Saturday, February 27, 2021

GMB and Mindful Mover on Alternatives to Deadlift

Once upon a time, I had a barbell set and practiced the deadlift using the basic program prescribed in the book Power To The People by Pavel Tsatsouline.  This training program had only two exercises - the side press and the deadlift.  Pavel has always been a strong advocate of the deadlift.  Aside from training the lower back, this quote from the book describes the other muscles trained.:

You work your shoulder girdle, your traps, your biceps, your forearms and your grip. Also, for athletes from sports where hypertrophy in the legs is not recommended, the deadlift is a great exercise.

I eventually achieved a double-bodyweight deadlift.  My deadlifting days came to an end when I loaded up the bar a little heavier than I should have and forgot to press hard on the heels of my feet to stand up.  The pain in my back was immediate and intense enough to let me know that I did something wrong.  I consulted with the sports doctor who treated me for my shoulder injury and he recommended a spine specialist.  I went to the spine specialist and he recommended rest and light exercise.  While he did not give me a precise diagnosis, he did say I might have a disc issue at worst, but otherwise did not need surgery, which I took as good news.   Shortly after, I got rid of my barbell set when it was time to move out of my apartment.

During all this time between getting rid of the barbell set and getting the Isochain.  I had pondered what bodyweight exercises I could do as alternatives to the deadlift.  Al Kavadlo recommended four bodyweight exercises as alternatives: Bridge, Single Leg Deadlift, Pistol Squat, and Lever Holds .  I eventually learned and practiced all four exercises.  Without a barbell or an Isochain, I could not really test the effects of these four exercises on my deadlift strength. 

GMB has an article in which they state that there are no bodyweight exercises that can truly substitute for the deadlift or other barbell exercises, and then go on to elaborate this statement.  One key passage of the article is the description of the benefits of practicing the deadlift, listing the requirements for a strong deadlift, then listing bodyweight movements that would help you meet those requirements.  Perhaps another way of describing GMB's recommendations, in response to the question of what bodyweight exercises can serve as deadlift alternatives, is to practice bodyweight exercises that will deliver the same benefits as a deadlifts - those benefits being a strong grip, a strong back, etc. GMB acknowledges in this article that you won't gain the same strength in those areas as somebody who has worked up to a triple bodyweight deadlift, but you'll be stronger in those areas than someone who just sits around all day and doesn't do any exercise.

Around the same time that I saw the GMB article, I saw Mindful Mover's opinion of the Deadlift expressed in this Instagram post.   Their message seems to be different than GMB's.  It seems to be intended for people who have already achieved a double-bodyweight deadlift.  The message is that once this level of strength is achieved, it is no longer necessary to practice the deadlift, but instead practice Single Leg Squats, Nordic Leg Curls, and One Leg Back Extensions.  In response to a question about whether Single Leg Squats and Nordic Leg Curls can deliver the same benefits for lower back strength that the Deadlift does, their answer is yes, with Accommodating Resistance.  I saw in one the post replies that Phil of Mindful Mover practices the Single Leg Squat (that is, Pistol Squat) with a weighted vest, loaded with over 100 lbs of weight - maybe 120lbs?  I forgot.  Occasionally, he has a partner add her own bodyweight for extra load.  Anyway, they train the eccentric motion with the full load , then use hands (Accommodating Resistance) to assist in the concentric portion of the movement.  

Mindful Mover has a video on how to train the Nordic Leg Curl with Accommodating Resistance.  E3 Rehab has an informative article that does not mention Accommodating Resistance but does describe in detail how to set up for it.  Their view seems more balanced, in that they mention the barbell deadlift as an effective exercise for the hamstrings, yet cast the Nordic Leg Curl as the best exercise for preventing hamstring injury, rather than as an exercise that is superior to the deadlift in multiple aspects.

