Methods of Max Effort – Part 2

In part one of this series I covered the following; Multiple Exertion Method, Maximal Concentric Method, Maximal Isometric Method, and the Maximal Eccentrics Method. If I am doing my job then you have gained a little more insight into the Max Effort Method. It can be much more than “maxing out”.

This article will cover Maximal Force Repetitions, The Maximal Restricted Range Method, The Cheating Method, Maximal Circa-Maximal Method and The Maximal Yielding Method.

Maximal Forced Repetitions

I am sure you all remember forced reps from high school. There are several ways to utilize this method for many different applications. Leaving bodybuilding aside we will focus on the pure strength aspect.

One way to use this method is also one way I do not suggest. I will still include it because there are many others who think this application has great strength training properties. This is a very simple application composed of one or two assisted reps after failure has been reached. Since this is Max Effort Training you will still need to keep your percentage over 90% with 1-5 reps being performed.

One other way to use forced reps is by using a method many have been using over the past few years. This method has also become known as the Lightened Method or Reverse Bands. To use this method you simply hang your barbell from bands so the bands help to lift the weight. This is used on the squat, deadlift, and bench press. Unlike the above application this method provides help from the beginning of the set. I feel this makes this a much safer method. This is also a great method for those who are looking to increase the mid to end point of a lift.

The Maximal Restricted Range Method

This is another one that has been HOT for quite awhile. Some examples of this method include:

  • Rack presses
  • Pin pulls
  • Board presses
  • High box squats
  • Squatting off pins
  • Partial leg presses
  • Arch back good mornings
  • Over head pin presses
  • Pulling off stands

This method allows for maximal overload of very restricted ranges of motion. This method has been very popular over the past 30 years for one reason. It works very well. If you are looking to get strong then you need to include this method in your training.

While I am also not a big proponent of cheating, I do feel there are certain movements where cheating can make a huge difference. One of these includes a chain suspended good morning. This movement is performed by hanging a barbell from strong chains at a mid waist position. The lifter will then duck under the barbell and arch the bar to the top position. With this movement the “strain” is the most important thing. Just getting the bar up is more important then if you are doing a good morning or squat. I also feel a slight sink and drive on board presses can do wonders for those who need extra work at the top; it will however hurt those who are weak at the mid or lower position because they are cheating where they need the work. This cheat will, however, allow the weak lock out lifter the opportunity to train with heavier weight. Once again, it is very important to know your weaknesses.

Circa-Maximal Method

This method has many cross over applications. It has been used as a 3 week wave in place of straight Dynamic Method Training for some time with great results. While this method can be viewed as Dynamic or Max Effort, it really depends on how it is used. Here are a few examples of the Max Effort:

  • Squats with multiple bands for a 1-3 rep max
  • Deadlifts against multiple bands for a 1 rep max
  • Bench press with chains and bands for a 1 rep max

The key thing to understand with this method (regardless of application) is to make sure the weight at the top of the movement exceeds 90% of your one rep max. This is what makes this circa-maximal.

The best way to accomplish this while avoiding over-training and acute training injuries is to use chains and/or bands with your barbell weight. There is not a magic percent of weight to bands or weight to chains with this method (This is very different when used as a dynamic method) so all you really need to do is load the bar up to around 50-60% barbell weight and add bands or chains. Here is one example of what I mean for a 500 pound bencher.

Close Grip Bench Press

  • 45 pounds for 3 reps
  • 45 pounds for 3 reps with double light band
  • 95 for 3 with double light band
  • 135 for 3 with double light band
  • 185 for 3 with double light band
  • 185 for 3 with double light band and add one chain per side

The lifter will now keep adding one chain per side and work up to a 1RM.

There are several other examples and combinations of how this method can be applied. Don’t be afraid to experiment and see what works best for you.

Maximal Holding Method

This is one that you see from time to time. I am also not a big fan of this one, but it is also very popular with a very large number of lifters. This method is great for what I call strength stabilization. Strength stabilization is how well you can stabilize maximal loads. It really does not mean shit if you can stand on a stability ball if you can’t stabilize maximal weights. Many of you have heard of (or have done) walkouts for the squat.

This is exactly what this method is. Many lifters who do walkouts or stand ups will set up the weight and hold it for a certain count. This may be 3, 5, or 10 seconds. I feel the best time would be 1-2 seconds more than the exact amount of time it takes the lifter to finish a maximal lift with the same lift being trained.

For example, if it takes you 6 seconds to perform a 1RM squat then you will hold your walkout for 7-8 seconds. Remember to keep your body tight! Here are a few other examples of the Maximal Holding Method;

  • High pin deadlift holds
  • Very high pin squats
  • Very high rack lockouts
  • Bench press holds
  • Very high board presses

If the exercise has more movement than the set up and hold (very high board presses), then you will do one rep by holding for a couple seconds at the top, lower and press the bar, and then hold for 2-3 seconds at the top again.

