Archives for October 2009

2 + 2 = Progression

What’s 2 plus 2?

Man, that’s a hard one. I know I didn’t tell you there was going to be math this week! OK, we all know the answer is 5, but can you believe there was a time when that problem was impossible for us to figure out?

What does this have to do with exercise? Progression. You figured out how to add 2 plus 2, then progressed to bigger numbers, subtracting, dividing and eventually quantum physics. In the gym, many people have good results initially but never change what they do. The results stop coming and they wonder why, thinking, “This worked before, why not now?” That is essentially like not learning any more math once you’ve got 2 plus 2 mastered.

You see, our body is amazingly adaptable. It’s how we’ve survived centuries of cold, heat, and reality shows. For instance, when you first went to the gym you might not have been able to bench press the bar. If you worked at it, your body realized it was going to have to change to accommodate this new demand that was being placed on it. As it changed you got results, but eventually your body fully adapted to the challenge and the results stopped coming.

What I am getting at is that you must consistently push your body in different ways to continue getting results. This is because in the same way our bodies learned to adapt to changes, it also learned that the best way to survive these changes was to conserve it’s energy by doing the least amount necessary to adapt. Basically, once it’s adapted to new demands it doesn’t need to do anything else, so even though you really want to put another inch on your arms you’ve got to give your body a pretty compelling reason to do it.

How does this apply to you? Well, the crux of it is that if you want to lose twenty pounds, what lost you the first ten might not lose you the last ten. You’ve got to keep progressing to give your body a reason to change in the way you want it to.

How do you progress? There are many ways to do it such as adding more weight, doing more repetitions, more sets, different exercises and so on, but really it’s based on your goals and your own body. What works for someone else might not work for you. Try different things. If you can’t figure it out, get a trainer. The important thing is to continue to challenge yourself and work hard. Don’t be one of those people who do the same exercises, weights and reps week in and week out and don’t forget to consult your doctor before beginning any exercise program.

from the Castro Valley Forum, October 14, 2009
Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!

Feeling Good

Well, here are the final numbers and a few accompanying videos:

Bench Press: 245 lbs. (video and comments here)

Shoulder Press: 150 lbs. Felt tired that day. Went for it anyway.

Hang Clean: 160 lbs. Same day as Shoulder Press, but really felt much stronger with these. This was a pleasant surprise as I was thinking 145-ish. Video shows 155 lb. lift. The 160 lb. lift didn’t record.

Box Squat: 405 lbs. I am happy with this. It’s a 20 lb. increase since my last max test and it went up pretty easily. Might have had 415. Couldn’t get 425.

Deadlift: 385 lbs. Pretty happy with this. I was hoping for 405 and I think I might have it, but I was pretty tired after doing squats and just couldn’t get 405 off the ground. Still, this is also a 20 lb. increase since my last max test.

Overall I’m happy with everything except my bench, although I plan on doing something about that over the next few months. I just got Dave Tate’s Bench Press Manual and I’ll be putting together a plan in my secret laboratory. Actually, just somewhere in my house. My goals at this point are to keep up the steady improvement with the deadlift, start doing regular back squats instead of the box squats so I can put up a good number there, and the main goal is, of course, get my bench up to par. I’m feeling good though. I’ll let you know how it goes.

Mitch Rothbardt
Mitch Rothbardt Fitness
Discover Your Strength!

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That’s today’s max-day grade. I hate lame excuses, but the other day I slept wrong and woke up with a very stiff upper back. It had been feeling better yesterday and I didn’t feel it at all this morning. Until I squatted 315 lbs. It’s not at all a heavy weight for me. Two weeks I did 345 lbs for 8 reps. This morning it did cause my back to stiffen up, though, so I decided to take the intelligent approach (see! I am getting smarter) and call it. I’ll do my squats and deadlifts next week.

Bench was encouraging and disappointing all at once. I knew I could get 245 easily. (See below)

That was no big deal. My next attempt was 270. Probably too big a jump. (See below)

I then tried 265 and 260 and didn’t get either.

You may ask how I could be encouraged at missing all of my lifts. Well, let me tell you.

The first thing is that none of these lifts felt heavy off the rack. The last time I went this heavy, I really felt the weight off the rack. 260 kind of felt heavy, but at that point I was tired. 260 also was the closest one to going up, so that tells me that I should have that one if I go up in weight in smaller increments.

Another encouraging thing was that I got the weight off my chest very well. Before, that was a big sticking point for me. In fact I thought I had all three lifts until I just couldn’t lock them out.
I was also happy with the fact that my technique didn’t really change much between the lifts I got and the ones I didn’t. Everything looks solid and now I also have something concrete to work on. That thing is:

What that means is a lot of floor presses and pin presses and board presses. I’ll know about my whole program next week when I finish up on the squats and deadlifts, but I’m pretty sure that the next few months will be very bench-oriented. Can you say fun!

In any case, although I can’t say I’m thrilled with this morning’s training, with bench, at least, I do know where I’m going. I’m getting closer. 275 can’t hold me off forever!

I’m coming for you 275. I’m coming for you!!!!
Mitch Rothbardt
Discover Your Strength!


Stay tuned…