be doing in a 24hr timeslot to get the most from your exercise.

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