One other thing I learned from reading through that Instagram post and all the replies is that Mindful Mover no longer considers the Single Leg Deadlift to be essential for improving hamstring flexibility.  They now think that the Weighted Pike Stretch is all you need.   Hamstring flexibility is not a super high priority for me right now, but I'll keep this in mind for future reference.  I'm practicing the L-Hold progression as part of my Trifecta mobility sessions.  When I reach the full L-Hold/L-Sit then that exercise will become more of a hamstring stretch.  I also plan to try the Single Leg Romanian Deadlift on the Isochain at some point, even if Mindful Mover no longer favors the dynamic version of this exercise for hamstring mobility.

It was  interesting to see what GMB and Mindful Mover think about how people who desire the benefits of deadlifting but are unable to deadlift for whatever reason, be it lack of access to a barbell or something else.  I don't plan to drop the Deadlift from my exercise menu anytime soon.  It's just too quick and convenient to practice with the Isochain.  My Deadlift training on the Isochain takes 6 seconds per rep = up to 36 sec. total, plus 100 seconds total rest time between reps, plus 30 sec. rest between Deadlift warmup sets and the start of work sets, plus about 60 sec. total for the warmup sets = 266 seconds or 4 minutes and 26 seconds.  This is so little training time that it makes no sense to me to drop this exercise to save time.

One possible next routine after the 6-8 weeks with Promethean Mk II are up, is the combined Isochain-bodyweight routine that appears in the manual as "Option C".  One of those dynamic exercises is... single-leg squats!   The routine will let me continue building absolute strength with the Isochain.  As GMB states, while pure bodyweight exercises can make a person very strong, these exercises cannot compete with weight training at loads of double-bodyweight or higher, for developing the greatest humanly possible strength.  This routine would let me improve my mobility, motor control, and balance by including single-leg squat, while also letting me continue building my overall strength by including the Deadlift, Zercher Squat, etc. as Isochain drills.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II - Week 3

For the first session, I really focused on performing the Reverse Curl and Deadlift with a strong grip.  The golfer's elbow is unforgiving when I let my grip slip in the Deadlift.  I've no doubt this affects my Deadlift performance but I'd rather get by with less than maximal effort in that drill if I can avoid aggravating the golfer's elbow.  My Reverse Curl .

I wanted to see if my elbow could handle Front Lever and pullup training, so I set up my nice wooden rings.  Front Lever is doable with strict attention to keeping the grip pronated. I cannot allow my palms to face each other. Pullups at full bodyweight load is problematic, even with pronated grip. Pullups with feet on the floor to reduce the load is doable. While I want to try one of the mixed Isochain and bodyweight training programs from the manual, I haven't decided yet on whether to go with Option A which is all-isometric, or Option C which is mostly isometric but also incorporates one dynamic exercise each training day.

The results for this week:

Shoulder Press (high angle) - Finished with target load of 30 lbs, with max reading of 38.8.  I'll do one more session at this target load because I felt the effort going by GMB's Ease Scale, was still challenging.

Reverse Curl (medium angle) - Finished with target load of 25 lbs. Progress appears to be stalled from a numbers perspective with the max was still in the low 30.  On the other hand, my grip feels stronger.   What frustrates me about the Reverse Curl is the force readings are dependent on the angle of the bar with respect to the chain, because the force sensors are inside the bar.  The force readings for all the Isochain exercises depend on the bar to chain angle, but the Reverse Curl is particularly unforgiving.  I'll try dropping the target load to 20 lbs next week.

Deadift (high angle) - Finished with target load of 150 lbs, with max reading of 199.2.  The max reading is down quite a bit due to only applying as much force as my grip can handle.  If my hand starts to open up, my elbow will hurt, so I'm only applying as much pressure as I can while still maintaining a tight squeeze on the bar.

Chest Press - Finished with target load of 25 lbs, with max reading of 39.2.  This is an improvement over last week, but my technique is not consistent so I will do one more session with the 25lb. target load.

