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Secret Agent John Courage

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  1. Where you at dude? 


    Your gainz are still fledgling. They need to be nurtured. 

  2. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squats 260# / 175# / 1x3 @ 245#, 2x5 @ 240# Bench Press ? / ? / 3x5 @ 115# Deadlift 260# / 165# / 1x5 @ 235# - PR! Dips + Planks 3 x 8 + 2:00 / 8 + 0:45, 8 + 0:25 / 3 x 5 @ 15# + 0:30 Squats have become a mental challenge. That bar is heavy. Form suffered on the second set but I finished strong on the last one by telling myself "Yes it's heavy and it's the same weight as last time. Now put on your big boy pants and hit your damn cues." Question for other Warriors: Does the weight ever start to feel lighter? I ask because I'm now warming up with 175#, which is where I started a few months back. It doesn't feel any lighter; it's easier, I can do it without a problem, but it still feels like a million pounds. Is that normal or is this all in my head? For future reference, bench cues that seem to work: Build the arch; pinkies on the rings; adjust wrists right after de-rack; actually say the words "grip that shit" out loud; touch bar to bottom of sternum; concentrate on squeezing grip throughout; concentrate on bringing elbows towards body throughout. Think I got it now. Video soon, promise. Deadlift PR yay, 5# increments for the win. Went easy on dips to get used to added weight. My warp drive cannot break the 0:30 plank barrier.
  3. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squats 260# / 175# / 3x5 @ 240# - PR! OHP ? / 75# / 3x5 @ 80# Dumbbell Rows ? / 130# / 3x5 @ 190# Chin-Ups + Planks 10 + 2:00 / 3,2,1 / 5 + 0:30, 3 + 0:30, 2 + 0:20 Good stuff: And the squat PR train keeps on rolling. Cautiously optimistic about OHP. Videos look OK to me. I'm still missing some of the cues some of the time, but the good news here is I can now tell when I'm doing it right, so when something feels wrong I can either figure it out on the spot or use the video to troubleshoot it later. How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Practice. I actually ate enough today! My friends had invited me to brunch. Waiter: What would you like? John Courage: Three eggs and bacon, and an extra side of bacon, substitute fresh fruit for the home fries. Sour dough toast. What's in your "protein smoothie?" Waiter: Fresh blueberries, banana, greek yogurt, honey. John Courage: Hm. How big is it? Waiter: It comes in a water glass. John Courage: Great, I'll have two please. [Waiter looks at his pad, looks back at John Courage.] Waiter: Where do you put it all? John Courage: There's a painting in my attic that grows fat instead of me. Anyway, I'm not sure how many Sam Ashens that works out to, but I was able to complete the accessories and planks for the first time in recent memory. So that's good. Other stuff: Grip strength is officially limiting my rows. I might switch from 3x5 to 5x3 so I can increase weight. Or, I guess, I could decrease weight and do more reps per set. Not sure which would be better. Way behind on everyone's threads, hope you all are doing well. I'll play catch up as soon as my schedule stops being insane. (I swear, being unemployed is like three full-time jobs.)
  4. Thanks for this, also get a new spotter. I mean duuuude. Eh, my current grip is suicidal enough, thank you very much. Thanks, doing my best. Every little bit of encouragement helps.
