Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Weekly Q & A

Leave a name and a question.  It's a celebration bitches!


  1. 2 Deadlift questions for you Paul. Thanks for all of your great advice and blog!

    1. Hook grip, alternative grip, or a combination of both? Which one do you use? Grip is a huge weakness of mine. I practiced the hook grip while alternating and starting covering only my thumbnail (read on Starting strenth) which has helped. Any Tips?

    2. What would you say is your back angle on a deadlift? I have shorter legs/arms but an above average torso for my height. I'm guessing i'm around 60 degrees which is a bit higher than my squat angle.

    Thanks, Sam

  2. Just received the philosophy in my inbox this A.M. and I'm stoked to get on it. I have several (porbably stupid) questions though. These are all pertaining to the BIG-15.

    When Doing the assistance work and it says 5x10, are these sets prgressively lighter, so that I can make the 10 reps with the 60 second rest period? Should I be going to failure on each of these sets? Apologies is this was in there and I missed it.

    On the steady state conditioning - I'm unfamiliar with this, andto be honest I've let my conditiong go in the last few months. Are you talking about a brisk walk, a jog, what? What HR range should I be in?

    Sorry for all the questions. Just wanna get it right, right outta the gate.

  3. You watching the Rugby World Cup? The matches can be streamed online at rugbyworldcup.com.

  4. My weight fluctuates between 170 and 185. Its all bodyfat*. When I'm heavier I feel like I recover easier even though I'm not any stronger. Is that true? Is a little body fat a wonder drug for recovery?

    *I have a somewhat buggered pancreas that causes me to have malabsorption which is exactly what it sounds like.

  5. Sam

    1. I use an alternating grip. I don't have very long fingers so hook grip doesn't seem to work as well for me. If your grip is a problem ditch straps for everything except heavy shrugs, and just give it some time. Kroc rows, chins, rep deadlifts, etc will all work the grip. One thing I did that helped my wife's grip a ton was simply doing timed db holds. Pick a heavy pair of db's and hold them for as long as possible and time it. Try that twice a week. That will help.

    2. Not sure. I know what my setup feels like but I am not sure what the angle would be.

    Scott -

    1. Assistance - Don't sweat it. What I do is vary those things. Sometimes I work up to a top set of 10, all out. Other times I pick a weight, and rest on 45-60 seconds between 5 sets of 10 with that weight.

    Steady state is like a walk yes. That's all. Thanks for your support.

    Cash - I have barely watched any NFL or college football this year. So haven't seen any rugby, tho I like rugby a lot.

    Pat -

    I've never heard of being fatter as being better for recovery. It could be that your calories are at a surplus at that time, allowing you to recover faster. Carbs will do that.

  6. Paul what's your over/under on how long Strikefroce will last? I'm betting on whenever the Grand Prix is over (hell I could even see them cutting it before then) maybe around January-March. Also I highly recommend you check out Drive and Warrior when you and your wife have free time.

  7. Not sure. I'd like to see Zuffa use SF as like their "gateway" to UFC. I think that would be a great thing.

    Already saw Warrior. Will write about it soon.

  8. Paul I'd appreciate it if you could tell me what you would do if you were in my situation. I'm starting a new job with rotating shift work, basically 6AM-8PM with hour commute either side. The shift goes WORK: THUR,FRI,SAT OFF: SUN WORK:MON,TUE,WEDNESDAY then off for a week. How you would you plan your training? Thanks mate, Shane.

  9. Week 1

    Thu - Off
    Fri - Off
    Sat - Heavy Press
    Sun - Heavy Legs
    Mon - off
    Tue - off
    Wen - Light Back

    Then you have a whole week to rotate in the light pressing and leg work, and heavy back day. What I would do is time up the heavy back day with the day before you go back to work. That way you have two days off again before you press.

