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 via social media or in the comments section below to participate in next week's mailbag.

 

Question #1: Creaky Knees

READER: Why do my shoulders and knees "click" or "crunch"? Is it bad for me? It's worse when there is more weight, but it still happens with bodyweight squats. (35 y/o male)

 

CHARLES SAYS: Ah, you’ve got crepitus. If it’s not accompanied by pain or discomfort, I’d just try to ignore it. You can turn up the volume on your headphones if your joints are really loud. I’ve never seen non-painful joint noise evolve into something worse, so no need to stress over it.

 

Question #2: Squatting and Shoulder Pain

READER: After I squat, I have so much pain in my shoulders and arms as I come out from under the bar. Why? I guess it's worth mentioning that I have a hard time getting under the bar in the first place, especially for the first couple warm up sets. I do low bar squats.

 

CHARLES SAYS: My first thought is to avoid low bar squats if you’re not a competitive powerlifter, but even if you do that, it shouldn’t really hurt your shoulders to do low bar squats. So with that said, you might work on your thoracic and shoulder mobility. I really like wall slides:

 

 

As an added twist, I do them while lying supine on the floor with two tennis balls (in a sock) under my thoracic spine. I’ll start with the lowest vertebrae that feels tight, do two or three arm slides in that position, then move up a vertebrae, repeat, up another level, repeat, and so on. This is a great, targeted drill for upper body mobility. Give it a try and let me know how you do.

 

Question #3: When to Use Lifting Straps

READER: Lifting straps or no lifting straps? When? Why?

 

CHARLES SAYS: My position on straps has changed over the years. In short, if you’re not a competitive lifter and/or if you’re not concerned about your grip strength, I say go ahead and use them, because what’s the point of limiting your deadlift or rowing progress because your grip is the weak link?

 

Also, although I use a hook grip, I’d generally rather see someone use straps on heavy deads rather than a mixed grip. I don’t like the asymmetry of it, and sometimes lifters tear their biceps on the supinated side.

 

Another benefit of straps is that, quite often, people with various types of shoulder and/or elbow issues (such as medial epicondylitis, for example) tend to be able to lift heavy with less pain, since they’re now able to relax their grip, and by extension, their arms and shoulders.

 

This Week’s Training

Weekly Training Volume: 38,864 Pounds (Last Week 73,080 Pounds)

 

Significant Lifts:

 

• Squat: 365x1

• Bench Press: 270x1

• Clean & Jerk: 187x1 Pounds

• Deadlift: 455x1 Pounds

 

This week as a scheduled deload, hence the greatly reduced volume. Hit nice numbers, too, and I’m especially pleased with how my clean and jerk (especially the jerk) is progressing. I’ve found a comfortable rack position for the bar and am learning how to use my legs more effectively in the jerk drive.

 

Also hit a very nice bench press and back squat this week. On the negative side, I tweaked my low back deadlifting. I’ve done this before and it’s only a two to four day setback, but it did cause me to miss my fourth training session this week.

 

"I’ve never seen non-painful joint noise evolve into something worse, so no need to stress over it."

Next week (and month actually) I’m planning on doing a hypertrophy phase, using higher (6-10) reps on everything but Olympic lifts. Over my lifting career, I’ve rarely (if ever) done this, and I think it may hold some value for me.

 

That’s it for this week. As always, leave your questions and comments below, and have a look at my video this week, where I share something called "The Evaluation Inventory." It’s a great way to identify and shore up weaknesses in your overall preparation.


Monday, February 23, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 201 Pounds

Volume: 10,329 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 130.74

 

Hang Snatch

  • Set 1: 66 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 121 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 143 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 12: 154 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 89.96

 

Squat

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 4: 275 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 345 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 365 lbs × 1 (Video Below)

Notes: IQ: 212.85

 

 

Hack Squat

  • Set 1: 90 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 140 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 140 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 127.5

 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 200.8 Pounds

Volume: 10,462 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 116.24

 

Bench Press

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 6
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 3: 185 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 225 lbs × 2
  • Set 5: 245 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 255 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 265 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 270 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 225 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 186

 

Chin Up

  • Set 1: 5 reps
  • Set 2: 5 reps
  • Set 3: 5 reps

Notes: IQ: 200.8

 

Tricep Pushdowns

  • Set 1: 50 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 50 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 50 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 50

 

EZ Bar Curl

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

Notes: IQ: 65

 

Thursday, February 26, 2015

 

Bodyweight: 199.6 Pounds

Volume: 18,073 Pounds

Average Weight Per Rep: 157.17

 

Clean and Jerk

  • Set 1: 45 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 66 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 88 lbs × 3
  • Set 5: 110 lbs × 2
  • Set 6: 132 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 154 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 176 lbs × 1
  • Set 9: 176 lbs × 1
  • Set 10: 176 lbs × 1
  • Set 11: 187 lbs × 1

Notes: IQ: 95.72

 

Deadlift

  • Set 1: 135 lbs × 5
  • Set 2: 135 lbs × 3
  • Set 3: 225 lbs × 3
  • Set 4: 315 lbs × 1
  • Set 5: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 6: 405 lbs × 1
  • Set 7: 455 lbs × 1
  • Set 8: 405 lbs × 3

Notes: Missed 495 IQ: 252.77

 

Safety Squat

  • Set 1: 65 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 155 lbs × 5

Notes: IQ: 95

 

Hack Squat

  • Set 1: 90 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: 90 lbs × 10
  • Set 3: 90 lbs × 10
  • Set 4: 90 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 90

 

Back Extension

  • Set 1: +120 lbs × 10
  • Set 2: +120 lbs × 10

Notes: IQ: 120

 

(Video of this complete session below)

 

 

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