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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:15 am 
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I just thought I would share this, as it's something i've somewhat instinctively done for years but not really put into words until recently, as I get my deadlift back and have a few clients who have been with me a while now pulling some decent weight.

I'm sure the more experienced lifters do this and it may ring as just common sense to them but, i've never actually seen it written so thought I would.

It works best for deadlift, also works for squat, not so much for bench. I like it especially for deadlift because the deadlift probably takes more from you than any other movement, it's also easier to do wrong and, when you do it wrong, it's normally at the expense of possibly the most vulnerable joint in your body - the lower back. I also find you can do this along side other programs, such as a squat or bench focused program.

It's a "3, 2, 1" progression. It's good if you've progressed to a point where you always reach the same weight and it always feels like a dead weight, and things always get a little messier with anything heavier.

For example, I recently pulled 205kg, and it was MESSY. I noticed things got messy after 180, and things became less than perfect after 170. So, here you have a choice, spend most of your time at the higher weights (190-205) with crap technique, to achieve a messy 210 or 220, or spend your time aiming to perfect 170-190, then make 200-205 look good, THEN nail 210-220, rinse, and repeat.

So, week 1, you work up to a perfect 3 rep max. Emphasise "perfect". What I mean is, it grinds a little but nothing changes in terms of form. Stop here. Basically, this is a 5 rep set where "sh*t gets real" after 3 reps. But you stop at 3 reps. Don't be a hero. When it grinds a little but still feels good, leave it.

Week 2, work up to the same weight and do sets of 2. Keep doing sets of 2 until you get that same "grinding but good" feeling you got at 3 reps in week 1. The aim is basically to get at least 2 or 3 sets of 2 with the same weight. Meaning, you get more total PERFECT reps than the week before.

Week 3, we go to singles for the same weight. Now the weight should fly up and feel great. Keep doing singles until you get that same "grinding but good" feeling.

So, after an intense 8 week focus on my deadlift, trying to get strength back, I got that messy 205. Since then I've reverted back to this. In my mind it's like house keeping. I'm cleaning up the parts that are messy. In my case it started to get messy at 170. So with 170 it went like this,

week 1: Sets of 3, ramp up, stopped at 170.
week 2: 3 sets of 2. (3 more total reps)
week 3: 10 singles (4 more reps than week 2, 7 more than week 1).
week 4: 170 x 5, and it was EASY.

Now i'm doing the same with 180 and it feels like it's going the same way,

week 1: 180x3
week 2: 3x2 (i would of had one more but I ran out of time)
week 3 : to be confirmed, it's next week, but I reckon 8-10 singles again.

I'm not saying this will work when I get back to 230 but it does work at a decent level, i've used it with clients, too. Not everyone will feel as good on it as I do just now because, as mentioned, i'm getting strength "back", it's not all brand new strength. It's just a good way to clean up form, though, even if it doesn't add 10KG to your PB, it's a focus on quality vs load for a change. It's probably too little volume for a beginner but, good for an intermediate who is just nearing that first "wall" in a certain lift, where it never feels any lighter and you need to sacrfice form for more plates on the bar.

The reason I use it is because you bench mark it on week 1, then on week 2 and 3, you really get to "play" with the weight. You can really dial in your form. You are truly fighting form vs the weight. The progression comes from total reps across multiple sets. You can't really dial in your form when going really heavy. When it's that heavy, it's game time and you need to just complete the lift, and you need to trust that your "perfect practice" will pay off.

This is how I "practice perfectly", if you like.

KPj

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 05, 2012 11:22 am 
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I have the same habit in general. I only go to what I call technical failure. When my form breaks, the set is done. This blended with the 531 gives me heaps of clean or semi-clean reps. Does it allow me to go all out? Almost. I could always grind a rep more, but the point is missing. I always have one or two uglier reps left in the tank after the last set. Most likely just one.

