Posts Tagged ‘squat’

It has been a long time since I wrote something here. Well in my defense I have been busy and lazy. I got married to the love of my life about 4 months ago so I hope that makes it more understandable. 

I am bigger, stronger and hopefully a better person after all these days. And even if I am not a better person, my better half definitely covers that for the both of us <3. 

Anyway, say hello to the newest ACE (American Council on Exercise) certified Personal Trainer. That is correct, a couple weeks ago I successfully passed the test and am now certified to give training tips advice and more! I recently also tested my 1 RM on the squat which was a solid 235lbs. At that point I did have more in me I just didn’t want to go all out. 

The wife has been feeding me well and that is an understatement. This definitely has resulted in me gaining a ridiculous amount of weight. Yours truly is now a good 175lbs (80kg). I have never been this heavy and I can’t say with certainty that all of that is muscle mass. I am fairly certain that my body fat percent has shot up to about 20% easy. But you can judge that by looking at some of the progress pictures below. I must say I am pretty impressed with how my back is shaping up. No wonder 235lbs on the back didn’t feel like the max I could do. 

Image

I am still on the 5/3/1 Big but Boring training program and it has yielded good results for me in addition to allow me to take it slow and make modifications to the program as I deem fit. Although I never want to stop getting stronger so the quest for that continues and I am sure I would have to switch over to an advanced program a year from now.

Talking about goals; my goal this year is to have a 400lb deadlift at current bodyweight or less. a 275lb squat also sounds delicious and I think is quite achievable. As far as military press goes, I want to venture into the 135lb territory. And I don’t really care for the bench that much anyway. Another important goal is to train with the wife and make her strong(her). I did get a chance to train with her after the wedding and I must say that she is one of the feistiest people I have ever trained with. She just doesn’t give up and that can be good and bad. But I really like the attitude she has in the gym (and outside the gym 🙂 ) 

This brings me to the end of this post, I promise I will be more regular posting here and will post some videos of my lifts soon. Until then take care and lift heavy!

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Recent Developments

Posted: December 7, 2013 by Savvy Saver in Uncategorized
Tags: , , , , , ,

It’s been a while since I updated the blog. I have been lazy and worked up. However, I do have a lot to update in this post. 

I recently got the opportunity to attend Learn to Train 7 seminar organized by EliteFTS in Columbus, Ohio. I was very excited to attend the seminar and to meet the powerlifters whom I could just watch videos of or read about. Unfortunately there was no lifting on the first day. Matt Wenning was the first speaker. I remember him saying that he didn’t train the overhead barbell press because he benched 600 lbs. But when he did, he pressed 405 lbs overhead. I didn’t pay much attention toward the rest of the speakers. I was just looking at all the folks around and reflecting on how small I was. I think I was the smallest person in the entire seminar barring a few women maybe. 

The second day was training day. We were split into groups and were to squat, bench and deadlift to get our form checked. A few trainers were very helpful and enthusiastic but a few were not very helpful. They had opinions which were set in stone and didn’t want to accept anything else. This happened more on the squat. I usually follow what Rippetoe says for the squat because I think he makes sense. He advises to keep your elbows back instead of down which helps in keeping the hands to help you lift the weight. Keeping elbows back helps stabilize the weight on the back which is the only thing your hands should be doing in a squat. They asked me to do more back workouts to make my back stronger so I could squat like they wanted me to. I do think I have to work a little bit on my torso angle on the squat, but I think progress will come slowly and it is nothing which cannot be worked upon. I have already incorporated Good Mornings in my workouts.

Next was the bench and I think this is the session I got the most benefit from. Before the seminar, I had zero leg drive and I believe this was making my bench stall. They taught me how to use leg drive as an advantage and that totally changed the way I look at the bench. I think I am going to be a lot stronger on the bench post seminar.

The deadlift session was a good one too. This is my favorite lift and I don’t think I need much work on this. My previous max was 315 lbs and I managed to break that to lift 325 lbs. It didn’t really feel like a max because the weight went up pretty quick and easy. I proceeded to try 365 after much encouragement of the coaches and managed to lift it off the ground. However, I didn’t lock it out. I think I could have, but I had a flight to catch in 3 hours and I didn’t want to be miserable on the flight so I let go.

At this moment I am almost done with my first wave of 5/3/1 which I had to repeat because of the 2 weeks lapse in training. I will be starting the second wave soon and I am very excited about it because I am going to be squatting 215 lbs which is going to be the heaviest I have ever done. I will keep updating this page as I get the time.  

As I have mentioned in one of my previous blog posts, the definition of fitness can be different for different people. Someone may want to be able to run faster, jump higher, run a marathon or lift heavy weights. My own definition of fitness keeps evolving overtime. Until now I was following Mehdi’s Stronglifts 5X5 program religiously. I like the lifts so much that I thought I could do it for life. But unless you’re a beginner starting out with light weights, squatting near maximal weights for 3 times a week doesn’t do much good. I used this website  to calculate my 1-rep maxes for the big lifts. And then I used this website to find where I stand.