Conclusion

As stated in part one of this series some of these names may be different than what you have seen. I have noticed over the years many people call the same methods many different things. I just make up what is the easiest for you to remember and understand. It is not my intention to come up with a bunch of technical mumbo jumbo that you have to use your decoder ring to understand. My goal is to give you stuff you can hit the gym with today.

Good luck on your journey.

Written by Dave Tate

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Methods of Max Effort – Part 2 discussion thread.

About Dave Tate

Dave is the co-owner of Elite Fitness Systems Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elite Fitness Systems has been involved with powerlifting for more than two and a half decades as a world-class participant, coach and consultant.

He has logged more than 10,000 hours of personal training and strength consulting sessions with professional, elite and novice athletes, as well as with professional and university strength coaches. He holds Elite status in powerlifting (in three weight classes) with best lifts of a 935 squat, 740 deadlift, 610 bench press and 2,205 total.

Methods of Max Effort – Part 1

The Methods

The max effort methods have been discussed many times over the past 10 years. We have presented you with different weekly phases and training cycles as well as different loading patterns. Louie Simmons has also written numerous articles on how these methods have been used to create many of the strongest powerlifters in the world. Throughout many of Louie’s articles you have read about certain “max effort movements” that have made a big difference in the training at Westside Barbell. He then goes in to detail how the movement was performed.

While it can be as simple as working up to a 1RM for a specific movement, it is not the only way. There are many different maximal methods that can and should be used. You have seen many of these before, forgotten about others, and never thought of combining different methods and movements. This article will discuss some of the different ways to employ maximal methods into your training.

Multiple Exertion Method

This method involves multiple sets of 1 or 2 reps with strict rest periods. Much like the dynamic effort method this method uses the same load for multiple sets. If you all follow Jim Wendler’s training log you will see he was employing this method a few months ago in the training of his bench press and dead lift. Jim would work up to 70-80% and perform 10-15 singles with 2 minutes rest. This is a great method when you feel you need to get away from weights in the 90% range. While the weight is lighter it is important to note that when the sets increase so does the tension. As you get tired the weights get much harder to complete. That is why this becomes ranked as a Maximal Effort Method.

You may already be using this method without knowing it. Many people get this method confused with the dynamic effort method. I talk to many people who say they are doing speed dead lifts and then find out they are using 90 second rest periods training with loads between 80-90% for singles. When the tempo becomes very slow and the strain very high you leave the dynamic method and cross over to maximal methods.

Many have found when they use these high exertion methods for their so called “speed squats” that they are no longer doing dynamic method work but max effort work. When this is the case, there is a very strong need to make alterations to the max effort work you are also doing during the week.

Maximal Concentric Method

This method is just as it sounds. You lift the weight and do not lower it. This is pretty much how most Olympic lifts are completed. As powerlifters we can also use this method for various movements such as; deadlifts, pin pulls, pin presses, Zercher squats, pin squats, suspended squats, suspended good mornings, and suspended bench presses.

While your gym owner will hate your guts for doing this, it does have a purpose. The negative phase of the lift is what causes the greatest muscle soreness and damage. If you speak to many lifters they will also tell you that this is where most injuries happen. By cycling in more maximal concentric movements you build in a way to allow more recovery. Let me explain. Say you have a hard time recovering from Max Effort Training.

You may choose to do a 4 week phase of max effort work such as:

  • Week 1 – Board Presses – work up to 1 RM
  • Week 2 – Close Grip Bench Press with maximal exertion method
  • Week 3 – Chain Suspended Lockouts (concentric only)
  • Week 4 – Rest

With this example you have one week of partial range eccentrics (board presses), One week full range eccentric contraction (close grip bench presses), then one de-load eccentric week (chain suspended lockouts), and one week off. Out of 4 weeks you have only stressed the eccentric phase maximally for 2 weeks (and one of them was a partial range). This will allow for great recovery while still allowing maximal effort training.

You could then add more eccentric loading into the next phase of training. Eccentric loading is very important and should not be taken out of the training for extended periods of time.

Maximal Isometric Method

Okay, I admit it. Isometrics suck and have limited value but I did say “limited” value. This means there is value in certain circumstances. Before we get into the method lets examine when this could be used and why. I strongly feel that a lift is raised by bringing up those muscles that do the work of the lift. I feel you can increase your bench press without benching, your squat without squatting and your deadlift without deadlifting. This is not how I always felt but after being around Louie Simmons for so many years and see that this is the main factor behind all of his training. The proof is always in the results and I have seen the results. Now with that being said I would be stupid to not look at all angles when addressing a sticking point. The best way to do this is by using an example of what I am trying to say.

