Archive for the ‘Sadiv Sets for Strength + Speed Work’ Category

Over the past 3 months, the combination of Sadiv and Speed sets have served me rather well.

Just this week, I decided to fly on and try for a new Deadlift 1RM and can quite happily report that I clocked 185kg, an extra 5kgs compared to my last 1RM attempt. However, the difference is that it shot up like a rocket and I gladly could’ve done more.  Not only that, but I completed my Sadiv’s immediately afterwards. There’s much more to be lifted, so next week, I’ll be attempting this again.

This new 1RM has been gained practicing only once per week and never lifting over 170kg, just once about a month ago. The work has been stable since the start – 12 reps, 1 every 60 seconds starting at 60% 1RM and adding 2.5kgs every week. The focus was on applying as much force to the bar as possible, as should be the focus when attempting to improve your ability to improve force production. As standard, it’s about recruiting motor units maximally and as quickly as possible.

This regime has gone to show that for increases in 1RM, it is perhaps not necessary to operate at lifting %’s higher than 90% of your 1RM, given that you are applying force maximally at lower weights – perhaps a safer way to train!

Currently, I am at the stage where old 1RMs are being lifted as part of each Sadiv set. This is immensely satisfying given that these were previous maximal efforts requiring prolonged recovery, which now require a mere sixty seconds. In two weeks time, I should know a few more 1RMs, though I believe these will not be maximal as I do not plan on taking a complete week of recovery. However, this may not be the case if enough recovery time for each lift is given in its’ “speed” week.

It could well be that greater improvements will occur in lifts such as the bench/OHP compared to the Deadlift, as these were performed at a weight greater than 90% of the previous 1RM. Of course, it must be taken into account that these are less neurologically taxing lifts as they require less muscle mass to perform, therefore it may not have been possible to carry out Deadlifts at such a high percentage without causing detriment to other lifts. Time will tell!

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I’d been frustrated with Deadlifting recently as something hadn’t been feeling right. The solution was simple = back to basics. I re-assessed my lift from bottom to top and discovered my foot position was a few inches closer to the bar than I had intended.

It was a pretty clear reminder that no matter how long you’ve been at it, you might see benefit from returning to square one, even if it’s just for a day.

Even if you don’t think there’s anything wrong, go have a re-check and you might surprise yourself.

My Deadlift technique checklist:

– Mid-foot under the bar (from heel to toe)
– Feet appropriate distance apart (I perform a vertical leap to determine this – you will automatically set your feet apart at a distance which allows for maximal force production)
– Hands on the bar (quick pull on each side to ensure each side will lift an equal amount of force – is your hand applying force symmetrically?)
– Shins to the bar
– Head up
– Chest up and forward
– Arms at 90 degree angle to the floor
– LEGS PUSH!
– Bar passes knees = HIPS FORWARD!
– Tall posture at top

Done.

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I’ve fallen in love with squatting again. Recently, I’ve approach this lift simply:

10 reps at 50% projected 1RM
5 reps 15ks short of day’s maximum
3 reps 7.5kgs short of day’s maximum
1 rep of day’s maximum
10 rep Sadiv set

This is performed twice a week, with the weight increasing by 2.5kg on the second session.
This has now reached the point where I will lift more than my old 1RM of 140kg as part of a standard training session.

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Again, before I sign off, I’ll echo the following:

The best lifting methods:

– Appropriate challenge (mental and physical)
– Appropriate recovery
– Gradual increases in resistance

This regime delivers all three, with enough practice to improve movement path efficiency and enough variety to prevent boredom.

Eventually, I’ll hit a lift I cannot complete. Quite simply, I’ll retry the following week and if it fails, I’ll scale it back 2.5kgs and smash it later. If that doesn’t help I’ll perhaps consider another lifting method. Until then – I’m loving this too much!

Go train, folks.

 

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It has been a while since I’ve been able to report anything from training. I had attempted to train through an illness and ended up well and truly empty of vigor – it was time for some down time. I took two weeks off to get my head back in the game.

