Note: Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get to the bottom of the biggest questions in health and training. Post your questions directly to Charles in the comments below this article.

 

Question #1: Should I Use the Mirror?

READER: Is it better to face the mirror on squats or to face away?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Each has a specific benefit and drawback. The benefit of watching yourself is that you have visual feedback on your posture and body position as you lift. This can be particularly helpful if you’re a beginner and/or if you have some type of asymmetry that you’re trying to straighten out.

 

Breaking Muscle Shop

squats, powerlifter

There are benefits to lifting with and without a mirror

 

On the other hand, at some point, it’ll be useful to wean yourself off the mirror so that you’ll be better able to develop and trust proprioceptive feedback about your technique. This is especially important if you’re a competitive lifter, since you won’t have a mirror in competition.

 

So like most things in life, the correct answer depends on context - using a mirror is not objectively “good” or “bad.”

 

Question #2: How Can I Develop Bigger Legs?

READER: I am so scared of being seen as one of those people who "don't train legs." I do squats, leg press, leg extensions, and curls, and I work my calves until they hurt. Still, my calves are tiny while the rest of my legs have noticeable muscle increases and definition. What gives? Male 23 yo/165lbs.

 

CHARLES SAYS: A CAT scan recently revealed that I have no calf muscle at all - the only soft-tissue I have below the knees is fascia and scar tissue. This is likely your problem, as well. So keep squatting - and just wear long pants no matter how hot it is outside.

 

Question #3: What's in a (Program) Name?

READER: Does a lifting program have to have a stupid catchy name to become popular? Fierce 5, Stronglifts, 5/3/1, Ice Cream Fitness (ICF - yes, really), PHUL, Greyskull, the list goes on. (Here are many more).

 

CHARLES SAYS: Yes. In fact, one of my own inventions didn’t do nearly as well as it could have because it’s called Escalating Density Training. See what I mean? That being said, just because it has a stupid or a catchy name doesn’t mean the program itself is stupid. 5/3/1 is a great program, for example.

 

Question #4: What's the Deal With Glute Bridges?

READER: Glute bridges seem to be all the rage right now. Is this popularity justified?

 

CHARLES SAYS: Well, it’s a full-range hip extension against load, it’s safe, and it requires no special equipment. What’s not to like?

 

Say "yes" to glute bridges.

 

This Week’s Training

This Week’s Volume: 112,983 Pounds (Last Week: 100,458 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

  • 2.5” Deficit Pull: 385x10

 

Well, week two is in the books. This is officially the highest training volume I’ve ever logged, and more importantly, it’s quality volume. So far I’m staying healthy, with the sole exception of some tendonitis in my left knee.

 

Not too much more to say other than I’m just plugging away as hard as I can, trying to beat the previous week’s numbers every time out. Definitely some fatigue building up, though. In fact, this is the most volume I’ve ever racked up since I started keeping track of that metric years ago.

 

Next week will be peak week, and then the following week will be a deload. Enjoy the video and as always, keep those questions coming.


Monday, June 22, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.4 Pounds

Volume: 30.110 Pounds

 

High Bar Squat

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 185 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 215 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 215 lbs × 10
  • Set 7: 215 lbs × 10
  • Set 8: 215 lbs × 10

 

Stiff-Leg Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 225 lbs × 10

 

Leg Press

  • Set 1: 230 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 270 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 270 lbs × 10

 

45° Back Extension

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10

 

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.2 Pounds

Volume: 16.935 Pounds

 

Close Grip Bench Press (Pinkies On Rings)

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 165 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 170 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 170 lbs × 10
  • Set 7: 165 lbs × 10

 

Incline Dumbbell Press

  • Set 1: 100 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 120 lbs × 10

 

Machine Row

  • Set 1: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 3: 90 lbs × 6
  • Set 4: 90 lbs × 6

 

Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 70 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 70 lbs × 10

 

Thursday, June 25, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.6 Pounds

Volume: 34,518 Pounds

 

2.5" Deficit Pull

  • Set 1: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 5
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 5
  • Set 5: 275 lbs × 5
  • Set 6: 315 lbs × 5
  • Set 7: 385 lbs × 10 (Video Below)
  • Set 8: 315 lbs × 10

 

 

19" Box Squat

  • Set 1: 95 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 205 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 205 lbs × 10

 

Seated Leg Curl

  • Set 1: 115 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 115 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 115 lbs × 10

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: +130 lbs × 10

 

Friday, June 26, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201.6 Pounds

Volume: 23,370 Pounds

 

Bench Press (Dumbbell)

  • Set 1: 80 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 160 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 5: 190 lbs × 8
  • Set 6: 180 lbs × 8
  • Set 7: 180 lbs × 8

 

Close-Grip Lat Pulldown

  • Set 1: 120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 130 lbs × 10

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 130 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 130 lbs × 10

 

Bicep Curl

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 10

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 75 lbs × 8
  • Set 3: 75 lbs × 8

 

Sunday, June 28, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 8050 Pounds

 

Military Press

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 85 lbs × 10
  • Set 5: 95 lbs × 10
  • Set 6: 100 lbs × 8

 

Lying Tricep Extension

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 10

 

EZ Bar Curl

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 8
  • Set 2: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 65 lbs × 12

 

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Photo courtesy of CrossFit Empirical.

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