Lifter A has a bench press of 465 pounds and always gets stuck about 5 inches off his chest. This would represent the half way point in his bench press. While it is not my intention to make this a bench press sticking point article, it is important to point out that I feel all sticking points are some combination of mental, physical and technical. We determine that this lifter has some technical problem right at his sticking point. He presses into this position very strong and then stalls, after a split second he flares his elbows out as he keeps pressing. The bar does not go up, but his elbows flare out.

There are always multiple solutions but one would be to increase the strength of his rotator cuff muscles and lats. This would keep his body position tighter and allow him to push through the sticking point. He should also increase his overall body strength as this has a great effect on all lifts. Finally, he should increase his bar speed going into the sticking point. This will allow him to bust through this barrier.

There is one other thing we could have him do and this involves the Maximal Isometric Method. To do this we would set the pins up in a power rack with one set of pins 1 inch below his sticking point and one set right off the chest. The lifter would press an empty bar into the top pin and press and hold as hard as he can for 3-5 seconds (or whatever his average max lift takes). This is a very demanding method that can sneak up to kill you. You need to keep it to only a few sets and no more than 1-2 times per 4 week phase. I would also suggest no more than 3 pin positions per session.

Here are some other ways to use this method:

  • 9 sets with empty bar for 3-5 second holds with 30 sec rest all same pin
  • Same as 1 but use three pin settings for 3 sets each
  • Instead of empty bar load on 50% of 1 RM. You will know the weight is too heavy when you find you are holding the bar against the pins, not pressing it. It is important to press against the pins.

This method will accomplish a couple different things. First it will develop position specific strength within a 10-15% degree range. This may give him the edge he needs to break through the sticking point. Second, it will allow a “check” for technical positioning during a time of crisis. In other words, he will be able to see what his body does when it strains and be able to make the required corrections needed to finish the lift. Third and I feel this could be the most important, sticking points are very mental.

If you always fail at the same point you will begin to program yourself for this and will not drive past it. You will press into this point knowing you will miss. Without knowing it you are programming yourself to give up too soon. You may press for a split second and say “Damn, there it is again”.

With the pin press you will be able to reprogram yourself to strain for that extra split second past where you would normally say “screw it”. One split second is the difference between a missed lift and a lifetime PR.

Maximal Eccentrics Method

I should call this the “High School” Method because this is when we used it most.

Why?

We were all too stupid to know better.

You can call it maximal eccentrics, negatives, droppers or whatever you want. The results are still the same: pain, injuries and soreness. The bar is loaded to 130 – 140% of our best one rep max and then lowered slowly. After it touched our chest, the spotter would pull the bar off us and we would either rack the bar or do another one. (It’s all you!!!)

There are valid reasons to do this but in its purest form the risk/benefit ratio is too high for the intermediate and advanced lifter. We can get much of the same effect with weight releasers and bands while not having to take the barbell weight up to 140%. The more advanced lifter has a harder time lowering 140% than a beginner.

I have seen this work very well for a lifter trying to break in his bench shirt. These sets are doing more than they think. The supported eccentric loading is building the muscles and tendons to handle heavy loads. The shirt helps protect the body from the abuse and is also the reason why many lifters complain of sore elbows and forearms with heavy shirt work. The lifters do not feel the effects in the supported muscles (chest, shoulders, and lats) because of the shirt.

I have also seen this work very well with top-down dead lifts. To do this the lifter loads the bar in a rack at the top position. He then stands up with the weight and does an eccentric dead lift to the floor.

In part two of this article we will look at Maximal Force Method, Restricted Range Method, Maximal Cheating Method, Maximal Ballistics, and the Maximal Yielding Method. I am sure many of these methods have different names and I am in no way trying to rename anything. I will leave that up to other writers and magazines. I am just using terms that will be easy for everyone to understand. It does not take the “exact” name to get one strong or to understand the method. The number one thing required to make progress is to pass the information from one to another in the most understandable way. You may know this as the “Maximal Understanding Method”.

Written by Dave Tate

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – Methods of Max Effort – Part 1 discussion thread.

About Dave Tate

Dave is the co-owner of Elite Fitness Systems Dave Tate is the founder and CEO of Elite Fitness Systems has been involved with powerlifting for more than two and a half decades as a world-class participant, coach and consultant.

He has logged more than 10,000 hours of personal training and strength consulting sessions with professional, elite and novice athletes, as well as with professional and university strength coaches. He holds Elite status in powerlifting (in three weight classes) with best lifts of a 935 squat, 740 deadlift, 610 bench press and 2,205 total.

