Thursday, January 30, 2014

Training split, offseason work, and technical changes

After Relentless I decided I would take some time off competing and focus on establishing a stronger base to work with, get bigger, and refine/redo some techniques in my lifts.  So in that time this is what I have been working on, and the split I am using this offseason to achieve these things........

Bench Press - widen my grip

I've been benching close grip for quite some time now.  Making that decision was one of the best choices I've ever made in regards to training because my shoulders never bother me now, and I've never had any significant upperbody injuries in that time.

There were drawbacks with this however.  Mainly due to the grip width that I settled on.

For years my grip width has been basically about 15".  For most standard bars that means my index finger is right on the outside of the inner smooth part of the bar.  Eventually my elbows let me know this was just a smidge too close.  When I consistently used over 400 in training they would start to scream at me again, and my pec tendon would get fairly irritated.  At lesser weights, it wasn't an issue.

So after Relentless I made the decision to move my grip out just slightly.  Essentially the same width grip I use on incline.  This only brings my grip out about an inch or so, but that inch makes a world of difference (that's what she said!).  So I'm still really using a "close grip".  It's just not as close as I was before.

The first few weeks of this new grip felt very awkward.  I knew that it would, so I kept things light to acclimate.  Since then I've been rewarded however and now doing multiple sets of 5 with 405 in the bench is pretty standard.  I do credit doing things the hard way for years now as giving me more "room" for progress with the new grip.  Some might say I should have been using this grip all this time, and that may be true, but I believe there is something to be said for not taking the easy way out and putting yourself in a disadvantage in order to set yourself up for a higher ceiling later.

Squats - More knees out, more upright

Obviously my Achilles heel the last two meets have been leg injuries.  One to my groin, and one to my quad.  It's hard to say what the common denominator here is because it could have been the massive weight cuts or it could be an imbalance.  Either way, I knew this, my quad development was lacking and I needed to fix that.

In the past, I used more hips and squatted more "on top" of my legs (I'm not sure of a better way to explain it), without a lot of "knee out" action.  This offseason I decided to go ahead and devote almost all of it to high bar squatting and front squats, with more knee out action, and staying more upright to really bring my quads up.  I've strained my VMO's several times already with this (nothing serious), and this tells me that indeed my VMO and quad development is probably the culprit in my injuries and also something holding my squat back.  Once I get my quads up to par, I think my squat, like my bench, will improve quite a bit.

Deadlift - 

This offseason I'm really just concentrating on setting some PR's in the deficit stiff leg deadlift, and then pulling with sub-max pulls on the other day.  Nothing fancy here just increasing "posterior chain" mass and strength with the deficit stiffy.  I really believe it does a better job of slapping mass on the backside than regular pulls because of the ROM and a more accentuated negative.

Split - 

My split is a variation of "the zenith" I outlined in Base Building.

I don't have a set number of days a week I train.  Sometimes it's 3, other times it's 5.  If I need an extra day of rest, I take it.  If I want to train 3 days in a row because I feel good, I do.  There is something to be said for understanding when you need more rest, or need to train more.

Day 1 - Squats and Pulls
Squats - 5 to 8 sets of 5 high bar @ 405
Deadlifts (off small deficit) - 3 sets of 3 @ 500

Day 2 - Bench
Bench - 3 sets of 3-5 @ 405, 3-5 sets of 8 @ 315
Hammer Pulldowns - 2 sets of 6 heavy, 2 sets of 12 lighter
Triceps Movement
Biceps Movment

Day 3 - Front Squats and Deficit Stiff Legs
Front Squats - 5-8 sets of 5 @ 315 - 405 (I occasionally throw in sets of 5 @ 405 after all the sets are completed at 315)
Deficit Stiff Legs - rep work between 500 and 585

Day 4 - Bench Assistance
Incline or PBN - 350 method for incline or 5 sets of 8 @ 315 / PBN is 315 for reps and then back offs @ 275
Barbell or Hammer Rows - 2 x 6 heavy, 2 x 12 lighter
Shoulder or Biceps Movement
Triceps Movement

That's generally how I am structuring my work.  I hope to compete again late summer of this year and (cross fingers) not get injured.

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