  10. Paul what do you think are the top limits in the squat and deadlift done by a natural 220 pound lifter? I know it varies from person to person due to genetics, work ethic, years lifting but let's say he started at young age and has great genes. Thanks

  11. Hey Paul, I just started reading your stuff and it's great. I'm doing the 3 6-week blocks you outlined awhile back (strength, conditioning, and hypertrophy). I started with the conditioning block because although I've been getting relatively strong using basically nothing but heavy singles (550 dead, 450 squat, 300 bench) I was becoming the guy that was getting winded walking up stairs. It's going great so far but my question is, is it feasible to just constantly run these 3 blocks for the rest of my life or would you only recommend doing the 18 week cycle every once in a while? My goals are to be stronger than most while still being in decent athletic shape. Thanks again for the awesome blog.

  12. Just read I should leave a name with my post. It's Charlie, thanks again.

  13. Charlie - You could easily run each block for as long as you needed. The point of each one is to really focus on 1 thing at a time, and get into that mindset. So yes, you could run each block for as long as needed. There is no reason why not. If you need to get in shape, run the conditioning block for long as you need until you're in shape. If you need strength run that one. Size? Run that one. Just make sure your diet is also in tune with each one (eating more for strength and growth, eating less during the conditioning block).

    Gary - That's a really loaded question. 1800-1900 is what the really elite level guys at 220 are hitting raw. So something in the neighborhood of 700 squat, 450 bench, 700 deadlift if I just had to throw some numbers out. That's really elite level. If it's just a notch below that take off 50 pounds from each lift. So 650-400-650 (1700) would still be very bad ass at 220.

  14. Halted deadlifts ala Sheiko (that's the only place I've seen them explicitly programmed in)...thoughts?

  15. Haven't done them a whole lot but I like the idea behind them.

  16. Gary, here is a listing of raw records under different conditions: wraps, no wraps, drug tested etc. http://www.powerliftingwatch.com/records/raw/world

    I don't know how accurate it is as standards change across different Feds, but it is a good place to start. It shows the numbers Paul stated are in the ball park, which is as good as you will probably get, but I find the breakdown interesting. It also shows numbers for all weight classes.


  17. I've been doing some 3 board presses lately, and it seems like it has been helping my bench. I know you aren't a big fan of 'fixing weak points' w/ a lift, but am wondering if there may be a certain group or circumstance where there may be benefits to doing so?

    Also, it seems like on some movements that I can't really push on them until a certain amount of fatigue has already set in. Basically at the point where I think I am almost all out, and then I get a second wind. Any thoughts on optimizing training to work with that, or perhaps training to get rid of it?

  18. Thanks Jim.

    Soup - Not a fan of fixing weak points in a MOVEMENT. I'm a fan of just getting stronger. One thing a board press can do for guys is to help them to mentally get over the hump of putting weight on the bar.

    Not sure about the second wind. My wife used to do that too however. She would go to failure with a certain weight, or close to it, then I would add weight and she could do more reps. Almost like her body wasn't fully "on" for the first set. Whatever it is, just use it.

  19. Hey Paul,

    first thanks for the advice on btn press grip, moved my hands out past the rings and everything automatically felt better.

    My question is about the good girl/bad girl machines. I'm not nearly as strong as you so should I use these after squatting so as not to fatique my legs too much before squatting or should I just do them light and pre-squatting and take whatever hit might happen my squat initially? Reason I'm adding these in to begin with is my adductors were complaining while front squatting lately.


  20. I use them to warm up, then I go heavier with some volume on the adductor (good girl machine) after I am done squatting. Usually sets of 8-12.

  21. Barefoot (or low/no cushion or heel) running - your thoughts ?

    I cannot recommend the mobilitywod enough - you should check it out.

  22. Not for me Phil (the barefoot running stuff).

    Supply the link for the mobility workout. I am always interested in that.

  23. http://www.mobilitywod.com/

    I'll be surprised if you don't like it.