Having a Blackberry Doesn’t Mean You’re Mobile

It’s no secret that I’ve had to endure countless injuries and set backs over my lifting career. But it’s these set backs and my desire to overcome them that has made me a better lifter. I’ve had to look at many different avenues and have tested all of them. Some helped while others were thrown to the curb.

Below are some of the issues I have had to deal with over the past 10 years. I know each of these all too well. For many years I just figured it was part of the process of getting strong. This way of thinking has lead to a list of injuries to extensive to list including two full pec tears, one shoulder surgery, compressed and herniated disks and a groin injury that lasted over 14 months.

It has always been in my nature to ignore the pain, wrap it up and press on. I feel most lifters and athletes are the same way. We do not have time to deal with injuries. It is easier to look for the quick fix than it is to take care of the problem in the first place.

Questions

  • Can you sit into a wide stance squat position without a box or warm up without pain?
  • Do you hips feel tight?
  • Are you dealing with injuries that just don’t seem to get better?
  • Is it hard for you to get off the floor from a lying position?
  • Do you shoulders hurt when you raise your hand over your head?
  • Does it take you half of the training session to feel warmed up?
  • Do you feel like someone is pounding your biceps tendon with a hammer?
  • Does your groin hurt when you squat?
  • Are you spending all your training time trying to come back from injuries?
  • Do you walk with a limp for a day or so after each squat session?
  • When you wake in the morning, is your back in a knot?
  • Do your pecs feel like it is one rep away from ripping off?
  • Are you traps tight most of the day?

Break Down

Believe me when I say this, I am not an expert of training, pre-habilitation, or rehab. If this were the case I would not be dealing with, or have had to deal with all the injuries I have sustained. I am no different then most of you. It took an awakening to look deeper into my training program. In the past when I got hurt I would just take some Advil, wrap it up and it would go away in time. As my training years increased this was no longer working. What used to take a week to recover from was now taking months. It all came to a halt in the spring of 2004. My squat got to the point I had to wear 2 squat suits to train with 315 for my safety squat bar dynamic box squats. I also could not get on the floor to play with my kids and getting out of bed was a challenge each morning. Rather then listen to my body I kept pressing onto to the point that training became something I began to dread.

At this point I decided that I was done with competitive powerlifting and had to find something else to do. I cut back on my training weights but my problems were not getting better. Now it was not about getting strong again but my quality of life was being hindered. My hips felt shot, my groin was a mess, my right hand was numb most of the time and I would wake three or four times a night in severe shoulder pain.

I had to do something so I called Buddy Morris and Thomas Myslinski who were then at the Cleveland Browns. I asked them if they could help me with my problems. They informed me that over 90% of their job was dealing with injuries. They had a team full of so many injuries that they had to learn how to address them all to keep them in the game. They also told me that they use a therapist named Allen Degenaro as a consultant for much of the rehab and prehab work and he was going to be at the complex the following week. I marked it on my schedule and told them I would be there.

The Trip

I arrived at the complex eager for help. I figured Allan would do some active release therapy, massage, muscle activation therapy or some type of Guru magical therapy and I would be back in the gym 100%. In the past I have had great luck with all types of treatments such as chiropractic, acupressure, acupuncture, MAT, ART, deep tissue massage, e-stim, land cold laser. You name it I did it and in many cases it got me back in the gym. The difference is this time none of those things were working. I needed something new and was hoping Tom, Buddy and Allen would share with me the special “fix you up” therapy.

After some small talk they got to work on me. Allan asked me to run through a few simple movement patterns. First he asked me to take a shoulder width stance, place both arm over my head and squat as low as I could. After a few second he said, “Okay Dave you can squat now”. The funny thing is I was already as low as I could go. I got down maybe 3 inches. After a few more tests I noticed Tom watching, calculating, planning and taking it all in. Buddy on the other hand had this look on his face like he was going to die laughing. While I was being twisted around in different positions, Buddy said that I was by far the worse he has EVER seen. A few tests later Allan and Tom both agreed with Buddy. I failed every test so bad that Allan began to turn white. Moments later he disappeared into the bathroom and threw up. He thinks he may have had food poisoning but I still think I was so bad I made him sick.

The Intervention

I then asked what I needed to do to get ready to bench the next day and squat two days later. They all look at each other like I was out of my mind. I was told to not squat or bench for the next three weeks and spend all my training time on mobility movements. They showed me a few movements to do and all I could think is how well these movements would go over at Westside Barbell Club. I was also told to do these movements every day for three weeks as see how I felt.

