Results matching “Bird”

Take 2 - Test articles

040621_lowrackpull.jpgAfter a good dose of sleep I wasn't quite fighting fit, but a close enough to it to test out the low rack pulls following last week's curious partial deadlift results.

With the bars set a little below the knee, I worked up to a respectable 110kg max; giving me ample opportunity to review form. It seems that the hips start moving a little before the shoulders, especially as the lifts get heavier, so it looks like a little more back work is called for.

Following the rack pulls came the return of that old favourite, the Romanian Deadlift, which was introduced to the confines of the power cage. I set the bars low (at full stretch), which had the advantage of ensuring I went deep enough with every rep. Felt much better.

Just when the hamstrings were about to quietly slink up to the back of the room, the manual GHR reared its ugly head once again; this time with help from the bench with leg attachment in place (suitably weighed down of course) so I had somewhere to hook my feet. Still not entirely satisfactory, and I suspect I'll head back to the stability ball option. The amount of push-up assistance is easier to vary - gradually removing it as strength increases.

Next up were Good Mornings, and for once I decided to do the simple, standard movement. These were light sets getting used to the technique more than anything - especially bending deep enough on each rep, there seems to be a natural tendency toward doing half-reps - in light of their probable inclusion in many more sessions.

Finishing things off were a few sets of hanging knee raises, which are far more fun than any sort of ground-based ab work. Love them.

The routine:

Dynamic stretching
Rack pull (below knee) 2×5@50kg,
Romanian Deadlift 4×5@60kg, 4×5@70kg
GHR (push-up assisted) 10@bw
Good Morning 4×10@20kg
Hanging knee raise 4×10@bw
Isometric stretching

Total time : 83 mins

Quicker off the box - Test articles

Standing Calf RaiseBox Squats. They're taking a bit more getting used to than I'd hoped, but after moving through 11 reasonably quick sets (most of them triples) it's starting to feel a bit more natural sitting down in the middle of a movement.

I've decided to employ variations of the GHR for warmups on SQ/DL days; today's version was with the aid of a stability ball. The ball is gradually rolled away from the body during descent, then the process is reversed. Slightly more natural feeling than the basic push-up assisted version I tried last week, but still quite a bit of work when done correctly. (Video from Infinity Fitness - .asf, 623kb)

The calves got a bit of a turn, with strict, slow sets of both standing and seated raises; with only short breaks between sets. I capped these off with a few sets of explosive calf raises, just to make sure they hadn't fallen asleep. They hadn't.

Finally came the return of the Zercher Squats, which for some reason feel a lot more natural than normal back squats using a box. Possibly due to a slight quad hamstring imbalance (my quads still slightly outmanouver the hamstrings), or perhaps just a slight difference in technique. Will have to do a bit more video work and check that.

Dynamic stretching
Stability ball GHR 10
Box squat (explosive) 2×5@20kg,
Knee raise (on dip bars) 8×5@bw
Standing calf raise 4×10@45kg
Seated calf raise 4×10@45kg
Standing calf raise (explosive) 4×10@bw
Zercher squats 4×10@50kg
Isometric stretching

Total time : 86 mins

Off the floor - Test articles

Floor PressIntent on squeezing every last drop of potential out of the cage, I decided to test the mid-range of my bench press with a little help from my new friend the Floor Press. As you've no doubt guessed from the name, this is just a flat bench press done whilst lying on the floor; preventing your upper arms from moving past horizontal as the bar is lowered.

Quite happy to get off the ground for a while, I followed the floor presses with a number of short sets of barbell rows, luckily using the same weight as the final press which avoided plate-changing for a while.

Up next were the slow and strict barbell curls, for once not done with the aid of a preacher bench; though just as tiring. I overestimated the weight a little for these, and dropped it in order to concentrate on form.

Following the curls were barbell shrugs, and it took 3 of the 4 sets to establish a happy weight for these (not having done them for a while). Will probably drop the weight to 80kg next time so as to ensure a full ROM throughout - shoulders were getting a little tight towards the end.

Finally, not having completely exhausted myself by this point, I threw in 4 sets of dips just to give the triceps a quick turn. They'll appreciate it in the long run.