Energy – real energy – isn’t defined purely by glycogen stores and oxygen availability, there’s a lot more to it than that. Call it what you like, but everyone experiences it at some stage…you’re sapped, dead on your feet, but you’re still moving forward. I’ve always had an awareness of this force and often think back to times when it became apparent in the past, so as to attempt to use it again.

However, my recent realization has been how much emotionally taxing events can sap you of your energy. Much like those unreal moments when you’re unstoppable despite immense physical pressure, there are times where despite adequate rest and re-fueling, you barely have the energy to stand.

It’s times like these I’ll re-read old posts or read some of Martin Rooney’s “Rooney Rules” with hopes of finding some inspiration – a spark to ignite that seemingly limitless intrinsic energy.

In short, I’m just trying to highlight how precious energy is. It’s not just physiological, it’s psychological – it has to be trained just like everything else. In the end, you have to rely on knowing in your heart that somewhere inside of you, there’s one more rep, time and time again.

You’re not tested at the top of the mountain, you’re tested on the climb. Every bad thing that has ever happened to you, every mistake you’ve ever made and every time you’ve fallen down is an opportunity to learn. I can’t remember the exact quote, but life is basically 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond to it. If you don’t see the lesson in the error, all you have is a mistake.

Live and learn.

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Thankfully, it’s not all bad. As per usual, the body’s ability to adapt brought forth some improvements in lifts. Two weeks off and some super-compensation later and I’ve added AT LEAST 5kg to my OHP 1RM, as well as hitting Sadiv’s which were well above expected numbers with a greater RFD than previous lighter lifts. This evening, I’ll be able to tell if the benefits have been similar in the bench.

As usual, it’s full steam ahead. Squats are improving in RFD, much due to the high velocity work that has been carried out over the last few weeks. In time, I’ll be able to see if 1RMs have also improved.

Deadlift is showing similar increases in RFD.

Proper 1RMs will probably be tested around Christmas time.

Go train, folks.

 

 

With university hotting up, free time is starting to vanish hour by hour. Unfortunately, updating CommonStrength begins to slow during these busy times, but alas, there always will be an update.

Day 9:

Squat (Sadiv)
OHP (Sadiv)
Pull-ups (30 reps)

Squat was taken up by 2.5kg on each lift, with a final 1 rep at 132.5kg. The idea is that the lift increases each Friday by only 2.5kg. The Sadiv set was performed at 112.5kg – a lift which will also increase each Friday.

As can be expected with continued effort, our lifts are beginning to improve significantly. Where the Sadiv’s had at a point been a grind, the bar is beginning to get some brief flight at the top of the lift now. We had been paying particular attention to applying as much force to the bar as possible (think “barbell through the ceiling”, not “beginning of lift to finish”). This is a very basic consideration in lifting, but often forgotten. For those who are asking why, research has shown that via the “Size Principle” maximum effort application requires an increased number of muscle fibres to come into play. For someone wanting to build muscle/maximize weight lifted, this is a good thing as it encourages hypertrophy from an increased number of muscle fibres and further promotes the neurological adaptations (MU recruitment) required to improve strength.

Technical points were much the same – tense core, legs spread, break parallel.

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OHP has nothing major to report other than continued progress.

A recent Wendler post promoted the OHP as a total body lift (which it is) – so get that core tensed hard and tighten your glutes as you fire the bar up.

Again, following shoulder mobility drills, there were no pain issues.

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Another positive development in pull-ups here as 5 sets of 6 straight were completed. This means that the next time pull ups occur, the work will be divided into 4 sets – 8,8,8,6. Same idea as always, gradual improvements with attention to detail.

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DAY 10:

Session:

Squats (Sadiv’s)
Bench (Sadiv’s)
Rows (Sadiv’s)

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Squats repeated as Friday – strong result and prepared fully for 135kg in the next squatting session.

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Bench, well, I’m loving it.

