Results matching “Bird”

Abandoned - Test articles

Slowly falling asleepStill feeling thoroughly exhausted after another busy weekend in London (unfortunately without enough spare time to seek out a gym of some description) I embarked on a very lethargic ME BENCH.

With my eyelids feeling heavier than the weighted bar, I decided to abandon the workout after the core exercise. That bench is surpisingly comfortable, as I realised following a few long blinks. Tomorrow.

Bench press 2×5@20kg, 3@30kg, 3@40kg, 2@50kg, 2@60kg, 1@65kg, 1@70kg, 0@75kg
Close-grip bench press 5@60kg

Total time : 32 mins

Zercher... Seek and Destroy! - Test articles

041117_zerchersquat.jpgThe past week has been a combination of ridiculous hours, lack of sleep, stress and sporadic doses of attempted relaxation. Unfortunately this combination has seen the past few scheduled workouts skipped, as a 4am training session immediately following a long day just wasn't about to happen.

With a couple of days back in Edinburgh (between bouts of photoshoots in London) I finally had a chance to make amends for at least part of the lost time - and it's a fantastic feeling to once again find myself in a power rack.

Having just watched the Westside Deadlift Secrets DVD I was inspired to dive into a SQ/DL workout rather than the scheduled benching; and followed last Monday's ME SQ/DL routine.

Once again performing the Zerchers from the second lowest pin setting, I maintained the wide stance and angled grip of previous sessions. Worked up to a comfortable 80kg double, but the subsequent 85kg attempt began to roll out of my arms on the ascent. One for next time.

Zercher squat 2×5@20kg, 3@40kg, 3@60kg, 2@70kg, 2@80kg, 0@85kg
Romanian deadlift (platform) 4×6@95kg
Good morning 4×6@50kg
V-up/ab crunch (supersetted) 3×20@bw
Total time : 45 mins

As for the title - what else would you call a late night Zercher squat workout powered by some classic Metallica?

Westside Dead Lift Secrets - Test articles

NEW-4.jpgThis review looks at the 2003 DVD edition of the Deadlift Secrets offering, which is an updated version of its early '90s predecessor. Whilst there has been a significant amount of change to some aspects of the Westside approach, the fundamentals remain constant and this DVD helps to show just how important those fundamental concepts are.

This DVD shows how a Deadlift workout is arranged at Westside, and is packed with demos of various lifts, showing how they are performed correctly. Louie Simmons also discusses the reasons for including each lift, and offers an insight in how to structure a workout suited to your own physical requirements.

Running a little less than an hour, the DVD comprises the following chapters :

Louie briefly outlines the Westside credentials when it comes to deadlifting, and makes it quite clear that the following techniques have been used to excellent effect for some time.

Speed pulls
Using bands tied to a deadlift platform, keeping the lift to around the 40%-70% range, both conventional (Danny Blankenship) and sumo (Louie Simmons) styles are shown. The two lifters alternate using the same setup.

Rack pulls
These are performed in a power rack with the bar just below the knee. Louie notes that any rack pull greater than 10% above a lifter's 1RM is pointless, as higher amounts will never be lifted in competition.

Lightened method
With the bar again in the power rack, bands are tied to the top of the rack and looped around the ends of the bar. The bands shown are used to take around 125lb off the bottom of the lift.

Maximal effort
This section is a discussion of some of the many exercises that may be performed on an ME day. The exercises demonstrated are :

Bent-over good morning
Box squat
GM using Safety Squat bar
Box squat using Safety Squat bar
GM using 14" camber bar
Box squat using 14" camber bar

Louie notes that the box squats are taken up to a max single, whereas the good mornings are worked up to a max triple.

Special exercises
This is a selection of exercises that may be used following the core exercises on either ME or DE day. The exercises demonstrated are :

Reverse hyper - using roller
Stand-up abs
Lat pulldowns (Louie notes that many varieties of bars are used for these)
NEW-2.jpgGHR (glute-ham raise)
GHR with wide stance
Reverse hyper - using straps (Louie notes that long straps emphasise the hips, whilst short straps or a roller hit the lower back)
Zercher squats - using a strongman yoke
Leg curls - using reverse hyper machine
Straight leg sit-ups - using cheap GHR machine
Tread sled work - with straps tied to lower back
Seated calf raise - on seated calf raise machine
Virtual force swing
NEW-3.jpgLand mine - using combat handle
45 degree back raise
Bent back raise - using Back Attack machine
Arched back raise - using Back Attack machine
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) - using bar + handles
Lat work pulls (T-bar rows) with wide grip - using stand
Belt squats on platform (Louie notes that Lunge squats can also be done using the same setup)
Using bands around ankles
Using bands around knees
Using bands around knees - seated on box, to bring hips below knees
Band good morning
Band upright row
Band leg curl
Band leg curl to side