The routine :

Dynamic stretching
Floor press 2×5@40kg,
Bent-over row 8×5@60kg
Barbell curl 10@25kg,
Barbell shrug 10@50kg,
Dips 4×10@bodyweight
Isometric stretching

Total time : 78 mins

Rack pullMy hamstrings and I aren't on speaking terms at the moment. This probably has something to do with the GHRs (or manual leg curls, or whatever the currently-favoured name is when they're performed without an authentic GHR machine) I tried out today. Even with a bit of push-up assistance, they're still torturous things; especially when the hams have managed to survive almost their entire life well away from anything strenuous. Almost.

Before the GHRs I succeeded in both exhausting and confusing myself with rack pulls (partial deadlifts) from just above the knee, pyramiding up to a healthy 125kg. Exhausting as there were a number of sets prior to reaching this point, and confusing as my deadlift (from the floor) is only around 64% of that (80kg). Either my deadlift has increased a bit in the past week or, more likely, the weak part of the lift is in the early stages when the bar is still below the knee. I'll have to experiment with some low rack pulls next week.

The Zercher Good Mornings made another appearance, still with modest weight inspired largely by the lower back complaints I seem to have been surrounded by lately. Slowly - very slowly - increasing the weight with these.

Lastly came the fun of hanging leg raises. I suspect that these would be even more fun if done using Power Rings, but a chinning bar and dip handles will have to suffice for now.


Dynamic stretching

Rack pulls (above knee) 3×5@50kg,








Glue-ham raise (pushup assisted) 1×10

Zercher Good Mornings 4×10@40kg

Hanging leg raise 4×5

Isometric stretching

Total time : 71 mins

The Bradford Press - Test articles

Bradford PressWhilst looking through a few of the older T-Mag articles the other day I came across a mention of the Bradford Press, one of the less well-known movements favoured by The Renegade himself, John Davies.

The Bradford Press is named for former US Heavyweight lifter Jim Bradford, an olympic lifter, who had a reputation for being able to press any weight he was satisfactorily able to clean. After doing a few sets of these I can understand why.

The exercise looks similar to a Military Press, except that the weight is moved in an arc from in front of the head to behind it; and back again. This manages to work all parts of the deltoids, as well as giving the forearms something to think about. An unusual, but highly effective, movement.

Before I got into these I started with 9 sets of explosive flat bench presses, washed down with a few of the close-grip variety to hit the triceps. After the Bradford presses came a quick upper back session in the form of chinups. Rather than invest in a dipping belt I added plates to a length of heavy gauge chain, which I looped around a normal weight belt. My arms will tire long before the chain/belt combo starts to weaken.

The routine :

Dynamic stretching
Flat bench press (explosive) 9×3@40kg
Close-grip bench press 1×8@20kg, 1×8@30kg, 5×8@40kg
Bradford press 4×10@20kg
Chin-ups 1×10@bodyweight, 1×5@10kg
Isometric stretching

Total time : 54 mins

Final note : I've started to notice that I'm naturally beginning to favour compound movements over isolation exercises, which I hope is a good thing overall. I guess I'll just have to wait and see.

Bring out the box - Test articles

Hanging knee raiseOne of the primary reasons for equipping my home gym with a power rack was to afford performance of the myriad varieties of squat with some degree of safety. I'm not sure about the reliability of that great powerlifting superhero, Inzerman.

I decided to begin my quest for squatting glory with the Box Squat, and an excellent article covering the intricacies of the technique is Dave Tate's Squatting from Head to Toe: Introducing the Box Squat at Testosterone Nation. Refining technique through constant application of the video->squat->review cycle, whilst gradually increasing the weight, was a tiring and lengthy process but one which will hopefully pay off in better squatting form for years to come.

The squats were followed by several sets of hanging leg raises, which not only gave the abs something to think about they also managed to remind me with no lack of certainty that my arms are yet to forgive me for yesterday's workout.

A few sets of both standing and seated calf raises brought the session to a close - the anticipated hamstring torture session will just have to wait until next week.

I've decided (following a bit of subtle prompting from Kris) to include training weights for each exercise; if nothing else they'll act as a source of amusement in the coming months/years as I realise just how puny they are. All follow a setsxreps@weight notation.