Squat – Shy of Intermediate by 4lbs

Bench – Shy of Intermediate by 1lbs

Overhead Press – Shy of Intermediate by 6lbs

Deadlift – Between Intermediate and Advanced

This post is about my chronicles in the gym and some interesting conversations.

We all are familiar with the Bro’s of the gym. You can see one in the picture above. You’d find them benching 225 and then curling in the squat rack. But look at those fine legs. They are so fine, you can barely see them. I once saw such a guy in my college gym. All he got from us were bewildered looks and chuckles. Never do this to yourself, you wouldn’t look attractive. For more details refer to my post – Shut Up and Squat.

Talking of the squat, you’d see a lot of people who’d be in the squat rack. Heck my gym had 8 of them and they were all full in the peak hours. But many of these racks are occupied by people who will tell you “You’re going to bust your knees if you go deep.” And that is the point when I stop listening to them. There was this guy at the gym next to my rack who was squatting 300+lbs with depth less than a couple inches. I don’t even know what to call it as it was shallower than a quarter squat. He cranks up the weight to 500lbs (maybe he saw a girl in the crowd he wanted to impress). And proceeds to unrack the weight. He then tries to crank out a rep of his shallow 2 inch deep squat but fails. Fortunately he had the safety bars at about shoulder level which prevented the aftermath which wouldn’t have been pretty at all.

Strength and size are not necessarily the same thing. You can watch this video if you don’t believe me. So I was once deadlifting in the rack (I know it’s lame but I do it nevertheless). And there were a couple guys next to my rack deadlifting. They were twice my size if i was being conservative in describing them. If you saw them and if you saw me, you’d think I have never touched a weight in my life and they are professionals. My work set that day was to be 5 reps of 285lbs. I proceeded with my warm up sets and loaded my work weight on the bar. Just before I was about to start my work set, I turned to my right and saw that all of them were struggling with 225lbs. They couldn’t manage anything more than a couple reps with that weight. You cannot imagine the feeling of satisfaction I got. I did not feel jealous that they looked bigger than me. I was content that I was the stronger guy without having to look like the hulk.

The gym I used to go to recently had only 1 squat rack and 1 power rack. Thankfully the gym had more bro’s than folks who trained legitimately. So I’d have the squat rack all to myself pretty much all the time. There used to be this guy who used to box squat 300+ lbs. If you know the mechanics of the box squat, it is supposed to be performed with half of your max weight on the regular squat. So his max regular squat could have been anywhere from 500-600lbs. I was squatting a measly 185lbs one day with him doing his thing next to my rack. While resting between sets, he says “You’re the only one in this gym I’ve seen squat properly”. To that I said, “Well, I have the internet.” It’s true, you can find any resources on the internet these days if you want to train seriously. However, you want to make sure you’re not following people who just talk the talk and don’t walk the walk.

I like to do Kroc Rows at the end of my deadlift workout. I usually try and pick up a dumbbell heavier than 55lbs to do them. This particular day, I was to do Kroc rows with a 60lb dumbbell. In the middle of my set, a guy comes up to the dumbbell stand. He looks confused so I ask him if he needs help with something. He says he was looking for a 40lb dumbbell. I point it out to him. He picks it up and looks at the weight I am using. He puts it down, proceeds to pick up the second 60lb dumbbell and says “Let’s crank up the weight a little bit”. He then proceeds to struggle doing a couple of reps with that weight. Now just because I don’t look like I lift weights doesn’t mean I can’t does it? The best thing is the looks which I get when I load up the bar for a 100+kg deadlift. I love them deadlifts. It makes me feel powerful.

So I’ve decided to combine body weight training with my usual weightlifting which means the intensity has to go down. But then who doesn’t want to do one arm push ups, pull ups and one legged squats? 🙂

No one is perfect. Even the biggest of celebrities, the best of philosophers and the strongest of athletes have their own imperfections. As promised, I am going to write about my visit to the chiropractor this last week, and how it helped me to identify my own imperfections.

imbalances - chiro

I was a little apprehensive going for a visit to a chiropractor for the first time. I told her what I thought could have been wrong with my body; the alignment of the top vertebra – atlas. I continued by narrating my experiences while lifting weights and finding that one side clearly produced more force than the other as if amount of nerve cells on one side was greater than the other. She listened to me and went on to do an assessment. There was a thermal and an EMG test to determine small temperature and current differences between the two sides of the body. The chart which you see above is the result.

On the left side you can see white lines all over the spine. The white lines represent balance between both sides. On the right side is what my back looks like. There are a couple of whites which is good, a few greens which stand for low level imbalances. And then there are blues which stand for moderate level imbalances. The reds stand for high level imbalances and the black ones are “off the chart” imbalances.

