Sunday, September 21, 2014

Yet again he describes his workout programming

After a period of training for other goals (read: cycling 80km a day with 30kg of gear), I’m again in a back-to-basics phase of lifting. For the moment I must work around BJJ twice a week, Tuesday/Thursday, which is a scheduling challenge. So, with the goal of reaching some basic strength benchmarks and not interfering with BJJ, I started program design. 

I want a 1.5xBW squat. Although the front squat will be much harder to hit that kind of weight with, I’ve found it helps hip and ankle mobility, and I’ve found transitioning from a 100kg front squat to a 110-120kg back squat was no problem last time. So: front squats 3x5, aiming for 100kg, at which point I’ll consider alternate rep schemes (e.g. 3x3, then 3x4 in the next session, then 3x5, then add weight for 3x3) and perhaps integrating back squats. I considered lowering the number of sets to allow for BJJ interfering with progress…but no. 

Because my hamstrings are short and they go so well with front squats, I picked RDLs over straight deadlifts. The goal is 1.5xBW for a set of 12, then switch to sweet, sexy off-the-floor DLs.

At first I tried including power snatches, but the weight, equipment, time, and energy levels didn’t work. During that period, I was doing pull-ups and dips. After dropping the snatches, I returned to an old staple: the slow circuit, three times through:

  • Pull-ups (each workout using a different grip out of a set of 4)
  • Dips (each workout using a wide, medium, or narrow grip)
  • Box jumps

…with brief rest periods between each exercise. This allows me to A) bring down on my rest times (from 3-5 minutes to 1-2) while still hitting strengthy numbers in my upper-body exercises, and B) get in some explosive training at a low “training cost”. The box jumps are quick, and insignificant with regards to my recovery demands. (The snatches, being a new skill that needs warm-up sets and its own rest periods, failed in both regards. I love ‘em, I want to train ‘em, but not now.)

I aim for three times a week, auto-regulating my attendance depending on how burnt out BJJ makes me. I’ve found that if I feel a little overexerted, I can just not increase the weight for my squats and RDLs, and things go fine.

This is a slightly tweaked version of previous “beginner but not novice” programs I’ve used for myself. The biggest change is the half-hour of dynamic mobility work I do in the beginning of the workout, which is producing the same excellent dividends I expect from the rest of the workout: my squat feels deep and upright, my hamstrings are lengthening, and I’m almost at my near-term goals of 100kg front squat / 120kg RDL / 15 pull-ups for sets across. I already hit my “easy” dip goal of 20 for sets across, and found that adding a 20kg kettlebell barely slowed me down. Next stop: 2x20kg for 10. 

With my strength starting to return, I am on the lookout for injuries and I am brainstorming the next phase. Once I reach my basic strength benchmarks, I plan to put those lifts into maintenance mode and focus on the power clean and power snatch, with the squat, deadlift, and upper-body work all secondary. Citius, altius, fortius.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

For mobility hour inspiration. The latter half is more interesting.


Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Olympic Weightlifting training with commentary by Greg Everett (by Catalyst Athletics)

[2:02] You spend 30 years of your life developing this inflexibility it doesn’t go away quickly or easily. It takes a lot of tedious and unglamorous and boring work that’s tough to convince people to do after they’ve been training two to three hours.

[1:42] I like doing behind-the-neck work [e.g. push presses] early on in a cycle, to get that upper-back strength and upper-back mobility.

Friday, February 28, 2014

K*’s Basic Upper Body Mobility Maintenance List

  1. Double lacrosse ball into thoracic spine while lying prone, both arms overhead, extending through each vertebrae
  2. First rib/second rib lacrosse balling, arm overhead
  3. Internal rotated arm, lacrosse ball in lower/outer corner of scapula
  4. Overhead external rotation, lean forward
  5. Front rack problem-solving: band distraction from below with elbow pointing up
  6. This is too long and I don’t understand where K* is demarcating these techniques so I’m stopping now.