Grip work
Louie notes that the Westside routines don't include standard gripper or wrist roller work, as neither of these are considered effective ways to develop the grip strength required for powerlifting. The wrist roller in particular will certainly build large forearms, whilst doing little for the grip.

The primary items used are :

Ironmind's Rolling Thunder
Hex dumbell holds
Various custom grippers to work the fingers in different ways

Additionally, the high volume of speed pulls performed also works grip strength.

Dead lift technique
This section is brief, as the DVD already shows several lifters with excellent deadlift technique in action. The main points mentioned are :

push the feet out
raise head
straighten knees, hips and back at the same time


Louie concludes by restating his mix+match policy when it comes to exercise selection. He also mentions the frequency of workouts, the use of the GHR machine for warming up, and the policy of thorough stretching after a workout.

NB : Each chapter includes a brief review.

NEW-6.jpgThis is an excellent DVD for anyone seeking greater information on the makeup of a Westside Squat/Deadlift workout (the same supplementary exercises are done for both), as well as anyone looking to see correct form for some of the more unusual movements - particularly those on Louie Simmons' custom creations.

Almost... - Test articles

Elbow flaring in actionAnother scheduled workout was lost to the hectic schedule this week, though fortunately today's ME BENCH still went ahead as planned. As it's been some time since I last tested the waters of a max bench press, today was an interesting one.

One of my short-term goals is to press more than bodyweight, which is currently a modest 79kg. Having worked up to my previous max of 65kg, I managed to lockout both 70 and 75 (with attrocious form, and the pins set slightly too high) but didn't quite get 80kg. Next time, next time.

As promised, here's the video [.avi, 4mb, 2m22s] of the bench pressing. Warning : poor form ensues.

Bench press 2×5@20kg, 3@30kg, 3@40kg, 2@50kg, 2@60kg, 1@65kg, 1@70kg, 1@75kg, 0@80kg
Close-grip bench press 2×6@60kg
Seated triceps extension 4×6@35kg
Seated shoulder press 6,6,4@40kg
Barbell shrug 4×6@110kg

Total time : 55 mins

A quick bit of pressing - Test articles

Back on the benchFollowing a few weeks of floor pressing, it was time to return to the common-or-garden variety flat bench press. As it's been a while since I've determined a max for these, I increased the weights a little to compensate for imagined gains in strength. They still went up fairly quickly, so no apparent problems there.

With the camera battery choosing to die at an inopportune moment (in the middle of one of the early sets) there was no chance of recording this session, but my form does seem to be settling in somewhat. A quick video of the next ME BENCH session should solidify that.

Bench press (explosive) 2×5@20kg, 6×3@40kg, 4×3@60kg
Close-grip bench press 2×6@60kg
Seated triceps extension 4×6@35kg
Seated shoulder press 3×6@35kg

Total time : 38 mins

Straighter...Spare time this week seems to have disappeared into the ether. Wednesday's scheduled ME BENCH session was skipped entirely.

Determined to squeeze a workout into a somewhat abbreviated break today, I set about testing some of the advice offered following last Friday's squatting form review. As there was no opportunity during the week to construct a lower box for squatting, I was again forced to make use of a bench. Slightly above parallel, but a starting point nonetheless.

The main area I wanted to work on today was using a stronger hip drive on the ascent. Coupled with an arching back of the weight, this provided a much straighter bar path than in previous sessions. Still far from ideal, but an improvement.

I followed the box squats with Zerchers as per last week, using the same wider stance and grip as Monday's session. Together with the fact that these were done from the low pins (forcing a Zercher Deadlift start to each set) they definitely had the blood pumping in this quick - but effective - workout.