  5. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squat 260# / 175# / 3x5 @ 235# - PR! Bench Press ? / ? / FAIL Deadlift 260# / 165# / 1x5 @ 230# - PR! Really am happy about those PRs. Especially now that I know that I shouldn't freak out about the deadlift being lower than the squat, it means I don't have to drive myself crazy trying to add 10# to the deadlift every time. 5# increments will do, they're working wonders for the squats. It's a marathon, not a sprint. But I almost injured myself on the bench today. Decided I was going to train with just the bar until I find something that hit the visual cues and felt natural. That approach worked out really well for the OHP on Monday, so I figured it couldn't hurt. So I did something like 10 sets of 5 with just the bar, recording from multiple angles. And I found something that I think worked! It hit (most of) the cues and it felt totally natural! Woot! So I added 25# plates to the bar. I powered through that set like a knife through butter. Woot! So I replaced the 25's with 45#'s, figuring I could at least get a few reps in to see what a really heavy weight felt like. (Did the same with OHP on Monday, very informative!) I did two reps without a problem. On the third rep, my right wrist bent back. I attempted to bend it back into position, resulting in a moment of blinding pain. Re-racked the weight, gave myself a break of five minutes to be sure the wrist wasn't actually injured. Stretched it for twenty seconds in both directions; no pain. Okay. Dropped the weight to 35# on each side. First two reps went smoothly. Wrist bent back on the third. Did not attempt to correct, just re-racked. Did another set with just the bar. I attempted to do the reps without actually thinking about them. I kept my eyes closed. Sure enough, when I opened my eyes, the right wrist was bent back. I didn't even feel it happen. Hm. So I did another three sets with just the bar to see if I could focus on making sure the wrists stayed in position. Mixed results, but seemed to improve with practice. Did a final set with 25#'s, the wrists stayed put. But at that point I'd been at the bench for an hour, so I called it. Don't know how to log all this, please consider the word "FAIL" in the failcamp sense: Failure while learning is secretly success. (Actually, now I'm especially proud of the deadlift PR. I was running on fumes by that point.) Had a brief mental war about whether to stay and do dips+planks while exhausted. Overly-Cautious-Me won out over Chip-On-His-Shoulder-Me.
  6. http://www.schiek.com/gloves.html You can wrap the strap very tight, it will prevent most wrist motion. It will also leave your wrists annoyed with you.
  7. (Cross-posted from my form check thread.) OHP from yesterday. (Password is my screen name case sensitive.) I'm moving my neck, so that's something to correct. My whole body sort of jitters during the shrug at the top, so I need to work on that too. My big concern, though, is the arch in my back. It doesn't feel overextended but it looks pretty big, so let me know what you think there. And, of course, if anything else looks off. Warm-Up with bar and pauses: https://vimeo.com/163446988 Aborted set at 85# (too heavy): https://vimeo.com/163448931 Final set at 75# (looks good?): https://vimeo.com/163451014 Thanks everyone!
  8. OHP from yesterday. (Password is my screen name case sensitive.) I'm moving my neck, so that's something to correct. My whole body sort of jitters during the shrug at the top, so I need to work on that too. My big concern, though, is the arch in my back. It doesn't feel overextended but it looks pretty big, so let me know what you think there. And, of course, if anything else looks off. Warm-Up with bar and pauses: https://vimeo.com/163446988 Aborted set at 85# (too heavy): https://vimeo.com/163448931 Final set at 75# (looks good?): https://vimeo.com/163451014 Thanks everyone!
  9. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squats 225# / 175# / 1x5 @ 235#, 2x5 @ 230# - PR! OHP ? / ? / 3x5 @ 45#, 1x5 @ 65#, 1x3 @ 85#, 2x5 @ 75# Dumbbell Rows ? / 130# / 3x5 @ 180# - PR! Chin-Ups + Planks 10 + 2:00 / 3,2,1 / 2 x 5 + 0:30 Almost blacked out on the second plank again. Otherwise, all good stuff. Rookie, you're a genius: Pushing the shoulders down and back creates a stable upper body so that my biceps don't have to hold the bar on the narrow grip. Combining that with engaging the core and legs (thanks again Emerald Dragonfly!) provides a stable base for everything, letting me push the weight up without struggling so much. 85# was definitely too much, but 75# actually felt a little easy. One question, though: Doing this creates an arch in my back. It's not nearly as severe as the arch during a bench press, but it seems like a bigger arch than just standing with good posture. Unless my idea of "good posture" is totally incorrect, which may well be the case. Videos soon, please make note of the arch. (It doesn't feel like I'm overextending, but it looks like a big curve. So I dunno.) I had come in with the intention of putting on two sets of "training wheels." One, a set of gloves with wrist supports, so I could guarantee the wrists wouldn't bend back (eliminating one major variable.) Two, use the Star Trac rail rack instead of the power rack. By placing dumbbells along the rails, I could prevent the bar from moving horizontally at all (eliminating a whole host of major variables.) My intent had been to practice that way until I ended up with something that felt right. Well, I kept the training wheel gloves on for now, but it turns out I'm too tall to do an OHP in the Star Trac. So I did the presses mostly normally, modulo the gloves. I also decided to put pregnant pauses in my warm-ups. I would hold the bar in the neutral position for five or so seconds (to prove I could do so without getting exhausted) and I would hold the bar in the top position for five or so seconds (to force the core to stay engaged, since it's impossible to hold that position otherwise.) I really think that helped me (a) find a grip position that both hit the cues and felt natural, and (b) turn the core engagement into an automatic action. tl;dr I think I fixed my OHP. There will be literally all the Pokémon gifs. But, you tell me. I don't have any interviews tomorrow so I can catch up on NF videos (and anyway my Vimeo limit resets weekly so I now have budget for them again.) Will ditch the gloves next time, I think I got this.
