Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Building Up My Stones


Though not technically weightlifting, I think I will be adding in some strongman movements to my template, in place of pure weightlifting movements. 

Right now, I am thinking stones and axles because I have them. I am working on doing 'flights' of stones, and that seems to be going well. I have a lot of smaller stones at my gym (Crossfit gym) so it's a nice start now that we have a 56" platform (it feels SO high). I started with 114/142/157 to 56"/52"/46" respectively, and did five sets. I completed all the sets pretty easily. Needless to say, going up to 142/157/175 was a big jump. 30 extra pounds up there at 56" is tough. So I did 3 flights of that set up. Each week I will do another, when I complete 5 straight through with no trouble, I will go up again (157, 175 and something heavier). Right now we have a 175 and 307. Not ready for the 307 just yet (and it's not going to be real soon). Found a guy on craigslist that's not far away that sells stones pretty cheap, so probably just going to buy a few of his, and hope to snag something low 200's, and mid 200's.

I have been doing max effort work on 'special exercises', and doing volume work on the power clean and jerks (from all positions). So, I hit 68k on the tall snatch on my first day back, then I did 64x3, then 68x2, so was hoping for something 71k+. I got 70 pretty easy, even with a poor foot placement. So was sure that I could do 72/73. Felt ballsy, so went for 73. Missed it 3 times and quit. 70k it is. If I can tall 70, I am hoping that I can pull at least 77k from the floor, but I am really hoping for more like low 80's. 

Some cleans and Front Squats

These lifts were a couple of weeks ago. I was attempting to use the jerk boxes for a 'tall' position with no counter movement in the clean. What I discovered was that all that additional front squatting was quite fatiguing.

Next are the power cleans. I established a conservative 3RM in the power clean several months ago (~75k) and have tried to add a kilo every 2-4 cleaning sessions (every other week). I was hoping to get to 100k x 3 before the end of the year, but so far I am only at 89k, and 90 is later this week I believe. So, I have time to get close (93-95k) but not quite make it. 

The last part of the video is the front squat. I feel like my feet are too externally rotated, and I need to work on bringing the toes in and using my hips better. I have tweaked the set up (turned the feet in) on cleans, snatches and front squats, and I am working on doing all of them pretty much the same. At the Don McCauley workshop, one of the assistant coaches suggested that my starting stance for cleans and snatches was too narrow, but they didn't offer much guidance on what they thought should determine the starting stance width. 

Shortly after this video I did 220 x 5 (was having a good day) and it went really easily. Last week I did 230 x 5 and it was definitely pretty tough, but no form breakdown except my thoracic and elbows. If I can front squat 100kg for five, I better be able to power clean it soon. 

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A few more weeks along


   I been working more on the o lifts, as I stated in my last post. Things feel like they are going along pretty nicely.

   I have been working triples in the front squat and in the power clean twice a week, and doing light cleans on the minute the other days, as well as strict presses. It would make more sense to work more on push presses, but I have a terrible strict press and I want to raise it badly.

   The video above is a work set of light cleans (135#), followed by my first sets of a power clean and split jerk. As you can see in the video my feet are turning out on both sides. Maybe that's some flexibility lost, maybe that's something I can cue myself out of. In the third set you can see that I am talking to someone off camera, and he's telling me my feet are out. The next set I willed my feet straight and the jerk was much more stable. I think that's 80kg. The next lift was high hang snatches, with 52kgs. I was doing doubles from the tall with considerably more weight the prior week. Next week I may try some lifts from blocks instead of from a hang and see how that feels. The final video is my 3RM front squat set, which is at 250#. This is up from the 225 starting point. I went 235, 240 (tough), 245 (only hit 2) to 250 this week (fuck it).

   While I am pleased that I hit my target 3RM this week, I am little bummed to think that a 3RM is probably comparable to ~90% of 1RM, ie 250x3=275x1, a lift I have already accomplished. I will be doing full cleans and snatches next week or the week after, and I will be doing very heavy jerks from behind the neck soon too, which should give me a great opportunity to work on that stability.

Friday, October 4, 2013


Well, I been doing a lot of squats. I was having some issues with my shoulder, so I decided to pursue something simple, like a 5x5 type program with just squatting.

There were months when I worked on strict press, push presses and bench, but never for long stretches of time. I did do a lot of work on pull ups, and made some solid progress on dips. Glute-Ham raises and hip thrusts were done extensively as well.

When I started, I was about 180lbs, I weighed in at 194 the other day. My previous best back squat had been 325, and I think I did 295-305 for seven once. I started last summer at about 235 as a peak set amongst lighter ones. A few weeks in to this training I discovered the Texas Method as promulgated by 70' and began following it pretty closely. I made a few mistakes early on, and as such, I would advise you to buy the e-book before embarking on a similar journey, it's totally worth it.

Once I got in to the TM groove, I think I started with about 275x5 as my 5RM. The first cycle I walked that all the way up to about 315. So that was 5 pounds a week for about 8 weeks. Then I started to have trouble, so I took a month off. Big mistake. Don't do that.

Once I started back up, I had to regain some lost ground, and I think I began with 285x5, but jumped by tens for the first 2-3 weeks. I think I took it all the way up to 330x5, 335x5. Something like that. My 5RM went up about 60lbs in a year. I did 350x3, and 365x1 before deciding after about 15 months I needed to switch it up a little.

Last week was my first week back at weightlifting. I set a 3RM of 225 in the front squat, and I have been practicing 3RM power cleans for a few weeks already. I got stuck once or twice at 85-86kgs, but I feel like I did really well in the video above with 87. My old Tall Snatch PR was 66kgs, and I did 67kgs with about 5 minutes of warm. For clarity, I have been wide stance, chuck taylor wearing, going to parallel power-lifter back squatting, and NOTHING else for almost a year and half. And I hit a snatch related PR on my first day back. No one to blame but strength for that one. My jerks are way shaky, and I know it's going to be a bumpy road when I start doing more full cleans and snatches, but so far so good! I am looking forward to front squatting over 250x3 in less than a month.

Dan John and several other coaches have mentioned the idea that if you can front squat it for a triple, you should be able to clean it. So, if I can power clean 90 for a triple, and front squat 110+ for the same, I should be squat cleaning 100-110 very soon, and maybe I can snatch 80+ soon too. Yay!