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Old Novice - Russ Campbell

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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hulk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/21/20 at 3:05pm
In my effort to round out the best program for me, I've been searching for articles/research on how to prevent injury. But first I need to anticipate the frequency of injuries in HG. A study by Keogh & Winwood (2017) found that HG had the highest injury rate of any of the strength sports (Strongman was second). The HG evidence was based on a study by McLennan (1990) which found that tendinitis, strains and cartilage damage were the primary culprits. The fact that everything we throw is 1RM contributes to injury risk. We need to be very strong and more. Poor technique, overuse, imbalances & mobility also contribute to injury risk. My takeaway is building strength is important & relatively low risk, while perfect technique practice, limited throws, proper warmups & balanced development is needed. Another interesting takeaway from the McLennan study is the order of risk of the various throws. From highest risk of injury to lowest - WFD, Caber, Hammer, Stone, WOB.
In programming, I came across an excellent book by Everett (2016) called "Olympic Weightlifting". It's a comprehensive guide and it included a program for Masters Athletes that I found interesting. I like to look at programs that offer a different perspective from the ones I create. But the programs can't be beginner or too advanced either. I like some aspects of Everett's Master's program but would modify others. What I like - it's 4 days a week with 2 strength & 2 power days which is what I'm doing. So strength days are squat/pull/press & power days are Olympic lifts. What I don't like is his scheduling the strength days on the day before power days. So you do heavy pull/squat/press twice a week on the days before snatch or clean & jerk. This is acceptable for advanced athletes but not Masters - especially those whose primary focus is HG. I'd reverse the order of workouts which is what I do. I do the Olympic lifts on one day and if there is no interim day, I schedule the slow strength lifts on the following day. The other (small) thing that bothers me about the Everett program is the emphasis on doubles and triples for squats and pulls & even 5 reps for presses. I think that you have to push for singles once in a while. This increases neural & physical strength & also reduces the volume on the strength days so that you don't burn out. Overall, his program is not a bad model for a Master athlete to follow. 
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hulk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 12/27/20 at 12:44pm
After 3 weeks of focusing on power, I'm ready to shift to strength again. It's hard for me to mentally & physically sustain a focus on power for long and I know that I need to move to a higher level of strength to make progress in power & throws in 2021. So this week will be different. I'm going to reduce the number of exercises I do for a few weeks to focus on the essentials. I'm also going to add in throws. After a general warmup, I'm going to do a small number of throws & then continue with my weightlifting workout. Because I have maximum strength and dynamic days and upper and lower body days I'm not sure which throws are best suited for each day but I'll guess what works for now and make changes in the following weeks if needed. So Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - hammers, standing press, upright row and bent over row. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - WFD, clean pull, back squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Sheaf, Standing press, upright row and bent over row. Friday will be Lower body/80% dynamic - WOB, power clean, snatch pull, front squat.
I've been reading about recovery and it's pretty amazing how many different recovery techniques exist. Unfortunately, all of them seem to work for some but very few for all and the research support is therefore weak. The techniques that do work for all and have strong support from research are proper nutrition, sleep, active rest/periodization. Everything else seems to work only for some of the people some of the time. Even more concerning to me is that some recovery techniques actively work to undermine the long term adaptations that I am hoping for. If I have a great workout and there is some inflammation - that is what is supposed to happen. If a recovery technique eliminates the inflammation in the short run, my body won't make new muscle in response to the training stimulus. So I have to be very careful about using short term recovery techniques to avoid derailing my progress in the long run.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hulk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 1/02/21 at 4:41pm
You can fool other people but you can't fool yourself. It was a good solid week of strength training but I skipped throwing. I have excuses but the fact is I didn't throw. I have to get at this. Next week will again be a strength week. Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - hammers, standing press, muscle clean and bent over row. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - WFD, clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Sheaf, Standing press, upright row and bent over row. Friday will be Lower body/80% dynamic - WOB, power clean, snatch pull, back squat. On the recovery front, napping and elevating my feet seems to be helping.
