Tuesday, March 22, 2011

The State of Training 2011 - Going Old School

Looks can be deceiving....
Following the grind of training for and competing in the Tough Mudder, I decided to take a full week off from organized training. While I wasn't particularly beat up or anything, I just didn't feel like jumping right back into training (hard) immediately. I think I just needed some time to think about what I wanted to do going forward and how I might go about it as I move towards a crazy summer at work and wedding craziness in the fall.

After alot of thought, I have come to realize that my training has been lacking in some serious strength work of late and it has really begun to show in how my body is feeling right now.

Which is to say - LIKE CRAP!

I have a gimpy L shoulder, a fussy R hip/low back area, and a completely jacked up R knee. The funny thing about all of these ailments is that I had none of them when I focused on strength development and HIIT-style conditioning (if I did any at all to be honest) back in my JMU days. Back then, I weighed 250lbs and could deadlift 405, deep front squat 315, jerk 315, and bench 345, while playing rugby and occasionally partying like a rock star!

Fast forward to today and I all see is a pale imprint of my former bad ass self. I can't bench heavy because of the shoulder. I can't squat worth a crap because of the knee. I haven't done a meaningful Olympic lift of any kind in probably 2 years (although playing with kettlebells are a fun alternative). I haven't been able to stay healthy in rugby for two seasons and have likely hung up my spikes permanently. While I can deadlift more these days, I wouldn't call a 5lb PR over 8 years as a quantum leap in self esteem either!

Stay Strong!
What the hell happened to me?!?!  The only thing I have been able to come up with that connects all of this together is a lack of consistent and dedicated strength work over the course of the last 3 years. My development of old man-itis has directly coincided with a steady reduction and eventual omission of pure, raw strength work in my programs over the past 3 years. The thing that buggers me up the most about this situation is that my knowledge and skill as a strength coach has increased exponentially in that time but my own training state has declined so rapidly. (Insert a few cuss words here)

With all of this degeneration in mind, I have identified 3 areas below that I am going to work on in the coming months. I have also committed to some basic goals for each area so anyone who reads this blog can hammer my face in if I start getting off track with my training. I guess every one of us needs a 'lil help from their friends from time to time.

1) Working on getting my R knee sorted out - This is my biggest problem right now and comes first. As much as I disliked squatting back then, I have come to miss front squatting today. I think the root of the issue is a loss of internal rotation ROM and joint centration (thanks to Charlie Weingroff and Dr. Treung for that brainstorm). I am going to use a combination of mobility, flexibility and corrective exercise to hopefully restore my basic squat pattern and then go from there. As an example of my wimpy state- I can't even do a full squat with bodyweight right now without pain. When I can afford it, some chiro adjustments will be thrown in along the way as well because I don't think I will be able to get my squat back without them. I can work in hip-dominant patterns right now so that will be the bulk of my heavy work for legs.

July 2011 Training Goal - Front Squat 135lbs with full ROM with no pain.

2) Getting strong again and staying healthy while doing it - I managed to set a DL PR a few months back while doing a ton of monkey butt cardio training so anything is possible in my old age. This was a key moment for me in that it got me thinking about being strong again and what I might be able to accomplish if I applied all of my 2011-era knowledge to my own training process. While I may be going old school with my training selections, I am going to do it "smarter" this time around so my body doesn't self destruct in the process. As an example - I am still going to have to be careful with heavy benching at first but I have learned how to protect my shoulder and train around this limitation over the past year. This should allow me to still do heavy UB work, while slowly easing back into benching over time. 

July 2011 Strength Training Goals - In No Order of Importance
  • Trap Bar Deadlift - 500lbs
  • Strict Standing Military Press - 250lbs
  • Jerk Variation - 300lbs
  • Clean Variation - 275lbs
  • Bench Press - 300lbs (with no pain)
  • Chin Ups - 20 reps (Strict)
3) Looking strong again (i.e. less fat) - While I am not particularly worried about my appearance most of the time (Example: I can't even remember the last time I shaved), my lovely fiance is deathly afraid that I will turn into a fat slob if I start lifting heavy again. While I can see and appreciate where she is coming from, I have developed a much better control over my nutritional habits since my last strength period so I know I can pull it off.

Hope someone else besides me finds this funny!
Another key factor in all of this going forward is the role of monkey butt cardio in my training process - it won't have one. Not only does a copious amount of monkey butt cardio not contribute to jacked-ness, but it also helps to exacerbate my aforementioned orthopedic issues. Therefore, I am junking said monkey butt cardio in favor of shorter, more intense rounds of cardio and work capacity stuff. I can actually appreciate a 20 minute thrashing on a Stairmaster more than ever these days. Who knew? I think this approach, when combined with my better nutritional control, will keep Blaes liking me for a long time to come.

July 2011 Appearance Goal - Look Good for Blaes and the Wedding


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