Bent Row (medium angle) - Finished with target load of 92 lbs, with max reading of 92.4. As with the deadlift, I only apply as much pressure as I can while still maintaining a tight squeeze on the bar..

Zercher Squat (high angle) - Finished with target load of 130 lbs, with max reading of 183.4.   I need to work on performing this drill with the arms a little wider apart so that the shoulders are less likely to be pulled forward.  Otherwise, progress remains steady.

I have some other thoughts on Golfer's Elbow and alternatives to Deadlift, which will be addressed in separate posts.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Sunday, February 21, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II - Week 2

Starting this week, I worked on sustaining my force all the way to the end of the timer, when I use the Isochain in Timer mode.  When my force reaches the target load in Timer mode, the Isochain bar beeps with a certain tone, then beeps once for each second that I sustain the force.  When I reach the end of the timed interval, which by default is six seconds, the bar emits a longer tone to signal the end.   I have had a tendency to relax my body as soon as I hear that tone.  Instead, I should continue applying force until the end of the long tone, to ensure that I have applied effort for the full six seconds.

Shoulder Press (high angle) - Finished with target load of 25 lbs, with max reading of 40. I seem to be able to generate more force at the high angle with a narrower grip - about the same as what I used for the low angle. I've been trying a wider grip but have not been able to exert as much force with the wider grip.

Reverse Curl (medium angle) - Finished with target load of 25 lbs, with max reading of 31. Not much change from last week. Just have to keep working at it, particularly squeezing the bar with a tight grip.

Deadift (high angle) - Finished with target load of 145 lbs, with max reading of 247.2. When I practiced brachial hanging, I developed the habit of gripping the bar loosely, so that the middle and proximal phalanges of my hands would be resting on top of the bar and my thumbs would not wrap around the bar. This habit carried over to how I grip the Isochain bar for deadlifts. My golfer's elbow - if this is indeed what I am suffering - is aggravated when I attempt a deadlift with this loose grip. It seems that the fix is to wrap the thumb around the bar and squeeze the bar hard. Thus I have slowed down my progress on this drill by incrementing the load 5lbs instead of 10 lbs, because at this time it's more important to work on that strong grip than it is to work on setting a new PR.

Chest Press - Finished with target load of 20 lbs, with max reading of 28.2. I was puzzled as to why hit a max of 47.6 last week, yet have been unable to push anywhere close to that this week. I realized it was because I was forgetting to protract the scapula. The serratus anterior is the muscle group that protracts the scapula, and amplfies pressing strength when activated. So later in the day, I attempted another chest press on the Isochain, this time with protracted scapula, and got a max reading of 41 lbs.  I hope I can remember to protract the scapula on my next full training session with this drill.

Bent Row (medium angle) - Finished with target load of 75 lbs, with max reading of 135. As with the deadlift, while the numbers are better than last week, grip is a concern because aggravating the golfer's elbow ia s risk here too. Also, I felt a bit of irritation in the shoulder. I realized I was pulling the bar towards my stomach, which was a habit I got from practicing tuck front lever rows. The shoulders and scapula feel more stable when I pull towards my sternum instead.

Zercher Squat (high angle) - Finished with target load of 110 lbs, with max reading of 180.5.   Progress seems to be going smoothly with this drill.

My body seems to love doing Bridges, so I started incorporating the Bridge hold into my warmup routine.  I do one hold for as long as I'm comfortable - so no tests of endurance - for 18-20 seconds - before proceeding to Crab Walk and Bear Walk to finish the general warmup.  

For the Friday session, I tried Twist Hold from the Trifecta after Isochain training, before beginning the cooldown routine.  This felt mostly good, except I need to make sure I don't let the shoulder travel out of its socket.  I've progressed enough to start working with a towel or cloth for assistance.  I first tried using a towel a couple of months ago, but I felt I was straining too hard and was concerned about triggering a back spasm or a hernia.  I've been working on practicing the Twist Hold with smooth breathing and gently increasing the stretch without straining.  The Convict Conditioning 2 book suggests practicing until the back of the hand, on the arm pulling against the vertical leg, can touch the instep, before moving on to using the towel to help pull the hands together.  I'll probably go back and forth between working on twisting the arm to get the back of the palm closer to the instep, and working with towel assistance.

