BY: wade of BORG

Well, it has been a pretty interesting couple of months Collectivites!! I made my debut performance at USAPL Senior Nationals and got spanked!! Pretty much figured I would but, lessons learned are invaluable and I plan to take those lessons into my training for next year and improve...all we can do right? <g>

         I digress (as usual <g>)...anyway, the topic du jour is a couple of points. A few things that I have instituted and feel are going to be very beneficial on the whole. To those who have figured out the Ďriddleí of the title you get a bonus No-Prize to add to your account for figuring how my warped mind works!! 

          First thing I wanted to talk about...the grip in the DL, that is right I am a new convert and jumping with both feet pointed on the Hook Grip bandwagon!! After watching Big Brad Gillingham pull an amazing 820+ not once but two times using it I was pretty impressed. Brad also suggested this to me a while back when I queried him about my pre-meet Schizo-Psychosis I was feeling prior to the "big" day too. I guess the comment that really stuck in my mind was how he mentioned that his back feels so much better on the whole with the use of it. This didnít really hit me until afterwards when I got to thinking about it and really started to break down the motion and the way you twist your upper body to accommodate the underhand grip. In essence, you are setting up your hips on the underhand side about 3-4" behind the other to accommodate the width of your forearm...and for you Popeye lookiní fellasí it is even more pronounced <g>. This aspect really became apparent when I started to analyze a pretty nasty ache in my left elbow after Nationals too...couldnít figure it out until I looked at some pictures. The cause became painfully obvious and the pain quite remembered when I saw this one particular picture of my second pull, just as it is breaking from the floor. I literally Hyper-extended my elbow!! It made perfect sense what I was feeling as I had done this years ago playing football in College (gottaí love those Noseguards...take a lickiní and keep on kickiní!). I guess that kind of sealed the change for me...despite how much horror and pain I have read about the transition I decided that I needed to make this change. I guess the elbow was more or less the straw that broke my back, so to speak. Just too many things to not give it a try. So, with that little intro. lets look it over and see what we can dig out of this olí brain (yaí Bob Villa and this old house...get it?...heehee). <g>

         Alright, bad humor aside...the hook. I am far from an expert with it but, I will toss out a few things I am noticing in the transition to it. First, the elbow is a major point...I donít have the picture scanned in yet (hint, hint Wes <g>) but, when I do I am composing a training page of my own that will catalog my meets and training and I will post the URL when I have it done (if anyone is interested, not that I plan on stopping this column until Jason kicks me out of here <g>). This turned out to be kind of a big deal for me actually, I think this was one of the main points that was tearing up my back. As I mentioned above you have to do one of two things to accommodate the underhand grip. The reason is simple...that arm is ~behind~ the bar and your best grooves are when you can keep your hips close to the bar while maintaining an upright torso (not so much conventional but, for us sumo pullers). In order to keep your hips close to the bar you have to cock your underhand side back basically the width of your forearm (one thing you can do) to allow room for it to move. If you neglect to do this then you _will_ helicopter at the top as the upper part of your underhand arm clears your upper leg (basically lockout). It is a minor twist and most people just adapt to it without ever knowing they are doing it...if you fall into that category then DONíT CHANGE A THING!!! If you start thinking about it then you are going down a rocky road that can be exited quickly or may take a loooong time to find your way from (I am one who has OVER analyzed too many things and the result has been a natural groove paralysis! <g>). If you neglect to cock your hip back to accommodate your underhand arm then you pull that side of the bar farther in front of you and this will twist you up bad. One thing the Hook does is allow you to set up perfectly symmetrical to the bar. No more putting this foot back 1-2" or setting up your feet skewed 2" to one side to accommodate the differing orientation of your arms at the shoulder. 

