Strength Training for Singles 2014: Eight-Week Workout Cycle I

Discussion in 'Training Information/Training Regimens' started by Bare Lee, Aug 12, 2014.

  1. Barefoot Dama

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    Ok Mr macho man.
    Fact one : I never said nor think that squats are bad for the knees on the contrary but I do think that bad form is.
    You know that allowing your knees go past the toes is bad-do we agree?
    Happy about your running though.
     

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  2. Bare Lee

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    My understanding is that the main criterion is to keep the bar vertical to the middle of the foot, which means the knee position will change with different bar positions:

    Bar Position.jpg

    You can see that the knee tends to retract as the bar goes farther back, but, according to Mark Rippetoe at least, the knee is always in front of the toes. I think with a somewhat wider stance and splaying my feet outwards a bit will help retract the knees though, and it's good both you and Abide have made me more aware of knee position as a cue for general form.

    But yes, we agree that bad form is bad, and my form still has a ways to go, although I think 90% is easily correctable. I should've started filming sooner.

    Macho man, thanks, but squatting just a little over one's bodyweight is pretty pathetic, even for an old fart like me. I'm hoping to get it up to 1.5BW at least.

    And yes, very happy to see you participating again!

    Will try for 1.5 miles tomorrow.
     
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  3. Barefoot Dama

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    The guy's last name should be a clue to you to not follow on his bad form-Mr Rip toe:D
    Kidding aside be careful .
    And about my long running being bad for me well, it's not going as well as I would like, June and July were great running months as far as distance running.
    September was not so good too much traveling and a little bit of laziness and this month just pure laziness I have only 10 miles for this week and I am doing a half marathon this Sunday which I signed up for last Sunday(don't know what was I thinking).
    I would like to drop by more often but there are times that it's just not possible. Anyways.
     

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  4. Bare Lee

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    Just kidding about the distance. I think you're built for it. I'm sure you'll do fine in the half. You're one of those people who can just pick up the running where you last left off. I was surprised at how out of shape I got running-wise with a few months off. But really, I haven't been running consistently for more than a few weeks at a time since the end of last November. Really sucks. I need running in my life.

    Yah, I've been participating a lot on the ST threads with Abide, Sid, and others, but I justify it because it teaches and motivates me so much, and being fit is central to my happiness. It's also cool to discover one can still be relatively strong as we age.

    Don't worry though, I'm very cautious about weights. It's taken me a long time to get to the point where I feel comfortable pushing things a bit. My deadlifts and squats have jumped up quite a bit over the last few months, but that's only because I had laid the groundwork, building up carefully. For a long time, I kept my deadlift at 275 because I wasn't sure how much strain I could put on my back.

    The goals I have are relatively arbitrary, based on the aesthetic of seeing my big grip plates lined up, but really, I'm already in decent shape strength-wise so even if I don't progress much more, I'm in a good spot right now. I've got a good routine that's quite challenging and I think I can just let the gains come to me once more, after several months of tinkering and exploring. Now I just have to get my running back up to speed, 20-30 mpw, and then anything on top of that is gravy. For the moment I've decided to just establish my 5K-10K distances and then work on pace. I don't foresee pushing distance any time soon, especially with winter around the corner, but you never know. My current hypothesis is that intensity counts more than volume for both running and lifting, but that frequency is also key for running, and running a little everyday may be the way to go.

    In any case, once I get both the st and running up to speed, I want to work more on conditioning and mobility type stuff.
     
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  5. Bare Lee

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    Hadn't heard from the company after getting the PayPal confirmation. I tried sending them an email and then a message on their website. Nothing. So after a week, I called them just now. They said I had somehow linked to an old promotion, but that they would nevertheless honor the promotional price. The current price is $349 + $40 shipping. So I'm saving close to $200. Yippee. Have to wait until November though. Bummer.
     
