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Two days later after my Squat PR, I decided to try a Deadlift one! And lo and behold, I did it! :D 145 kg = 320 lbs = Body Weight x 1.80! :) Only 15 kg left to BW x 2 which is one of my strength goals of the year.
Boo ya!

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New Squat PR!

Posted: March 26, 2013 in Workout Journal
Tags: , , , , ,

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I could could have gone a bit heavier for my quads sake, but did not dare because of the stress in the hip flexors. The picture to the left was actually from my first try on 120 kg, but I was so disapointed with the depth of it, so I did it again and this time a whole lot deeper ;) I still struggle with my tilting hips as soon as I get down past 90 degrees.

Anyway! A new PR! And I actually reached one of my personal strength goal of the year on this – Squatting my body weight x 1.5!

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Trying to figure out what to work on, I put together this metcon. I was simply ignorant as to how much stress it would put on my lower back and forearms. Here was my WOD:

Warmup
1000 m row
A bunch of different movements to loosen up my hip

Strength
Front Lunges at 50% BW 5×4

Metcon
For time
21 – 15 – 9 (Complete all exercises 21 times before moving to 15 and the same before 9)

Crossfit Kettlebell Swings 24 kg
Clean 40 kg
Sit-ups
Front Squats 40 kg

Results
17:15

Comments
I tried lifting the different things before I started just to find a good but challenging weight. I thought I did a pretty good job, but as soon as I started swinging that 24 kg Kettlebell – oh heavens! I was literary grabbing on to that ball of led for dear life! It completely drained my grip so moving on to the Cleans I was really worried about completing this whole thing.

I am still experimenting with different tweaks on the technique of the Clean, but I think I am improving at least. I had originally written up Push-Ups instead of Sit-ups, but realizing that I had to do another exercise with my arms and hands made me swap em for the Sit-Ups. These were of no problem at all, that almost felt like my biggest resting point. The Front Squats went a lot better than I expected. Being still unused to really resting the bar on my shoulders in front of me makes me grimace every time the bar lands there on my pointy collar bones.

So, slowly but surely I am making progress. Every Squat, every Clean, every whatever exercise is a step closer to mastering the techniques. And I can’t wait for that day when I am so secure on the techniques that I barely have to think about them, but just do em!

Happy lifting dear readers!

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Each year the Crossfit organisation organizes a series of different WODs people from all around the world does to see if they can rank among the best. These WODs are called The Open. They do this in order to qualify to the Regionals and then the actual Games. And if you win the Games you are concidered the fitest person on the planet!

The second WOD – 13.2 – was released last week and you can find more detailed info on it here if you want to watch videos and see what it is all about.

I tried it last night. I lacked both strength and technique in order to do it Rx (as prescribed for men) and so I did it Rx Men Masters (+55 years), Ha ha! ;D So I used a 95 lbs bar.

The Deadlift was no problems at all. I even did a pure strength workout prior to the WOD on Deadlifts, doing 240 lbs x 5 x 4. The Shoulder to Overhead was the real issue, mainly because of the technique – or rather the lack of it. But it worked out, it wasn’t too heavy after all. The Box Jumps went really good, I only messed up on a few reps (you have to be standing on top of the box with both knees and hip fully extended before jumping down again.)

My results were 7 rounds = 210 reps. (the winner of the 13.2 WOD was Daniell Sidell who did an amazing 420 reps!!) Let’s just say that I got quite the ways to go! ;)

(So I Googled “Big 5” and I got a bunch of picture of these animals. Had I missed something here? :P I looked in to it and found out that this is part of what they call The Big Five Personality Test, where they test your Openness, Conscientiousness, Extraversion, Agreeableness and Neuroticism.)

Something some fitness and wellness bloggers are posting now is something called My Big Five or something equivalent. It is simply a priority/dream list of 5 things they wish they could accomplish with their body. Here are mine:

Feeling Free
The feeling of freedom that comes from great strength. To just pick up weights with ease and to use your own body to perform a series of hard moves, like Free Handstand Push-ups, Human Flag, Muscle-Ups etc.

Be confident with the barbell
Since I love Crossfit, but are more or less self-taught, there are still many drills and exercises that I feel I don’t master. I would love to be able to do all the different exercises they do on the Crossfit Open Games, like the Snatch, Overhead Squats and Cleans.

Deadlifts
I guess it goes along with the two previous points, but I want to be able to lift really heavy on the Deadlift. For me it is a great measure of a persons strength since I can’t think of a single exercise that utilize so much of the body at once (the Back Squat is probably not far from it..)

Grip Strength
A good handshake is what defines a man” or something like that. A saying I heard a long time ago. I to have a solid and firm grip, so that when people shake my hand they can feel my dedication.

Endurance
I have never considered myself as a runner – but rather a sprinter. I love fast pace sessions, interval-style, where I can give my all, rest for just a brief moment (read puke!), and then get right back to it and do it again. I wish I had a better ability for recovery and regeneration to just keep going and going.