As stated in a recent post, it was once my weakest lift (still is) but is one I am thoroughly enjoying.
Today saw a new 1RM record for myself at 92.5kg. A lot of changes have come recently – an increased number of dietary calories, improved bracing, wider grip and increased enjoyment of this lift and of course the new regime. As to which ones are most responsible for the improved 1RM, I am unsure, but you what you can see clearly is that continued effort within the 90-100% range of a 1RM with gradual increments and appropriate hydration/caloric intake will result in improvements in performance.

Sure, that’s not novel and it’s common sense – but it’s inspiration next time you think “I can’t be arsed” with regards to attending the gym/skimping on fluids.

On the contrary, Ross saw no increases and has not surpassed his old 1RM yet (he in fact missed it). Why? His Achilles’ heel – dehydration. He needs to get his lazy ass a water bottle!

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Rows were maintained at 92.5kg for all 10 reps of the Sadiv’s.

Though this was lifted last time (last time we had jumped ahead, feeling we would gain too slowly otherwise) it felt relatively easier this time around, hence the sense of improvement.

Biggest issue this time around was a slippy bar – the SPC can be a sweaty place…

Solution? Chalk.

Done.

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Two days of knowledge:

– Gradual increments = gradual success. Lifting, ironically, is a marathon, not a sprint.
– More evidence for the relevance of hydration to performance.
– You’ll be immobile in places you don’t even realize – discover Eric Cressey!
– The Big 6 (Deadlift, Squat, Bench, Row, OHP, Pull-up) are total body lifts – tight core, squeezed glutes.

I’ve been repeating myself a lot recently, but I consider it apt – my old rowing coach used to say “perfect practice makes perfect”.

Common sense rules apply to all forms of training – repeated practice with adequate fuel and satisfactory recovery in between practices is the only real way to get to where you want to be in sport. Successful athletes, genetics aside, are simply motivated people who learned good habits – sleeping, hydrating, eating enough and consciously engaging in the gym.

That said, your habits can also crush you. If you’re used to drinking heavily at weekends, used to procrastinating and used to drinking cola over water, you’ll get good at it. Do you need to be freed from your own habits? Only you can break yourself free.

Most individuals aren’t actually aware there’s a problem as they feel “fine”. I’d wager these individuals have never been healthy in the first place and probably have a pretty skewed view of what “fine” should be. So, next time you’re given the opportunity to take either a healthy choice or an unhealthy one, take the healthy one…just once. Notice how your day isn’t any worse? But hey, perhaps it’s not any better…get into the habit and tell me how you feel. I guarantee you’ll notice the positive difference. You’ll thank yourself in a few days time.

I’m playing catch-up with days 8 and 9 after a busy finish to the week – here goes nothing.

Day 8’s hard work and subsequent study have re-ittereated a well known fact…you’re always learning.

It’s not what you think you know, it’s what you know you don’t know.

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Day 8’s lifts:

Deadlift (Sadiv)
Bench (Speed)
Row (Speed)

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With the Deadlift, I felt a certain confidence return as we battled through the ramping stage until the Sadiv sets. Form was recorded at 110kgs and found satisfactory.

Focus points:

–          Feet placement (as if attempting to jump as high as possible)

–          Conscious tight grip of the bar

–          Chest up/forward until shoulders behind the bar

Definitely feeling the added benefit of recordings – initially a technique pointer, but when all errors are countered, it’s a confidence booster.

Ramped until 170kg where Ross failed (old 1RM). However he had been playing squash earlier and believes this to be the culprit, as he feels the same areas were being fatigued at the end of the squash session and the tail end of the Deadlift session.

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Bench is fast becoming one of my favourite lifts. Normally people fall in love with what they’re good at – not the case here. Frankly, I’ve fallen into joy here because I was initially so terrible, yet have been coming along quickly.

Bench technique for myself used to be a non-entity. I knew what I had to be doing and figured I was doing it until watching the “So you think you can Bench?” series by Dave Tate. His focus on an ample warm-up and my new favourite concept of bracing put both of these ideas at the forefront of my mind.

