Part I of this series mainly covered my reasons for an increase in squatting. This part will cover the rest of my training. Enjoy.
I’m deadlifting 2 times per week. Going pretty light on one day doing sumo deadlifts as fast as I can for multiple singles one day and the other day working my way up to a nice and heavy single. I’m lucky in the way that deadlifting doesn’t give me crazy muscle soreness. For instance Jamie Lewis who is an absolute beast doesn’t squat often because it leaves him a sore wreck for days after. If I still deadlifted with a conventional stance, I’d be sore as hell for days after as well. Sumo doesn’t make me sore, therefore I deadlift often.
Heck, last week I did speed pulls with almost 400 pounds, a bunch of singles up to 585, and a bunch of doubles of reverse band rack pulls from below the knees with 675. This was all in one week! So to say that the body is capable of adapting to a heavy workload in a hurry is an understatement.
I’m bench pressing 2-3x per week, which flys completely in the face of what I’ve been lead to believe. The overtraining police would have us believe that if I trained bench heavily more than once per week my bench would turn to mush, my joints would cease to function and I would lose all motivation to train. Well this hasn’t happened at all. I used a method called ladders that I discovered while reading Easy Strength by Pavel Tsatsouline and Dan John. This method has many permutations, but the one I used was for building strength. I started with a weight I could lift for 5 reps. I then did the following with my starting weight: 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3, 1, 2, 3. I’d increase the weight by 5 pounds for my next training session and hit the same reps. I went up for 5 straight sessions before I wasn’t able to complete all three ladders (one ladder consists of 1, 2, and 3 reps). Then came back the following session and crushed all three ladders.
When I began using this method, my bench press was at an incredibly weak and depressing 285. I just completed three full ladders with this weight! So this method works for sure. My shoulders feel great, my motivation to go to the gym is still high (especially because I’m essentially doing what I want at the gym whenever I go) and I still feel fresh.
I’m also overhead pressing 2-3x per week. Utilizing Jim Wendler’s favourite lift: the standing overhead press. Yes I’m aware that many fitness experts say to limit your overhead pressing because you’ll break your shoulders etc. Well I’ve been doing it for a while and I haven’t noticed anything different in my shoulders. I even started doing more overhead pressing with my clients, and they haven’t experienced any ill effects. I’ve been using a lot of Pavel’s shoulder packing cues with my clients and myself and I feel that this is leading to the ability of my clients to overhead press more frequently without suffering any of the supposed shoulder injuries that accompany overhead pressing.
My reps for military pressing are low just like pretty much everything else. I’m doing heavy singles, followed by a few more singles or doubles. It’s working very well, I don’t get muscle soreness, I feel fresh even when I leave the gym, and I’m looking forward to getting back into the gym to increase my max. My goal in the military press (synonymous with standing overhead press) is 225 pounds. I’ve hit a 210 single and a 205 double so I think I’m getting pretty close to my goal. I’d eventually like to lift 300 pounds in this lift, like some of the crazy strong dudes of old. We’ll see if I can ever hit that goal (although you bet I will try).
Along with the overhead press I’m crushing it on push presses, pendlay rows and chin-up ladders. My hips felt pretty crappy for the first week after squatting 5 straight days, after that my hips adapted to the frequency and haven’t been bothering me since. I’ve had small aches and pains along with way, which according to Matt Perryman and John Broz are regular while training with what most would deem ridiculous volume.
My exercise selection as noted above consists of nearly all multi-joint exercises with heavy weight on everything. I’ve had a short training sessions where I’d do some “arm crap” as I like to call it. This is done basically because it’s nice to get a pump every once in a while, and doing arms can be a good time. Is it helping me increase my squat, bench or deadlift? Doubt it, but if it keeps my motivation up and let’s me do things in the gym that are “easier” than what I’m doing regularly, it’s definitely a positive.
My “assistance” exercises have been pretty much non existent. I’m not doing goodmonrings, hip thrusts, lunges, or split squats. The only lower body exercises I’ve been doing are back squats, front squats, squatting off pins, and deadlifts. They’ve been working very well for me. I have no problem with performing the exercises listed above, however after doing 10+ sets of squats, I don’t really feel a need to do anything else. The only real assistance work I feel I’m doing is lat/upper back work. This is all done with pendlay rows, chins, inverted rows, and a some power cleans thrown in every now and then.