But nevertheless, that's an interesting idea. I bet it does get results. Perfect form trains the right muscles.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 6:36 am 
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that was a cool post. It's always so tempting to try and get heavy, messy reps


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 06, 2012 10:23 pm 
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I've been doing something similar on several lifts. I work up to a "relative max", the best I can do that day with good form. Then I try to get 7-8 reps that are at least 90% of that. Then I choose a weight that is at least near that RM, and next w/o do 5x2+, then next w/o 4x3+ with that weight. The next w/o is an optional deload (decided by feel), or go on to repeat the 3 w/o cycle of heavy singles, 5x2+ then 4x3+. The "+" is on the last set.

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PostPosted: Sat Jul 07, 2012 7:07 am 
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KPj wrote:
I just thought I would share this, as it's something i've somewhat instinctively done for years but not really put into words until recently, as I get my deadlift back and have a few clients who have been with me a while now pulling some decent weight.

I'm sure the more experienced lifters do this and it may ring as just common sense to them but, i've never actually seen it written so thought I would.

It works best for deadlift, also works for squat, not so much for bench. I like it especially for deadlift because the deadlift probably takes more from you than any other movement,


The Deadlift

The deadlift is definitely a movement that is easy to overtrain. That because the lower back is quickly and easily overtrained.

Also from my experience, movements that must be start with no eccentric preloading are like driving your car in town. The constant stop-start of driving into burn more gas, wears out the brakes and is harder on the car.


Quote:
it's also easier to do wrong and, when you do it wrong, it's normally at the expense of possibly the most vulnerable joint in your body - the lower back. I also find you can do this along side other programs, such as a squat or bench focused program.


Form Deteriation

The lower back is vulnerable joint. However, I don't believe that the deadlift is more vurnerable to form deteriation than any other movement in a fatigued state.

Once fatigue set in with any movement, your technique falls apart.

Back To The Back

Again, the biggest problem with the deadlift and the squat is the lower back. The lower back is the weak link in the chain.

The lower back is very strong but it's like a shooting star burning across the sky. It burns out quickly.

"When The Legs Say GO and The Back Says NO." Hollie Evette

This was an article that Evette (strength coach/Powerlifter) wrote in the 1980s about training the legs. As Evette noted, the lower back give out long before the legs are really overloaded in a squat.

Easy To Do Wrong

Conventional dealifters with max loads tend to some rounding their back. It is inevitable.

Some rounding of the back was once considered "doing it wrong." However, under the right conditions, some round of the back may be "mother nature" way of protecting your back and placing it in a stronger position.

"A Strong Case for The Rounded Deadlift." Contreras
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... k_deadlift

Overall, I agree with Contreras assesment. I question some minor points.


Quote:
It's a "3, 2, 1" progression. It's good if you've progressed to a point where you always reach the same weight and it always feels like a dead weight, and things always get a little messier with anything heavier.

For example, I recently pulled 205kg, and it was MESSY. I noticed things got messy after 180, and things became less than perfect after 170. So, here you have a choice, spend most of your time at the higher weights (190-205) with crap technique, to achieve a messy 210 or 220, or spend your time aiming to perfect 170-190, then make 200-205 look good, THEN nail 210-220, rinse, and repeat.

So, week 1, you work up to a perfect 3 rep max. Emphasise "perfect". What I mean is, it grinds a little but nothing changes in terms of form. Stop here. Basically, this is a 5 rep set where "sh*t gets real" after 3 reps. But you stop at 3 reps. Don't be a hero. When it grinds a little but still feels good, leave it.

Week 2, work up to the same weight and do sets of 2. Keep doing sets of 2 until you get that same "grinding but good" feeling you got at 3 reps in week 1. The aim is basically to get at least 2 or 3 sets of 2 with the same weight. Meaning, you get more total PERFECT reps than the week before.

Week 3, we go to singles for the same weight. Now the weight should fly up and feel great. Keep doing singles until you get that same "grinding but good" feeling.