Though warm-ups had been adequate, I have recently begun putting more effort into the warm-up sets as a way of truly preparing for the heavy work (focusing on rate of force development + muscular engagement), not just “warming-up”.  As for the bracing concept, I had always been aware of it and figured my core bracing was enough, but my focus on bracing specific to this lift (pulling the bar apart and shifting the shoulders back) has made me feel a lot stronger in the starting position as of late.

We ramped up to the old 1RMs (post 5×5) and blasted the speed-sets with an added 2.5kg.

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Rows are the only lift which irritate that timeless shoulder issue, but unlike last time, I’m fighting with a strategy and I’m winning.

Warm-ups are a no-brainer, but added mobility work and conscious shoulder stability (shoulders back) mean that post-warm up, the pain is present with less and less vigour every time.

Focus points:

–          Shoulders drawn back

–          Elbows glide back (thinking lats, not biceps)

–          Get parallel (I’m slowly becoming a fan, but back fatigue will be an issue at heavier weights)

More recently, I’ve been concentrating on widening the base for this exercise (feet wider apart, hips back, chest up and forward). There is no detriment to this at all, purely gains via more focus on primary muscles activating and less on stabilizers making up a deficit from a narrow stance. On the whole, the centre of gravity is just a lot easier to control.

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Learning things, smashing bars:

–          Go viral. If you get yourself on film, you’ll be much more aware of how you’re moving, and much more able to sort it out.

–          Think you know a lift? Re-think your strategy. Search it online and you may well re-learn something you’ve taken for granted.

–          Don’t slouch on the warm-up. Get warm, lift hard, lift heavy.

–          Exercise prior to…well…exercise…makes you less strong in the second effort. Simple, eh?

Day 9 posted tomorrow.

Go smash a bar.

 

Across the board, you’ll find that many athletes have pre-determined mental triggers to get them into “the zone”. For myself, music has always been a pretty sound bet – particular songs associated with previous mindsets or successes can bring back that drive in times of need.

The process before hitting the gym, personally, is always the same: drink a very milky coffee (a “Moffee”), get into the gym gear (same old beaten Eastern European circa 1991 tracksuit top) and listen to “Fame” by Kontraband (a song associated with an EliteFTS motivational video).

Normally, anything breaking that trend tends to throw me off a bit – Monday COULD have been such an occasion…we’d ran out of milk. It sounds like nothing, but it’s just part of the rhythm – one that I’ve grown used to. Couple that with some perceived dehydration and a low-calorie morning and I felt a bit miffed.

However, it was overcome in a pretty simple fashion – it pissed me off. If there’s ever a motivational emotion, it’s rage. It’s not a pleasant one, but it works nonetheless. We also knew we had carb-loaded the night before, muscular glycogen stores would not be an issue.

Point is: looking for motivation? Think about the last time you had a notable success. What was different? What were you listening to? What did you do prior to the gym? If it’s something as simple as a nutritional difference, that little change might be the key to a whole new league of performance.

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We had a kick ass session.

First up – Squat.

We repeated the previous session and this time put up the 130kg in a much stronger/technical fashion. It had previously been “thrown” up – this time, we “drove” it up, so to speak. (more control of the bar and improved co-ordination)

There was some added confidence on my own part today. I asked Ross to tape the 110kg 5-rep set via my phone.  I’d suspected some off technique at the bottom of the squat, but wasn’t sure where my suspicions had stemmed from. Little did I know, I was actually performing better than I had thought.

We’ve been training without a mirror recently, purely by chance, you take whatever rack is available in the SPC. It has brought forward some confusion as I usually use it to track technique. Without the mirror, I’m relying on proprioception (the ability to sense where your body is). This is actually an advantage as I’m more aware of which muscles are coming into action. In time, this could actually cause improvements in lifting numbers as more attention is being paid to technique, co-ordination and order of muscular contractions.

I’ve read of this before courtesy of T-Nation, but seeing as you never really “choose” your rack in the SPC, I’ve never been able to put it into action. In future, if given the choice between the mirror or the wall, I’ll be taking the concrete.

However, if this does cause some uncertainty as it did in our case, see if you can get your technique filmed – you might be surprised or at least enlightened.

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OHP was next.