Look. No list, no stretching model is going to work. The point of yoga, [how] it’s so effective works is the fact that there’s a teacher who can look at you and find out what you need to work on and can guide you through these movements. That’s the yogic model.

Mobilizing with intent is everything. Finding out where you need to go and what’s limiting you to remove the restriction is [where] we’ve got to go. Mobilize the position of restriction.

Do not get suckered into these laundry-list pieces. They don’t have intention, they don’t have verve, they don’t work, they’re not effective, people throw ‘em away. Mobilize with intent, then you’ll see results.

Don’t do the whole body every day. It’s too much. Figure out what you’ve got to do and get ‘er done.


K*’s The Lower Extremity Basic Maintenance List:

1. External rotation with lateral distraction
2. Lunge plus external rotation, hunting
3. Pigeon prep: same as 2, but collapse the leg
4. Same, but rear leg elevated (couch stretch)
5. Lunge with forward distraction, arm overhead
6. Lunge with elevated front foot, opening the front of the hip
7. Single-leg standing hamstring stretch
8. Same with rear leg kneeling, akin to hurdler
9. Calf stretch with toe against wall
10. Happy baby against a wall
11. Lacrosse ball into high hamstrings/glutes
12. Lacrosse ball into TFL

This is a long list for the basics. Just covering the fundamentals are not so easy. The way he puts it is that it’s a “conjugate model of mobilizing…to keep having different stimulus hitting different things all the time.”

Kelly could deal with a simplified naming standard, or a mnemonic or something. I’m not smart, but I’m not dumb and I’ve put some time into this, yet this is still at the edge of my ability to hold in my head at one time. I hear what he’s saying about everyone needing critical thinking, needing to find these solutions for themselves. But this much material could handle some abstraction.


Saturday, February 22, 2014

Joe Rogan, high as a kite and homophobic as a hick, cannot keep up with the naturally-cocained Kelly Starrett as they discuss:

  • the “universal language” of movement, that is, the universality of correct movement patterns, across combat sports, yoga, gymnastics, and so on (31:50, and the previous 10 minutes as well)
  • full ROMs: fully kneeling while sitting on one’s heels (ankle), arms overhead with two 55-pound kettlebells, ribs down, armpit forward, externally rotated (shoulder)
  • some positions required by sports, particularly fighting, are inherently unstable or incorrect and cause trouble over time…so how does the body respond, and how should we prevent trouble while using those positions (46:30)
  • “my goal is to create a movement library with as much capacity in that as I can, so that my athletes are positionally strong, they can be strong and stable, and they can generate a lot of force in those bad positions, because you’re going to be in bad positions!” 57:15
  • “if you are missing range of motion in your shoulder—because most of us are…” (59:00)
  • "muscles and tissues are like obedient dogs” (ibid)
  • Saturday Night Palsy (1:00:00)
  • “By the way, pussies are awesome. We should really take that word back. If you call me a pussy, I should be like, ‘Hey thanks man. I am a pussy. Pussies are awesome.’” (1:17:00)
  • Concept of “training age”, necessary to know one’s capacities and know yourself as an athlete (or for a coach to know the athlete)
  • Pinky out drinking tea is to create stability at the elbow, just like high-level runners keep their fingers apart. (1:29:00)
  • “I’ve never not been able to create a [foot] arch in someone.” (1:36:15)
  • ACL analogy using the fingers: middle finger crossed/hooked over the index, then jam those two into the fist of the other hand. Externally rotate for stability. Collapse “foot” (fist) to produce slack. (1:37:00)
  • Formula: with right lifestyle (control stress and sleep), food, movement, “you should be pain-free and continue to get better.” The body is continuing to heal itself until it dies.
  • Physical cultures have developed practices around accessing the parasympathetic nervous system for optimal recovery: NBA players who “smoke a bowl and foam roll”, Thai fighters getting massage and handjobs, etc. (~2:05:00)


Friday, February 21, 2014

Hip demands of the upright torso, from MobilityWOD.