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  6. BroadArrow

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    greetings. i am a long-time lurker (yes, i've probably read all 60 of those archive pages...) who has been drawn out of hiding by bare lee's plea for more participants in the discussion.

    allow me to introduce myself:

    i am a mid-thirties guy who is happily time-constrained by wife, small kids, and something approximating a "real job" (though i get to work from home which helps immensely with scheduling flexibility).

    since it is difficult to make a plan without an objective, here are my seemingly contradictory objectives which have (so far) been unexpectedly harmonious:

    1) i aspire to be able to finish 50-mile races, under the time limits, without suffering, in full skin-to-gravel mode. my next attempt will be in about 3 1/2 weeks, so we'll see.

    2) i play indoor volleyball with my friends on a couple park-district-league teams. being reasonably tall, i usually play middle blocker. thus, i aspire to the unattainable goal of "jumping higher" (since there are few things in sports more fun than blocking cocky hitters into the ground). i have, of course, moved from the inch and a half of foam wedges under my feet to playing barefoot (in the league that lets me) or in five-finger shoes (in the whiney league). my aerial game seems to have only improved as a result (possibly better loading of the calves/tendons/etc makes up for the loss of the shoe height?).

    anyways, i am a skinny fellow (you know you're skinny when you're visiting germany and your hosts see you in a bathing suit and immediately note that you look like you were just liberated from a concentration camp) and tend toward endurance things. hence, i have previously avoided strength training my legs due to the usual propaganda.

    under the influence of you guys, i bought some "fancy" squat stands to go with the barbell weights my wife found at an estate sale. and so it is that i realized that despite my "incredible" jumping ability and past cycling exploits and more recent running habit, that i could properly *curl* more weight than i could squat. and since my curl is nothing to write home about, i figured, "uh, maybe it would be profitable to try to improve my squatting ability...".

    so, here i am.
     
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  7. Abide

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    Welcome broadarrow, don't sweat the curling more than you can squat. I can actually bench more than I squat, but I try to make up for it in my deadilft.
    Anyway feel free to post your weekly workouts and runs, I'd be curious to see how your weight training affects your ultras and VB games.
     
  8. Abide

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    Dama be nice! Just a little background about my post, at this time the general consensus for squatting safely is that your knees need to track over your feet. Like Lee posted the how far forward your knee extends is a result of the bar position and in order to keep balanced your knees may extend further past your toes.
    Anyway thats why I like the knees out cue as it usually keeps the tracking correct and it also works abduction muscles which hopefully balances the adduction resulting from running too much. On another note it looks like Lee has longer femurs too so his knees will almost always be past his toes unless he goes really wide stance and low bar position.
     
  9. Abide

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    Been thinking a bit about my next cycle coming up in a week, and I think I might adjust the plan a little to incorporate an upper/mid/lower mix through the week. I think 3 leg days with running and biking is too much and twice a week should be sufficient. Core would mainly be ab roll outs and stabilizations like farmers walks etc.

    Legs / Upper pull focus
    Upper push focus / Core
    Legs / Upper mixed / Core (friday f%$* around day)
     
  10. Bare Lee

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    Welcome BA! This will be a good thread for you, as Abide also trains ultras, you guys will be able to compare notes about how ST fits in with ultra running.

    We're all reluctant squatters too. For years, I avoided them. Now I love them. Like I think Dan John has said, they're great mass builders, and as a lot of people have said, they're the king/queen of lifts.

    For your volleyball, I would also suggest box jumps and maybe bench hops too. I started doing box jumps this year, and, although my training has been sporadic, they're really a great exercise. I would consider them the king of plyometric exercises. Bench hops meanwhile are great for the lower leg and arches.



    I wonder if there's someway we can get you on the first page, so that all the weekly logs are in one place. Ideas?

    Yah, I don't have a natural squatting build. I've got fairly long limbs. But I think if I point my feet slightly outwards and adopt a slightly wider stance, that will bring the knees in a little. Then with better bar position once I get rid of the pad, I should be closer to those illustrations.

    Don't worry about Dama though, I like it when she gives me sh!t.
    That's similar to what I was doing before I adopted my two-week cycle, and what I'd probably revert to if this squat/deadlift alternation proves too much. Something like:

    DL/Row
    Squat/OH Press
    Bench/Pulldown

    or

    DL/Row/OH Press
    Squat/Bench Press
    Row/Pulldown/Power Clean and/or Plyometrics

    For the time being, however, I seem to be tolerating a full body workout every time, but I'm not running long distances like you. Deadlifts don't seem to interfer much with running, but squats certainly do, although the effect may be starting to lessen, too early to tell.