Gains were apparent from the get-go – everything felt a tonne lighter. It’s too early to say that the Sadiv’s and speed-work is highly effective as a gainer, but what I can say so far is that it’s a cracking way of getting back into the game.

I certainly recommend using Sadiv sets to get yourself back on form after a lay-off. That said, I believe our combined speed-work has also been a factor, therefore what I can honestly say from our recent performance is that Sadiv Sets accompanied by speed-work will bring you back to lifting form in a very short amount of time.

Important focus points on the OHP:

–         Elbows forward, elbows high (sitting the bar on your anterior deltoids)

–         Press over-head and get UNDER the bar (tilt the torso forward)

Recently, I’ve opted the press overhead with a false grip. There’s not a tonne of difference, but the small difference there has been for myself has been a positive one. Grip is less challenged (if at all) though I feel this is beneficial as the lift is being powered by the triceps and shoulders exclusively (as well as the core/legs, of course).

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Next-up, pull ups.

I’m continuing with sets of six in this exercise.

So far, success has been granted, being that it went from blatant failure and mild crying to 6,6,6,6,4,2. I will continue this until all 5 sets are carried out as sets of a straight 6.

Technique has improved, which is why I’m none too concerned about the slow development of the endurance – I’d been giving myself a free-pass with depth at the bottom of the pull. This type of self-pity will not get me anywhere…after “sucking it up”, I have begun progressing more honestly.

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The Daily Know-How:

–         Mental triggers for success – do you have yours? Think about past achievements.

–         Technique curious? Record yourself – the mirror perspective is not perfect.

–         Feel like trying something new? With a spotter, lift with your eyes closed. The level of focus required increases, which may highlight hidden technique faults…get some feedback from your spotter!

–         Overhead press – the moment between reps is a short rest. Get the bar sitting on your deltoids. (Elbows forward, elbows high)

–         Get a grip – try the false grip on the overhead press (also recommended by Jim Wendler) but be wary if you have recent wrist issues.

–         A mistake without a lesson is a crime against mankind – if you’re forgiving yourself for a weakened performance, first ask why it was weak in the first place and make a plan to never let it happen again.

–         Suck it up.

Go train.

Friday – a good day to blow off steam, if you have any left following the working week…

Workout:
Squats (Sadiv’s)
Bench (Sadiv’s)
Rows (Sadiv’s)

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First up squats – final intentions (and results) were 110kg x5, 120kg x3 and 130kg x 1.

Again, focus was on spreading the knees apart, bracing the core and keeping the weight on the heels. All in all a satisfying squat session today, though I feel a repeat of the same numbers may be necessary on Monday. Though I was happy the numbers went up, I feel that throwing another 10kgs on might be a bit of a rush. It’s likely that the same workout will occur again, except with another 2.5/5kgs. Following the effort described above, we hit a 10 rep Sadiv set @ 100kg. As we’re focussing on velocity with these, it’s unlikely that a 10kg increase will come on Monday.

There’s no need to rush into going as heavy as you can, particularly when making technique adjustments. It’s worth biding time and being certain of both technique and ability before racing ahead and either scooping up an injury or training at high intensity with poor technique.

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With bench, we put in a very solid performance. I’m beginning to adapt to the wide-grip whilst Ross is beginning to return to his pre-summer form.

We both threw our old 1RMs up with surprisingly impressive velocity. Bracing was especially important in this effort – I feel it allowed for a very stable platform for the bar to ascend from. Prior to the decent, I quite simply thought “tense core, grit teeth, shoulders back” then boom – bar blasted from the chest.

If it’s not a conscious part of your lifting, I seriously recommend thinking about it. Again, I repeat, regardless of lift, tense your core!

Sadiv’s were performed with an extra 2.5kg for the first 5 reps successfully.

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Rows were last up – Sadiv’s this time with an added 2.5kg in each set because frankly we felt quite confident! Grip became an issue at the tail end of the set, but it felt like more of a sweat issue than a force generating issue.

Courtesy of a previous article I wrote for MyProtein.com, some Liquid Chalk should be in my possession by the end of the week – expect a review.