As I had suspected, there is something really wrong with my atlas which can be seen with the colorful top vertebra. Another thing which I had suspected was the right hip, notice how the two black lines branch out from it. After my assessment, I was made to lie down in a prone position. The first thing which the chiropractor did was to examine my leg lengths. She told me that my right leg was a little over an inch shorter than my left leg. She then proceeded to crack a couple bones in my back; which is called adjusting the spine. She then said I had a week left knee, which I was expecting as my left knee has given me trouble in the past. She proceeded to crack my neck and answered a few of my questions.

I came back thinking of whether it helped at all. I put on my chuck taylors and squatted down in a body weight squat and surprisingly felt better while doing so.

Yesterday I was squatting 180 lbs when something struck me.

muscle imbalances

On the left you see a normal pelvis. And on the right is my pelvis which is tilted toward the left. This makes my right leg shorter than the left and when I squat, it results in a lot more force on the right side and the left side just does the supporting due to a lesser range of motion. And this prompted me to do something which I had never ever advised anyone else to do; neither had I tried it myself. I extended my left leg a little out to the side to widen my stance in a staggered way. What this did was to adjust my pelvis to be normally aligned and distributed the force of the weight on my back evenly between the two legs. I felt the difference instantly and my right hip which had been taking a grinding over all those ruthless training sessions felt a lot better.

Now my overhead press is a similar case, I feel a lot more muscle activity on the right side and the left side just does the supporting. So I slid my right hand a little wider than my usual grip hence lengthening the range of motion on the right side. This would in turn cause the weight to distribute evenly between the two sides and it did! I was in awe. I had just found the answer to the most difficult problem I have ever faced in training. And now I am really excited to try a similar thing in my bench press and hopefully my bench pressing woes will go away too.

Do let me know what you think of this and stay tuned for more training adventures!

The very first time that I squatted was on the Smith Machine; biggest mistake of my life. If you want to be as strong as an ox, read on about how the Squat can help you with your goal.

The squat is probably one of the most controversial exercises in existence. If you ask me, or any of the best powerlifters/ olympic lifters/ strength coaches, they’d tell you that a perfect squat is one in which you go down till your hip bone is at least in line with your knees. Here is an excellent article about how you can work on your depth.

Now the question, why is the depth so important? Well, if you load up the bar and unrack it only to go half way down before coming up, you’re not working most of the muscles involved in a squat. This is something which I like to call half squat (or quarter squat, depending on the depth). You’re probably just working a little bit of your quads and maybe a little bit of your core. The squat is meant to be a full body exercise. If you want bigger arms, you know what you should do: that’s right – heavy squats. And unless you do it completely, you’re not going to reap the benefits associated with it.

There are two kinds of back squats, the low bar back squat and the high bar back squat. As explained by Rippetoe in this video, the low bar back squat enables you to lift more weight. If you want to know how to low bar back squat, buy your copy of starting strength here or check out the resources on the stronglifts page or just shoot me an e-mail and I might be able to help you figure it out.

Now, a lot of people argue that deep squats (parallel and below parallel) will blow your knees. Let me put a counter-argument about bench pressing here. If you study the mechanics of bench press, it is quite similar to the squat. The lever joint in the squat is the knee while in the bench press, it’s the elbow. Would it be a valid point to say that benching heavy weights will blow your elbows? I am sure you get the point. However, you can injure yourself if you load up the bar heavy quicker than you should or squat with improper form.

I have had my own issues with the squat. I broke my fibula (ankle) a few years ago so my right ankle isn’t as flexible as it should be. And then there’s muscle imbalances. But I haven’t yet hurt myself on the squat bad enough to stop squatting. The key thing to keep in mind is to squat with flat sole shoes or barefoot. This way you have a solid base to push the weight off the floor, also your feet stay flat which enables you to keep the weight on the heels as opposed to squatting in running shoes.

Another key point to keep in mind is that the squat isn’t supposed to be just knee bending and sitting down. One needs to push their hips back far enough and sit back as if sitting in a chair (try doing this and finding the analogy). As far as I think, you don’t need to go all the way down to the ground. That is impossible for many due to mobility issues and is controversial too. Go down deep enough so the hip bone is in line with the knee, make a video of yourself squatting if required.

Oh, and don’t forget to keep your core tight. Imagine yourself flexing your abs in the mirror or getting ready to get punched in the gut. Your core should be as tight as it would be in any of those cases. This helps keeping the spine neutral and reduces shear forces on the back. If you cannot do this yourself, get a belt. Remember, the belt is not support. It just helps you to push against it and keep your core tight.

Remember to start light and move up slowly while focusing on form. If you have questions, there are tons of resources out there both good and bad. Shoot me an e-mail and I’d point you in the right direction.

Have fun squatting!