So, after an intense 8 week focus on my deadlift, trying to get strength back, I got that messy 205. Since then I've reverted back to this. In my mind it's like house keeping. I'm cleaning up the parts that are messy. In my case it started to get messy at 170. So with 170 it went like this,

week 1: Sets of 3, ramp up, stopped at 170.
week 2: 3 sets of 2. (3 more total reps)
week 3: 10 singles (4 more reps than week 2, 7 more than week 1).
week 4: 170 x 5, and it was EASY.

Now i'm doing the same with 180 and it feels like it's going the same way,

week 1: 180x3
week 2: 3x2 (i would of had one more but I ran out of time)
week 3 : to be confirmed, it's next week, but I reckon 8-10 singles again.


3-2-1

In developing deadlift strength, I am not a fan of using the deadlift as an exercise.

"Pole Vaulting For Repetitions" McLaughlin

Bench Press More Now is one of the best book every written. McLaughlin is a PhD exercise biomechanics and former powerlifter.

McLaughlin stated that the BEST method of developing technique was with near maximum singles. Auxiliary that were similar in nature to the bench press were then used to increase strength.

As McLaughlin stated, you don't go out and do a not stop set of 3 to 10 reps in the pole vault. That would be ludcrious.

Yet, that is exactly what powerlifter and those who want to improve a specific lift will do.

That same principle applies to the deadlift, squat, etc.

Westside

Simmons Westside for the most part adhears to McLaughlin's. Simmons uses auxiliary exercises to increase the squat, bench press and deadlift.

Auxiliary exercises are "disposable" recycleable movements. That means in a max out week, it is ok to have your technique fall apart just a little.

KPj Week 3: Singles

With above said, I like you week of singles.


Quote:
I'm not saying this will work when I get back to 230 but it does work at a decent level, i've used it with clients, too. Not everyone will feel as good on it as I do just now because, as mentioned, i'm getting strength "back", it's not all brand new strength. It's just a good way to clean up form, though, even if it doesn't add 10KG to your PB, it's a focus on quality vs load for a change. It's probably too little volume for a beginner but, good for an intermediate who is just nearing that first "wall" in a certain lift, where it never feels any lighter and you need to sacrfice form for more plates on the bar.

The reason I use it is because you bench mark it on week 1, then on week 2 and 3, you really get to "play" with the weight. You can really dial in your form. You are truly fighting form vs the weight. The progression comes from total reps across multiple sets. You can't really dial in your form when going really heavy. When it's that heavy, it's game time and you need to just complete the lift, and you need to trust that your "perfect practice" will pay off.

This is how I "practice perfectly", if you like.


"Practice doesn't make perfect. Perfect practice make perfect." Lombardi

What you want to do is work up to heavy singles at some point in your cycle. Once your technique falls apart, stop

Technique Training For Max Lifts

What research shows is that the muscle firing sequence with moderate loads is different than with heavy loads. Thus, the most effective method of perfecting technique is to train singles with near maximum loads, 85% of 1 Repetition Max and greater.

Olympic Lifters--The Poster Children

This group of athletes follow the single's protocol with near max loads. They've trained this way for over 100 years.

Powerlifters and Other

Powerlifters have stolen the majority of training ideas from Olympic Lifters. The foundation of Simmons Westside Conjugate Training, heavy singles with competition lifts and the use of auxilary exercises as a means of increasing the squat, bench press and deadlift.

Ironically...

The training templet of Olympic Liters method has been around for over 100 years. That noted above. Yet lifters still don't get it.

They continue to believe using a particular lift to become stonger at that lift is the way. While it works, it not the most effective method of increasing strength in a particular lift.

KPj, you're a smart guy. I think you do a lot of things right...but I'd rethink the rep thing with the deadlift or any other strength movement you want to improve.

Final Note

I really miss Tim. In keeping with hoosegow, I now have a "Thanks TimD" tag.

Kenny Croxdale

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 5:10 am 
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Kenny, thanks for the info. I have more to add but I'll respond later when i've had more caffeine.

Kenny Croxdale wrote:

I really miss Tim. In keeping with hoosegow, I now have a "Thanks TimD" tag.