Shoveling snow aggravated my golfer's elbow.  I understand this could have been avoided if I knew how to shovel with 6H techniques, but unfortunately I'm not advanced enough.  From what I understand, the technique involves loading the front foot, using reverse breath to "inflate the suit" and thus stretch the side of the body that needs to be pre-stretched, then release with weight transfer to the back foot.  From what I recall, there are two basic motions for "pole-shaking" training with a waxwood spear or a long nylon rod.  The forward motion is loading the rear foot then releasing to the front foot so that the pole is driving downwards.  The backward motion is probably the one for shoveling, because the pole would be driving upwards.    I haven't done much pole-shaking.  I don't want to order a nylon pole until my golfer's elbow condition has improved, because I don't know what working with the pole is going to do to my elbow.

Friday, February 19, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II: Week 1

I don't know for sure if I have golfer's elbow in my left arm, but the Mayo Clinic's description seems to match.  It's not a constant pain.  I feel it when my left palm is facing the right as I apply pressure, like when I wash my hands.  Fortunately, I don't feel it when I play my guitars with the lowest action, like the Breedlove Discovery Concert nylon-string or my Fender electrics.  

I found that the way to eliminate risk of aggravating the golfer's elbow during the Deadlift on Isochain is to squeeze harder with my thumb.  I don't know exactly how this works, but the action of squeezing harder with the thumb seems to prevent the golfer's elbow pain as I exert maximal effort on the Deadlift.

For first half of Week 1, I ran the 1-Rep Max protocol to set the 1-Rep Max values for the Day 1 and Day 2 drills. For the second half, I practiced my first regular training sessions for these drills, with target loads set to about 50% of the recorded 1-Rep Max loads. Not really much data to see for just one session for each set of drills, but for what it's worth, here are the results:

Shoulder Press (high angle) - Trained with target load of 25 lbs, with max reading of 38.6.

Reverse Curl (medium angle) - Trained with target load of 20 lbs, with max reading of 30.4

Deadift (high angle) - Trained with target load of 130 lbs, with max reading of 239.2

Chest Press - Trained with target load of 20 lbs, with max reading of 47.6.

Bent Row (medium angle) - Trained with target load of 65 lbs, with max reading of 103.

Zercher Squat (high angle) - Trained with target load of 90 lbs, with max reading of 150.

I think it's a solid start for the new routine.  The Chest Press is the Isochain drill that is the most dependent on technique to properly execute.   The first trick is to find a good height for the bar, which should be around sternum height.  If it is too high, it will feel too much like the Shoulder Press.  If it is too low, it's more difficult to get the proper feeling.  The Ultimate Isometrics Manual says it should feel like being iat the bottom position of a bench press.  The funny thing is, I've never done a real barbell bench press, because it typically requires a spotter.  I've only used the plate-loading machines that were supposed to simulate a bench press.  Anyway, the next trick after that is to hold the bar as close as possible to the sternum.  Next after that is to grip the bar with a wide enough grip, then flex the pectoral muscles before ramping up the pressure on the bar, which cues you to use your chest to power the press - hence the name of the drill.  A final trick is to pull the scapula down, then protract them (spread them apart).  This scapula action further reduces the involvement of the shoulders and fires up the chest even more, as it is the serratus anterior muscle in the chest that protracts the scapula.

I'm starting to observe results from practicing the technique for the Chest Press instead of just blindly straining at the bar.  The max force reading of 47.6 lbs is quite a bit higher than my 1-Rep Max score for this drill, which was 36.1 lbs.

