Wednesday – Pull Workout

  • Barbell Cheat Row  (w/ straps)
    • 275 lbs x 12 reps
    • 320 lbs x 12 reps
  • RDL (w/ straps)*
    • 325 lbs x 7 reps
    • 355 lbs x 5 reps
    • 405 lbs x 3 reps
  • Barbell Shrug (w/straps)
    • 560 lbs x 12 reps
  • Reverse Barbell Curl**
    • 45 lbs, 2 sets x 12 reps
  • Barbell Cheat Curl
    • 145 lbs x 7 reps
  • Double Overhand Isometric Hold
    • 275 lbs x 12 sec
    • 335 lbs x 12 sec

Comments:

* The first set of Romanian deadlifts felt relatively easy to lower the bar below my knees while keeping my back straight. On the second set I was able to lower the bar below my knees but my back began to round out a little. The last set was almost too heavy for me at this point in time. I could only lower the bar down to the knees.

** I decided to do reverse curl before cheat curl in order to warm up the biceps. I was worried that it might fatigue my grip but it had no negative impact on my ability to bicep curl and made an excellent warm up.

Tuesday – Push Workout

  • Box Front Squat (12″ box)
    • 205 lbs x 3 reps
    • 240 lbs x 3 reps
  • Partial Rep Front Squat
    • 330 lbs x 12 reps
  • Bench Press
    • 205 lbs x 3 reps
    • 240 lbs x 3 reps*
  • Skull Crusher
    • 65 lbs x 20 reps
    • 95 lbs x 15 reps
    • 115 lbs x 7 reps
  • Barbell Front Lateral Raise
    • 45 lbs, 2 sets x 12 reps

Comments:

* I failed on the third rep but struggled at the sticking point for about 3 seconds which completely exhausted my chest. As a result I didn’t do partial rep bench press or seated half press today.

Monday – Pull Workout

  • Barbell Row (w/o straps)
    • 135 lbs x 12 reps
    • 205 lbs x 7 reps
    • 225 lbs x 7 reps
    • 235 lbs x 7 reps
  • Rack Pull (w/ straps)
    • 430 lbs x 7 reps (2nd pin, below knee)
  • Barbell Shrug (w/straps)
    • 550 lbs x 12 reps
  • Barbell Cheat Curl
    • 140 lbs x 7 reps
  • Double Overhand Isometric Hold
    • 275 lbs x 12 sec
    • 335 lbs x 12 sec
  • Reverse Barbell Curl
    • 45 lbs, 2 sets x 12 reps

Get a Grip on Your Back Training

franco-columbu-deadlift-grip

I have been training back with straps for awhile and decided it is time to do some grip training. With straps I was able to build a bigger back and increased the amount I can lift in every back movement. For example, if you can handle 275 lbs in the barbell cheat row for several reps you should be able to handle around 425 lbs for the same amount of reps with straps.

This gap in strength isn’t a result of weak forearms or lack of grip strength but is rather the product of a strength increase made from pulling heavier weights that normally couldn’t be lifted without the aid of straps. This fortunately caused all my pulling muscles (back, lats, traps, and biceps) to grow extensively while my forearms didn’t get trained.

Many powerlifters use this approach to develop their grip strength by working with straps until they reach a target weight; then they focus on building the grip to match what they can lift with straps. Building grip strength can be accomplished in a relatively short time frame whereas the target weight they are trying to lift can take years to accomplish; for example, the target weight in the deadlift.

Many powerlifters only deadlift heavy once a week in order to prevent burning out the central nervous system. Forearms are a small muscle group and can be trained frequently for an extended period of time without consequence. A powerlifter can bring up his grip strength in a matter of 6 months whereas building a substantially heavy deadlift can take years of dedicated training.

There are many ways to build grip strength; however, if your focus is a heavy deadlift or a big back then it makes more sense to take advantage of movements you already perform such as deadlifts, rack pulls, shrugs, and barbell rows.

For deadlifts and rack pulls, isometric lockouts can be done using a double overhand grip. When doing this activity remember the principles of specificity. If you are building your grip to match your 1 rep max deadlift with straps then there is no point performing isometric lockouts for extended durations. A heavier weight held for 12 seconds is more effective in developing the grip for his specific goal than using less weight and holding for 30 to 60 seconds.

Another method to build the grip is to use a double overhand grip without straps for barbell rows and shrugs if you have already trained with straps for an extended period of time. Try starting with about half the weight you normally can use with straps in these exercises gradually increasing the weight over an extended period of time.

Training the grip using these methods is more effective than using other auxiliary exercises that have little or nothing to do with your specific goal.

Get strong with straps first as grip is usually the weak link. Once your target goal in the deadlift, shrug, or barbell row has been met then lose the straps and use the strength you have acquired in these lifts to get a grip on your back training.

Attitude Adjustments

john-cena-attitude-adjustment

“Our attitudes propel us forward toward our victories or bog us down in defeat. They are the foothold beneath us in every step we take. They are what others see most about the personality within us; they describe us and define us, projecting the image we present to the world around us. Our attitudes make us rich or poor, happy or unhappy, fulfilled or incomplete. They are the single most determining factor in every action we will ever make. We and our attitudes are inextricably combined; we are our attitudes our attitudes are us.” – Shad Helmstetter

Thursday – Pull Workout

Comments:

* I wanted to add a new exercise to help develop my grip as I have been using straps for my back training for some time. I am pulling the weight from the rack at knee height and then performing an isometric hold at the top of the movement. I am hoping to increase this weight 5 lbs a workout until I have reached my short term goal of 405 lbs. I have previously done rack pulls from this height using straps with up to 500 lbs for reps.

It is also important to know how heavy this is. For example, John Cena uses 405 lbs for double overhand grip shrugs in his training. At 255 lbs, Cena is a seriously big, athletic dude. He can bench 486 lbs and squat 611 lbs. If 405 lbs is enough to challenge this monster than I will consider myself fn strong to be able to double overhand grip the same weight Cena can at my bodyweight of 175 lbs.