5 minute read
Sometimes the answer to your problem doesn’t lie in a wholesale change to program and form (probably rarely does). A lot of times, you just need to do incrementally more, and all those drops in a bucket add up to make a real change.
Here are some simple fixes, to common issues, that will allow you to train, and simply do more. Remember, your goal is to build intelligent programming to resurrect your body to lift heavy – here we’ll list why each idea helps – and how to incorporate.
Problem – your elbows hurt, a lot
Benching and low bar squatting multiple times in a week are pretty hard on the joints, particularly if you have bad shoulder/mid thoracic flexibility. The best way to make it worse is heavy tricep work.
The Fix: Increased blood flow and oxygen will decrease inflammation, let your body heal and generally make you feel less crap. Band tricep pushdowns are the key, for a million reps. Wrap a band around a chin bar (or something similar) – it should be pretty easy at the top, mildly hard at the bottom. Go to failure, do three sets of 30-100 reps. You’ll get a crapload of blood in the area, and generally feel a lot better
Problem – you have the upper body of a bulimic model
A lot of powerlifting programs have double the amount of volume for lower body than upper body. That’s just part of training for the big three. Many people end up looking like upper body weenies
The Fix: The ole fashion push-up. Hard enough to build volume, easy enough that it won't affect your lifts (too any great detriment). Do 30 every day. All the way down, touch your chest on the floor, all the way up. Do them slowly, two seconds either way. That’s 60 seconds under tension, that will make your chest, shoulders and tri’s look less weeny. Take a day off before you bench if this is making your sore.
Problem – you are fat (enough that if affect your ability to deadlift)
Ah, I see why you joined powerlifting – an excuse to have a beard and eat a lot. Being fat is a general health hazard, but if you are big enough you can’t conventional deadlift – that’s a big issue.
The Fix: Learning to deadlift with your legs spread to insert your belly is kinda ok, but not optimal. Clearly, you started PL because lifting is your preference for cardio – so here is the answer. One set of 40 squats every workout, working up to every day. If you don’t have OK cardio, you are going to have to work up to 40 squats, and it's going to make you very sweaty and annoyed. Just take your time, bang them out a few at a time, but don’t stop till you are at 40. You will be surprised how much your mobility will improve, and you will lower your BF% with this easy fix. Once you can do 40 regularly – you will be able to breathe far better and get into a better deadlift position
Problem – you have zero ankle flexibility (making your squats suck)
Almost everybody that starts squatting has bad ankle flexibility or uneven ankle flexibility. I guess modern humanity doesn’t have much need for loose ankles, but tight ankles will make you squat on your toes looking like a total noob.
The Fix: Seated calf raise is your new best friend. A couple of sets of 20-30 – nothing crazy heavy. Let is go all the way to the bottom, stretch your ankles, and SLOWLY come out of the bottom. You’ll stretch your ankles dynamically, and also get bigger calves
Problem – your shoulders are super tight from years of benching
Many powerlifters do little or no overhead training – and get shoulders that are crazy tight. Normal people can touch their bicep to their ear, most powerlifters can’t.
The Fix: Change your pulldowns to palms facing (not parallel or palms away). Grip pretty close, inside shoulder width. Get a BIG stretch at the top, really let your lats open up. Allow your shoulders to pull away. After each set, go hang off a chinning bar until your fall. Lat growth and stretch, while training for forearms, biceps, and grip. Win. Do it last on your deadlift day.
Hopefully, these practical tips can slide right into your program, and you will have one less problem in your life. Being strong is no reason to have shoulders rolled forward and feel like crap all the time. I actually do every one of the tips above and have no issue including them in my current programming. Every day when I get to the gym, I warm up on a rower, 40 squats, 30 pushups, grab a band, million tricep pushdowns – then I start whatever I’m doing for the day. It's really not that hard!
About the author
Andrew Jansen is the co-founder and a director of DBS Barbell.
He has competed in equipped and raw powerlifting, and in Strongman comps.
His current best lifts are raw 237.5kg squat, 172.5kg bench and 290kg deadlift at 105kg bodyweight.
You can find DBS on facebook.com/DBSBarbell or instagram.com/dbsbarbell/