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In any sport (or any other human endeavor), you want to set priorities. I'm naturally pretty good at some things and woefully deficient at others, so as my training journey continues I am constantly reviewing and if needed, resetting my long term priorities. As I've discussed previously, I am pretty convinced that HG requires a lot more strength than competitors in shot/discus/hammer. So I have to get stronger by training harder which is confounded by my ageing. But strength training has to be a priority. As an aside, I've always been relatively good at generating power so focusing on strength most of the time will increase power when I begin a pre-competitive period. I try to move the bar quickly for all exercises. Strength is built based on what I call the big 5 (squat, press, deadlift, snatch, clean & jerk) and all closely related supplementary exercises. If I want tilt my workouts towards strength (as I am now), I substitute upright rows and muscle snatches/cleans for example for the Olympic lifts. While this core strength building is fundamental, I am cognizant that I need to build sport specific strength too. None of the big 5 exercises quite prepare you for two spins with a WFD. But again, I am intensely focused on strength building. So I use overweight implements. For example, this morning, I warmed up with a 16 pound hammer for a few throws. Then I put an 11 lb. plate (5 kilos) on the end and did rotations (no throws). I don't do many reps of this - first to avoid injury and second, keeping reps low is consistent with prioritizing strength. Maybe, if I was stronger I'd put a 10 kilo plate on the end. Because of the core work I'm doing, the 5 kilo plate was heavy but comfortable and will help to build rotational strength. That strength will be transformed to power when I remove the overweight and start focusing on power/speed closer to a competition. Of course, overweight exercises are detrimental to technique. However, for me, my relative weakness restrains my ability to execute great technique. First I have to get strong in the right way with core and specific sport strength and then later focus on technique when I have adequate strength to do so. In the meantime, I do start each throwing workout with light implements before I move to overweight so I am trying to work on technical throwing skills a little at the same time as building strength. The second priority for me is avoiding injury. My personal experience and the research suggests that injury rates are higher in this sport - probably for a lot of reasons. But bottom line, I keep my throwing reps on the low side per workout and try to do more workouts per week to reduce the risk.  My mantra for now is get strong and stay healthy. 
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A good week strength-wise but I am still slow about getting back to throwing. It is psychological - a little cold out, I have to travel a bit to throw, no upcoming competitions and I am still making progress with strength. Next week, I am going to add in some more dynamic exercises. I have been moving weights quickly even with my focus on strength but I also need to add a little more co-ordination too for athleticism and co-ordinated power. So instead of upright row, I'll add in muscle clean for example. Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - hammers, standing press, muscle clean and bent over row. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - WFD, clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Sheaf, Standing press, narrow grip snatch row and bent over row. Friday will be Lower body/80% dynamic - WOB, muscle clean, snatch pull, back squat.
I have been thinking about a few things. One is bench press. I don't get how it helps HG events. Standing press, push press seem to be more appropriate. In fact, I think that bench press could restrict my ability to turn the hammer. Weightlifters who need shoulder flexibility minimize their use of bench press for example. On the other hand, this exercise seems to be a staple for Olympic style throwers, HG athletes and strength athletes in general. I'll continue to look for the arguments for and against. But since open stone/Braemar are amongst my best events I don't feel an urgency to add bench press anyway given my (many) other weaknesses. Another issue that I am wrestling with is how much speed is required along with strength. For example, powerlifters move the bar relatively slowly while high jumpers try to maximize explosiveness with just their bodyweight as resistance. I see training programs from Olympic throwers that incorporate explosive exercises like trap bar jumps as an example. Given the heavier weights that HG athletes use, it seems to me that I should explosive movements that are weighted more heavily. trap bar jumps are a good example. Unweighted jumping exercises are probably less helpful. 
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So another good week where I added a little bit of power movements back in. I think I'll shift back to pure strength for a bit. I know that power will kick in when I need it and in preparation for competitions whenever we can get back to them. But for now, I still feel the need to get stronger. One adjustment I've made is that I was training Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday. The last few weeks I've been pushing Fridays workout to Saturday. I just need the extra day of rest/recovery so that I can get after the squat and pull reps. So this week Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - standing press, upright row and bent over row. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Standing press, upright row and bent over row. Friday will be Lower body/80% dynamic - snatch pull, back squat. I still target 1-2 reps on Max days and 3-6 reps on dynamic days. I also try to do 1-3 sets at whatever the max for the day is. I love my rebounder warmup - I start just easy bouncing and quickly get more aggressive and feel very warmed up for the session's activities. I like that the ground contact time is brief so I am hopeful that this warmup will also help my explosiveness.
