Hey guys, it's been a busy last few weeks! I wanted to make this update like 2-3 weeks ago, but I've been getting run a bit ragged! Custom programs have been selling like hot cakes (which is a good problem to have!) and I've picked up a couple new clients in recent history so I've been trying to get them all squared away, plus I was out of town for a week last month and had to play catch up after that. So it's been a busy month or so. What I've learned though is that I do really enjoy program writing. It can be tedious, but the aspect of meticulously planning everything out satisfies my OCD and customizing each one to the uniqueness of every client (training history, injury history, skill levels, goals, etc.) really keeps things new and interesting every single time. I've written hundreds of them at this point and I think it's the thing I enjoy the most when it comes to the whole online coaching game. Each client basically presents a new challenge and I find that exciting.
Anyway though, enough rambling and onto the blog! So in the first part of this little miniseries I touched on my what my training goals were for the remainder of 2019 and going into the year 2020, and basically the physical attributes I am planning to chase in the upcoming months along with the lifts and exercises that I'll use as litmus tests for improvement in those attributes, as well as the reason why I've ordered things the way I have. So, just to rehash real quick since it's been a few weeks now since I made that post, my plan is to chase the attributes in this order: power, strength, and conditioning. In part 1 we covered power. The main goals there are to hit a 230lbs hang power snatch PR from the pocket position (current best is 220lbs from last year), and to hit one last vertical jump PR before father time finally turns the page on that chapter of my life (I may switch this goal to a sprinting based one instead of jumping, but that's still up in the air on my end). In part 2 today we'll go over my main strength goals for the upcoming year 2020, which are basically 3 fold: one is squat based, one is deadlift based, and one is upper body based.
Solid set of 3 with 200lbs on the hang power snatch from the pocket. Matches my PR triple and it was done after 5x3 with 192.5lbs. From 9/26/19.
Let's start with the squat based goal. I want to zombie squat 430lbs. Simple, clean, strong. Currently my best single on the zombie squat is 405lbs done at a body weight of 160lbs in March of 2019 after spending about 4 months working on the zombie squat. I think I did my first ever zombie squats in December of 2018 using something paltry like 275lbs or such. From there I experienced rapid progress up to about 385lbs, then hit a brief plateau for a couple months before finally breaking the 4 plate barrier. So now I'm resting from the squat work for the time being. I'm just focusing on explosive exercises - sprints, jumps, power snatches, high pulls, etc. and giving my hips a break from that pounding for a little bit because they're a little beat up after all these years of heavy squatting and they need to be well rested for the difficult work that is to come. I want 430lbs specifically because as it stands my all time best front squat in sleeves is 425lbs. If I can manage to hit 430lbs, not only will that be a pretty big zombie squat PR, but it will also simultaneously be a small lifetime PR on the front squat as well.
405lbs Zombie Front Squat @ 160lbs
I'm purdy damn confident I can do this. I haven't squatted in like 2 months now? And I would wager you money that I could step under the bar right now and still zombie squat 365lbs for a single. I'm not going to, but I could, and that's important! Strength maintenance. The more leg and upper back strength I can maintain here without touching the exercise for months, the better off I'll be when I go back to it. Because what's going to happen? Initially, that first month or two back, I'll be so ripe for the movement that I'm going to experience a huge surge of progress. If my starting point is 365 instead of 335 or something like that, I might match my PR in just a few weeks. After that I'll be able to put in plenty of work breaking new ground while still being primed for a little bit more slow and steady progress.
This isn't how I would coach a novice or an intermediate trainee, but at a certain point the game changes and we have to adapt to those new rules. That or we can just fade away. I choose the former. I'm very confident that I will be able to achieve this goal this upcoming year, so let's move on to the next one.
The deadlift. At times the deadlift has been my absolute favorite lift. Other times it's been a variation of the squat, but the deadlift holds a very fond place in my heart. I've pulled 556lbs conventional pretty easily in competition. I had 584 that day but my grip gave out. I have also pulled 585lbs sumo in the gym at a body weight of about 155lbs, and as it stands that is my current lifetime heaviest deadlift. Those lifts were from about 3-4 years ago now and i haven't really pushed the deadlift to max weights like that since then, but rather I've mostly focused on hitting big rep goals. And that's where I'm conflicted right now. Obviously, the logical thing to do is to chase 600lbs for a single, and that was my goal for a while. But another longstanding goal of mine is to pull 500lbs for a set of 10 reps. I think I've done 7 or 8 in the past and my best set of 10 is a strong set with 475lbs from last year.