  24. Paul, I'm planning to start Ultimate Beastdom in late winter, but I'm hoping you can give some advice on an issue I have right now.

    My current program includes as assistance work a sort of DB clean. It's not an explosive movement, but rather a muscle exercise that starts with a controlled shrug and then bent-arm full front raises where the DB's swing up from my waist to my ears.

    I suck at the raise portion of this. By which I mean that I can't go any heavier than 10 or 15lb. DBs if I want to get the prescribed reps. I know the point of this kind of stuff is to work the muscle rather than to swing heavy weights around, and maybe this sort of rotation calls for light weight, but I still feel like it's revealing some weakness or deficiency.

    My question is, in a few weeks I will start heavy OHP's again, and do you think training that is likely to address whatever this weakness is? If not, is there something else my programming might be lacking, or should I keep programming these things in until I feel like I've progressed on them? To be honest, they're not the kind of thing I would have programmed myself, but I understand there is value in discovering something you suck at, and working until you suck at it no more.

  25. Thoughts on assisted pullups to get more reps and ultimately help regular pullups? Right now I do 10 sets of 4-5 making very slow progress. Other lifts I would never stick with that low rep range for months at a time but obviously limited on your own BW with pullups.


  26. Nilster - I think you need to ask yourself what benefit you will get from getting so much better at these.

    Andy - I like assisted pull ups for people who can't do a lot of them, but make sure you also mix in heavy lat pulldowns, and negative pullups as well.

    Thanks Phil!

  27. Paul, this is a life question. I graduate school next June. Essentially my job options fall into two categories. Category one is stuff I like to do, but the pay is kind of weak (~60-70k but I have school loans). Category two is boring stuff in an area I don't want to live in for 110k-120k. Thoughts?

  28. Hey, you gave me some weight loss advice: be patient and eat less.

    Well, it's working. The question is - what do I do with my training? Most of my numbers are down at least 10%, the only things improving are Dips/Chins, and Dead/Squat are holding steady.

    Do I bother training my Press and Bench at all? My pressing technique hasn't suffered and I KNOW my Bench goes back up when I eat a decent amount. My squat *might* go up since I'm finally squatting for the first time in over a year

  29. Tony - First off, congrats on being patient. That's the hard part.

    Keep training the press, yes. The press will go down with weight loss very fast. This is normal. Do not fret it. When you get to a level where you stabilize out, pressing strength will return. Just keep doing what you're doing.

    Anonymous - Personally, I would do the stuff I like to do. If you can make it comfortably on the 60-70k I mean. If you're going to struggle with that, then rethink it. I once left a job I LOVED for a big raise with a bonus and all that shit. I knew the first day on the job I had fucked up. Remember this life lesson and remember it WELL. Anytime someone wants to pay you a LOT more, you are going to have to eat a bigger slice of the bullshit sandwich. No one is ever going to pay you more to do less the majority of the time. Lucky for me, many years later, I got my old job back and haven't left since. I still love where I am at and make good, so it's the best of both worlds.

    To play devils advocate however, I will tell you from experience that for the most part your co-workers and boss will MAKE your job. If you have awesome co-workers and a kick ass boss, no matter what you do you will enjoy your job. If your boss and co-workers suck nuts, your job will suck nuts too.

    Those are some things to think about and digest. I wish you the best as you move into the job world.

  30. Short simple answer to an overly long question. That says as much as the answer. Much appreciated, as always.

  31. I'm usually long winded but anytime it comes to training, I always ask myself WHY I am doing the things I am doing. That way I waste as little mental as possible in my programming.

  32. Paul,

    I have a schedule that makes training three days a week a real challenge. My solution is to train at around 5am. I am thinking about just drinking a protein shake prior to training, then eat breakfast after. The only drawback I see is possibly having a little less sleep. Thoughts on this idea? Thanks.

  33. If two days a week works better I will have an article about that out in the next couple of days. Sleep is incredibly important in terms of making progress.