Getting Stronger and More Mobile in Year 2

Discussion in 'Barbell' started by J Way, Sep 7, 2019.

  1. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Hello everyone!

    Thank you for the great content here on the forum. I’m asking for advice in program creation for my second year of barbell training. As requested in Steve’s sticky, I’m going to outline some basic info on myself:

    -33 yo Male
    -1 year of barbell training (alternated cycles between PTTP and 5/3/1)
    -Have I had a FMS? Yes. Results below:

    Screen date: 8/20/19
    Results: Green lights for everything except shoulder mobility (Left shoulder 1, Right shoulder 2)

    StrongFirst trainer’s recommendation:
    -Take two weeks off of all overhead pressing and conditioning that would heavily stress this area. Proceed with corrective exercises until acceptable symmetry is achieved.

    Now, onto the problems and questions.

    1.) Unfortunately, the financial goals I have for my family in the next two years make it very difficult for me to pursue personal physical training. I highly respect the trainer that gave me my FMS, but I simply had never pursued PT before and had no idea what it costs. I do most of my training on a tight budget to keep me fit for a high volume of work to achieve the aforementioned financial goals, so training is a secondary concern for me in the coming two years.

    2.) I followed the trainer’s advice and pursued a full body mobility program on my own for 14 days before attempting to side press. When attempting to clasp my hands behind my back, I’m still maybe an inch or half an inch asymmetrical, but I can assume the correct position as outlined in PTTP for the side press with both arms.

    3.) I can proceed in a few different ways:
    -Stop all upper body lifts and focus on shoulder mobility; continue deadlifting and return to squatting.
    -Do PTTP 3 times a week with SP and DL; focus on mobility 5 days a week, and RIS style flexibility 2 days a week.
    -Do 5/3/1 3 times a week, using SP instead of MP.
  2. Bill Been

    Bill Been More than 500 posts

    After a year of alternating PTTP and 5/3/1, I’d be interested to know what kind of progress you’ve made, especially on your pressing movement(s) of choice.

    Did you seek out an FMS in response to a particular problem? Pain? Do you have a medical diagnosis of a particular shoulder problem?

    Back to training - how much of your training has consisted of two-handed barbell military-style pressing? What approach(es) have you taken to progressively overloading each press variant you have used.

    I’m going somewhere with all this...
  3. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I guess I titled this poorly.
  4. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    Hi @JWay

    I'm hesitant to steer your differently than the trainer's recommendation, but my hunch is that you'd be fine with either of your second two options. I'm not even particularly convinced you couldn't press overhead, either... but like I said, not going to go against what someone who saw you in person said. YOU could decide to do that, however... It's up to you. Pressing overhead with a reasonable weight won't cause some sudden injury due to lack of mobility. You will gain mobility by using the range of motion. If you start to have some aches or pains, maybe reassess.

    What sort of weights are you working with now and how has your progress been on PTTP and 5/3/1?

    Did you have any shoulder problems during your prior training?
    Steve W. likes this.
  5. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    My progress with the deadlift was pretty good. I had a ORM of 120kg last September; in June I hit a ORM of 160kg during my 5/3/1 cycle. Progress on everything else has been relatively dismal, as I work a lot, lose sleep, and miss meals as well as workouts. Here are my most recent maxes at a bodyweight of 86kg:

    Press: 57kg
    Bench: 85kg
    Squat: 120kg
    Deadlift: 160kg

    These are at the peak of my last 5/3/1 cycle at the end of June before backing off due to work, etc.

    I had shoulder problems with my left shoulder when I did karate ten years ago because I was “too tight” when throwing punches.