    Ran 1.5 miles just now. Felt a little more like a real run than just one mile, and I started to feel stronger towards the end. Still, the last 1/4 mile or so I start to feel just a ever so slight niggle in my left knee, just a little tightness, so I'll cap it at 1.5 miles until that disappears, then bump up to two miles. I'm kind of enjoying starting over again like this, adopting what the Zenists call 'beginner's mind.'

    P.S., Thinking about trying the EMOM DL today, trying to decided whether to start with 335 or 325. I'm pretty sure I can pull off 325, but I should probably try to see if I can do 335. It will be interesting to see if, like you, the lifts start to get easier after a couple.

    If this works for me, I'll probably try something similar for the squats next Friday, and maybe the bench press too, although I'm a little concerned that I may be overemphasizing the bench again, at the expense of the upper body pulls. Here's the slightly revised, and simplified, two-week cycle:

    Two-Week ST Cycle 14.09.jpg
     
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  11. Bare Lee

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    OK, excuse the OCD, but looking at a different capture from a different set from Wednesday's workout, it's a bit easier to where the front of the foot (middle line) would be if the rack base wasn't blocking it.

    Squat - Breaking Parallel 4.jpg

    In this capture, it's still hard to see the exact bar position because it's blocked by the plate and it angles towards the back of the picture. It looks like it's almost in high-bar position, but I think it's actually a little lower, because the pad raises it a bit. Anyway, it looks like, with better bar position (lower, no pad, and with better arm angle too), a slighter wider stance, and feet/legs point outwards a bit more, my form wouldn't be too bad. Thoughts?

    I think Monday I have to try to do a capture with just the bar and stepping away from the base, in order to get a clearer picture of the bar and knee (leftmost line) positions relative to the midfoot (rightmost line).

    For reference, here's Rips diagram again:

    Bar Position.jpg
     
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  12. Abide

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    I think your form is fine. The angle of the camera is a little behind so it distorts where the bar is sitting exactly. Honestly if thats comfortable don't drop the bar down unless you think its easier on the neck.

    I don't like going wider than jumping stance because it irritates my knees, but its always good to try it out first. Somethign I noticed when I was watching Rip squat was how slow he goes between each rep. I wonder if that might help some?
     
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  13. Bare Lee

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    Thanks for the feedback Abide, I really appreciate it. Yeah, the form is feeling 90% there, but if I can tweak it a little more, that'd be great. The main reason I want to drop the bar down is so that I can add more weight, in keeping with my 'intensity is key' approach.

    If I widen the stance, it will just be a little bit. I want to keep within medium stance parameters. I think RDL is spot on with his recommendation to keep everything medium grip and stance, in order to maximize muscle leverages and joint safety. I'll also experiment with different degrees of foot angle. Right now they are close to straight forward.

    But yeah, the camera angle definitely distorts the perception of bar position. It almost looks like my forearm is bending freakishly upwards.

    Do you mean that Rip pauses in between each rep, or that his bar speed is slow. Do you have a video link handy?


    OK, here's one:

    He does pause at the top of each rep. Also, his hands are wider than I've been going. I think I've misunderstood. According to the bearded guy, with the high-bar squat the hands are closer, with normal thumbed grip, and with the low-bar, they're wider and a thumbless grip may be useful. That could help a lot in getting the bar down lower. Instead of placing my hands inside my rack (about 32-33"), I could place them outside(about 36-37"), as I have in the past sometimes.

    However, he doesn't even seem to break parallel on some reps, and as you've pointed out before, his hip drive seems exaggerated, making him do a mild good morning in the second phase of the ascent. I like the bearded guy's form much better--it's deeper, and his ascent is more unified/monophasic.

    This instructional video seems pretty good as well:


    He doesn't do the elbow back thing like Rip, and also has a monophasic ascent. What do you think of his grip and stance width (around 2:15)?
     
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  14. Abide

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    Yeah that was the video he takes a breath between reps. Maybe I should slow my sets down like that.