Now, both of these goals indicate relatively similar levels of absolute strength, however, in my experience, achieving either one or the other requires a slightly different method of training. So while they don't conflict with each other, they aren't exactly congruent either and I feel like my best bet is to pick one of the two, make it the target, and chase it with it everything I've got - rather than try to chase both carrots at once and have them split me and both of them escape. Right now I'm leaning towards going after 500x10. It just sounds more impressive to me right now. I could be swayed to chase 600x1 instead though if someone came up with a compelling enough argument, but as it stands I think 500x10 is going to be the target for this little snippet of the endeavor. Another goal that I am very confident I will be able to achieve in 2020.
Sumo Deadlift 585lbs @ 155. It's from a few years ago so mind the potato cam.
All natty, brah.
And that brings us to the final piece of the puzzle, which is the upper body strength oriented goal. This one is kind of whatever to me to be honest. I just need to throw in something for the upper body so that people don't start to consider me an inverse bro-lifter. At this point, the only real lifts that I give much of a shit about in this regard are the weighted dip, weighted chin-up, and strict overhead press off pins (push press is also a big contender, but I consider that more full body than upper body and I'll tackle that on another day). So I'm thinking right now that I want to focus the majority of my efforts here on the strict overhead press off pins, with the goal being to hit a single with 225lbs and break the elusive 2 plate barrier. Thus far, I have hit 160lbs for 9 reps, 170lbs for 6 reps, 175lbs for 5 reps, and 185lbs for 3 reps on this lift in recent history. I have not tried any heavy singles or anything like that. I think the 185x3 set puts me right around a max of 205lbs though. Not good enough for 225 yet so no point in testing. I'll get there when I get there and this is the goal that I'm least confident in achieving in 2020.
2021, sure, but 2020? It's probably going to be iffy if I don't put on some more weight. I have put on some weight in recent history, but 225lbs is still a long way on a lift like this even if my 205lbs estimated max is accurate. It's just real tough to make progress here. And in spite of that I have made great progress these last few months. I mean, I'm repping out weights in recent history that I could barely even touch last year, so if the trend continues I will have a shot at my goal, just not as big of a shot as at the other two.
Basically though, all I've been doing is relying on the Larsen press to build up my upper body. I mentioned this on Instagram recently, but I haven't done a "regular" bench press in about a year now. Instead I've been focusing strictly on the Larsen press. I've been doing it twice a week, every single week for about a year now, using mostly sub-maximal sets of 5-10 reps, but recently I've begun throwing in some heavier triples as well, and the results have been very encouraging. As I mentioned in that IG post I think my upper body is overall stronger now (when the heaviest weight I've Larsen pressed is 230lbs for some comfy triples) as compared to 2016 when I was benching 315lbs with leg drive. There's just been so much more overall carryover from the Larsen pressing than the regular benching and all my upper body exercises, most notably the dip and the overhead press, have increased substantially because of it. It's the idea of "raw strength" that I always talk about. Benching with your legs off the floor just seems to build that to so much of a larger degree as compared to performing a normal bench press. So I'm going to continue to focus the majority of my efforts on the Larsen press, continue to build up my raw upper body pressing strength, and then sprinkle in a light day and a heavy day on the overhead press each week as well to continue to ensure that the raw strength that I'm building carries over into that specific exercise as well. And we'll see where it takes me! Hopefully the last stop won't be before 225lbs.
Overhead Pin Press 175lbs x 5 @ 160
Anyway, I think that about wraps it up for today guys. Make sure you check back on the old web site next Friday though. I'll have a new article up by then, and then the week after that I'll conclude this blog series with Part 3 where I'll discuss my conditioning/endurance based goal(s) for the upcoming year. And hey, if you enjoy the content I make please support the production of more of it! Check out the training templates that are for sale. They're great programs that are designed to take you from novice to advanced lifter and because of the template design they can basically be re-used forever. The permutations of different programs you can create are pretty much infinite. If you're into athletics or vertical jumping check out my 20 week vertical jump specialization program & manual. And if you want something catered uniquely to you and your specific goals then shoot me an email about getting a customized training program. Thanks for the support guys! I'll see ya next time.