    I should add that I had a full physical examination provided by my employer back in June, including X-Rays, heart and lung monitoring, and sonograms, and I wasn’t given any warnings about training or exercise or limitations. Sometimes my left shoulder clicks if I don’t keep it tucked into the socket.
  6. Antti

    Antti More than 2500 posts

    Did I get you right that you're 100% healthy but didn't just pass some test on shoulder mobility? If so, I would lift to my heart's content if I were you. If you're worried about the symmetry, work on it on the side.
    Bill Been and Steve W. like this.
  7. Anna C

    Anna C More than 5000 posts Certified Instructor

    OK, so you've progressed somewhat, but could become stronger. Are your goals to increase your strength in all of these? That should be attainable. Then it's just a matter of finding a program you can follow with your current priorities and schedule. Have you had a look at StrongFirst's Reload? I have not run it myself, but it could be worth a try for you. It would accommodate working on all of these lifts together.
  8. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Honestly, I would just like to be able to make consistent strength gains this year generally while wrestling a hectic schedule—just GP would be fine. I don’t compete; I lift to keep my body functioning for work. I feel like PTTP would work with daily goblet squats in the morning, but I can’t make the gym five times a week. I can easily make it there twice a week, and most of the year I should be able to make it three times a week.

    I’ll check out Reload, and thank you everyone for the advice!
    Anna C and Geoff Chafe like this.
  9. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I took the FMS out of curiosity, but I may have misunderstood the results. I thought the implication was that I was heading towards an injury if I kept training with an asymmetry. Admittedly, I should have asked the trainer directly if this was the case, but I didn’t—that’s my ignorance. He did say that correcting the asymmetry would probably lead to more rapid gains in strength in my pressing. No diagnosis, and no pain, except when I do too many movements with bad form, e.g. kB snatches. I realized from the drills in Pavel’s EtK video that I don’t have the mobility yet to be doing those.

    I started 2HP with the empty bar and progressed to 54kg, but I would only use the 2HP for maybe two months at a time; otherwise, I’d notice some soreness and tightness in the stabilizers and tendons of my left shoulder, which sometimes moves a little bit out of socket. I took it as a sign that I had bad form, didn’t understand the groove of the movement, and ought to focus on the mechanically simpler (to me) side press.

    My bench press progress has not been that great either for two reasons: 1) I lack the t-spine mobility to get a good upper back arch and the form to maintain the type of tightness I can create in the side press, and 2) frequency and availability of equipment. My gym has one bench and one squat rack everybody needs to share. It’s often easier to pick up an unused barbell and side press or deadlift then it is to queue for the squat rack or the bench. Sometimes I just don’t have the time to queue, and repeatedly asking the guy who sits on the bench watching soap operas to move is apparently bad form. (Pic related: normal phenomenon at my gym.) From my experience, most gyms around me have similar equipment limitations, but fewer chicken bones.

    My ideal program would involve a 5x5 3 times a week focusing on the deadlift, a press, and maybe a squat that doesn’t require the rack, i.e. Zechers or front squats. I hesitate to choose front squats, though, because my form in the power clean is absolute trash.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Sep 9, 2019
  10. John Spezzano

    John Spezzano Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor

    Hi J Way,

    I might have missed it but I don't think you listed what you're actually trying to achieve. What is your specific goal in training? Front squats are a terrific lift and probably the safest barbell squat to start with because you can bail out from under the bar with ease if you get stuck - an important feature if you train without a spotter. (That's a long winded way of saying you might consider buying a squat stand. HA!)

  11. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Here’s my goal:

    In high school, I deadlifted a little over twice my bodyweight as a heavy single, and I felt strong and powerful, even though I had too much body fat. I’d like to be able to deadlift double my bodyweight. I’d also like to press 3/4 of my bodyweight overhead, or as close to 1/2 my weight one handed. I’d also like to be able to maintain my squat depth and stay mobile. That’s basically it.
  12. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Update: The StrongFirst trainer in my area sent me a message to ask how I was doing, and he sent me along a suggested mobility routine I could practice at home as well. What a guy! The StrongFirst community has got to be the most positive and genuinely helpful community in the strength and conditioning world. I’m deeply grateful to everyone for the advice! I’m going to get strong and mobile.
    John Spezzano likes this.
  13. John Spezzano