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I've mentioned a few times now about the need for explosiveness in this sport. While I'm now emphasizing strength in my workouts, generating power is never far from my mind. But what kind of power is needed? We aren't sprinters or basketball players purely trying to minimize ground contact time and generating power quickly either horizontally or vertically. The weight of the implements and the technical/rotational elements of some of our throws forces us to sit and that ruins our ability to explosively move. But each event is a little different so our training has to reflect a wide variety of explosive exercises. Here's my very rough first draft of our events ranked from least to most explosive based on our ability to generate power. So, I'd say that the caber is the least purely explosive because the implement is heavy & the combination of braking/jumping down forces us into a deeper partial squat and so I don't think we get the full benefit of the stretch-shortening cycle. So we need a lot of strength to handle a caber. Next is WOB. Again the combination of the weight & the squat makes this more of a strength exercise. I think WFD is next. At least after that first turn when we have to be patient & sit & wait for the weight to come around, the time we sit is relatively long which again tilts the balance to strength versus power. Hammer, sheaf & stones seem a little different from the first bunch. The weight is relatively light for the most part and so I think the balance tilts a little more towards power/speed/quick explosiveness. If my breakdown is accurate, it's basically a 50/50 mix between quick power & strength. For the caber/WOB/WFD I need to think about generating power by getting stronger & exploding as best as I can with a heavy weight without the benefit of a quick squat & jump motion. The movement is limited by the amount of the weight or the slowness of the movement of the weight up & down & around my body which limits quick action. So the best gym exercises would probably be heavily weighted but explosive movements - clean pulls, trap bar jumps are examples. On the other hand, hammer, sheaf & stones would benefit from fast down/fast up training with lower weights for maximum power e.g. depth jumps, snatch, clean & jerk. So even if I'm wrong about my ranking of the relative slowness of the explosive portion of these events, it seems pretty clear to me that I need to have explosiveness training in a variety of ways ranging from bodyweight (e.g. depth jumps) to heavily weighted movements (clean pulls). Our movements require a wide range of explosive power because overloads range from light weights to heavy cabers.

 
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I feel I need a break so I'll do a de-load week. I'll limit my intensity to 60% (if I can hold myself back - I know I'll be feeling better and will probably push too hard). I'll still push the reps as much as I can handle. I'm also going to limit intensity by doing more power exercises. So this week Monday will be Upper body/60% dynamic - push press, power snatch and depth jumps. Tuesday will be Lower body/60% maximum - clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/60% maximum - Push press, power clean and depth jumps. Friday will be Lower body/60% dynamic - snatch pull, back squat, good mornings. I have upped the intensity of depth jumps a little by really emphasizing swinging my arms down as I land and swinging my arms up aggressively as I jump. For safety though - given my bodyweight & age, I limit the height. As an aside I went downhill skiing this week. Clearly my weight training has remodelled my body. I felt strong skiing but I had little endurance. I've been training for strength & power only for many months now. While I've never been keen about endurance or bodybuilding, I may integrate a little of these into my training at some point. While I try to keep focus on what's important & what I have the time and energy for, there is no doubt that for the sake of health & sport longevity I have to allow some of these other secondary but still useful elements to creep into my programming - but without entirely losing the strength/power track.
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Last weekend I watched some of the coverage of a track & field competition where Ryan Crouser set a new world indoor record for shotput. I saw him interviewed afterwards. He mentioned how he felt that he hit the double support phase very well and threw dynamically. He also talked about how he is in the heavy lifting part of his cycle and is also throwing overweight implements. He implied that as his training progresses through the season he'll throw lighter implements. The big weight training takeaway for me is the point about lifting heavy and throwing overweighted implements. If a shotputter throwing a measly 16 lbs. needs to lift and throw heavy, I need to do the same and more to compete in HG.