    I like in that second video about maintaining your torso angle that would make it less like a good morning.

    I don't have much experience with these type of squats a high bar deep squat has always felt more comfortable for me. I know people like doing box squats to drill the patterning maybe try that to focus on the hips back motion.

    He's also wearing squat shoes which seem like they arr making him lead forward more vs what Rip is doing.

    Now you have me interested I might try to do a legit low bar next week.
     
  15. Bare Lee

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    Yah, seems perfectly legit to pause a little in between reps, especially with a technical lift like the squat. It's good to take stock of everything, make sure everything's in place and maybe visualize the movement a bit before each rep. I'll try doing that more.

    Yah, that's a good cue. Looking at my video (is there a way to upload videos without using YouTube?) my form on descents and ascents is pretty smooth and I appear to maintain the angle throughout. So at least I got that down.

    Yah, Westside is big into box squats. That could be a good assistance lift, maybe better than the OH Squat? Or I could alternate them. Trying to keep the workouts simple and uniform though. And the video seems to indicate my form is already OK there. Now that I'm squatting at my desk from time to time, it's funny to get up/ascend as if I had a load.

    I didn't see the squat shoes. But I think us barefoot runners probably already have good ankle mobility. At least, I've never felt that to be a limiting factor.

    Yah, I think getting the low-bar position back in is the biggest missing piece for me right now. When we started talking about ass-to-grass, I started doing more high-bar like that Russian Olympic lifter. And at about the same time I was training shirtless because of the summer heat and the knurling was digging into my back's skin, so I put on the pad. I think trying the ass-to-grass squat helped me get deeper, but now I should go back to low bar and see if it leads to any gains in load capacity. I can almost feel 300 around the corner. It feels closer than a 405 deadlift, and I'm pretty sure the squats are improving my deadlift anyway. It would probably speed up your DL advance as well.

    Another good cue is to pull down on the bar. I did this fiercely when I almost stalled on my 275 PR, and I've done it a bit since on lesser lifts when they start to stall, but I should probably get in the habit of doing it on all the singles and triples, maybe even on the quintuples.
     
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  16. BroadArrow

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    thanks for the welcome.

    i don't know if pushing weights around will actually help my volleyball or not. i think i'm serving into the net less, so maybe that tiny bit of arm strength is putting me over the top... on the other hand, last night we got destroyed (as usual in that league) and i didn't feel like i was getting off the ground very well. maybe it has something to do with coming off of two weights days combined with 20 miles of running. i thought i would be clever and do a shorter run since it was volleyball day but somehow ended up with over 6 miles....

    i have pretty much despaired of anything actually affecting my jumping ability for ill or for gain, so the weight training is the last (false) hope. one reason is that i moved from IL to DC for three years. during that time i didn't do any running, sports, or anything. only walking from the subway to work and up and down the escalators. and carrying my children around in baby carriers. after we moved back and i fell in with my volleyball buddies, i found that my "leap" was exactly where it had been before (and the same as the previous 15 years). i have a physical therapist friend who gave me her "jumping into plyometrics" book on permanent loan. so, i have given that a go a couple times. i've only found it to improve my confidence and steadiness, but not performance. even doing pretty high volumes of pretty intense versions of box jumps doesn't seem to faze my legs.

    of course, it is documented in the book that in the good old days, the trainers wanted people to be able to do like a 1.5 or preferably double bodyweight squat before getting into the plyometrics. while i can apparently do a few one-legged squats, that somehow doesn't translate into doing two-legged ones.

    so, my current logic is that the most likely weak spot is the raw strength (specifically, the lack thereof). my recent foray into squats hasn't translated into more vertical (yet; although the max you can hope for is what? a 10 or 20% improvement? that's like 2-4 inches, so i'm not sure how noticable it would be anyway). they don't seem to interfere with running at this point since i seem to be running faster for longer than ever before (or is that just that i've been running for two years now?).

    anyways, even though this seems like the semi-official super-long-post thread, perhaps i'll follow this up with a separate post with my current "super-awesome" workout plan for your scorning pleasure....
     
