Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Same but Different

It' so weird being able to press again. For four plus years, from 2003- 2007 I couldnt press much of anything without my teres major(the psoas of the upper body) internally rotating my entire right arm, shoulder and thoracic spine causing major pain,loss of function and ROM.

It took awhile for me to get what it would take to heal this but I knew I had no where else to go. If I pressed, pulled or got too much tension in my already too tight internal rotators of my upper body I got really really bad pain, which took forever to dissipate with stretching and corrective exercises so I stopped all pressing and pulling and focused on just stretching out these tight tonic muscles and regaining overhead ROM.

For years I had spectacular overhead strength, range of motion and flexibility during my gymnastics career. Then my shoulder dislocation while training on rings finished not only my gymnastics training but any overhead work. Hell,for a very long time it was all I could do to not dislocate my shoulder by accident pulling my hand out of my jeans pocket.

I eventually could press again but only flat on my back or on an incline bench.I pretty much abandoned overhead training and flexibility.

I got very very very strong in these bodybuilding and powerlifting pressing being able to db incline bench 140 lb dbs for 5 rep sets, 150 lbs for flat bench sets of 5 as well., weighted dips with the 150 lber as well as rolling db extensions with the 115's for triples.

My bench was strong as hell as well and I was able to set some California Master's bench press records at 181 as well as stay in the top ten of the PLUSA top 100 list for overall masters my age and weight.

But since I was always good at it I never really enjoyed it all that much. I was so focused on bringing up my weak points that I took it for granted that it would always be there. And then it wasn't.

I really messed up my rotator cuff in 2003 trying to train the barbell bench press alone after I lost all my training partners. Unracking the bar is what did it and it was a bad injury.Almost as debilitating as my gymnastics shoulder dislocation.

But stopping completely what was keeping it from healing made all the difference as it let my correctives and stretches actually do their job.

I've written about my comeback in the press at the original ck-fms where Grey had us pressing in a half kneeling position. I had done done nothing but swings and snatches ( snatch holds are THE best rotator exercise I know!) and was so surprised when the 32 kg went up easily.

After that I began to fantasize I might be able to train the press again a little and went for it, very, very, very slowly.

It took me quite awhile to suss out exactly what my press groove should be but now I think I've really got it down. The key point for me is really setting up with the lats and pressing against the contact point of the bell and my wrist. Not thinking about the bell or the hand going up. Made all the difference and is very consistent.

When I was a powerlifter I trained WSB style never really working the exact form of the competition lifts, trying to up my absolute strength by training my special exercises the hardest and just using the comp lifts for for and speed work.

Now that I train only kbs I find I prefer just working the actual lifts themselves and using specialized variety as my key training concept. For the press this used to me switching between bottoms up press, stacked press and the strict press. Now it means mainly shifting the loads, volume and intensities but staying mainly on the basic press and playing with those variances.

As Pavel says, "same but different" . For instance a swing is a swing is a swing, but a two hand swing , a one arm swing and hand to hand transfers all have very different effects on the body and the nervous system.

As does how many reps per set per arm even if the total load is the same. Last week I trained the 28 kg short cycle for sets of four. Each week I alternate short cycle heavier presses with long cycle medium weight but higher rep presses. Same but different.

Last long cycle workout I used the 24 kg for 3 sets of 1o reps per arm. Today was also long cycle day with the 24 but I didn't want to do the same loading but wanted to do at least as much, or more, total load.

this is what I did

6-7 am stretchout

8:30 Long cycle clean and press

one arm swing 16 kg x5/5 x 3 sets
one arm clean 16 kg x5/5 x2

Long cycle clean and press
16 kg x5/5
24 kg x 5/5/5/5 x 4 sets
80 lifts
4240 lbs

This was amazing. I haven't felt this strong in a press in ages and let me tell you, this time, I WILL enjoy it. Cherish it, in fact. It is my gift,my natural strength and I won't take it for granted again.

Also, the stronger you get the bigger the jumps in weight you have to take and it was a great sign that I skipped my normal 20 kg warmup and went right to work. A very good sign.
This is my new favorite move and perhaps the choice I would now make if I had to choose only ONE kb exercise to do exclusively. It's a perfect blend of ballistic and grind and two of my favorite types of each. I know I can get very very good at these and look forward to the day when the 32 kg is my everyday short cycle weight and the 28 kg is my long cycle weight.

But for now this is fine, just fine :))

BTW Tracy KILLED her 14 kg Long cycle presses with me, every step of the way. I love training with my Queen.
Two Hand Arm cast

20 lbs x5/5
25 lbs x 5/5/5/5 x 4 sets

Nice! A repeat, sets/rep wise of my press workout and this was strong. I need a bigger clubbell, that's for sure. I will be ordering my 35 lb'er very soon. I could have done tens no problems.

This was my inspiration for this part of my workout. 80 lb clubbell is just huge but Alberto Gallazzi kills it.

Bodyblade laterals

4 sets of 8/8 non stop. these were surprisingly hard today but I was strong and creating more force on each rep. great shoulder/rotator finisher.

datsit: )) tomorrow: snatches at Stones Gym


Kettlebells Barcelona said...

Awesome! I'm going through the same thing... slowly regaining pressing strength and totally enjoying the journey... :-)

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks for stopping by and commenting! Ilove to press now,lol

Laura M said...

Hi Rif. Is there any chance you might share where you found good rotator cuff correctives? Thanks.

Boris Terzic said...

I've been doing Jerks mostly due to GS but recently have begun adding some grinds to my sessions post GS. Presses are on that list, as are windmills just did some last night for the 1st time in over 2 years loads of fun.

Mark Reifkind said...


the best corrective is the snatch hold for 30-120 seconds for 3-4 sets. also the internal rotators must be 'unlocked' first so as not to create an imbalance in the upper arms neutral position in the socket as well.

overhead shoulder stretches, behind the back stick stretches and stick shrugs are my favorites.

do a search on my blog for all of these and you will get the idea.

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks boris

I wish I could do jerks, long cycle clean and presses will have to suffice for now. saw your windmills on your blog. nice to start back with 28 kg,lol. good transfer strength I see from all your other work

I assume your shoulder is better?

Boris Terzic said...

Rif, the shoulder is a funny animal. I have no issues jerking, push pressing or pressing (mostly) infact I was putting a 88lb bell overhead today while teaching a class.

But bench press, push-ups and pull-ups are still a touch and go subject. But certainly it has gotten better sense I've gone back on a PL cycle.

And yea I was a little surprised at how easy the 28kg felt for windmills, I think I'll be trying a 40kg and heavier as soon as I make it out to my buddies gym.

Mark Reifkind said...


if that's the case look to the teres major and long and short head of biceps/brachialis for trigger points