I also realize that somewhere along the way my max singles days and my multi-rep dynamic days seem to have merged. So I have ended up doing doubles on max days and triples on dynamic days. I need to focus on 3-5 reps on dynamic days and truly singles on max days. My body needs the variety - otherwise every day just feels like a heavy day.
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So I know what a de-load is supposed to be but I am pretty sure I am breaking the rules. I had a good week of lifting targeting around 60% of 1RM for all exercises. I told myself before each workout to just take it easy - lift whatever you feel like and if you want to stop, just stop. But my competitive instinct kicks in and I just can't help myself. I keep pushing the weight and especially reps higher. Otherwise I feel like I am too lazy and cheating my progress. I can't take it easy. I find myself talking myself out of doing more. "Save it for next time". Having said all that, my body still thanked me for taking some of the loading off this week. I feel good. So next week I'll stick with another power week and let my competitive spirit take over again. The other thing that feels really good now is my depth jumps. I jump from a low box and do either vertical or horizontal jumps after landing. I am trying to minimize ground contact time and really explode. This year my focus is on leg strength and power. I want to push my squats up as high as possible and pair that with depth jumps & Olympic lifts to get that explosiveness at various loads that we encounter across the HG events. So this week Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - push press, power snatch and depth jumps. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Push press, power clean and depth jumps. Friday will be Lower body/800% dynamic - snatch pull, back squat, good mornings.
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I don't always follow my workout plan exactly. I bounce around from front-back-zercher squats for example. I may combine clean pulls with power cleans. The intent is the same but I mix it up to avoid boredom and staleness. I also like the concepts of RPE and RIR. Rating of perceived exertion corresponds with % of 1RM so that helps me judge how tough my workouts are. Reps in reserve is a way for me to be sure that I'm not going 110% every time. I always try to feel like I could have done at least 1 or 2 more reps per exercise. Another way that I try to control my frenzy to max out every time is to monitor how fast my reps are. As soon as a set feels noticeably slower than the one before, I know that I am running out of steam. I may or may not choose to do the same or a higher weight for another set. I am not trying for a personal record every workout. It's the accumulation that matters not a particular workout.
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Skiied again this week and felt much better. Relentless weight training - even with some variation - needs to be supplemented with other activity. I just wish I could say that safe HG will be back sometime soon and I could add throws to my training. I think that the biggest contributor to my recent injury-free progress has been squats and depth jumps. I also stretch everyday. I am still on a power cycle. When I was last on a strength cycle I found that my athleticism suffered. I also tend to push hard with heavy weights and overtraining while doing strength moves really places a burden on my joints -shoulders, hips in particular. I'll probably continue my power program for another couple of weeks and then move to a deload 60% week before taking on heavy strength moves again. Monday will be Upper body/80% dynamic - push press, power snatch and depth jumps. Tuesday will be Lower body/100% maximum - clean pull, front squat, good morning. Thursday will be Upper body/100% maximum - Push press, power clean and depth jumps. Friday will be Lower body/800% dynamic - snatch pull, back squat, good mornings.
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So I am going to take a step back (or is it forward?). I've been curious about whether I'd make more progress with weights by training more often or less often. I was doing 5 days a week and then moved to 4. I'm going to move to three days as an experiment. So one day will be strength, one day power and one day I'll call it hypertrophy (really just assistance exercises). One of the reasons to move to 3 days is to open some room for some cardio. Skiing over the last few weeks has opened my eyes to the fact that I can't just be all about strength and power. So without leaving them behind, I'm going to add in a little cardio. Now generally cardio is not good for strength development. But I'll keep it short and intense and do it on off days so that it contributes and doesn't undermine my strength development. So Monday will be power - sets of 3 - power snatch, power clean, push press, squat, plyos. Wednesday will be hypertrophy - sets of 5 of upright rows, bent over rows, bench press and Friday will be sets of 3 with squat, clean pull, press. I'll fill in a few other days with cardio. 