Kenny Croxdale


You know, as I was writing my topic I thought a lot about Tim. He would almost certainly of responded to this. Whenever I had a light bulb moment and posted about it, I always knew I was on the right track when Tim would respond and tell me about how a similar thing was done by someone or a group of people long before my time.

I've also came across a lot of threads recently that he's been active in. Was searching info on (first) powerlifting meets using google and it brought up some old threads that Tim (and yourself) posted on here.

I "think" i've added the same tag. Been a member here so long and never updated my profile, I'll find out if it's worked when i hit the Submit button.

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:30 am 
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I'm liking this progression and am giving it a shot. 180kgs x 3 was done today.

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 6:37 am 
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Proper Knob wrote:
I'm liking this progression and am giving it a shot. 180kgs x 3 was done today.


Cool! I'm on the singles week with the same weight, all going well i'll do it tonight. It felt great last week despite me feeling like crap before it. I'll post how many good single I get.

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 7:19 am 
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KPj wrote:
I'll post how many good single I get.


Do you have a time window that you aim for with regard to rest, or is it just a case of when you feel like your ready?

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 9:27 am 
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Proper Knob wrote:
Do you have a time window that you aim for with regard to rest, or is it just a case of when you feel like your ready?


Yeh, just when you're ready. I've not dialed in the rest periods although with deadlifts I generally never keep them short.

However, you should find when you do the sets of 2 with 180, you won't need as much rest. I felt ok in under 60 seconds doing mine, but gave it a little longer anyway.... I like the recommendation, "wait till you feel ok, then add 30 seconds, then go lift".

When I done singles week with 170, it was almost like rest pause at first. Probably rested about 20 seconds for the first 2 or 3. The week after that, I got 2 reps with 190, and 2 reps with 200, the 2nd with 200 was cleaner than my previous recent best of 205. This was a mistake, btw, I intended on going to the triple with 180 but, I miscounted (i posted about this in randon crap lol), went to 190, which I thought was 170, and struggled for 2. Couldn't understand what was going on! So went to what I thought was 180 anyway, but it was actually 200. I then dropped down to 165 and got 8 reps. This was a very bizarre session. I deloaded the next week then went back on the progression I intended to go onto.

I have 2 other clients just starting this, too, so i'll post what they do, too. One is a girl who got her triple with 110KG. The other is a boy who got his with 140KG. The girl recently pulled 120 for 2 and it got messy on the last, so i'm aiming for a clean triple with the same weight using this progression. The boy got 160 recently for 1 rep, got a little messy and was a real grind, and i'm hoping he'll nail a clean triple with it on this progression.

For me i'm just going to keep it going until progression stops. It worked with 170 but, if anything, 170 was playing it really safe. I know it will work for 180 because last week I already felt like I had a clean set of 5. So i'm hoping it will work for 190, then 200, etc. I'm sure it won't work forever. When I can't get more good reps on the following weeks, i'll stop and do something else. I like doing a more "technique" focused approach after an intense push on an exercise. So, when this approach runs it's course, i'm going to do a deadlift focused program. Was thinking of doing the Ed Coan / phillipi program. The last one I done was a Josh Bryan program, it was a different approach than i would normally take, which is why I done it, and I learned from it. Normally I take more of a westside approach, more along the lines of what Kenny was saying, really - basically not deadlifting very much to get a bigger deadlift. However doing things I wouldn't normally do such as 5-3-1 and then Josh Bryant program, it's made me want to try other approaches which entail stuff I wouldn't normally do.

Plus, it's Ed Coan. I lifter I know got his deadlift from 260kg to 290kg using it, which is how I first found out about it.

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 11:19 am 
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Now to see if I can pick more of Kennys brains...

Kenny Croxdale wrote:
Also from my experience, movements that must be start with no eccentric preloading are like driving your car in town. The constant stop-start of driving into burn more gas, wears out the brakes and is harder on the car.


This makes sense. I've noticed dead-bench and dead-squats seem to be much harder on your joints than standard bench and squat variations which have an eccentric.




