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A Blog Post

Wednesday’s child is full of blogs.

One of the nice things about running your own business is that, within reason, you can choose when and how much you work. The success of the business is directly proportional to the amount of time and effort  you put into it – but you can arrange your hours to suit you, somewhat. Normally I get up at 7ish, get the kids to school, walk the dog, do an hour or so of house or garden stuff and then bimble into the gym between 11 and 12. Once there I have a workout, shout at various members of staff, ignore phone calls and occasionally do some actual work.

Today, however, I was meeting our resident computer genius, grip guru and all round hero – Gaz!
Gaz has been on the Dave’s Gym scene since the early days and is now a well established part of the fixtures and fittings. If you read this blog with any regularity then you would have read some of his stuff. It’s easy to spot his contributions as they are well written, researched, thought out and put together. The other vague, rambling, over written and convoluted material is mine. Sigh . . .

Anyway, we weren’t meeting up to compare writing styles but to lay the old Dave’s Gym Blog on the mortuary slab, rummage around in it’s guts, pass a gigawatt of raw power through it’s neck bolts and resurrect it. New! Shiny! Improved! And smelling slightly of formaldehyde.

The last time I did this it took about 3 hours. I clicked on several buttons in the “change your blog from this to this” section and let the pixies that live in my PC do the rest. It turns out that that isn’t good enough for Herr Gruppen Fuhrer Gazinstein. No, not good enough by half. What you have to do, as it turns out, is find a perfectly good blog template and rewrite the code for it. Line by, excruciating, unfathomable, cryptic line. If it isn’t amazing by the time he’s finished with it I’ll have him chopped into tiny cubes and fed to weasels.

I was about as much use as tits on a fish in helping him do this. All I could do was look over his shoulder with a furrowed brow and glare at the code on the screen in a menacing but baffled manner. Hoping that I could, by shear force of intimidation alone, scare the code into telling me what it all meant. I couldn’t and it didn’t. Instead I just annoyed Gaz by saying things like “Is that supposed to do that?” and “Can you make it a redder kind of reddy red?”

I could tell he was beginning to get annoyed with me but couldn’t say anything as I would kill and then fire him or fire and then kill him – so I went for a workout instead.
Wednesday’s is weights day and the weights of the day are squats, bench and rows. Which means today is a good day. One of the many things I love about this current full body 5/3/1 workout is that I get to squat three times every week.
Now, the internet armchair warriors of the world are divided on the whole issue of squats and opinions are like arseholes – everybody has one. So here’s mine:
Squats, in all it’s many forms, are a great exercise that can help increase flexibility, strength, power, conditioning, athletic performance and pretty much anything else you care to mention IF you can do it with good technique AND no pain or discomfort (except for the good kind).
I also don’t like taking squats and deadlifts to failure or doing drop sets on them. They are brutal full body exercises that severely tax the central nervous system. Taking them to the bleeding, ragged edge of what’s possible every time you do them will lead, eventually, to burn out or injury.
What I find works for me is to do the squat movement regularly (three times a week under load and then most other days as a body weight only exercise as a warm up movement.), but keep the volume down each session to 3 working sets plus a few warm up ones thrown in for good measure. 
Technique is everything and mine is constantly evolving. In fact at times I’ve had to kill my squat – completely eradicate it’s genetic line and start from scratch. I’ve probably done this 5 or more times in the past 20 odd years of lifting. Each time I’ve done it I also start from an empty bar and slowly start building the weight up again.
It’s what I’m doing at the moment. I had been on a bit of a powerlifting kick and my squatting style reflected that. My feet were wide. The bar was low. My knee wraps were tight enough to fuse my patella into diamond. The weights were massive(ish) and my technique sucked.
 It really did. I didn’t, and don’t, have the hip flexibility to hit a good depth without rounding out or tucking under. My sessions were ruled by ego and the eternal quest for lifting heavier weight.
As part of my job I spend a lot of time each day demonstrating how to perform exercises with good technique and I found myself unable to hit any kind of depth on a squat unless I was very warmed up or had a ton of weight on the bar to help push me down. Which is ridiculous.
When I started training with Rhod and we embarked on the 5/3/1 odyssey I made the conscious effort to correct my squat and so drew up a list, because I love a good list.
  • To not just squat to depth but to to squat all the way down.
  • This will require a bloody good warm up – so do a good amount of cardio and specific activation exercises every time I train.
  • Squat frequently and only with flawless tekkers.
  • Go back to the drawing board with my squatting style and find a position that allows me to get to depth. As it turns out this was with high bar, shoulder width stance, toes pointing out and lots of pushing the knees out. A little break from the hips first and then dropping between my legs also helped a lot.
  • Learning to push with my heels all the time. I still throw my weight forward onto the balls of my feet if I don’t concentrate or get tired.
  • Start with stupidly light weights. I’m still only working off 125kg but my form is so much better.

This is our workout for today.

Cycle – 5 mins.

Run – 3 mins.

Skip – 1 min.

Circuit – Rope waggling, step ups, Bulgarian bag circles, squats. 20 reps on each. 2 circuits.

Front squats – 5 sets 5 reps @ 60/70/80/90/100kg

Bench press – 5 @ 95kg, 3 @ 115kg, 1 @ 130kg (me). 5 @ 70kg, 3 @ 77.5kg, 1 @ 87.5kg (Rhod).

Rows – 3 sets 10 reps.

Chin up, dip and press up circuit – 3 rounds some reps.

The rest of the day was spent training a few people, bugging Gaz about the blog and trying to workout why the boiler pressure in the gym was plummiting like a stone no matter how much we topped it up (leaky radiator).

I managed to leave early enough to see the kids before they went to bed and curl up on the sofa to watch a movie with Zoe (Super 8 – not bad but not great.) All in all not a bad day.

Thanks for reading,
Dave Carter.

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