Aside from Tuesday’s SPIN, haven’t exercised for a week as been a run down. Hit the gym again today finally! Bit of a tough slog after a week out – Lost a few reps from last Bench session, but it’ll pick back up.
Incline Bench Press 100kg x5x5x5
Face Pulls (12) x10x10 – between Bench sets
Weighted Dips 24kg x11x7
Incline Lever Bench 50kg x12x8
Close-Grip Bench 70kg x8x8
Tricep Rope Pushdowns (9) x10x10x10
Bent Over Rear Raise 10kg DB’s x10x10x10
DB Pullovers 38kg x12x12
‘V’ Handle Pulldown to Chest 70kg x10x10x8x8 (60s rest)
DB Row to Hip 38kg x8, 30kg x10x10
Prone Rear Raise 8kg x15x15x15
Upper Back Machine 20kg x40
Press 55kg x5, 62.5kg x5, 70kg x10+1+1 RP, then 12.5kg DB Lat Raise x12
Weighted Chins 28kg x6x5, then Reverse-Grip Pulldown (14) x9
Skullcrushers 47.5kg (used wrong plates!) x12x10x7x4
Deadlift 160kg x5 – lowered weight again to focus on technique, stopped at 5 as form starting to deteriorate.
Tuesday SPIN followed with Seated Hamstring Curl 45kg x21x21x21
Today – Incline Bench 100kg x5x5x9, then 80kg x7
Face Pulls (11) x14x14 – between bench sets
Machine Lever Row 90kg x12x10x8x7 (90s rest)
Machine Preacher Curl 20kg x14x7 (90s rest)
Squat 100kg x3, 120kg x3, 140kg x3, 160kg x3, 180kg x1 – Hip Flexor tight, struggled with Squats so just went through the motions – Will try 180kg for reps next session.
A great article (http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_article/most_recent/rippetoe_throws_down&cr=) at T-nation by Rippetoe recently. I’ve always liked his straight talking opinion – here’s some others (http://www.t-nation.com/ALSAuthor.do?p=Mark%20Rippetoe&pageNo=1) if you’re interested.
I’ve written a few posts now on Hyper Lordosis or Anterior Pelvic Tilt and it’s effects on lifting. The fact is, almost everyone has a degree of hyper-lordosis due to the fact we all use chairs far too often! From working to travelling to relaxing, it is all usually done in a seated position, this then in turn re-inforces the poor posture already lurking, causes tight lower back/hip flexors and weak or elongated abdominals/gluteals.
Most of us then try to address it with some stretching of tight muscles and strengthening the weaker ones. The problem with strengthening the abs is that the overwhelming majority simply don’t know how to. They will do something like sit-ups or crunches and hold a plank for minutes on end. The problem with these is:
- Situps work your hip flexors more than your abs, especially with the classic jerking off the floor type, crunches are a little better, but still involve the hip flexors and tend to lead to…
- Upper back rounding – When crunches are performed the movement reinforces poor posture by causing you to round your upper back each rep so leading into Kyphosis or a Neanderthal type posture – Instead of keeping your shoulders back and down with good posture, you’re constantly rounding your upper back and pushing your chin forward.
- Too much flexion and extension of the spine. Alot of people do situps by arching the lower back, pulling their body up with the hip flexors, then rounding forward towards the top of each rep. Think about it – what happens when you keep bending something back and forward over time? SNAP!
- Most people hold a plank ‘passively’ – hips sagging and upper back rounded (see post on RKC Plank for a better option)
- Due to the law of reciprocal inhibition (when a muscle on one side of a joint contracts, the other opposing muscle relaxes), your already inactive or weak glutes get weaker every rep because your hip flexors are strengthened with every rep! In other words – Sit-ups exagerate the problem you’re trying to address!!
Real Abdominal or Core Strength is simply the ability to stabilise the spine especially when under load. This is the primary job of the abs after all! How often are we even required to perform a sit-up/crunch type movement? I can’t even think of an example after getting out of bed! But, I can certainly think of many an occassion where I am supporting a load – Carrying shopping, picking up the kids/pets, moving things around, picking things up, etc etc.
If you’re already doing heavy deadlifts/squats/press’s then your core will already be getting plenty of stabilisation, if not, or you want to focus on it a little more you can’t go wrong with looking at the olympic weightlifters (especially the lightweight category). They are required to stabilise huge loads overhead and generally have the physique to match! Makes sense really, if you’re going to lift something heavy over your head then your abs are going to have to work overtime to keep your torso upright and stabilized.
To work on stabilisation, you can’t beat a bridge/plank type movement (performed correctly!)the light-weight Olympic lifters do things like supporting weight on their stomachs while they’re laying over two chairs, making their abs a “bridge” for the weight and forcing their whole core to stabilize and work to keep their back straight. A bit of an extreme version for most, but it is the general ‘bridging’ principle we’re looking at – Try the RKC plank to start.
Instead of doing hundreds of reps of easy situps and causing so many muscle imbalances, un-even weaknesses and strengths… if you’re going to do abdominal exercises to train your abs to contract your body in half… you should try harder ab exercises.
Try and focus more on lower ab work. Most people have weaker lower abs compared to their upper abs. This is usually due to crunches and upper ab work like that.
On top of that, posterioral problems and muscle imbalances are common from doing so many situps and from crunching your ribcage down towards your pelvis. You need to work your abs in a different plane of motion.
If you are lifting heavily on a regular basis, there is a great move for strengthening the abs, but also to stretch (decompress) your spine from those heavy loads. The Hanging Leg Raise and its variations
- They strengthen your abs
- They decompress your spine
- They stretch your back
- They help Correct Lordosis by training you to tilt your pelvis posteriorly and up.
Train your abs the way they were meant to be – As spinal stabilizers and with harder contraction exercises.
Shoulder feeling a bit sore from Monday’s bench so did a back session:
DB Pullover 42kg x12x12
‘V’ Grip Pulldown To Chest 80kg x8, 75kg x11
DB Row To Hip 42kg x12x12
Smith Rack Pull 160kg x5
Bent Over Rear DB Raise 14kg x15x15x15
usual SPIN class followed by 45kg leg Curl – 3 sets of 20 with 90s rest
Bench 97.5kg x5, 110kg x3, 125kg x6+1+1 RP (only just got the 6th rep!) followed with 17.5kg DB Flyes x10
Face pulls (11) x12x12 (between bench sets)
‘T’ Bar Row 60kg x15x15x12x10 (90s rest)
Machine Preacher Curls 20kg x14+4+2 RP
Squat 135kg x5, 152.5kg x3, 170kg x3 – Keeping reps low for now, focusing on hamstrings/posterior chain over next few weeks or so.