Box squat 9×3@50kg
Zercher squat 6×3@60kg

Total time : 37 mins

Squat or deadlift? - Test articles

Last night's Halloween paradeMindful of some excellent feedback on last week's 'back to school' squat session, I decided to switch the main exercise for today to the Zercher Squat. Adjustments this time included the use of a wider stance, a wider 'grip' (elbows at the outer edges of smooth sections), and fists bent in to touch each other, as per the form shown on this page in Finnish Power.

I also performed these from the second lowest pin setting in the rack, which forces a much deeper squat and makes the start a little closer to a Zercher Deadlift. Could definitely feel the difference.

The other major change today was the Good Morning, which is now a little deeper (though still nowhere near parallel). Think I'll maintain this weight for a while and concentrate on attaining a respectable (and comfortable) depth before considering a weight increase.

Finished off with the obligatory ab work, which turned out to be in the form of V-ups and crunches after the planned spreadeagle situps caused a bit of muscle cramping. I'm sure they'll reappear in a few days.

Zercher squat 2×5@20kg, 3@40kg, 3@60kg, 2@70kg, 2@80kg
Romanian deadlift (platform) 4×6@90kg
Good morning 4×6@50kg
V-up/ab crunch (supersetted) 3×20@bw

Total time : 61 mins

Box SquatFor an exercise that seems perfectly natural for most 3-year-olds, the squat is a complex beast that will take quite a bit of getting used to. Many, many years I suspect.

Determined to address the long list of things that just don't feel right (with my squat, otherwise I'd be here all day) I recorded a bit of video [.wmv, 2m48s, 4.6MB]. Something to laugh at once I finally get the hang of this thing.

Flicking through the video I noted several points I'll certainly be more aware of next time, including :

  • Not sitting back enough. A little too close to the 'touch and go' method of box squatting for my liking.
  • Despite gripping the bar at a reasonably even distance from each end, I have a tendency to keep to the left when I slide under it. Having more weight on the right hand side is less than ideal.
  • Width of stance. The first few sets were performed with a stance only a little wider than shoulder-width; I then tried expanding this to the width of the rack (112cm/44"). I prefer this wider stance, though it is going to take some getting used to.
  • In the Zerchers, parallel is much lower than I imagined at the time. Will have to start with the pins lower to make things a little clearer.

No doubt there are several other issues to address, but those are the ones that are glaringly obvious to me. Naturally, any feedback on resolving those, or on anything significant I've omitted from the above list, is appreciated.

Box squat 2×5@20kg, 9×3@60kg
Zercher squat 4×6@60kg

Total time : 63 mins

Gripping in the wet - Test articles

Plate PinchingMy grip training stands in sharp contrast to the relatively ordered approach taken for the remainder of my workouts. Today's wet weather provided a suitable backdrop for yet another unscheduled collection of grip exercises.

Having noticed recently that my left hand grip has a little catching up to do, I put the left hand exercises first. Hopefully a few weeks of this approach will pay dividends.

On to the workout. Today's motley collaboration of exercises ( video - .wmv, 3m01s, 4.6MB ) included several varieties of the hang/hold theme; as well as a little wrist work to finish things off.

Wide plate hold 5kg
Bar hang (single handed - other hand on wrist) bw
Barbell hold 60kg (each hand)
Wrist roller 3@10kg
CoC Gripper (T) 5 (each hand)

Total time : 20 mins

Trapped! - Test articles

041027_shrug.jpgContinuing the theme of consistency - at least as far as the max exercise is concerned - I began today's session with some incline bench pressing. Still looking for the optimal series of triples/doubles/singles when working up to a maximum lift, I decided to drop a few of the earlier sets in the hope that I'd have enough energy at the end of the series to try a new max. It worked, and a 5kg PR went up without too much pain.

Rather than attempt a further increase, I decided to set about some close-grip incline work with a heavier weight than last week. Four sets achieved - looks like the slightly reduced groove-up for the first lot of pressing was close to the mark.

Following a few seated Tate curls it was time for a movement that comes close to the pleasure of the deadlift : the humble barbell shrug. After throwing another 10kg on the bar my hands were getting nicely shredded - another impromptu grip exercise.

Incline bench press 2×5@20kg, 3@30kg, 3@40kg, 2@45kg, 2@50kg, 1@55kg
Incline bench press (close grip) 4×6@37.5kg
Tate curl (seated) 4×6@11.5kg
Barbell shrug 2×6@100kg, 6,5@110kg
Armpit row 4×6@11.5kg

Total time : 57 mins
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