Monday, June 20, 2011

My Training Log and a Review of Maximum Strength

I want to start out by saying Happy Father's Day to all of the dads out there!  My dad has been a huge influence in my life and I know I would not be where I am today without him.  Thanks for everything Dad!

Now, onto some content. 

Mike Robertson just started what should be an awesome forum over on his website.  This should be a great place to talk shop and learn from some smart people.  Forums are also a great place to network and meet new people.

Mike has contacted some great people to join the forum and contribute.  You should definitely head over there and check it out:  MR's Forum

I just started a training log on the forum as well.  You can follow along HERE.
My main goal is to get stronger with hypertrophy as a secondary goal.

I finished up Eric Cressey's Maximum Strength and am now following a program Mike Robertson wrote for me.  I let MR know my goals, and he put something together for me.

Overall, my strength did go up from doing Max Strength, but I do not feel that it addressed my main weaknesses and goals.  This is not necessarily the fault of the program.  Any general program will most likely not address all of your limitations because it was not created with just you in mind-it is not individualized.  I have to admit that I did not know my maxes when I started the program so I cannot say how much my lifts increased, but most of them did go up.

Below are some of my likes and dislikes of the program.  I want to first point out that not everyone responds the same to specific exercises and set and rep schemes.  Therefore, below are what I liked and disliked for myself personally.  Some of my dislikes may work well for you, and some of my likes may not work well for you.  This is one of the reasons I love lifting weights.  You have to have patience and train long enough to experiment and figure out what you best respond to.



-The main focus is on getting stronger.  Enough said.

-Exercise and set/rep scheme variety.  The program includes quite a few assistance exercises that I had not tried along with more advanced set/rep schemes, such as clusters.

I liked this part of the program because I definitely found some weaknesses and things I need to work on.  I think this will also prevent boredom for some people who have training ADD.

-Focus on overall balance.  What I mean by this is that the program includes good general warm-up recommendations (soft tissue, mobility, and activation drills), a lot of single leg work, core work, upper back work, and shoulder stability drills.  Even though the goal of the program is max strength, Eric still emphasized these often neglected areas, which help to keep a lifter healthy.

-The way the program fluctuates volume.  Eric breaks the 4 week phases into heavy (week 1), medium (week 2), very heavy (week 3), and light (week 4).  I feel like I responded well to this weekly set-up, but, as I discuss below, I do not like that the intensity remains high throughout.


-Too much variety for the main strength exercises.  For me personally, I would have liked a little more consistency in the main strength exercises.  Eric usually changed these after each phase (4 weeks) and sometimes in the middle of the phase - after only 2 weeks.  This made it hard for me to get used to the movement and really progress on it.  For example, if I go without back squatting for a few weeks then it takes me a couple of workouts before I get my groove back.

-A lot of volume.  This is not necessarily a dislike, but I wanted to discuss it.  The program has extremely high volume, which is fine if you respond well to this and can recover from it.  My recovery and work capacity is pretty good so I handled it fine, but I know a lot of people could not handle it.  Eric does go over this in the book and states the importance of proper recovery, but I just wanted to emphasize it to anyone considering the program.

-Keeping the intensity high during the deload week.  Eric recommends reducing the volume quite a bit during the deload week but still wants you to keep the intensity high (still working up to a top set).  He believes that most people overtrain due to volume and not intensity.  This may work for a lot of people, but I do not believe it does for me.  I tend to push myself pretty hard every time I train, and this is something I am trying to be smarter about.

Now don't get me wrong, I am all for pushing yourself, but I tend to grind out a lot of reps, which I know is not the best way to train all the time.  This is one of the reasons that I am going to start using RPEs (rating of perceived exertion) in my new program.  I think it will better help me to control and manage my intensity and stress.

Therefore, after my deload weeks on Max Strength I did not feel as refreshed and ready as I usually am.  This did teach me something about my self though, and I am glad I tried the program.  I know if I ever want to go through it again I can reduce the intensity during my deload weeks.

Overall, I really enjoyed the workouts and the program.  I would recommend it to someone that is pretty advanced and has no specific strength goals - he or she just wants to build overall strength but in no particular lift.  However, I must say that nothing beats an assessment and an individualized program. This is why I asked MR to write me a program because we train together, and he knows my goals, limitations, and strengths.

Lastly, someone asked how my cleans were coming so I filmed them on Friday and below is the video.  I actually have not been practicing them much at all.  I have probably only done them once or twice in the last couple of months so they were a little rusty.

Have a good week everyone!!

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