My Brilliant Friends,
I want to share some clips and details of my training this past Friday. I’m on my second run of a training program called Madcow, which you can read about here.
Training looked like this for me on day 2 of cycle 6:
Day Two: 5 repetitions each set
- Squat 142, 177, 212, 212 – completed
- Overhead Press (OHP) 84, 101, 117, 134 – completed only three reps
- Deadlift 208, 249, 291, 332 – completed
Next session will look like this:
Day Three: 4×5, 1×3, 1×8 six sets
- Squat 5x(142, 177, 212, 248), 3x 290, 8x 212
- Bench 5x(91, 113, 136, 158), 3x 185, 8x 136
- Row 5x(72, 89, 107, 125), 3x 147, 8x 107
The bolded numbers are the work sets, and the rest are warm up and warm down sets.
More on Day Two
Day Two is a fun session with OHP and Deadlifts. These two exercises only occur once per cycle, so each time I do them I’m trying to hit a new max. On Day Two, the squat is a lighter session with no maximum to hit.
Squat and Warm Ups
Since squats are light on Day Two, there’s not too much stress. However, I use this down time to focus on form and mobility. A few points about my squats on this session:
- Hip mobility – I always start with this exercise on both sides of the hips to expand mobility and get my hips rotating outward after all that sitting at work.
- Warm up sets are key to powerful lifting without injury. There’s no way I can load maximum weight and squat it first thing. I start with an empty bar and work my way up. The Madcow program has the warm up built into it, with progressively heavier weights until the work set.
- Proper depth means that the hip joint goes below the knee joint. Period.
- You can see that my rib cage is slightly opening up as I go down. This is caused by a couple factors: stiff knees and ankles, and tight hips. I had a two week break since my last session, and was sitting a lot at work. Killed my mobility! To compensate for stiff knees and ankles, my torso extended in order for me to get into the “hole”, or the bottom of the squat. Not good. Supple ankles and knees allow for more outward movement of the knees, allowing the torso to remain upright and straight as it moves down into the hole. Homework for me.
- Tight hips also contributed to my torso bending. Hip tightness impedes the natural outward rotation of the upper legs as you pull yourself down into the hole. In addition to the knees and ankels, outward rotation of your thighs allows your abdomen and torso to descend upright and aligned, without bending and losing tension.
I’ve been working on keeping my torso a rock solid pillar throughout the squat, to stabilize my spine and allow more effective power transfer from my legs and hips. Any bending in the torso absorbs power and steals it away from upward push. It also puts my back at risk of injury. So I’ve got to work on keeping my legs supple because by the next session, I’m going to have trouble hitting my next 3-rep set if I can’t keep a rock solid torso!
Overhead Press (OHP)
OHP adds some fun to the mix, because it requires a bit more finesse. I have been focusing on keeping my torso solid throughout this lift as well, and it gets tricky for a different reason from the squat. I noticed that when the weight got heavy my ribcage would lift, to allow my pecs to engage the weight.
Keeping my ribcage down
- minimizes pectoral involvement
- requires greater mobility of the shoulders, and
- allows for an even distribution of deltoid engagement front to back.
The OHP requires some animal strength, but more focus and attention. I couldn’t muster the mental focus needed to hit all five reps. Next time!
I try to put out 400% effort on the deadlift, at the end of the session. You can see me taking a pause the top before my last set, and I’m actually taking in a breath before I lower into the last pull. Why do I do this? First of all, I’m spent and needed a pause. It’s better to rest at the top of the deadlift, rather than at the bottom, even though it’s counterintuitive. When you’re standing, you have skeletal support. In the lowered position, you’re flexing just to be there.
But more importantly, I’m getting air into my torso while standing, where there’s not as much pressure, instead of at the bottom, where it’s too late to try to create abdominal pressure. It’s a trick that comes in handy for heavy multi-rep sets, especially when you’re tired and need to rest for a second.
At the top of my last pull, I hold the bar for a count of ten (fast count this time, I was spent!) to increase grip strength. It’s a great opportunity, with no other exercises to follow, to train the grip. If you can hold it for longer, go for it.
Some relative max weights to come in my next session. I say relative because I’ve lifted more weight than the ones I’m going to do next session, but for this iteration of Madcow it’s the most yet.
Thanks for reading, hope you do something with this. Love to hear your thoughts below.
To powerful living,