Monday, June 03, 2013

The Reps within a Single.

Long long ago, when I was still a competitive powerlifter and a complete WSB devotee I hurt my lower back. Pretty good one too, but I was in the middle of preparing for Master's Nationals and I still wanted to compete( I was still greedy and stupid back then. Tough, but greedy and stupid).

I only knew how to train for power meets using the WSB volume approach and I was at a complete loss as there was NO way I was going to be able to tolerate even CLOSE to the amount of work the Westside system requires.

So my genius wife, the queen of uncommon sense asks me, "why can't you just do enough not to hurt yourself?" What? I had never even considered that but it made perfect sense. At least for this meet. do just enough work on each lift to keep my strength up, and perhaps make some progress but not beat yourself up with volume.

In the squat I could tolerate about 6-8 total reps INCLUDING WARMUPS. Ouch. That's nothing. Bench press a bit more and I wasn't doing much deadlifting at all. I was focused on the squat.So how to make just 5-6 squat reps into an entire workout as I got ready for probably my last shot at an Elite total.Oh yea, forgot that part, I had my sights on an ADFPA Elite 1500 lb total at 181 drug free and 44 years old.Very specific numbers.

I decided to look at EACH part of each squat as a rep onto itself.Getting tight under the bar- a rep-unracking the weight- second rep- walking it out- third rep- getting tight before the descent- forth rep- the descent- number five- the ascent and hold- six and seven-walking it in- eight.

So EIGHT reps or parts in just ONE single squat rep. This type of thinking also allowed me to REALLY focus on perfecting every single part of the rep. After all, the contest was ONLY about how much I could squat ONCE. NOT how many reps with what weight I got in my workout 3 weeks before.Just one rep. Three tries but only one counted.

I tend to enjoy training much more than competing and I can get lost in "winning the workout". This back injury wouldn't let me do that anymore.

But if I could manage 8 singles in a workout that was actually 64 separate elements; reps, pieces that were being trained that workout. That's some volume right there:)

It took some getting used to but my aching back wasn't exactly spurring me onto doing tons more work anyway. I was hanging on by the skin of my teeth but lo and behold I was making my numbers and feeling stronger. All I was focused on was the 3 attempts at the meet.And the ONE rep that gave me my goal weight.

Plus it was great actual practice for the actual meet, where you have just a few warmups and only three attempts to get your number. That's all that really counts.

This worked great and I ended up with a solid 529 as a third attempt after getting called on depth on the second. I had hoped for 545( triple bodyweight) but I was happy with this. I ended up missing my Elite total by a mere 15 lbs ( 1485) when my back said no to a third attempt 529 deadlift and I was left with 501.Oh well that was my last three lift meet and it was a lifetime PR total, even if the individual numbers weren't that high.
I should have worn a better suit but that's another story :)

The point is that for real lifts like the squat, bench press, deadlift or any Olympic lift or Strongman type lift the max lift is the goal. Reps are for building, singles are for testing.

And for keeping your strength up when you're hurt :)

My presses have been coming back strong but I have no desire to do sets and reps here anymore. I don't need the shoulder mass and my stability problems always seem to come about on rep sets, not singles.

But I want to be within spitting distance of my 1/2 bodyweight press all the time and this is how I will be able to do it. My weight today was 156.4 so I only need to press the 36 kg. No problem.

So singles it is and I try now to focus on all the reps within a single in the KB Clean and Press. LOTS going on here and it's actually fun now too. Plus I can do multiple sets of singles and find them getting better and stronger and faster as I warm up.
After last weeks stacked presses it was back to regular KB press. I have to find another variation that I can do and that likes my shoulders too. Bottoms up will be next up. Tough tough work there, too. LOTS of tension. Less total sets for sure.

KB press
16 kg x 3/3/ x2
20 kg x 2/2
24 kg x 1/1
28 kg x 1/1 x 10 sets

each set got easier and better. Really gave me a chance to focus on each aspect.

Double cleans
2 20's x 5 x 2
2 22's x 5 x 5 sets

this was tough! hot today and this was some work

Belt squats
36 kg x 20
         x 25
         x 30
         x 40 Pr
115 reps

 that was good and TOUGH! Had to get Tracy in the gym to count my last set reps to make sure I did them. it was actually easier that the 30 rep set.

Reverse Woodchop blue band
 3 x 10 reps left side only.
glad to add this old favorite exercise back in. used this extensively in  the early 2000's for my back rehab. Really gets my left glute ,right erector and left to right T spine rotation - all my weak points. I've been avoiding it for years in search of better  moves than this old school "functional" exercise but I think it's time to ressurect it!

Barbell curls
45 lbs x 5 x 8

these were actually hard and my biceps were tired, lol. Not used to the work even as paltry as it is.


Mr Heavy Duty, Mike Mentzer.


Joe Sarti said...

"I decided to look at EACH part of each squat as a rep onto itself.Getting tight under the bar- a rep-unracking the weight- second rep- walking it out- third rep- getting tight before the descent- forth rep- the descent- number five- the ascent and hold- six and seven-walking it in- eight."

Just brilliant! Love this post/article. Such a sage vision when you really look at it. I love getting stronger but I am not a fan of the volume, after all I love training and am not competing so if I can minimize the stress on the body so I can train for life (pun intended) then I succeed :)

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Joe, that injury, that training and that meet were huge lessons for me in many many ways.

I don't mind volume at all, as long as the intensity is low ( hiking, etc.) strength first, then endurance.

Mark Reifkind said...

and yes, Train for Life. What else is there to train for, really ?

Yogi Steve said...

great post Rif! I'm trying to get my younger brother who is a bodybuilder to embrace principles like these. Very well written sir!

Diana said...

Reps are for building, singles are for testing.

Awesome words!

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Steve hope he gets it:)

Mark Reifkind said...

thanks Diana, hope you are healing well :)

Tracy Reifkind said...

Brilliant! 'nough said.

Mark Reifkind said...

thank you lovey:) You inspired it.

Diana said...

Recovery is going well...boring, but well!
Thanks for well wishes!