  17. BroadArrow

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    my current plan is an oversimplification of my understanding of you guys' oversimplification of the rippetoe oversimplification of "starting strength" (since i'm way too lame to chase down the book). i include the weight values in hopes that many moons from now, i will be able to do slightly better. also: to bring smiles to readers' faces when they realize that they aren't the weakest person in the world.

    (all weights in pounds)

    sunday:
    press 2x5 (light warmup: currently about 40lbs)
    press 5x5 (currently maxed out at about 80)
    deadlift 2x5 (light warmup: 125)
    deadlift 5x5 (currently 165 with room to keep moving up)

    monday:
    volleyball day

    tuesday:
    pullups 3x? (to failure: currently 9/8/6)
    squats 2x5 (light warmup: 70)
    squats 5x5 (currently 120 with a little room to move up)

    wednesday:
    repeat of sunday: press & deadlift

    thursday:
    volleyball day

    friday:
    repeat of tuesday: pullups & squats

    saturday:
    completely off day (i'm a saturday church kind of guy. although, during the fall/winter [i.e., starting about now], i may move the friday workout to saturday night to accommodate a sundown-to-sundown definition for the rest day...)

    notes....

    timing: i tend to do the workouts at night right before bed since that is when the kiddies are out of the way and (hopefully) sleeping. which, as we all know, can push it pretty late....

    inter-set rests: being more of an endurance person, i have a tendency to move directly from one set to another. since trying out this stripped down plan, i've been using a timer to force myself to stand around for 2 minutes for the warmup sets and 3 1/2 to 4 1/2 minutes between "real" sets. to make it tolerable, i either clean the room or have a book sitting open and get some reading in to keep me on the straight/strait and narrow. i guess the rest is good for making sure you have a shot at putting up "heavy" weights, but it sure does drag out a two exercise workout into a 45min or an hour proposition.

    press: i take it off the squat racks rather than picking it up off the floor. this is so i don't have to pay to rebuild the floor if i screw something up, i guess. i like to kick my elbows out to the side, but i should probably figure out what the proper ways to pushing the bar up are and choose a comfortable one. i put my hands so my thumbs are basically at the outside edge of my shoulders.

    deadlift: i tend toward straighter legs and try to minimize the leg movement. i figure i'm trying to get the deadlift to work the back more (whatever that means) and the squats to work the legs.

    pullups: hands on the same side of the bar as my face. (fascinating, i know...)

    squats: i'm trying to do that max-range-of-motion/super-deep style. fortunately, i'm so skinny that i can go pretty far down before i get the calves pushing against the hamstrings thing that is supposed to put weird stresses on your knees. i want to keep my back fairly vertical, so pursuant to the recent discussion, i guess i should try to keep the bar as high as reasonable to keep my combined center of gravity forward, so, so, so...

    so far, i've managed to keep this going for two weeks starting a little below what i think i can do and doing the "add 5 pounds each time" thing. i'm pretty sure i've bumped up against my current max for press, getting close on the squats, but there's still a little ways to go for the deadlifts.

    i've been keeping up a decent running volume, aiming for 5 or 6 days a week. basically, i try to get in as much as possible and then let life interfere. so this week was 40.9 mi in 5 runs and last week was 36.5 in 5 runs. so far, i seem to do better with running all the time rather than having off days (and yes, i have an inscrutable spreadsheet keeping track...).

    if history is any guide, i will not be gaining any weight, but, hopefully i'll get a little stronger. between the weights and the running, i seem to spend my whole day eating and have to decide between eating the 8th meal of the day or going to bed....

    since i am signed up for a 50-miler in 3 weeks as well as having maxed out the press for the moment, i am thinking of resetting the weight loads back down a little. it should also allow me to make sure i am using decent form and range of motion.

    so, perhaps:
    press -> 65
    deadlift -> 160
    squats -> 110

    that's my flavor of the moment.
     
  18. Bare Lee

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    Considering how skinny you say you are, those seem like good loads. Pound for pound you're pretty strong. I wonder why you don't have the bench press or any rows in there though. Is it because you're focusing on verticality and don't want to add any mass that won't help your volleyball game or endurance running?

    For presses, I've found that keeping my elbows more in front seems to help protect my shoulders, but as with any n=1 experience, it's hard to verify.

