Been a while! Training going well again, no new injuries and my shoulder seems to be pretty much healed now so started getting my Bench back to previous levels.
I spent December practicing wider squats and sumo deadlifts, but to no avail as yet, wide squats are giving me pain in the hips so gone back to orthodox for now. Still practicing the Sumo Deadlifts to warm-up, and then again back to conventional for my maxes and at comps. I’m not confident enough yet to compete in Sumo style (that and the fact I can only pull about 90% of what I can with conventional pulls). I also tried out a new Bench Shirt as Coach doesn’t think I’m getting much out of the old one – I can’t get it on on my own so have only been able to use it a couple of times and couldn’t even touch my chest with 175kg on the bar! A bit more use and breaking in and I should get 180kg out of it 🙂
January has been a great month training-wise, although a bit of weight gain over christmas! Starting to get more from the equipment (suit & shirt) as I get used to it. My Bench is now back where it was pre-shoulder issues and I have pressed a 145kg RAW and 160kg in the old shirt so feeling confident for the upcoming Welsh Open Championships in February. Squat has held, worked up to a solid 200kg x3 and tried for the 500lb club (227.5kg) just after but I feel I was about a half inch high so will have to go for it again soon – I hit 230kg in January so confident I should hit it in comp after decent rest!. Deadlift remaining stagnant (as always!) and I will be happy to just pull my PR of 200kg at the upcoming meet.
February – Current weight 85kg so a little over at the moment, I’m water loading again as I did for the UK’s to make weight. Worked out my openers last week and aiming to try and total more than I did at the world’s last year (565kg). I’m opening at 185/140/185 and going from there, hopefully around 220/160/195 or more which would make 575kg total. I’m hoping to hit the 600’s by the end of the year and plan to squat a quarter tonne in the Europeans in July. Well, that’s the goal anyway 😉 Hit an easy 150kg Bench for 2 reps and 140kg for 4 last week, Squats up to 210kg comfortably and Deadlifts up to 150kg for speed work.
Sorry, it’s been a crazy couple of months so I haven’t been posting recently. It will be back to usual again now with a weekly training log and some new articles on their way.
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.