Allan asked me how long I have been powerlifting. I told him my first meet was in 1984, 20 years ago. He then asked when I quit all other sports and just focused on power lifting. This was after finishing high school in 1986. He then went on to explain that my body has been doing the same movement patterns for over 18 years. My body was trained for squats, benches and dead lifts. All my accessory work was targeted to strengthen the same planes as the power lifts. I had done nothing to strengthen or keep the other movement planes firing. In short, I had lost joint mobility and could not move well out side of the main lifts and after 20 years it was now affecting my training. Let me explain it this way. Every sport has a certain level of GPP (general physical preparedness) required for the sport. Mobility is one of many functions that make up the GPP of a given athlete.

Every sport has it optimal level of required mobility. Each sport also has a minimal level required. Think of it as having a min and max level. Anything over the max level will not make them a better athlete and would be overkill, any thing under the min level and their performance would suffer. For example on a scale of 1-10 a power lifter would have a max mobility level of 6 with a min of 4. BTW: these numbers are provided to make a point. I do not know of any such chart that exists. If a power lifter has a mobility level of 8 then added mobility training is not that important and would only have to me maintained. They should place their focus on other aspects that need to be increased. In my situation I feel under a 4 mobility level. This would mean that it fell below the required level needed to train for my sport. Because of this I could not train and keeping the focus on other training aspects became pointless.

The Drive

On the drive back home I kept thinking about how I got into the situation I was in. I never had problems like this in the past. It has only been the past few years that I have been dealing with these issues. Yes, I have always had injuries and still feel that they are part of the game. I was once told if you are going to lift big weight you are going to get hurt. I all reality this is not any different than any other sport. If you want to play ball you are going to get hurt. It is only a matter of time and severity. The longer you are in the game the worse your odds get. Could my problems be because of my age? I am getting closer to 40. I decided this was bull crap because of the number of other lifters I know who are older than me and coming in at the top of their game. Most lifters I know really do not begin to peak until after 30 anyhow. While age is a factor I believe it is your training age that matters. How long have you been lifting and at what level? While this is a factor, I decided it was not the main cause.

Once again, I know many other lifters who have also been in the game as long as I have (and yes they are beat up) but they are still plugging away. I decided the main reason I wound up in this position is my training, or should I say lack of. Years ago I wrote about the importance of GPP and have learned this lesson more than one time. When one component falls off the entire unit breaks. Over the past few years because of family and business my priorities have changed. When these changes happened I dropped much of the extra work I used to do (sled work and accessory movements). I changed my focus to getting the most out of the least. This is called training economy to some. I put all my time in those things that would make me strong and relied on the main movements to drive my lifts. It did take sometime but in the end it is the supplemental movements you need to drive your lifts. I knew this and have spoken about it in seminars but was not living it. Now I had to figure out how to deal with my situation. I could go on forever explaining why but unless you take action to fix it nothing will get better.

The Research

I now knew the problem and had to figure out how to fix it. Buddy, Tom and Allan told me to quit doing the movements I had been doing and replace them with movements I had never done or have not used for many years. This was also supposed to be complimented with some of the mobility drills they showed me. The mobility thing had my attention but they only showed me a couple things. What if I was to do mobility training for all my joints, not just what they showed me? When I got back I began to review all the materials we have in our warehouse on mobility. I reviewed the Parasi DVD’s on mobility, viewed the Jump Stretch tapes, read Core Performance Training by Mark Verstegen and several of the flexibility books by Paval. I also spoke with Jim Wendler and several other coaches about mobility training. Many of these coaches spoke about dynamic warm up drills that required running and skipping. I knew this was not going to happen so I had to find a way to put all the information together in a program I could do in the weight room. I few days later I had a plan and began to put it to use. I could not believe how sore I was getting from doing these exercises. By the end of the first session I was whipped out. I really did not do that much but my body was not used to any of it. I stayed with it for the next few days and within on week I could not believe the difference. Come that Friday I was ready to squat but Jim Wendler talked me out of it and told me to stick with the plan for 6 weeks. He told me it took 20 years to get this way and it was not going to be fixed in 3 weeks let alone 3 days. I stayed with the plan for three weeks and go better every day. I had better mobility than I have had in 10 years. Almost all of my pain had gone away and for once in the past three years I felt good. I decided from the start that I would squat on the forth week since this was the one movement that suffered the most.

The Fourth Week

After what seemed like an eternity, the forth week squat session finally rolled around. I began the session with my new warm up mobility plan and then moved to the squat rack. I have squatted with briefs and a suit for the past 10 years but decided to take to bar in my shorts. I used the safety squat bar because this was the last workout I did before the trip. The last time I used this I did 315 for 4 sets of 2 with briefs and suit on a 18 inch box and had to stop after the 4th set because of groin pain.

