Charles is here on a weekly basis to help you cut through the B.S. and get some real perspective regarding health and training. Please post feedback or questions to Charles directly in the comments below this article.
 
After I competed in my last powerlifting meet, I felt the need to explore new directions in my training. After about six weeks trying out various strategies, these nine significant changes have helped me improve my weak spots.
 

Lower Body

Quads: Atlantis Hack Squat Machine - I do these with slow tempo, weight focused on forefoot, and no lockout. As soon as my leverage starts to improve on the concentric phase, I switch direction and go back down for the next rep. This means I’m generating constant tension throughout the exercise. I’ve never had a quad pump or quad soreness after doing these, but I do feel significant strain on the muscle, so that’s a start.
 
Calves: Two Second Pauses - I’ve started training calves regularly for the first time in a long time. Okay, I’ve never really trained them consistently. There, I said it. If for no other reason than curiosity, I’m going to train calves twice a week and see if I can get them to respond. I’m using standard equipment, but inserting two-second pauses at the top and bottom of every rep. The ankle-Achilles mechanism is such an efficient spring. You have to find a way to override the stretch return and pauses do the trick.
 

Upper Body

Triceps: Dumbbell Lying Tricep Extension These feel more intense and easier on the elbows than the EZ-bar version of the same exercise. Almost every tricep exercise feels obnoxious on my elbows, or I don’t feel it in the triceps muscle at all. This one is the exception. 
 
Biceps: Paramount Dual Cable Machine Curls - Boy, these just pump the biceps big time with no elbow strain. Love ‘em. 
 
Deltoids: Military Presses I have fairly good delt development, but my military press isn’t strong by any means. I just hit a lifetime PR for 10 reps with 105lb, so nothing to write home about. I’m pushing hard on this movement, though. An added benefit is the military press acts as a good upper-body mobility drill, provided that you push the bar back a bit and push the head through at full extension.
 
Shoulders: Dumbbell Bench Presses (With a Partner) Don’t know where it came from, but I have pain in my right shoulder on the first rep - and only the first rep - of flat dumbbell presses. So I just have my training partner assist me on the first rep, and no pain. Whatever it takes, I guess.
 
overhead press
When at full extension, the military (or overhead) press can double as a mobility drill.
 

Core Work

Abs: Toes-to-Bar - All I’m doing for abs right now is toes-to-bar once a week, but that’s more than I had been doing. Currently, I’m using a knees-bent version of the exercise, but I can see myself upgrading to a straight-leg version soon. In the next few weeks, I’ll pick a second exercise and increase my ab training to twice a week. 
 

Mobility and Flexibility

Flexibility: Standing Splits – With a Twist - Back when I was practicing martial arts, splits were a universal goal. Typically, I’d widen my stance until I felt significant tension in my adductors, then contract the adductors for ten seconds. This process would reduce the tension, allowing me to widen even further. Rinse and repeat.
 
As I revisit this exercise now, I find myself adding a new wrinkle to the drill. At each new level of abduction, I’ll gently rotate both left and right from the hips, adding a rotary component to the exercise. I’m not sure why this never occurred to me back in the day, but I’m finding it to be effective so far.
 
Squat Mobility and Knee Pain: Squatting Frequently - For the last several weeks, I’ve been doing some form of squat about 4-5 days a week, as opposed to 1-2. Typically, about three of these are just a quick 3x10 on goblet squat with a light dumbbell, but this is one of the best things I’ve ever done for my knee health and squat mobility. Somehow, squatting frequently has coaxed my body into accepting the movement pattern in a deeper way.
 

This Week’s Training:

Volume: 105,659lb (Last Week: 100,334lb)
 
Significant Lifts:
  • Power Clean: 198x1
  • Goblet Squat: 90x10
  • Swings: 124x18
  • Bench Press: 185x10
  • 2.5” Deficit Deadlift: 385x10
  • Military Press: 105x10
  • Dumbbell Bench Press: 180x10
 
I’m super happy with training this week. I’ve gotten in lots of work, my joints are feeling healthy, my strength levels are fairly high, and (as I detailed above) I’m finding some exercises that tax the target muscle without irritating the corresponding joints.
 
I’m planning on milking the ten-rep lifestyle for another few weeks, probably deloading on the last week of January. Then I’ll shift to lower reps for the following month, with a change in my exercise menu as well.
 
Thanks guys. Hope everyone’s training is on track!

