Sunday, April 19, 2009 by Rebecca

Strength Cycle Week 7 part 2

1:10 - 9:15

Some hip openers ... not a whole lot else actually. It was already overheating from driving to the gym in a very warm car.

warmup - at least 10 X 45#, 5 x 95# - was really trying to focus on form.


21 x 80#

Shoulder Press
warmup: 10 x 20#

34-40-55(f rep 3)-52(f rep 5)

21 x 32# (1:45)

You might notice that my deadlift weights went down about 15 pounds from last week. Well, I made a fascinating discovery today - actually 2 related discoveries: I have not been using my hamstrings (lately?) when I deadlift. And, my hamstrings are wimpy weak!

It was very clear to me from watching the videos we took last week that there was a serious error in my DL form, so I endeavored to correct it this week. And, thankfully, now that I know what feeling I am looking for, this is one exercise where I can actually tell the difference from good form and bad form just by how it feels in my body. When I do it right, my hamstrings are on fire, and my lower back does not feel the pressure of the lift. When I do it wrong, my hamstrings don't know the difference from simply standing up and my back does all the work.

Unfortunately, my hamstrings are weak, and they tire very quickly - I suspect I have been compensating for them for a long time, and they just aren't used to having to pull their own weight, and I knew I was in trouble when I BARELY made it through my first work set @ 120#. And that was supposed to be my easy set. After the first (very difficult) 5 reps, I tested one rep the wrong way - i.e. the way I usually do it, using my back more - and it came up off the floor with ease. Damn! So I wasn't just having a weak day. I had to choose between pursuing that PR that I'm supposed to be shooting for every week or fixing my form. It's hard because pursuing that new goal is a tempting thing, but ultimately - there really is no choice. Pursuing good form is the only way to go. So I decided to suck up my pride and take the weight reduction, and focus on doing them right.

Daniel and I had a slight disagreement about this. He talked about how Rip says you have "train on the verges" in order to progress. And on a certain level, I agree. If your form is perfect 100% of the time, you're probably not working hard enough. But, for me, that means you might have degraded form at the end of a set or a series of sets. But if you can't get your form perfect on the first 5 reps of an easy set, you don't have any business going heavier.

I also know I finally nailed the form because Max came up to me later and said that my DL looked fantastic, and a classmate, separately, commented to Daniel that my DL form looked outstanding. (Although if they had been standing in front of me instead of off to the side they would have seen my right knee collapsing in. It's better than it was but there is still work to be done.)

I'm a *little* annoyed that doing it right is harder than doing it wrong (for now). Using good form is supposed to make it easier ... right? But I've known for a while that my hamstrings are a weak link - in all sorts of movements from squats to cleans to ... well just about everything, and now that I know how to make them work hard in the DL, I'm planning to work DL as often as possible, and whip those weak little hammies into shape. I suspect that once I do that, I will see significant improvements in many areas.

The shoulder presses were ok. I failed at 55# after rep 2 - so I decided to try 52# and i ALMOST made it. Rep # 5 got about 1/3 of the way up, but I just couldn't lock it out.
With the set of 21, I decided to stick to 32#, but I decided to time it and see if I could do it faster than last week. I did it in 1:45 this week, and watching the video from last week it looks like it took me 2:21. That's nearly a 40 second improvement, and they were definitely easier this week than last - I made it to rep 14 or 15 before having to take a break, and I only had to rack the bar on my shoulers once at about rep 17. I would say that this set really was unbroken. Next week will be 35# *sigh*.


Ev said...

Good mornings w/ a bar for hamstrings.

Rebecca said...

Yes :-) Thank you for the reminder!

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