The bar felt so good I decided to drop the box to 14 inches. This is my meet training box and a box I had not been able to use to 2 years. With out suit and briefs I decided to work up. I trained with 405 for 8 sets of 2 reps with zero pain. After this session I was sold. The weight was not huge and I really should not have been excited about this but I was. Finally, I now felt like to could get back on the platform. So I thought…

Mistakes

I did feel great and continued my training. As the weeks went by I took my mobility training from 6 days per week down to 4 days per week (on my training days). Dropping the extra days did not have any ill effects on my training. Actually my training was going great and I began to look for a meet to train for. My first test was going to be a bench press competition. While I am not a big fan of bench only meets I did see it as the first step in getting back into a full meet. Training was going great and I was on par for a huge PR in the bench press. The best thing was I was pain free and could handle the training. As the meet got closer I slowly began to drop my mobility work. First it was dropped to only on squats days, then only half the movements and then dropped all together. My training did not suffer and the meet did not go as planned. I was strong but ended up bombing out of the meet due to bench shirt reasons. My third attempt was with a 700 bench (would have been a 90 pound record for me). I missed it at the very top.

Regardless of the out come I felt I was ready to begin training for a full meet. I set my plan picked my meet and began training. Eight weeks into my training I found myself back in the same position I was 9 months earlier. Everything hurt, my hips got tight, my lower back was tight and I ended up with a knee injury. We are all creatures of habit and while I knew better I did not keep up with my mobility work. I thought I had solved the problem and was moving on. Now I found myself right back to where I started and had to pull out of the meet. Mobility is not something that you fix and move on. You have to fix it and then maintain it. Now I found myself setting up another mobility program but this time I am smarter than I was before.

The Plan

The plan I have created is based on my past experience, speaking with other coaches, the sources listed above and some common Under the Bar knowledge. This plan is not only mobility work but also includes some very basic pre-habitation work for many of the most common strength training injuries (pec tears, sore elbows, knees, lower back and shoulders). There are exercises for flexibility, mobility, Prehab and self message. This list of movements is the most complete list I can come up with without any over kill. Every movement should be preformed for one rotation with no rest between sets. This warm up should not take longer than 15 minutes and should leave you ready for training. If you are now in the same position I was in then I would suggest doing this 6 days per week with the addition of a second set after the first week. After the third week drop back down to three to four days per week for one set. For those who do not have mobility issues than only do this warm up on your training days for one set. You should also only do one half of the movements of the first session and the second half on the next. The reason for this is that mobility is not you r weakness you only need to maintain what you have. Spend your training time working YOUR current weakness.

Warm Up Movement Chart

  • Stability Ball Hips (forward, back side to side, squats, squat rolls, Russian twist) – perform as many reps as needed to loosen up.
  • Hip Crossovers – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Scorpion – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Side Bench Step Over 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Front Bench Step Over – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Forward High Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Side Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Butt Kicks – 10-15 repetitions per side
  • Shoulder Circles – 15-20 repetitions
  • Arm Circles – 15-20 repetitions
  • Med Ball Hot Toss – 10-15 reps per arm
  • Band IT (glute) – 5-10 reps per leg
  • Band Hamstrings – 5-10 reps per leg
  • 4 Way Hips with Band (forward, inward, outward, backward) – 10-15 reps per leg for each movement
  • TKE’s – 15-20 reps per leg
  • Kettlebell Good Mornings – 10-15 reps
  • Kettlebell Swings – 10-15 reps
  • Forward Lunge – 8-10 reps per leg
  • Side Lunge – 8-10 reps per leg
  • Wide Stance Squats – 10-15 reps
  • Pillar Bridge (Front/Side) – Hold each position for 30-60 seconds
  • External Rotator Cuff – 15-20 reps per arm
  • Band Shoulder Traction (front, side, bottom, top) – Perform each position with slight movement for 30-45
  • seconds.
  • Foam IT Band – Perform as many passes as need for pain to disperse.
  • Spike Ball Rotators – Perform as many passes as need for pain to disperse.

Written by Dave Tate

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A Day in the Life of Dave Tate

6:30am

The alarm goes off signaling for me to get my ass up and moving. Today is dynamic squat day and I have to be in the gym by 8:15 to begin the session by 8:30. As I roll over I feel the tightness in my lower back and think I should just stay in bed and forget training for the day.

Plus I did not sleep well; causing me to wake up at least three times through the night with my right shoulder feeling like it is being pounded with a heavy spike. Twice I could barely move it and had to use my other hand to pull it to a comfortable position.

Fifteen minutes goes by and I am still debating in my head if I should stay in bed or go to the gym. I finally decide to get up and move to the hot tub to loosen up.

As I sit up the tightness in my back become more intense. Then as I sit on the edge of the bed I notice my neck is killing me. I must have slept wrong on it again. I try to adjust it but the muscles are too tight to get it to move where I want it. My next challenge will be standing up. The best way I have found to accomplish this is to rock back and then forward as I move into a standing position. The act of standing up builds enough pressure in my head to cause a killer headache. I try to crack my neck again with little luck.