Monday, January 4, 2016

 
Bodyweight: 201.2lb
Volume: 23,954lb
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 35lb × 10
  • Set 2: 60lb × 10
  • Set 3: 90lb × 10
 
Power Clean
  • Set 1: 45lb × 5
  • Set 2: 88lb × 5
  • Set 3: 110lb × 5
  • Set 4: 132lb × 5
  • Set 5: 154lb × 3
  • Set 6: 176lb × 1
  • Set 7: 187lb × 1
  • Set 8: 198lb × 1 (Video Below)
 
 
High Bar Squat
  • Set 1: 95lb × 10
  • Set 2: 135lb × 10
  • Set 3: 185lb × 10
  • Set 4: 225lb × 10
  • Set 5: 245lb × 8
  • Set 6: 205lb × 10
 
Swings
  • Set 1: 124lb × 18
  • Set 2: 124lb × 18
  • Set 3: 124lb × 18
 
Seated Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 70lb × 10
  • Set 2: 70lb × 10
  • Set 3: 70lb × 10
 
Toes To Bar
  • Set 1: 6 reps
  • Set 2: 6 reps
  • Set 3: 6 reps
 
Wednesday, January 6, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 200.4lb
Volume: 25,350lb
 
Bench Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 95lb × 10
  • Set 3: 135lb × 10
  • Set 4: 175lb × 10
  • Set 5: 185lb × 10
  • Set 6: 165lb × 10
 
Incline Dumbbell Press
  • Set 1: 100lb × 10
  • Set 2: 130lb × 10
  • Set 3: 130lb × 10
  • Set 4: 130lb × 10
 
Seated Row
  • Set 1: 165lb × 10
  • Set 2: 165lb × 10
  • Set 3: 165lb × 10
  • Set 4: 165lb × 10
 
Dual Cable Low Cable Curl
  • Set 1: 90lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 90lb × 10
  • Set 4: 90lb × 10
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 35lb × 10
  • Set 2: 35lb × 10
  • Set 3: 35lb × 10
 
Lying Dumbbell Tricep Extension
  • Set 1: 60lb × 10
  • Set 2: 60lb × 10
 
Thursday, January 7, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 201.4lb
Volume: 29,150lb
 
2.5" Deficit Pull
  • Set 1: 135lb × 10
  • Set 2: 185lb × 10
  • Set 3: 225lb × 10
  • Set 4: 275lb × 10
  • Set 5: 325lb × 10
  • Set 6: 385lb × 10 (Video Below)
  • Set 7: 315lb × 10
 
 

Hack Squat

  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 90lb × 10
  • Set 3: 115lb × 10
  • Set 4: 140lb × 10
  • Set 5: 140lb × 10
 
Standing Calf Raise
  • Set 1: 180lb × 10
  • Set 2: 180lb × 10
  • Set 3: 180lb × 10
 
Friday, January 8, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 200.4lb
Volume: 26,593lb
 
Military Press
  • Set 1: 45lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 10
  • Set 3: 85lb × 10
  • Set 4: 105lb × 10
  • Set 5: 95lb × 8
  • Set 6: 95lb × 8
 
Bench Press (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 90lb × 10
  • Set 2: 120lb × 10
  • Set 3: 150lb × 10
  • Set 4: 180lb × 10
  • Set 5: 160lb × 10
 
Chin Up
  • Set 1: 1 reps
  • Set 2: 2 reps
  • Set 3: 3 reps
  • Set 4: 4 reps
  • Set 5: 5 reps
  • Set 6: 6 reps
  • Set 7: 7 reps
  • Set 8: 8 reps
  • Set 9: 9 reps
  • Set 10: 7 reps
  • Set 11: 6 reps
 
Bicep Curl (Dumbbell)
  • Set 1: 50lb × 12
  • Set 2: 60lb × 10
  • Set 3: 60lb × 10
  • Set 4: 60lb × 10
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 35lb × 10
  • Set 2: 35lb × 10
  • Set 3: 35lb × 10
 
Sunday, January 10, 2016
 
Bodyweight: 200.4lb
Volume: 5,325lb
 
 
EZ Bar Curl
  • Set 1: 65lb × 10
  • Set 2: 65lb × 10
  • Set 3: 65lb × 10
 
Tricep Pushdowns
  • Set 1: 55lb × 15
  • Set 2: 55lb × 15
  • Set 3: 55lb × 15
 
Goblet Squat
  • Set 1: 30lb × 10
  • Set 2: 30lb × 10
  • Set 3: 30lb × 10
 
More Training Tips from Coach Staley:

 

Photo courtesy of Jorge Huerta Photography.

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