“Keep thy hook always baited, for a fish lurks even in the most unlikely swim.”
Al was kind enough to offer up one of his recent workouts for me to critique. Remember though, as you read through this, what my preconceived biases are: that power, speed and body control trump conventional endurance (i.e., “long and slow”) and raw strength. If you’re an endurance athlete or a power lifter/strong man competitor, you’ll see things through a completely different prism. Not wrong, mind you – just different.
So without further ado, here’s Al; my comments will be in italics –
So following your advice, I went to the gym yesterday, and did this (mainly upper body oriented) workout:
Warm up: “The Cred”: 33 lbs x 5, 44 lbs x 5, 55 lbs x 3
It was the first time for me to do the Cred, and I noticed that I was using my arms on a few reps rather than hips only. Any tips about making sure the hips do all the work?
This is something that takes a bit of practice. The tendency for most people who are not used to the movement is to utilize the arms too much – it’s a normal response. While performing this exercise (or any O-lift or O-lift derivative), employ this visualization: picture a 10lb. weight dangling at one end of a rope, the other end of which is held in your hand. So the weight is just hanging there, motionless, the rope is taught. Now, give the rope a jerk with a short, quick, and explosive “pop”. As the weight is projected upward, the rope goes slack (analogous to the initial pull) and, at a certain point (and for a fraction of a second), the weight remains motionless at the apex or rise/fall transition point (analogous to the “drop under”/catch portion of the lift). That initial “pop” is delivered by your posterior chain. Again, it takes practice to perfect this movement, and your cns has to be trained to fire/relax at a high frequency – a little more on that in an upcoming post.
Then I moved on the the bench press (I know, bad, but I want to reach a token 220 lbs max before quitting!) with hierarchical sets ala DeVany:
154 lbs x 7, 160 x 5, 165 x 3, 170 x 1
Nothing at all wrong with hierarchical training – and at certain points along one’s lifting career (and dependent upon goals), it is totally justified – just realize that this type training affects hypertrophy to a greater degree than strength or power. Power and/or RFD work is probably more so called for here. I doubt your cns is optimized (otherwise “arming-up” the Cred wouldn’t be an issue – the movement would’ve been more “automatic” for you), so I’d suggest some plyo work in the form of ballistic push-ups variations, etc., and some power-oriented pressing movements.
This was the first time I cranked a 1xbw (170 lbs) on the bench press so patted myself on the back for that . Will try to keep progressing as I did for the past weeks (+5/6 lbs every week) until I reach 220 lbs, then drop the bench press for ballistic push-ups and other niceties.
This depends on whether you think that you’re being held back by the size of your engine (hypertrophy), or that engine’s tuning (cns activation/power production ability). If I had to guess from what I’m seeing here, I’d say the latter.
Then I went for standing shoulder press negatives (jerk on the concentric part, then slow negative). Did 2 sets with 110 lbs, first with 6 reps, second with 4 reps (fried by then).
I like this combo for shoulder work as well.
Then I did 2 cycles of weighted chin-ups (26 lbs)/dips (40 lbs), only doing the negative part and pulling myself up with the legs. Managed to do 3 chin-ups and 6 dips on the first cycle, then 3 and 4 on the second one before I was fried.
I’d suggest supersetting the jerks/presses with pull-ups in this scenario. High pulls or barbell muscle-ups are a good pairing for dips. Just my preference, though.
I finished by trying the GHR machine for the first time. However, since it was lacking the plate on which the feet are supposed to rest, my shins would slide, making me unable to pull myself up properly (I feel that I could do at least 2-3 reps if held properly). So I could only pull a little bit (maybe 20 or 30 degrees) after being parallel to the floor (going down from a vertical position was impossible with this setting). I did a few attempts at it and called it a day.
It sounds like you’re on a “Roman Chair” versus a true GHR deck. You need to find some kind of set-up that will allow the locking down of your feet.
I was pretty happy with the workout, if it wasn’t for the GHR experience. Just a bit disappointed that I get fried so quickly doing negatives.
My questions for you:
– Do you have tips on making sure that the arms are not used during oly lifts (the Cred, clean etc)?
– Since I really want to do GHRs (seems like a fantastic exercise), I was thinking of finding a way to bind my feet to the machine we have to simulate a resting plate. Any tips on how that could be done? (Bands? Glue?? )
I’ve never really found a viable option for the real deal. I have known guys who’ve used extra heavy-duty kneepads (kinda like what carpet layers wear) along with the buddy system or an extra-heavy sandbag to keep their feet in place. The problem then becomes loosing that wonderful bottom stretch that the GHR affords.
– Any opinions about this workout as for upper-body mass building (i.e. am I going in the right direction)?
We need to define whether the goal here is mass (i.e., a bigger engine) or strength (i.e., a 220lb bench max) because, unless you are a relative beginner, these two goals will not (necessarily) coincide. At the very least, they’re not directly correlated.
Thanks in advance!
Got any advice for Al? Let him hear your thoughts.