Random thoughts on strength training @$HOME

Sunday, May 17, 2009

#12 Changes In My Workout Routine

Had a tough week and at least one more is comming up. Besides working late and getting up in the middle of the night to work even more (on-call duty) and cut my sleep I burned both hands today in a stupid accident in the kitchen. I hope this will get better fast, otherwise I can't grip any kind of bar until it heals. Don't cry for me argentina, or something and now to the point of this post.

I started my current routine about two months ago (only two months! feels like a year). Everything looked good on the paper:

Mon: 3*5 Squat, 3*5 Bench Press, 3 * Pull Up / Chin Up Failure
Wed: 3*5 Squat, 3*5 Press, 1*5 Deadlift
Fri: 3*5 Squat, 3*5 Bench Press, 3 * Pull Up / Chin Up Failure

The pressing exercises alternate each week. I still think this is a great beginner routine - for a healthy athlete which I'm not right now.

Problems I'm struggeling with:

  • hamstrings tight like a Monster Mini Band
  • lower back rounds crazy in back squats below parallel (either because of the mentioned tightness or a freakish long spine)
  • stretching the hamstrings hurts my right ITB like hell, especially lifting my left leg hurts bad on the right side
  • all pressing exercises give my shoulders a hard time, no matter how much I focus on light weight and technique
  • increasing Pull Up strenght seems to be very slow if you only can do two or three in one set to failure

Whew, glad you made it to this point. Now to my ideas how to solve the problems:
  • start using the foam rollers every day combined with dynamic flexibility drills (best I start now, eh?)
  • replace low bar back squats with front squats (need to buy straps soon)
  • replace pressing exercises with pushups (doens't seem to work, still pain and stiffness)
  • starting a Pull Up routine on my free days (e.g. like this )
  • perhaps see someone who will look at my shoulder and spine again
What about you, how do you motivate yourself when things are not going well?

Sunday, May 10, 2009

#11 Grip Strength - Breaking Folding Rules

Grip strength is something strange. Most men can't hide their fascination when they see feats of grip strength the first time. Like Josh Hanagarne puts it here , there’s an element of showmanship to it. Most people would never believe that I can tear telephone books (it doesn't look fancy yet and it only works sometimes with books less than 1000 pages, but hey, it works!). They think it can only by done by people that look like they can do it. I just love underdogs.

There's a whole grip world out there, with own competitions, books and unlimited challenges.

Here are some I found for myself:
  • tear telephone books, catalogues, used paper and stuff like this
  • tear apples in half
  • breaking walnuts by pressing them against each other
I just started exploring this world and built a DIY Wrist Roller for training, will blog that soon.

Last week I told my father about that interest and what feats are out there. We never spoke about this in 30 years when he said: "I could break folding rules with bare hands when I was younger". There was no doubt he could I thought. Today we spoke again about it and I showed him some feats on youtube. He even put his glasses on, so he really was interested. After seeing some vids of folding pans he wanted to give it a try and I recorded it with the mobile phone. He's 56 and has never trained grip strength, but he works as a craftsman since he was 14 and does so when he comes home from work and on the weekends.

I can't do it right now. What about you? Can you do it?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

#10 DIY: Deadlifting blocks

The largest plates (20 kg) for my barbell are about 35 cm diameter. That's about 4 cm less space between the bottom of the bar and the floor compared to a standard olympic bar. This can cause problems, especially when you are not very flexible. People usually suggest to put the bar on plates, i don't have enough plates for that.

I found my solution in the hardware store. It's very simple and cheap. Every block consists of three bricks, I used those in the picture.

Then I wrapped the bricks with duct tape:

That's it!

Every brick cost 15 cent, so that's 45 cent for one block. The duct tape ist the most expensive part, but you will probably spend only about 1 Euro per block altogether.

  • match the heigth of an olympic bar
  • protect the floor when the weight comes down to fast
  • stable, can be carried around because of the duct tape
  • can be used for other excersises ( e.g. Deadlifts from box, where you stand on the block)
  • very cheap