  10. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squats 225# / 175# / 2x5 @ 235#, 1x5 @ 225# - GOAL! Bench ? / 115# / (Warm-ups: 3x10 @ 45#, 3x5 @ 45#, 1x5 @ 65#, 1x5 @ 95#), 3x5 @ 115# Deadlifts 260# / 165# / 1x5 @ 225# - PR! Dips + Plank 8 + 2:00 x 3 / 8 + 0:45, 8 + 0:25 / 3 x 8 + 0:30 Shoulder Press Machine ewww / ewwww / 1x5 @ 100# Good stuff: Successfully forced myself to go. I may whine a lot, Warriors, but I don't quit. Successfully tricked myself into hitting the squat goal. This whole week has been one giant mental challenge, and on Monday I psyched myself out of hitting the goal on the last frakkin' rep. So I added ten pounds today. The second set at that weight was slowwwww, but when I removed the ten pounds for the final set I hit the goal weight with no issues whatsoever. IN YOUR FACE, BRAIN. I now have two plates on my squat! And the Pokémon rejoice. Hit a deadlift PR, don't think form suffered. Dips have actually stabilized: I can consistently do three sets of 8 without a problem. So it is time to add some weight. Need to inquire whether the gym has the right belt for that. Discovered that my gym does not provide but does allow chalk. So I can bring my own when I need to. Other stuff: I don't usually include warm-ups in my logging (but you can take for granted that I do them), but today's bench press adventures were sort of bonkers. Based on Epic Beard's video above, I spent a lot of early sets adjusting my grip on the bar, adjusting the camera angle, pausing and craning my neck a bit to see if things were lining up, etc, etc, etc. I think I know what the grip should be (ring fingers on the bar rings) and where the bar should touch (very top of the the rib cage.) So I did the weighted warm-ups and working sets with those cues. The videos look much better, but the motion still feels completely alien. But the good news is, there was a rep or two somewhere in those gazillions that did feel right. So at this point I think it's a matter of practice, unless you guys tell me something's off in the videos. Sat in the shoulder press machine to get an idea for how strong my shoulders actually are. I only did the one set with a guess, and that set wasn't very challenging, so the actual 5RM there is a bit higher. Presumably my OHP should be some fraction of that number; 75# doesn't seem unreasonable, and it seems certain that I can press 65# once the form issues are corrected. On the other hand, the mere act of sitting that machine just knocked like 50 pounds off my squat. And out of morbid curiosity, I picked up an 80# barbell to see if I could curl it. I can't, so that confirms that.
  11. I think I've identified the OHP problem. It's grip width. If I go with a narrow grip, I generate one set of problems. If I go with a wider grip, I generate another set of problems. There are a number of rules. These are collated from numerous sources/suggestions, so by all means correct me if I'm wrong. A. Front view: Forearms vertical at the start of the lift. B. Side view: Elbows slightly in front of bar at the start of the lift. C. Bar rests on top of chest at the start of the lift. D. The Overhead Press is not a bicep exercise. E. Side view: Bar in heel of palm; knuckles on top of bar; wrist like 45 degrees. If I use a narrow grip, I can get A, B and E. However, by doing so, my biceps are completely tight. Phrased another way, if I set up OHP with A and B, then the start of my OHP is the end of a preacher curl with a pronated grip. That can't be right. If you sat me in a Hammer machine, I could probably push between 75 and 85 pounds with my shoulders. There is no way in hell I can curl that much, probably not even once. So it seems weird that an overhead press would require that much bicep strength, and from everything I'm reading online, the OHP is not supposed to engage the biceps that much, if at all. Furthermore, I can't rest the bar on my chest if I set up with A and B. The closest I can get is about an inch from my Adam's apple, and even that feels totally unnatural. This is hugely important. Without this, there's no neutral moment during the set. If I want to (a) take a few deep breaths to power through that last rep or (b) re-engage my core and legs before attempting that last rep or (c) even just psyche myself up before that last rep, I can't. I have to put the bar down instead. I can even hold the start of a bench press for ten seconds if I have to, so this feels really wrong to me. Finally, just because I set