As I make my way to the stairs I notice my calves and hamstring are sore as hell from something. What did I do to cause these muscles to be sore? My last lower body training day was last Monday. Now it’s Friday and I still am tight. But, I was not tight yesterday. Now I am thinking there is no way I will be able to squat today. With the use of the hand rails I make my way down the stairs and out to the hot tub. Still half asleep I walk out into 30 degree weather and remove the top cover and drop my ass in the tub. I know from past experience than 15 minutes will be the maximum amount of time I can spend in the tub without having ill effects on my squat session.

After five minutes my body begins to feel better. The pain is still there but I am getting some of the movement back. After another 5 minutes I finally get my neck to crack. Finally the headache disappears and I can move my head from side to side. 15 minutes passes and I make my way back inside to shower off and get ready.

While in the shower I am still telling myself the training day could not do anything good for me. I feel too damn beat up. Training could only make me feel worse. I notice the time.

7:20am

I realize I better get my ass moving if I am going to make it to the gym on time. I grab my gym bag and head to the door. I do not have time to make something to eat and will have to stop on the way and pick something up. 20 minutes later I find myself at McDonald’s getting a large coffee and a few breakfast sandwiches. I am trying to figure out what I will do in the gym. I still feel drained and beat up and maybe if I just go in and do some light reverse hypers, glute hams, and ab work I will feel good enough to make it through the rest of the day.

It then hits me that I also have a ton of work to get done when I get back to the office. More work then I would be able to get down in 8 hours let alone spending the first half of the day in the gym. As I get back on the road all I can think about are all the deadlines I have to make, the work to do, the meeting I have to go to. This along with two weeks of low sales begins to stress me out to the point I think I should turn the car around and get my ass to work. I see the next exit and am convinced that I better pull off hear and turn around so I can begin my day at the office.

Then I think of the guys in the gym that may be counting on me being there. I have missed too many sessions because of work so far this year and the guilt takes over. I pass the exit and tell myself I will get in begin my training and be out of the gym by 9:15 at the latest. This will get me back to work by 10:00 if I do not shower and go straight from the gym.

The next ten minutes if filled with the tasks I can move around to a different day and time so I can still get my training session in. Ten minutes from the gym I realize I really do not want to train today and have to find some way to get motivated. I toss in an old Black Sabbath CD and turn it up as loud as I can. This begins to make me feel somewhat better but I tell myself who cares if I am only going to go light for the day.

8:15am

I finally roll into Westside. I sit in my truck a few extra minutes still debating if I should leave and go to work or get out and head in the gym. I know I can’t leave, I am already here. So I open the car door and step out onto the pavement. As I step out I feel some crazy stuff in my right hip flexor and think, great! This is all I need. I grab my bag and head into the gym.

Chuck Vogelpohl, Big Tim Harold, Jim Wendler, Louie Simmons, Jeremiah Myers, JL Holdsworth, Chicken hawk, Will Ramsey and Mike Ruggeria are already there and seem to be excited to train. Right away I feel left out. I am not ready to train and do not plan on doing anything hard. My plan is to just do some light hypers, and abs. I then decided it would not hurt to do a few sets of squats as long as I keep it easy and keep the weight down. I decide to squat with Will and we will be the first to go. This way I will be able to get out of the gym by 9:00 or 9:15.

8:20am

I begin to go through a series of mobility movements to help me get loosened up for the squat. After 10 minutes or so I begin to put on my squat suit and make my way to the mono-lift. It takes me a few more minutes to be able to get under the bar. My shoulder is still lacking the flexibility from the last surgery to get under t he bar without stretching first. After a few sets with the bar and 135 we are ready to go. Today we are using a straight bar without bands and chains. I have been using the SS Bar for my dynamic work for the past few months to let my back and shoulder heal up and have not tried to use a straight bar in many months.

We begin with 135 and I knock out three reps. My hips and back still feel tight so I make may way over to the 45 degree back raise to stretch out a bit more before the next set. 225 is loaded to the bar and I knock out another 2 reps. My plan is to go up to 315 and do 5 sets of 2 reps. This is not much weight and would be a good introduction back to the straight bar and most defiantly would not beat me up that much. 315 is loaded and I perform 2 easy reps. I notice that my motivation is coming back and I am fired up to finally be back under a straight bar.

Screw it! We are training today! 405 and the 495 is loaded to the bar. We knock out 2 sets of 2 reps with 495 and it wasn’t that bad. I can’t believe how strong the SS bar made my squat. I feel the aggression building and feel like ripping the bar in half. Two more sets are completed and I feel like the bar is empty. I am blasting the weights up. My form is a bit off but this is to be expected as I have not used a straight bar for the past few months.