    John Spezzano Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor

    Thanks for the info. Given your training history and your commitment to the process, it would seem that these are realistic goals. Double body weight DL and 1/2 body weight press are challenging and will take time and effort, but they are not superhuman and unrealistic. I would recommend you shoot for a 1/2 body weight press with a single kettlebell. Given the nature of the bell, 1/2 body weight will probably feel like 3/4! HA! It doesn't sound like you have a squat number in mind, you just want to keep your depth so that helps matters because you can put less effort into the squat and focus on your two main lifts, the DL and MP, rather than three.

    In terms of programs there are obviously many to follow. If you do well with progressive overload programs like 5/3/1 then you can give that a try. Personally, I have consistently done better with the "wave the load" approach StrongFirst has always recommended, and now teaches in great detail in the PlanStrong seminar.

    If you do go with a "waved" method, I would recommend you put more of your monthly volume in the lift that is the weaker of the two. So if your press is currently further from your goal, spend more time on that than the DL.

    Most important, don't go heavy often. Most of your volume should be in the 75-80% of 1RM. Even though 5/3/1 is progressive overload (and didn't work well for me) I liked the fact that he calculated percentages that were in a safe zone. Please keep us updated!

    Stay strong, my friend!
  14. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    Hi John! Thanks for the interesting reply!

    I’ve never been coached on the KB MP or clean, but I could watch the old ETK video, and I bought the book and own 8, 16, 24, and 32 kg bells.

    What would the program look like? Would I be lifting 3x a week and doing both lifts each time, or would I be training MP everyday at home? Would the wave cycle from PTTP in Bear format work for deads, and the ROP ladders format from ETK for MPs?

    FYI: A kettlebell can cost as little as $10 where I live.
  15. Steve Freides

    Steve Freides Dir. of Community Engagement, SFB, Senior SFG Staff Member Senior Instructor

    The comments to which you responded not withstanding, if you took the advice of the fitness professional you saw, and you added your own good judgement, you didn't misunderstand or in any way do anything bad. And there needn't be any rush to become stronger. Choose a goal, and keep heading in that direction. Faster isn't necessarily better. E.g., after lifting for about 15 years, I set some new lifetime PR's at age 62, when my numbers should have been going down by all rights.

  16. J Way

    J Way Double-Digit Post Count

    I saw that in another thread, and I was hugely impressed, sir! Thanks for your advice. One of the reasons I train is to make sure I can enjoy watching my daughter grow up, and not be distracted by poor health if I can avoid it, so hearing of you breaking records in your sixties is very heartening.
  17. John Spezzano

    John Spezzano Triple-Digit Post Count Team Leader Certified Instructor

    It would be best if you could find a StrongFirst certified instructor near you. Detailed, professional videos are fine (certainly better than what most people find on YouTube), but you would be much better off with a coach who can teach and watch you. Plus you can ask direct questions to him/her. Check and find a coach near you.

    In terms of programming, there are obviously many roads to follow. The only way to know if one works for you is to give it a serious try. Take some time, pick one and give it 4-6 weeks and see if: 1) it's manageable (doesn't burn you out immediately), 2) you're making progress that can be tracked, 3) it's sustainable (doesn't burn you out down the road). The analogy Pavel uses all the time is the difference between the Soviet and Bulgarian weightlifters. Many Soviets competed in multiple Olympics and won medals. Bulgaria won a log of gold medals for such a small country but their athletes didn't fare very well past one Olympics. They made incredible gains in a short time but were broken from the intensity of the training pretty quickly. In addition to improving your strength and mobility, your training must be focused on LONGEVITY.

    I realize this is vague, but since I've never seen you or worked with you it would be impossible (and unprofessional) for me to give you any particular programming advice. Rest assured there are plenty of methods out there. Take some time and find one that works for you.

    Stay strong, my friend!
    Marty and Steve Freides like this.

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