The routine :
Dynamic stretching
Box Squats 4×3@20kg, 3×2@30kg, 3×2@40kg, 1×1@45kg, 1×1@50kg, 1×1@55kg, 1×1@60kg, 1×1@65kg
Hanging knee raise 8×5@bodyweight
Standing calf raise 4×10@40kg, 2×10@50kg
Seated calf raise 4×10@40kg
Isometric stretching

Total time : 119 mins (plenty of 'let's go to the videotape' action in there)

Keeping the chin up - Test articles

ChinupThe temptation to make use of the chin-up bar which forms part of the cage was simply too much to resist, and I decided to change the sequence of things slightly and give my back the opening spotlight.

This consisted of a variety of chin-ups (supinated grip) and pull-ups (pronated grip) using different grip widths, and successfully managed not only to work various parts of the back but also to pre-exhaust my arms for the upcoming speed bench presses.

Performing bench presses within the relative safety of the cage (which is wide enough to easily accomodate the already wide bench and attached arms) felt great, and I quickly stacked more weight on the bar in compensation for the lack of fear. The next max attempt will be interesting.

Another option presented by the cage comes in the form of good old-fashioned dips, and once again the temptation was just too much. Unfortunately the lack of a dip-belt limits my capacity to add weight to the dumbell-between-the-feet method, or a trip to the local hardware store for another bit of homemade finery.

Finally came a few sets of simple bicep curls, which were not exactly well received by the now near-exhausted arms.

The routine :
Dynamic stretching
Chinups and pull-ups (varying grip widths)
Speed bench press 5×3,3×2,4×1
Dips 4×10
Bicep curls 2×10,1×7
Isometric stretching

Total time : 74 mins

Looking for more information on the various types of chin-ups and pull-ups? Try this article by strength expert Charles Poliquin at

Zercher squatIn the interest of variety I decided to try my hand (or more accurately, elbows) at Zercher Squats. Named after Californian strongman Ed Zercher (pictured here doing an unsupported leg press) these are done with the bar resting in the crook of your arms, rather than above the back (if you're still not quite sure how they're done, take a look at the BioMechanics Lab site). Unusual, but highly effective - both as a way to improve standard squat technique and to hit the upper quads.

I followed these with the trusty Romanian Deadlift, which felt surprisingly simple after the Zerchers. At least they did until I piled on a bit of extra weight to compensate.

The Zercher inspiration came again in the form of seated Zercher Good Mornings, which I did whilst straddling a bench. Simply getting a wide enough grip to enable a deep bend was half the fun. (For more fun along the Zercher Good Morning lines have a look at some of John Davies training methods).

Continuing the theme of variety I finished off with some single-handed deadlifts, which are perhaps the most tiring things I have ever done. Time to add a little more work for the obliques I think.

The routine :
Dynamic stretching
Zercher squats 2×10, 5×3, 3×2, 3×1
Romanian deadlifts 8×5
Seated Zercher Good Mornings 4×10
Single-handed deadlift (each side) 4×5
Isometric stretching
Total time : 88 mins

Quite a long session, but an interesting one.

Incline bench pressToday's session followed pretty much the same routine as last week, with the substitution of wide-grip incline benches for the common-or-garden variety.

I must admit that these are growing on me, unlike their decline bench counterpart which has a tendency to get inadvertently overlooked. Will consider remedying that situation next week.

The incline benches were followed by the ever-faithful triceps kickbacks, bent-over barbell rows and lat raises. Still seem to always end up with Soundgarden's 'Jesus Christ Pose' in my head when I do them. Probably time to find an alternative exercise; although choice is somewhat limited when it comes to exciting moves for the deltoids. At least it's a song I like.

The routine :

Dynamic stretching

Incline bench press (wide grip) 9×3

Triceps kickbacks 3×10

Bent-over rows 3×10

Lateral raises 3×10

Isometric stretching

Total time : a speedy 38 mins

Back on the bench - Test articles

Preacher curlAnother good workout - especially if you're using sweat production as any sort of indicator.

Today was mostly a bench day, with short sets and heavy weights; followed by a bit of lat and tricep/bicep work. It went something like :
Dynamic stretching
Flat bench press 5×3,3×2,4×1
T-bar rows (one of my favourites) 8×5
Tate curls 4×10
Preacher curls 2×10,1×4
Isometric stretching

Total time : 92 mins

It was quite a long session, primarily due to the taking of longer rest breaks between sets. I should be sleeping well after that one.

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