         To me, this makes a great deal of sense as I think it is apparent I am a fan of symmetry and balance. Yin and Yang, the Natural order of things...go figure that Nature knew what it was doing. I have to admit back does feel better on the whole since I started using it. I still get tired and sore but, the residual aching that is deep in the joint (L5-S1) is not present for a few days following DLís. The down side to the transition has been a vicious bruise on my left leg just under the knee (this was my underhand grip side). The best scenario I can come up with is that as I start to pull I am still pulling that side away from my leg slightly (sometimes) and as I get to about knee height I am pulling it in and bouncing the damn bar off my knee. Not too bad individually but, do this 4-5 times and on speed pulls nonetheless and the bruise starts. Now take a look at the inside of your knee...not much meat there, eh? An annoying phenomena but, I am not overly concerned as I realize it will take some adjustment to get the groove just right. For the sake of my ever growing bruise I hope that adjustment comes soon! <g> Okay, the last part that I am sure everyone is dying to hear about...the THUMB!!! To be really isnít that bad. The worst part about it is the next day when my thumbnail is sore from the compression. I have found if you grip the bar too deep in your hand then this is when you get the snap, crackle, and pop in the thumb joint and it feels like it is pulling your thumb out of socket (which it kind of is...) but, when you set up a little looser and get your thumb pinched directly under the bar all you have to contend with is the compression on your thumb. This really isnít too bad for single pulls...reps it starts to suck but, since I do mostly singles this hasnít been an issue. I was curious what heavier weight would feel like though as most of the pulling I had done was lighter but, the 600+ rack pulls I did were less aggravating than the speed DLís in the mid 4's with chains. I think the focus on the pull itself helps to alleviate the dwelling on the thumbs somewhat. Still have more to discover with this grip (like what 700+ will do to the thumb <g>) but, so far the results are encouraging...the symmetry is a big bonus for me at this time. Coming off the back maladies has me a little shy about my lower back and this alleviates one small mental barrier. It is a transition that takes some time but, IMO it will be worth it in the long run...weíll see if I can pull it off successfully by November.

         The next point I want to touch on is related to assistance and the overall approach to your training ( my training <g>). I have shifted the bulk or all my assistance to almost completely compound motions. With the exception of some prehabilitive motions I think almost all of my assistance motions encompass motion in two joints for their application. I have done this for a couple of reasons. The biggest and most important, IMO, is the conditioning factor. The most important lesson that I learned at Nationals was that you donít lift to get in get in shape so you ~can~ lift!! Rather than shift the focus of my training away from strength first by incorporating a bunch of aerobics or hypertrophy work into the mix I have upped the pace AND put the Compound ElementÔ (these Iconic symbols are fun!) into effect. The more total body work I am doing the more closely it will simulate the rigors that I will encounter next year in Lincoln. I believe that to aptly condition my system for overall strength and the ability to endure that exertion I need to accommodate it to constant and overall stress. The sooner I adjust to this the sooner I can push that limit farther and farther to what I can endure and apply. 

         Pushing a certain muscle past exhaustion isnít really all that hard to do...I mean it sucks and you may want to puke afterwards but, it is not the same as pushing your whole body past exhaustion (take "exhaustion" relatively too as I donít mean literally in the sense that you are overtraining). My point is try to do a set of 15-20 reps on the Squat with a moderate weight towards the end of your workout after performing your main PL motion and some assistance. The mental aspect alone is tough to handle but, when you prime movers are tired and all the stabilizers are tired it is a physical challenge as well. I guess you could say I am taking an almost total body workout approach in that everything is getting worked each workout. The significant difference from the BB application of this is that I use a PL oriented group of exercises and a focus on the MANNER in which I apply the stress. Each day has a focus and it is tailored to distribute that focus evenly over the week and also alternate the application from week to week. Might sound high falutiní complex but, I am just dressing it up with semantics <g>. Really what I think the major benefit of this approach is comes from the work your stabilizers get on a regular and direct basis. This negates the necessity to add extra work into the program to address these areas. You can run yourself insane trying to cover all the muscles that need to be worked to maintain a healthy balance for the big three...I mean it takes a LOT of your musculature to perform those motions and to perform them well! This way you do get direct stimulation on a regular basis to these areas. Many of them tend ot be dense muscles that I feel are better stimulated with mild work on a constant basis since they are postural in nature and this is how they function of a daily basis. To work them to failure (or close too) then ty to gauge your rest to when they are ready to perform again is more physical and mental awareness than I possess or care to seek. 