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Since it was my first week doing 3 days there was a little stumble. I inadvertently scheduled a strength day before a power day. I planned for a squat/DL/Press day on Friday and a Snatch/C&J day on Monday. That doesn't work for me - it erodes my power day because I'm fatigued from max strength. So I did two power days this week and I'll re-start with strength on Monday, hypertrophy on Wednesday and power on Friday. I downhill skiied once this week and with fewer weight workouts my body thanked me. I also did two days of elliptical-very short workouts but interval training at high intensity. Basically I alternated sprinting with slower stepping. I want to get the cardio and power effects without eroding the benefits from my weight training. We don't need aerobic endurance for this sport. All of the events are over in less than ten seconds. We do need some ability to recover because the competition lasts all day. So interval training with high and low intensity supports both strength/power development and gives a little boost to cardio to help me with recovery between events over the course of the day. When a season of HG gets going, I'll probably replace this interval training with throwing. In effect I'm training 5-6 days a week but it really does not feel like it. My weight training days are 45 minutes each, while the cardio/elliptical is 15-30 minutes. The important thing is to keep making progress, injury free/preventing injury while not exhausting myself and ruining the rest of my day. Intensity high, volume moderate, three very different workout days and some cardio intensity make it fun too. So this week Monday will be sets of 3 with squat, clean pull, press, plyos. Wednesday will be hypertrophy - sets of 5 of upright rows, bent over rows, bench press and Friday will be sets of 3 - power snatch, power clean, push press, squat. I push as hard as I can every workout and I let the reps I can do dictate how heavy the day is going to be. If my objective is 5 reps and I can barely do three at a certain weight, I am done with that exercise. Save it for the next exercise or the next workout.
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I keep seeing videos of HG athletes doing high rep, partial movement exercises. Boy they must have some very specific weaknesses. Every rep higher than 5 or 6 is not going to help my throwing strength or power. Even my plyos are low reps with lots of rest between sets. And partial movements risk creating imbalances. Hang cleans and mid thigh pulls are very powerful moves but if I never do a full clean/power clean from the floor, I'm risking injury. Another puzzling thing I see is exercises that are very specific. No matter how close an exercise looks to our sport in a gym - it ain't throwing. I think I'll stick to basics in the gym - powerlifting/weightlifting/plyos and for sport specific strength, I'll use overweight implements. While overweight has benefits I think that there are limits to how much overweight I use to avoid completely overwhelming technique practice. I'm not sure how much overweight is too much but I can feel when the weight is not moving at all like a throw. I like my new 3 days a week with weights and 2-3 other days where I do active rest, stretching, interval training. Aches and pains are subsiding and I feel more motivated mentally. Since I started doing plyos I think that I've changed the diameter of my ankle/lower calves. I can jump further but my ski boots are tighter. My bodyweight hasn't changed and my lean body mass is higher so its not a weight thing. Even at my advanced age, it just shows that I can still alter my body to more closely suit the needs of HG. Monday will be sets of 3 with squat, clean pull, bench press, plyos. Wednesday will be hypertrophy - sets of 5 of upright rows, bent over rows, press and Friday will be sets of 3 - power snatch, power clean, push press, squat and some plyos.
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Post Options Post Options   Thanks (0) Thanks(0)   Quote The Hulk Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 7 hours 57 minutes ago at 3:03pm
So this week I did my usual strength/hypertrophy/power days plus a day of skiing and a throwing session. A few twinges when I threw reminded me that I need to integrate some more prehab type exercises into my program. I'll also want to slowly add in overweight throws which are going to be essential for throwing strength. I've been pushing hard for weeks now and so I'm going to back off a little this week - make it an unloading week with roughly 80% of what I've been pushing and pulling.  I continue to wrestle in my mind with unilateral exercises. For example single leg squats may be more sport specific but I would risk creating strength imbalances and I'd probably end up using lighter weights. I will continue to explore the research for ideas about the benefits, risks and trade-offs between using unilateral/sport specific weight training and using overweight throwing implements. Monday will be sets of 3 with squat, clean pull, bench press. Tuesday I downhill ski. Wednesday will be hypertrophy - sets of 5 of muscle cleans rows, bent over rows, standing press and Friday will be sets of 3 - power snatch, power clean, push press, squat and some plyos.
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