Kenny Croxdale wrote:
[color=#000080]Form Deteriation

The lower back is vulnerable joint. However, I don't believe that the deadlift is more vurnerable to form deteriation than any other movement in a fatigued state.

Once fatigue set in with any movement, your technique falls apart.


I agree. Just to clarify, I really mean that, with other movements, when technique breaks it's not always at the expense of the lower back. For example in a squat I find knees cave in before it's turned into a squat-morning. With bench I find elbows flare too much or too soon or you just get pinned. So I find these variations are a little more forgiving when technique falters. With deadlift, I find technique can be perfect then you add another 10lbs or go for one more rep and the spine bends. Not always, though, sometimes I find the hips shoot up but the back stays flat. Normally they just round, though.

Kenny Croxdale wrote:
Some rounding of the back was once considered "doing it wrong." However, under the right conditions, some round of the back may be "mother nature" way of protecting your back and placing it in a stronger position.

"A Strong Case for The Rounded Deadlift." Contreras
http://www.t-nation.com/free_online_art ... k_deadlift

Overall, I agree with Contreras assesment. I question some minor points.


Yeh, I wasn't too impressed with it, really. The examples he used to support the case of rounded back deadlifting somehow being a "good" or "protective" technique are that of competitive, mostly elite lifters, competing in the deadlift as a sport. This makes me think of the old MMA analogy - they don't go and (intentionally) take elbows to the face in training, they save that for competition, there's only so many times you can take an elbow to the face.

I did think his "theory" about being able to get more out of the lumbar erectors when they are in flexion, as well as more IAP was interesting. Still, though, I don't think it's worth the risk unless you are going for a 1RM attempt and/or you compete in the lift.

It made me think of the few times i've tried deadlifting with a weight belt on - I felt like it was encouraging my back to round. Really didn't like it. I never gave it a chance, though.


Kenny Croxdale wrote:
In developing deadlift strength, I am not a fan of using the deadlift as an exercise.


This is something I've seen you write a lot, and also seen written from Louie Simmons. However, to be honest i've always questioned it due to so many variables involved - technique being one big one. For example I believe pulling with a rounded back will eat into your recovery more than pulling with a neutral spine... How is it performed and how is it programmed?

I've figured it's something that probably only applies to advanced-elite level lifters and not us mere intermediates. I figure we probably need the practice just now. I also agree it's better to train at lower reps. What you said about muscle-firing sequence changing with max loads makes a lot of sense.

Back to deadlifting for a big deadlift - I love Westside Barbell and i'm a big fan of how they train and use many of the principles myself. On my "first journey" to 500lbs, I hardly every done the conventional deadlift. It was all rotations through Box squats, other squat variations, sumos, with assistance exercises programmed like GHR's, Rack pulls, RDL's, etc.

However on my journey back up to >500lbs things have had to change a little. A year away from heavy deadlifts and squats meant i've had to re groove not just the movements but straining with heavy weights. Also, one of the movements that really kicked my conventional up from about 450 to just over 500lbs was the sumo deadlift, but I can't quite do that just now because i'm not quite 100%. In other words my exercise choice is till a little limited - it makes rotating through "special exercises" a bit tricky (not impossible, though). Mostly, wide stance variations of both squat and DL really seemed to help my conventional but I can't do much with a wide stance at the moment.

So for variations I've been on the "I will deadlift often to deadlift heavy" journey but, trying to do so in a way that doesn't eat into the recovery of other lifts. I've also came across various good lifters who do this, I've mentioned Josh bryant and Ed coan but, you also have other freaks like Andy Bolton, Bennie Magnusson or Konstantine Konstanov (i don't know if i've spelled anything correctly). I've also recently got friendly with some powerlifters in my area, a couple of which hold british records, and all of which "train" the deadlift, so it's made me think about it more. In other words, there are people who deadlift a lot and for a while who train the deadlift. However the people who do deadlift a lot in training, seem to emphasise a different approach when training compared to competition, which is normally summarised with - leave reps in the tank, lift with good technique, don't be a hero, leave the craziness for the platform.