up with A and B doesn't mean I stay set up with A and B. Since the position feels so unnatural, what happens is B gets sacrificed after the bar goes up and down once. I tried for an hour straight to get my body to keep the elbow slightly in front of the bar, but I can't do it. I'm not certain I'm actually supposed to. Here's what happens when B goes away: The bar ends up about two inches from Adam's apple. So again, no neutral position. More importantly, the bar no longer goes in a straight line: I have to move it both up and back. If I don't move it back, then my arms are about 10 degrees tilted forward. Much harder to hold that position, even without weight. On the other hand, when I do this, the biceps are no longer engaged at the start, at least not to the point where I can feel them. Instead, I can sacrifice A. I think that's what Nate recommended above. What happens then is, my arms look like a W at the start of the lift. I can rest the bar at the top of my chest. The biceps aren't really engaged. It feels much more natural. However, the elbows also fall behind the bar; put another way, I can't change A without also changing B. If I try to keep the wide grip but rotate the bar behind the elbows, it actually hurts. So I'm at a loss of how to proceed. I can do A, B and E without C or D; I can do A, C and E without B or D; I can do C, D and E without A or B. I cannot do all five at once. Here's A, B and E: http://imgur.com/eXj1hbl - bottom right corner is what the arm looks like after one rep. Here's C, D and E: http://imgur.com/dBwyyWV - bottom right adds B, but hurts.
  12. Exercise Goal/Starting/Current Squats 225# / 175# / 2x5 @ 225#, 1x4 @ 225#, 1x1 @ 225# OHP ? / ? / 3x5 @ 45#, 1x5 @ 55#, 2x5 @ 65#, 1x5 @ 55# Dumbbell Rows ? / 130# / 1x5 @ 180#, 2x5 @ 170# Chin-Ups + Planks 10+2:00 / 3,2,1 / 3 The first three sets of presses involved me holding the bar, looking in the mirror, turning sideways, looking again, etc, etc. I think I found out where my grip should be: Pinkies on the shiny rings. Still working on getting the bar under the heel of the palm, nothing feels right there. Still working on bar placement, nothing feels right there either. Taking five to ten seconds to prepare core/legs before lifting definitely improves stability. However, it has the side effect that my arms are already tired from holding the bar in place that long. I think my working weight is 55#, but it's hard to say since nothing feels right. It might be lower, but it's definitely not higher. I have vids of all of this, I'll post them after I gather the stomach to look at them. Had to use 20 seconds to force myself to stay at the gym and finish rows. Gave up on life after the chin-ups. If anyone needs me, I'll be in a dark corner smoking clove cigarettes and drinking vermouth.
  13. Thanks. It's definitely grip strength. I recently switched to the mixed grip because otherwise it felt like the bar was going to fall out of my hands. I'm very curious about the treatments for callouses, can you maybe point me in the right direction?
  14. Well, the point is academic until I fix my lifts. So, thanks for helping out with that. Certain. Here was my attempt last week at just 10# heavier: https://vimeo.com/162690946 I might have been able to pull that off (literally, heh) on Monday, but it's not like I can jump up 50#. That's weird, right? Typically one's deadlift is one's heaviest lift? Mine's just on par with/slightly behind my squat. Hm. Get ready? I was born ready for bench gains. Very informative video, I'll see if I can get multiple angles to help correct bar path. Also I love your example of pushing yourself off the floor; that made a few things "click" for me, so hopefully that translates well into practice. Thanks again.
  15. Meh. "Looking stacked" is 99% genetics, and I lost that lottery big time. My biceps attach high; my forearms are mostly skin and bone; there's a gnarly pit where my pecs are supposed to converge; I have a nasty incision scar from surgery way back when that will prevent me from ever having a six pack; etc, etc, etc. I'm never going to look good at the beach, I'm in this for the strength. So I suppose I'm okay with Texas. Um, I actually am taking the slack out in those vids -- I've been doing that for a while so it only takes a second or two, but you can sort of see my back adjust into position at the beginning of the lift. Let me know if you think I'm doing that wrong.
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