Day 1 + 2 – Rack Rust

Posted: April 29, 2011 in The Ramping Method

We decided to make our glorious return on Tuesdayand begin training using the ramping method.

First off, it had been almost 3 weeks since we had trained with intensity – plenty of time to recover, but plenty of time to regress as we found on our return to the gym.

Time off training seriously was necessary for university work – highly unfortunate. As I’ve said before, we’d have loved to have kept active in these weeks, but the work load demanded a lot of sitting and staring at power point – bad news for your mobility.

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Day 1 (Squat, Weighted Pull Ups and anti-rotational/plyometric pushing work) – 4 Rep Max

Squat – interesting findings here. First off, though it was not an excellent performance by myself, I shifted my 1RM again in the final set of squats, where I was aiming for 4. However, this wasn’t actually too disheartening as I’ve changed up the squatting style – I reckon it’s a case of adjustment. I had expected to be lifting lighter and was actually content to stick up the 140 from depth. Ross’ abdominal pains from Day 3 of the 5×5 regimen have returned – like last time, the work load is reduced and additional core work is carried out (this time in the form of anti-rotational/extension work).

Weighted Pull Ups – this was new to us. We chose to simply work from a technical standpoint today. That meant going light and focusing on technical cues. It’ll be an interesting movement to report in the coming weeks.

Plyometric Pushing/Anti-Rotational Circuit(3 sets, 4 reps)

Circuit 1 = Explosive overhead press w/ bar + Bench press ups
Circuit 2 = 3-point (one-handed) plank + Explosive press ups

This was completed in such a fashion in order to scale down some time. Finish your reps, move onto the next exercise = easy.

Anti-Rotational Push (Unilateral dumbbell Bench Press) – 3 sets, 8 reps.

The set/rep ratio was chosen as it is still challenging, but would allow for more repetitions and therefore more technical practice in a new movement. The weights were not maximum, but still challenging as it is still a movement that requires practice. You’ll feel your abdomen engaging in a way unlike you ever have with normal bench pressing – give it a try!

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Day 2 (Bench, Bent over row, single leg work, front squat and lower body plyos)

Bench – Some definite rage here. In the last week of the 5×5, I shifted 80kgs for 5 reps and it was very manageable. Today, I shifted it 3 times and failed on the 4th = infuriating. Ross had similar issues…so we dealt with it by playing with our old 1RMs, shifting them twice. It was nice to see a blatant strength gain, just as it was all through the 5×5 regime, but still the detriment in the 5 rep shift annoyed me. Seeing as we’ve definitely gained strength (to an extent) it can’t be said that the 5×5 program is poor…it has been tried and tested universally. The issue is the weeks of immobility/lack of intensity in the gym. I’ll discuss this further when I note some key points.

Bent over row – Today’s main issue wasn’t that the weight was too heavy, but rather that we were far too slippery…we were sweating, it happens, and it made gripping quite an issue. The main finding here was that it may be time to invest in some chalk! Also – both of us shifted our old 1RM 3/4 times in the last set…it was a pretty decent gain, but the grip let us both down. However, chalk will only be used in slippery bar situations…we both know full well we can lift heavier than this as we did so last week, today was just a slippery one…could be related to the gym now being a sauna in the afternoon.

Front squat – This was a learning point today. As with all new movements, the same rules applied…focus on technical cues and start light. The issue with front squats for most beginners is wrist/triceps flexibility – expect them to alleviate themselves after 3-4 weeks.

FRONT SQUAT just a quick note to say that the plan is for front squats to take over as the main squatting movement in the future (couple of weeks for adjustment). The reasoning behind this is that a lot of world-class coaches believe that front squats have a greater carry over into athletic performance than back squats…and for your average guy getting stronger/living a day-to-day life, that’s something we should be looking into. Why? Athletic movements are just standard human movements pushed to their limit – running, jumping, lifting, pushing. If you want to become better at them, why not train in a format shown to be more effective in developing them?

Single leg work – single leg squats (one leg on the floor, the other behind you, resting on a bench) and single leg Romanian Deadlifts. (3 sets, 8 reps)

These movements were almost entirely new to myself. I thoroughly enjoyed them, yet I was hugely challenged by them. Ross’ old motor memory kicked up a shit storm here – striking sports (involving the legs) are essentially repetitive powerful single leg movements, where balance is essential for accuracy/power transfer. I found a personal weakness here…I’m looking forward to making it a strength. Mike Boyle recommends single leg movements over two-legged movements for developing strength in the legs – I can understand his affinity. It is a lot more challenging from both a flexibility and a balance/coordination perspective…plus, it’s rare in human movement for you to be continually shoving off of both legs…definitely something I’ll be looking into in the future. The issue I have with removing standard squatting is the time taken to exercise both legs separately!

Plyometrics – we had already hammered our legs somewhat more than expected and therefore decided to keep it simple. 3 sets, 4 reps, vertical leap plyos. Simple, but effective.

The plan was to do anti-extension work here, but for want of a better excuse, I frankly forgot. Notepad present from now on! It’ll be tagged into a circuit on Friday.

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It’ll be interesting to see if we’re training each movement frequently enough to make gains here – we’re already finding these workouts quite time consuming…we’re gym happy, but if you have other things to do in a day, do you really want to be at the gym for an hour and a half? I’ll publish my thoughts on what the average guy really should be doing for general strength/fitness in coming weeks…it’s a lot less time consuming! I’m hoping that for each movement, the stability/anti-rotational counter-part will ensure there is enough of an overload to make gains…only time will tell!

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General points:

– New lift? Start light, focus on technical points and gradually increase the weight over time.
– Time taken completely off of training is a poor idea. Time taken training lightly won’t be so detrimental.
– Front squat – a more relevant lift for your average guy?
– Time constraints? Throw in a circuit!
– Single leg work hurts your backside like nothing else…(foam roller time)…even MORE relevant for Joe Bloggs?
– Bring a check-list to the gym if you are, like me, a forgetful SOB sometimes.

See you Friday.

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