There,  I hope you enjoyed the list and that you have a great weekend! (Do your best to stay away from the unhealthy crap! I know I will have a hard time, but keep it in mind at least ;)

Cheers!

[Disclaimer] This whole post comes from schwarzenegger.com and I take no credit for it! I was just amazed by a lot of the information and tips given and wanted to share it with you guys! I especially liked the 10 min clip about how a small and simple side plank can open up your movements.
 


By Dean Somerset

The term hacking [hak-ing] was originally used in mid-century architecture to talk about replacing one row of stones supporting a structure with two rows. In today’s vernacular, it’s literal definition has a couple different meanings; either to cut mercilessly or to remove dead overgrowth, or to gain access to computer servers from remote locations and without permission.

You could essentially say it’s a way of finding short cuts in systems, or gaining access to areas that are typically off limits. While the concept of hacking is typically reserved for computer geeks, exercise is typically all about hacking. We’re always trying to find ways to put more weight on the bar, become more efficient with our muscle gaining programs, and develop the best nutritional strategy to lose body fat while retaining our hard-earned muscle. We cut away what doesn’t work and find physiological short cuts to get to our goals faster.

This ruthless means of finding faster routes against authoritative stances has lead to various breakthroughs from fighters looking to cut weight for weight classes, which lead to different protocols for rapid weight loss while maintaining lean muscle mass, and also new methods of improving athletic performance in multiple sports while reducing the incidence of casual injuries.

It also allows us to discard old notions as they become obsolete and become proven inaccurate. Take “functional” training for example. Years ago someone’s idea of functional was standing on a bosu while pulling on an elastic, curling a dumbbell and reciting the pledge of allegiance. The belief was this created more efficient and “functional” muscles than a bodybuilder, even though the body builder could crush the functional guy in any physical task, including many balance challenges.

I’m going to share some of the hacks for how you too can work on getting a massively deep squat with minimal to no effort, and how you can overcome simple issues with structure and form to get immediate improvements. Sounds too good to be true, right? Well, then give them a try and see what happens. You have nothing to lose, except a shallow shaky squat.

Some Basics To get Straight Before We Start

There’s a few untenable truths about squats that everyone should know before we get started talking about hacks so that we can answer some questions before they get asked. It’s no way exhaustive, but it should catch the majority of problems people may have with the approach.

  1. Squatting is less about mobility and more about control.
  2. It’s less about flexion/extension and more about rotation at the hip
  3. Stretching anything other than the squat movement won’t help your squat

There’s an interesting thing that happens when you ask people why they can’t get down into a squat. Typically, the response is that they’re tight, and therefore they need more stretching. Yet after months of stretching intensively, they may still not be able to get down into the squat. Did they actually need that stretching?

When people with a restricted squat decide to try to dip it low, they may wind up with tight feeling muscles as they work to go through the movement. The true test to see if they are actually tight and in need of stretching comes from looking at how their joints move when they have no load on them. Laying on their back, if they can pull a knee to their chest without having the other leg come off the floor (or table in this example), they don’t have a limitation to range of motion necessary to complete the movement. This means they don’t need additional stretching. Period.


From a pure saggital plane action, they have nothing holding them back from completing the movement if they can get this down. Another way to show it is if they have the chance to go through their squat while hanging on to a structure for support, and can slap their booty off their heels without a problem. Did the flexibility at their hips and knees suddenly change? Nope, but their level of control over the movement increased.

Watch an Olympic weight lifter catch the bar in the clean, and you’ll typically see a very deep squat where they bounce their hamstrings off their calves. You’ll also notice a lot of lateral movement of the knee. Typically when the catch is made and the lifter bounces back up into the stand. The rotation at the hips is a major factor that can either make or break the squat. If the lifter isn’t stable through rotation, they wind up limiting their depth. The limitation to rotation can come from the hip joint itself or a compensation from an unstable core.

 

Hack #1: Pre-stabilize before loading

As shown in the video above, hip mobility was dramatically increased when the core muscles were challenged, which means you can take advantage of a similar action. If you’re one of the multitude of cubicle farmers out there who punch the corporate clock for a living, you’ve been sitting all day and then set out to get in a lift after work. Or you probably lift before work, but in either case your core isn’t doing what it should and could use a little fire to get working properly.

Bust out a very quick primer series to help you get set and solid. Hit up some front planks and side planks, focusing on getting total body contractions through your shoulders, abs and glutes to build a stable strong foundation during the movement.


Start from the knees and then move to the toes when you’re able to completely own the kneeling position and maintain a perfectly linear posture. Squeeze for 10 seconds, touch down and breathe, and repeat for 3 “reps” per side per movement. This 2 minute primer will pay massive dividends for getting you ready to hit some squatting magic.

Hack #2: squat stance

Squat stance can affect the depth of the squat as much as the sense of control and mobility through the system. There’s typically three different angles that the pelvis can make at the point of attachment to the thigh bone, and the thigh bone has three common angles at the neck as it inserts into the pelvis, which means there’s 27 different possible hip joint angle combinations, and makes squat stance more of an individual thing that is all about how easily you can squat low without any restriction.