A few corrections are suggested to me from Chuck and Louie and I begin to feel like my old self. It has been along time but I finally feel like I am getting back on par. We finish 4 more sets without much problem and I can honesty say that next to my family, it’s these kind of squat sessions are what I live for.

To use 495 for my sets three years ago when I was not beat up was a great training session. Here I am doing it today and I know my squat is nowhere close to 100%. For the last set we toss a light band on the bar and rip out 2 more reps. This was one of the best squat sessions I have had in the past three years!

I go onto sumo pulls against bands, Glute Ham Raises, Straight Leg sit ups, 45 degree back raises and Reverse Hypers. During my supplemental work I also helped run the mono lift and coach the other guys the same way they did for me. The next thing I know it is 10:30am. Screw it, so I won’t get to the office when I wanted to. There will be much time for work later, times like these last a life time. Work is over when the task is completed.

10:45am

As I drive from the gym I realize that I still have a way to go to get back to where I was before but now I feel that I am back on the right path. It has been a very hard few years for my squat and dead lift training. I have a million excuses from a growing business, multiple injuries and the birth of my two sons. All and all I would not change anything but it would have been nice to avoid all the training injuries and set backs but that would not be how the world works. I used to take training sessions like this for granted because I was too focused on the outcome and did not take the time to enjoy the process.

For the rest of my drive I contemplate what adjustments I will need to make to my training to keep moving forward. I go through at least thee different training plans before decided on what the best plan of action will be. I also know this will change many more time before the next squat workout. Part of the process is learning how to adjust your training program from session to session. If you set out on a prescribed plan you will not be able to adjust for the good sessions and bad sessions. You have to work from a general template and let your training determine the rest.

11:30am

I arrive back at work jacked up from my training session and find I am able to knock the work out at twice the speed I would normally be able to do. Within the next three hours I have completed what I thought would have been 8 hours worth of work. If I would have blown the session off I would never have been able to get the same amount of work done. I know this for a fact because there are many days where I decided it would be better to skip the session. The key is to know when you can press on and when you need to take it easy or skip the session. This is more an art than a science and there is now way to tell you when one is right or wrong.

This is something we all have to learn from trial and error. I am sure there have been any sessions I have missed that would have been great sessions if I had decided to train. I also know there are many sessions that I have trained when I should have taken it easy. I have the injuries to prove for these mistakes. Maybe someday I will figure this all out but until then I am sure I will make many more mistakes. I chalk this up as being part of the game.

1:30pm

If you are a lifter you all know what I mean about getting the call. You always have that small network of friends you keep in touch with that call you every few days or once a week to check in with you to see how your training is going. The call may be more for the caller to let you know what they have just done, but either way the call is coming. On this day I received such a call around 1:30 in the afternoon. “So how your squat workout go?” I proceed to outline the highlights of my squat session and explain that I finally feel like I am back on track and should be ready to begin training for another meet soon. I then asked how his session went. He told me he had to take the day off as his hips are bothering him. All I can think is what a sissy!

The law of training states that I have to rag him about skipping a session. So I lay it out how he is scared to lift the heavy weights and on and on. This is the funny thing about the call. You just about skipped your session but you can never tell anyone else about it. It just would not be the “strong” thing to do. You have to pretend that you are this hard core dedicated lifter that will suffer through it all to gain one more pound, while the other guy is weak and does not have the courage to press on. That is unless you are the one that took the day off. Then the wise thing to do is to not make the call, or avoid taking the call in the first place. This is why it is so hard to reach other lifters after bad meets or bad training sessions.

8:00pm

By this time my body begins to tighten up again and I make my way back to the hot tub to loosen enough to be able to fall asleep and with any luck make it through the night without waking up in pain. While in the tub I ask myself the same question I have been asking for years. I have asked this question thousands of times and even wrote an article about it. Why is the hell do I keep doing this? Why do I beat my body to hell? Why do I take so much time out of my day? What effects will this have on my body in the future? Will I be able to move when I am 60 years old? Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back?

There is the big one. Will it really matter when I am on my death bed looking back? Will what I do in one specific day at work matter when I am on my death bed? NO, Will my PR’s really matter when I look back? NO, Will how much money I make really matter at this time? NO, Will the training partners I have had over the years matter? NO, Will the final set of squats matter?

NO, The things that really matter will be the time spent with your family and friends, what you have done to make the world a better place, the positive effects you had had on the life of others and WHAT YOU LOVE TO DO!

This is what I love to do. I do this so the world will not change me.

Written by Dave Tate

Discuss, comment or ask a question

If you have a comment, question or would like to discuss anything raised in this article, please do so in the following discussion thread on the Wannabebig Forums – A Day in the Life of Dave Tate discussion thread.