Consider too that these types of stabilizers are working all day on a regular basis too as you just exist and you add a factor for injury in your everyday activity too as they arenít always recovered to function in your daily activities. Maybe that is a left field approach to take but, so far this type of approach has yielded pretty good results. I have stepped it up another level this cycle through my Collective Hybrid to help address the conditioning issue as well. In order to really take advantage of the compound motions I am using the big three as assistance in my set up as well as mimic type motions as well. Two fold benefit...lots of practice in the motion both under heavy weight fresh, and under lighter weight when really fatigued (which is very similar to lifting heavy weight...from a mental aspect but, without as great of inherent danger for injury). Plus, it is also going to work the necessary muscles for the lift itself. This is a principle that is foundational for the 3x3 IMO and also one that can be of great assistance to some frustrated WSB users. 

         Probably the most frequent thing I see from people who are struggling to get a WSB set up to work for them is a desire to have more time under weight for full range motions. Now before I get slammed...this is only for those who havenít been able to really get the WSB to click, like me. I have sought out alternate methodologies and kept many of the very good points I saw in WSB to mesh it into my Hybrid set up. One area I really felt lacking was the full ROM exercises to fully prep the CNS to fire correctly throughout the motion. For whatever reason I wasnít getting it to mesh when I used a more traditional WSB...probably my application of the program but, that being the case it wasnít working so I needed to address it. That is one of the points Louie encourages...focus on your weak points and seeing as the "groove" was weak then the full ROM needed addressing and that meant more full ROM motions. In addition to the full compliment of range you work you are also training the CNS on a regular basis to make the motion a very natural and inherent motion for your body. Learning to squat, bench, or dead optimally (i.e. with peak results) is not an easy or natural thing. Your body knows how but, to do it consistently it must be taught. Therefore you need a great deal of practice working your entire body synergistically. I think the completely compound premise can do that. If you are constantly working your entire body as a unit then when it comes time to perform optimally, as a unit, then you are prepped to do so.

         A few words of caution though if you take this kind of approach. EASE into it...if you arenít accustomed to this volume of work on your whole body then it will wreak havoc with your recovery. Like any other factor of the PL game it takes time and consistency to achieve. This is no different and will not respond if you just blast away on it with no prep. Your system takes time to adapt and that is what you need to give it...time. I guess if you look at my overall approach it is migrating towards similarities of Olympic Lifting. In that I utilize the primary motions frequently but, at differing intensities and with slight variations to address different portions of the motion. The key component is the use of the motion itself to accomplish this. I read about Oly lifters who squat 5 times a week! Amazing endurance but, I also remember that their particular discipline is not as foundational on limit strength as ours so the volume still needs temperance and while the approach has merit it must be re-directed to meet the needs of the goal....1RMís.

         Is this the next great revelation in the training industry? Hell no, címon... you gottaí know I donít take myself that seriously? <g> I only bring this up and ramble on about it to maybe spark some thought and to help solidify my own thought processes. If I can explain the rationale behind why I am using something then I can justify its inclusion into my training. Another great point to these little ramble sessions is the feedback...when I am off on something sometimes people will be kind enough to set me straight or just send me a "well you know...if you did this..." type of thing and it sparks the whole thought process. Sometimes it leads me down the right path for a bit and sometimes it goes for the worse. Yaí never really know until you try and it always helps to have contingency plans. Everything works...but, only for a time.

Good liftiní 

-wade of BORG