The ground-parallel back position caused its first issue in this session, purely because my back began to fatigue quicker. This was not an issue on Monday – I believe mid-week Deadlifts may have added to this fatigue (alongside the added weight lifted).

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To summarize, I’d really like to hammer home the concept of bracing – tensing other muscles other than “target” muscles in order to create a stable foundation from which to generate force.

It’s worth looking into “neck packing” if you want to learn a little more. For an example of how this works for force generation, have a friend shove you, then cock your head back and tuck your chin down and have them try again. You’ll notice you’re in a stronger position of resistance. In coming weeks, I’m going to focus on using this technique in the bench press as part of a bracing strategy.

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Knowledge:

Bracing – Tense your core, I’ll say it a thousand more times until someone out there tells me they’ve used it to produce a result. It’s a simple part of lifting yet one often neglected or “assumed”. Do it consciously, regardless of skill level. It may take a while to see a result from it, but soon you’ll get used to pushing from a more stable muscle network.

Go train, folks.

(I have a friend of mine beside me who just commented on my over-stressing of the “tense your core” and “bracing” concepts. Yes folks, it really is that important…even non-gym addict friends are taking notice)

The sweating began well before the workout yesterday as the gym was a sweltering hot place to be – busy with lifters and sun streaming through the windows. When the doors of the SPC close behind you, it can feel a bit like strolling into a pressure cooker.

Today’s workout:

Deadlift (1×12 @ 110kg)
OHP (3×8 @ for speed)
Pull-up (5×6)

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The first exercise performed was the Deadlift. The warm-up was lengthy, ramping up to a single at 150kg before the speed work.

The actual speed work itself was sufficiently challenging without reaching an overload. The real key with the Sadiv style Deadlift is velocity – getting from the starting position to the finish position as quickly as possible. With all of the focus on speed, I initially found myself failing subtly in technique – i.e. a slight lean forward at the finish plus activating my hip thrust too quickly.

It annoyed me. By the third set, I decided to give myself two specific cues so as to regain proper form – two I used to rely on and had begun to take for granted – “Drive” until the knees the “Hips” when the bar is passing the knees, calling for a drive phase when the legs are straightening and throwing the hips forward when the bar passes the knees. I was planning to write-up a detailed Deadlift exercise technique checklist, but without pictures/video, I doubt anyone would be using it. It may be time for CommonStrength to invest in some equipment…

Instead, this is gold:

Next week, the numbers will rise.

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After another lengthy warm-up, it was time for the OHP speed-work – 3×8 @ maximum velocity. I have been having some left-sided shoulder issues for the last two weeks since returning to heavy lifts – the same issue I had months ago. However, with a very thorough warm-up and mobility work courtesy of Eric Cressey’s “Assess and Correct” product, it hasn’t stopped me performing lifts – pain decreases significantly as well as function.

Again, the key here is velocity. The idea isn’t to bang out 8-reps as quickly as possible, but to smash the working phase of the movement as quickly as you can – pushing the bar over head. However, on this date, I was indeed guilty of speeding between reps – I’ll resist this in future, but we had places to be and I was amped up.

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Pull-ups were not prime today. I believe the grip involvement in the Deadlift had a lot to do with this as well as the taxing nature of the movement itself.

Work was split into 5×6 for myself, with the last 6 being broken into 3 separate mini-sets.

Next time I approach this lift, my focus will be on engaging core musculature and dragging my elbows down, so as to brace efficiently and activate the target muscles, respectively.

I found pull-ups where I focused on tensing my abdomen deliberately were noticeably easier…more evidence of the impact of conscious core-contraction benefiting performance.

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A thought a day…

– Deadlift? Drive, HIPS. Done.
– Repeat: regardless of lift, tensing your core is likely to help you shift weight more comfortably.
– Cressey’s A&C product is something every serious lifter/athlete should own – a genuinely bang-on, straight forward approach to working out what’s limiting your body and smashing through those boundaries.

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Off for some calories,

Wish me luck.