In short, "i don't know", but this is what goes on in my head, or at least some of what goes on.

The progression mentioned in this thread isn't something I would use to get my numbers up for a meet, though. It's more about taking your foot off the gas and focusing on quality, for a change.

The rep scheme is something that puzzles me. The more experience I get the more I prefer deadlifts to be in the 1-3 range per set and, really like singles. However, I can't really say "why", and that's what puzzles me. I like more for squats, for example. I read a lot of good people talk about higher rep sets for squat and even bench, even more so for any kind of row, but never deadlift.

This is why it's so fun, I guess.

KPj

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:00 pm 
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@KP, there are actually a lot of different ideas coming together in your scenario, the main question I'm hearing is, "has anybody tried (and with what results) perfecting form at increasing intensity with decreasing reps to make gains while preserving form." That's what it sounds like to me, with deadlift being the example. But I would guess it applies to all of the major lifts, with adjustments of course to the set/rep scheme.

So to answer your question: no, I have never tried it formally, though I did think along those lines a year or so ago. I am not likely to devise a set/rep/weight scheme that way again.

My problem with this approach is that there is no objective measure of how clean your rep was, so the decision to up the weights is always open to doubt. This may be fine for some people but it would drive me crazy.

My trainer put it very well to me one time when I did a really sloppy squat near my max, "Ken, the weight is always going to feel heavy on the reps that count, if you break form because it feels heavy you'll never get anywhere." So he had me repeat the rep and I kept the form strong. That was a real eye-opener.

So if it comes down to "form first, then increase weight" vs "increase weight until you make form" I tend toward the second, with suitable disclaimers about all else being equal, injury prevention, there's a lot more to it and so forth.


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PostPosted: Mon Jul 09, 2012 3:19 pm 
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I figured I'd go ahead and weigh in on this.

If my goal is to hit a 1rm, my plan looks like this:

I hit as many singles, with perfect technique, as I can at 95% for week one (keep in mind I always underestimate my max)

Week two: As many single as I can at 97.5%, hopefully matching week ones #'s

Week three: 100% same deal.

Week four: 105% (remember, I guess low) or new PR.

This took me from 715 to 750 in a relatively short time. Like 6 weeks. That said, I don't do this that often. I compete in strongman, so sometimes it's better from a specificity standpoint to work in the higher rep ranges.


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PostPosted: Wed Jul 11, 2012 5:51 am 
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Kenny Croxdale wrote:
The deadlift is definitely a movement that is easy to overtrain. That because the lower back is quickly and easily overtrained.

But, why is this so?

Of course the movement and the muscles that perform that movement go hand-in-hand. So the second sentence isn't really the reason for the first, just a restatement of the same thing.

You move a lot of weight (even relatively) with the DL. I think that it's tempting to do a lot of weight that you aren't really prepared for. I think that if you train it carefully, paying attention to management of fatigue, spending time building work capacity, being conservative with volume at higher loads, etc., that you can DL pretty aggressively without overtraining.

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PostPosted: Thu Jul 12, 2012 3:05 am 
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Jason, thanks for chiming in. I like the progression, will give it a shot myself once the current plan has run it's course.

I done singles week on Monday. Got 9x1, then went for the last single and got 3 reps. Should of just left it at 1 rep but I went into idiot-mode. No harm done, though. I felt quite burnt out at the start of this session, and the first few singles felt tougher than they should. I seemed to come alive around set 4-5. I also experimented with a few things, and this is really why I like doing this. So was just tweaking foot position slightly, how far/close I set up from the bar, messing around with breathing and also trying to lift with a better neck position.

Interestingly, all the workout consisted of was 12 total reps in the deadlift but, the days following, I had amazing DOMS in my lats which has got to be a good sign.

As an aside, I also got offered roids, lol. I just know it will be awkward when the guy sees me in my personal training T-shirt and realises I work there, though.

One client hit singles week and got 8.

KPj

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Thanks TimD


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