Most people will find an easier squat stance with their feet slightly wider than shoulder width, toes turned slightly out, and keeping their knees vertical over their toes. That being said, I’ve had some clients who can squat to the floor with their feet touching, so playing around with stance is going to be an important hack to find your ideal setup. It’s easy to do. Just squat, move your feet to a different position, and find the one that feels the most effortless to hit a good depth. Your goal will be to find this stance every time you squat.

One simple way to find your ideal squat stance is to find out how to stand up from a chair without rolling forward, lifting your heels, letting your knees come inside your feet, and without using your hands. It sounds simple, but give it a try. Remember, you can’t lean forward or use your hands, and your feet have to be flat on the ground. If you can’t get out of your chair without a bar on your back, the odds of you using that same squat stance to get into the hole with a substantial weight on your shoulders is minimal, so play around with it to figure out where you should stand.

Hack #3: Start it from the Bottom

Most people start a squat from the top down, whereas if the goal is to get some depth on your squat, that’s where you should start.  If you can dip it low and then bring it up slow, you’ll have a better chance of gaining control over the movement than trying to start from the top and sinking into an unstable scenario.

Here’s how to do it. Use a supportive structure, like a railing, TRX, or random supermodel standing around. Drop into a squat holding onto the support to make sure you can get to depth without any control issues, then find your balance so you can let go of the support. Once you’re at the bottom of the squat completely unsupported, try to stand up, making sure not to lean forward or arch or anything that would be less than desirable if you had 500 pounds on your back.

For added benefit, sit to the bottom and then rock side to side, trying to keep the spine tall and the feet flat on the ground. This helps to create some additional movement in a different plane of action that can help unlock some of the lost movement in the ankles and hips.

 

 

Hack #4: Press down into the squat

Most people treat the squat like they’re being lowered into a vat of Acme-grade acid like the Looney Tune cartoons of Arnold’s youth. This would be similar to simply lowering the bar to the chest in a bench press. The muscle co-stabilization effect is lost and the total power that can be produced by the joints involved is reduced, which means the end result is a less than optimal squat. Additionally, the body won’t let you move into a range of motion it doesn’t feel it has control over, which is where the restriction to squat depth comes from.

One way to get through this is to think of pulling into your squat. Pretend you have a Wil E. Coyote surplus spring between your butt and the floor and try to press that sucker flat. Take a big breath in, squeeze it and tense your core, and press down into the hole between your feet, making sure you aren’t rounding your back on the way down. Make each rep a taxing workout on its’ own, and try to get one inch deeper on each successive rep.

Hack #5: Take your hips outside

As mentioned earlier, the hips tend to need some work in multiple planes of action to see optimal mobility and strength. Putting them through a mobility series like this one below can help to keep them greased up and ready to drop it like it’s hot at the drop of a hat. That and even as a workout this would tax a lot of really fit folks out there.

 

Final thoughts

The best way to get good at squatting is to spend extra time squatting. This doesn’t just mean doing more reps, but spending more time on each rep. Thinking about where your weight placement is in respect to your feet; whether you’re in neutral, extended or flexed low back positions; where your knees are in relation to your feet and hips; and how low you’re getting into each rep can all add up to a quality training session. By focusing on the details like this and using some of the quick hacks shown here today, you can see an increase in your squat depth, which should help to jump-start your progress to lifting more, getting thicker wheels of steel, and making you feel like a complete bad ass.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dean is a personal trainer, author, and international public speaker whose main area of expertise is injury and medical dysfunction management through optimally designed exercise programs. While this is cool, Dean’s main calling is making people stronger, fitter, faster, more Kanye-er than they thought possible, even if they’re recovering from major or minor injuries, or while dealing with medical disorders. Dean has taught seminars across North America on topics ranging from Post Rehab for the Personal Trainer to Psychology and Motivation for Optimal Training.

Website: http://deansomerset.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/deansomerset

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As Many Rounds As Possible in 20 minutes. I got this from a friend who did this at her gym yesterday. Since I hadn’t done Thrusters before, I was a little nervous on how it would go. I mean, I do have quite the ability to watch things and then copy it (I have always had that gift I guess… Came in quite  handy while doing Thai boxing for sure!) but watching Youtube on how it’s done will not make you the champion in doing them yourself. So it was a little bit of a trail and error, but I eventually got it, even though they were definitely the hardest part today. I really have to work on my flexibility to keep my elbows higher in front of me and also, very importantly, to work on my griping position.

I did a warm up followed by strength where I set a new PR in Cleans, followed by the Metcom.

got 11 rounds in 20 min(!), which I am considerably proud of. I probably wanted to puke and pass out just as many times, but sucked through it and finished strong! I used the Rx weight (the recommended weight for the well-trained-people) and it worked well.

And yes, I did forget my shoes today.