Quite relevant to my current progress.


Sunday, November 3, 2013 Sunday, June 30, 2013

Kelly Starrett, calling me out:

All of the lower psoas and iliacus is dragging my pelvis forward to keep me out of a dumped [round-backed, seated, falling-backward] position, which doesn’t work.

This is a dead giveaway…that you need to work on end-range hip flexion. If you don’t have full hip flexion and your femurs run into your pelvis, it’s dumping you backwards.

Friday, May 10, 2013 Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Monday, January 7, 2013 Wednesday, November 7, 2012


The most immediately productive improvements to my fitness have been:

  • Going from essentially no exercise to the varied (some might say haphazard) and moderately demanding conditioning and strength-endurance work of light-contact karate
  • Going from light-contact karate to running and sprinting several miles, five to six days a week, as part of Ultimate
  • Going from light-contact karate to judo, jiu-jitsu, muay Thai, wrestling and MMA
  • Going from judo twice a week to yoga five times a week
  • Going from not lifting (or lifting light and infrequently) to lifting heavy

These changes to my strength-conditioning-mobility regimen each provided a tremendous return on investment within only a month. It was quite dramatic each time: a wicked trough of pain, followed by a surge along some axis of physicality. Adding yoga boosted my flexibility; adding Ultimate shot my flexibility and conditioning through the roof; trying new combat sports wildly improved my conditioning, speed, and proprioception; starting lifting gave me never-before-known strength, mobility, and power.

To that list I now add the most basic of mobility exercises: spending time in the third world squat. K* obviously considers it a fundamental; it was the first thing he showed in his MobilityWOD. I have felt the power of this drill once before, when throwing brief sit-in-a-squat breaks throughout my work day. This helped my barbell squat a great deal, but it wasn’t really earth-shattering.

Now that I have added a “squat test” to my lifting workouts, I see the true power. The “squat breaks” gave me a third world squat, but actually timing them, increasing my times each workout, has been transformative. I can straighten my back in the bottom of the squat. The upright ass-to-grass squat, which had eluded me for so long, and so infuriatingly, is now in reach.

I’m so excited for what this means for my barbell squat. My best is still only about 5 minutes sitting in the squat. Maybe if I keep on it my pistols will start to look better? I can only assume it will help my jiu-jitsu.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Mobility > Strength

In the interests of:

  1. addressing long-standing mobility and joint health issues,
  2. recognizing the simple fact that my desired volume of lifting is greater than my normal recovery capabilities,
  3. allocating more of my limited recovery to a planned increase in running and combat sports,

I have decided on the following lifting program.

  • A: Warm-up, back squat 3x5, mobility work, chin-ups (2 sets of 3 to 5 with holds and negatives, 1 set for reps)
  • B: Warm-up, front squat 1x5, deadlift 1x5 or 1x3 or singles, mobility work, overhead press 3x5.

Warm-ups consist of a thorough rotation of all the joints, five minutes of jogging or jump-rope or shadowboxing, leg raises/swings, and arm circles/swings. (The latter two cover the two major complex joints, the hips and shoulders.) I have been slacking on these, because it’s easy to put them aside and focus on getting under the bar. Until, that is, one notices that lifting the bar hurts.

If I have extra time during the warm-up, or during the re-warm-up for the second exercise if necessary, I like to do some pistols and lunges in order to stay fresh on those unilateral movements.

Mobility work consists of mandatory and optional exercises. Mandatory are a 3rd world squat test, three sets of five wall slides, and band work for the shoulder and hip. (Doing a test-retest of the rack position before and after shoulder external rotational work with the band was educational.) Optional are overhead squats with a broomstick, duck walks, and physical therapy stretches for the wrist and elbow.

I aim to regain the habit of morning runs and stretches, as well.