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A Blog Post

Rehab, gigs and a master plan.

 Dave was wondering who had stolen his Harley.

Alright. That’s it. I’ve had enough. No more bouncing from injury to illness to yet another new start. The rules of making improvements in the gym are simple and straight forward and for once I’m going to try and follow my own advice.

1) Show up and do something. If you’re not at the gym and shaking your thang then everything else is pointless.

2) Be consistent. Train regularly and train with repetition. You will only get better at something if you do it a lot.

3) Cause no harm. If you fuck yourself up doing, for example, deadlifts that are too heavy for your weakened pathetic state then you will be unable to do points 1 and 2.

And that is about it. At least as far as training goes. I’m going to try to apply those 3 points to the workouts I plan to do for the next week of deload madness.

Cardio – At least 30 minutes.

Activation drills – Glute bridge, Gun dogs, Lunges, Squats, Jumps, Med ball slams, etc.

Full body circuit – 1 squat exercise, 1 push exercise, 1 pull exercise, 1 mid-section exercise and 1 carry exercise. One of the movements to be done with increasingly heavy weights for 3-5 reps the others to be done for 10ish reps.

Hopefully a week of that should have my various ills and ailments put to rest and given me a good level of conditioning. That will then be combined with a good eating plan. I’m basically going to do a version of the Paleo Diet but with some carbs.

The Paleo, or Caveman, diet is a method of eating that strips all the crap out of your diet. There is no white flour products, no sugar, no alcohol, no processed food, very little dairy and not too much in the way of carbohydrates. My version of it is going to be high fat, high vegetable, moderate protein and low carb. It will look something like this –

Breakfast – Eggs with veg and salad.

Lunch – Chicken thigh, avocado, veg and salad with maybe the occasional bit of brown rice.

Dinner – Fish with veg and salad.

Snacks – Whey protein shakes. Although, in truth, I probably won’t bother with these. I know that they’re good for you and stuff but I hate them with a passion I normally reserve for Traffic Wardens.

Most of the meals will have coconut oil, avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil or nut oil added to it because fat is good for you.

After this next week I plan to stick with the diet but get back to my normal style of training – but with a few changes.

Change 1 – I’m still going to include the cardio warm up, the activation and the complexes at the start of the workout. I will then still do the “Ramp up” of the days main exercise. For example if I’m doing squats then we start with an empty bar and do 3-5 fast reps, add a little weight and go again. Keep adding weight and dropping the occasional rep until we have worked up to a “heavy” set. After working up what we have been doing then is our 5/3/1 reps and weights but what I’m going to do is 3-5 sets of 10-15 reps at a much lighter weight just to give my aged body a break for awhile.

Change 2 – Deadlifts. Tricky one this. On one hand I recognise the deadlift as being a vital lynch pin in anyone’s  training program. There is much talk about “functional” training and there is an army of personal trainers making their clients do some very odd movements in the gym.

Whyyyyyyyyyy? …. you pointless Bell-end.
The 3 most functional movements ever are bending over, picking stuff up and walking. The deadlift takes care of the first two of those – Hell, do farmers walks and you’ve got all three covered. The problem with deadlifts is that they can mash, maim, mangle, mutilate and murder your spine. So I want to do deadlifts but I, also, don’t want to do deadlifts. What to do? 
First you need to ask yourself why you are doing deadlifts in the first place? Are you a powerlifter or a strongman? If so then you have no option then to do lots of regular deadlifting, with a regular bar, at a set distance from the floor. If you can’t do this without pain or discomfort then, may I suggest, that this isn’t the sport for you. Darts instead maybe?
On the other hand if what you want from deadlifting is to be stronger, more muscular and epically awesome then there are a whole slew of choices; Rack pulls, Hex bar, Romanians, Box pulls to name but a few.

 The other consideration is how you perform your deadlift. I’ve stolen this, word for word, from a writer on T-Nation called Lee Boyce. Lee is a regular guy who likes to lift weights. He doesn’t have any powerlifting records and nor is he a Mr Olympia style bodybuilder. Which means that his advice is a whole lot more relevant to me then the opinion of a juiced up freak of nature. Mr Lee Boyce we salute you and your normalness.

“This “training versus loading” idea is a big reason why lifters will lower their hip position or even go to sumo stance when deadlifting heavy loads.

The lowered hip position will make the quads fire more, and the wider toes and knees will encourage the adductors to contribute.

In any given textbook, you’ll read about the deadlift and it will state that it’s a prime developer of the posterior chain muscles – the glutes, hamstrings, low back, and even the upper back.

As such, the “on-paper” coaching technique for the general population will reflect this, and the lifter in the pictures will show perfect form to hit the glutes, hams, and low back.

But when weight becomes a factor, I guarantee that perfect “by the book” technique won’t be used in a setup. I know in my case, I’ll want to use more of everything to help me lift.

Take a look at any 800+ deadlifter and you’ll notice a bar position located further under the shoulder, lowered hip position, and much more quad involvement. I’ve argued against lowering the hip position and I still believe this – for tall lifters.

Tall guys have a problem with the deadlift because of their anthropometry. They’ll often be forced into a higher hip position when performing the lift, which does a good job of stimulating the muscles involved but won’t help them pull 1000 any time soon.

Shorter powerlifters can incorporate more musculature into the deadlift along with a flat back and good “pulling technique.” Add long arms to the mix for their height and you’ve got the makings of a strong pull.

Take home point: Lower hips, distance from shins, and more quad involvement will help you move more weight, but won’t necessarily make your hamstrings and glutes stronger. It depends what you’re using the deadlift for in your training, as it relates to your goals.”

I am not a powerlifter and I also really don’t care about breaking any lifting records. What I want is well developed muscles and a spine that doesn’t shatter. Not much to ask really. My plan is to continue deadlifting but from a raised height and with a strongly arched back position. This will limit the weight I can lift but target my posterior chain muscles much more effectively. I’ll probably take the reps up to about 10 which will further limit the weight but promote some hypertrophy.

 Bad back position. 

Good back position and one hell of an arse.

So to recap –

 Deadlifts are great no matter which way you do them.

Consistent, regular training beats training like a maniac for two weeks and then burning out.

I’m an idiot. Still.

Functional training is, in the main, a load of bollocks. Ask yourself: “Functional for what?” “Functional for who?”

Fat in your diet isn’t the thing to be concerned about. Worry about processed foods and sugar.

Just before I sign off let me tell you about something not gym related. Let me tell you about the wonder that was High on Fire when I saw them in Bristol last week.

High on Fire are one of the more brutal metal bands that I regularly listen to. There are faster bands out there but not many with their crushing power. It’s not for everyone but their music has a big, thick groove running right through every song.

Check them out:

And then check them out again:

I love going to gigs in Bristol. It’s only an hour away and the venues are outstanding. The venue for this gig was on a boat! But the best thing about Bristol is a pub called The Seven Stars. It’s like a pub from a time gone by. I doubt it’s ever been refurbished or trendy-fied and it’s so much better for it. It has a floor to stand on, some chairs to sit on and a bar that has a bewildering array of ale to drink from. The toilet is the stuff of nightmares. The clientele all look like extras from a Dickensian costume drama and the pub itself is halfway down a dark and dingy alley.

It’s so good that we (Simon, Simon, James and me) didn’t even bother going to see the support acts and got to the boat (?!!!) just in time for High on Fire to begin their set. From the first crunching riff to the last they were incredible and (yet again) one of the best gigs I have been to.

Thanks for reading,
Dave Carter,
Dave’s Gym,
Cardiff.

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