    I don't think it's necessary to shift emphasis to the back on deadlifts. Once the loads increase, your back will get plenty of work. I would focus on doing them with normal form in order to protect your back from undue stress, and to work the posterior chain as a functional whole. If you want more back work, I would do rows. As a connoisseur of our scribblings here, you'll know that I prefer the one-handed dumbbell row.

    For the squat, you might consider front squats, if you really want to emphasize quad development, depth, and keeping the torso vertical. I've never really done them however. My focus is purely on general strength, so I think the low-bar back squat is probably the way to go for me, although I intend to work front squats in at some point.

    Anyway, once again, welcome to the thread. Look forward to tracking your progress.
     
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  19. BroadArrow

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    well, if i'm really that strong, maybe i can join your deadlift challenge on a weight-adjusted, time-delayed basis. :) at 150 pounds, i guess i've already won! (not quite.)

    i don't have bench or rows for a couple reasons. i don't have a bench on which to recline (even though it would work great with my squat stands that have little bench press rests and even possibly useful safety thingees). i have a cable&stack machine that has a bench press kind of thing on it. but, it necessarily has a particular range of motion determined by the geometry of the giant lever. over the previous few months, i have hit it with a little progress and am near the capacity of the machine. prior to this current formulation, i was doing a sort of backward push-up thing (putting the bar 3 feet off the ground, putting heels on a stool or something; and then pulling until my chest/neck touches the bar). it was hard to keep a consistent load and stay inspired. and apparently, i don't really know they should be done.

    i guess my theory is that the pull-ups are supposed to do the non-static upper back thing that rows might help with. and then i got inspired by some mark rippetoe tirade about the "press". and truly, how often do you find yourself flat on your back with a car parked on top of you? more often you're trying to squeeze that last box through the entrance to the attic or loft your children to great heights. plus, i already have a beautiful wife, so impressing the ladies isn't so much of a priority (if it were even a possibility at all). and anyways, i've never heard a girl brag about her boyfriend's pecs, but i *have* heard them brag about how their boyfriend can do handstand pushups without the wall....

    already, it takes me forever to get through a workout session, so i'm trying to do simple and stick to what seems like the highest return on time investment exercises.

    in theory, i guess i'm worried about putting on mass, but not really because: a) it ain't gonna happen and b) as long as the added pound pushes harder than 1 pound, you're faster/higher/stronger.
     
  20. Bare Lee

    Bare Lee
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    Check yerself out here, for BW-adjusted deadlift standards:
    http://www.exrx.net/Testing/WeightLifting/DeadliftStandards.html

    But let's not forget age-adjusted . . .
    http://www.lonkilgore.com/freebies/deadlift_standards_pounds_small.pdf

    Hey, come to think of it, maybe there should be weight-adjusted distance categories too. If a guy like me can run 16 miles, does that mean I've already finished a 50-miler? Throw in age-adjustment, and I'm a proud hundo finisher!:woot:

    Well, doing any perfectly balanced barbell exercise is artificial, so I don't know if naturalism is always going to be a valid criterion. But more to the point, pushing horizontally is actually a pretty common action in sports like football and boxing, and the bench press is a good way to train this force/direction pairing. And while you may never be able to push a car off of you, it's sometimes useful to push a car out of something, like snow, sand, or mud. I've also been surprised by how much the bench press works the back, especially with more of a medium grip.

    Rippetoe likes the OH Press. RDL gives good reasons for avoiding it (http://www.rdlfitness.com/avoid-the-overhead-press/). In the end, do as you please. If fitness and not performance is the goal, I doubt any of this really matters. I try to cover what I consider the six basic force/direction pairings, and organize everything around that. I don't have any performance goals in mind. The DL contest is just for fun and so far I've been good about not letting it distort my routine. I do use ExRx's strength standard chart, however, to help identify relative strengths and weaknesses.

    Anyway, you already have the squat rack, so if you decide to add the bench press, you can always pick up a flat bench for cheap on craigslist or someplace, and it can get double duty on your db rows too, if you take those up.

    You're in your thirties still, right? Wait another few years and see if it doesn't get easier to put on weight . . .
     
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