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II - Day 2

As planned, I ran the 1-Rep Max Protocol for the Day 2 drills for my Modified Promethean Mark II program. These are the results in pounds:

High-angle Zercher Squat: 184.5, Single-attempt max: 194.2
Medium-Angle Bent Row: 127.3, Single-attempt max: 131.6
Chest Press: 36.1, Single-attempt max: 37.4

Unlike the Day 1 drills, I have not practiced these drills before so I had no expectations for the numbers.   My first max attempt on the Zercher Squat was a bit tentative because I wasn't fully confident that my back would hold up, despite stacking the odds in my favor by going for the high angle, ensuring that my torso was upright, and tucking my butt to the rear.  I applied a bit more force with each successive attempt. Perhaps I could have cracked 200 lbs. if I applied as much force as I did on my last Deadlift attempt yesterday but I didn't want to take the chance.  My back felt fine during all three Zercher Squat attempts but it was the lack of familiarity that made me cautious.  I viewed today's test more as a means of setting my starting target load values for this program, than a test of my true strength.

It will take a while to develop good technique for Chest Press.  The manual says the first trick is to set the bar at a good height, about the level of the sternum, so that the pectorals can be engaged more than the shoulders.  Next is to get the bar as close as possible to the chest.  Then, tense the pecs to ensure they're activated and use them to push the bar both up and outward, so that it feels like the bottom of a bench press.  I found a wide grip helps activate the pecs.  I've accepted that my performance in this drill will be weak until I get the technique down.

Monday, February 08, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II - Day 1

As planned, I ran the 1-Rep Max Protocol for the Day 1 drills for my Modified Promethean Mark II program. These are the results in pounds:

High-angle Deadlift: 265, Single-attempt max: 287.2
Medium-Angle Reverse Curl: 38, Single-attempt max: 39
High-angle Shoulder Press: 49, Single-attempt max: 50.2

The numbers for Reverse Curl was what I expected.  My Shoulder Press tested about 10 lbs. higher than I anticipated, based on my performance at the low angle in the previous program, and what I recall of struggling at the high angle position.  

I'm finding that the Shoulder Press at the higher angle is more optimal with my hands a little further apart than they were for the low angle.  There's a sweet spot where I can generate the most force, when I protract the scapula.  If the hands are closer together than that sweet spot, the elbows start to want to flare out and the wrists start feeling awkward.  If the hands are further apart, there is a dropoff in force production and scapula protraction gets less effective for preventing shoulder discomfort.

The biggest surprise was the Deadlift.  Before I switched from Deadlift to Hack Lift, the highest reading I recall seeing was around 180 lbs.  I thought that Hack Lift would hit enough of the same areas in my posterior chain enough to see improvement in the Deadift, but I didn't anticipate this kind of jump.

An article that hinted at carryover from Hack Lift to Deadlift:

Hack Lift Pros and Cons

Isochain Modified Promethean Mark II Planning

This is my modified version of the Promethean Mark II program from the Ultimate Isometrics Manual, which I am planning to follow for 8 weeks.

Modified Promethean Mark II
Day 1 - High-angle Deadlift, Medium-Angle Reverse Curl, High-angle Shoulder Press
Day 2 - High-Angle Zercher Squat, Medium-Angle Bent Row, Chest Press
Day 3 - Off

Today I tried out Isochain positions for the selected drills at the desired angles, and added color-coded tags to the chain to mark the positions. if the tags were not already there.  I also tested the Max readings in Feedback Mode because I had overlooked that the Max button works in Feedback mode so I wanted to make sure that it works for the 1-Rep Max testing sessions that I will be using to set the official 1-rep Max values for each of the 6 drills for Promethean Mark II.

The Day 1 exercises are mostly the same as in the manual, except for Reverse Curl, which I have substituted for Curl because of soreness in my inner elbow that is aggravated by Curl.  I'd been working at the high angle for Reverse Curl so it made sense to switch back to a medium angle.  I experimented with positioning the bar so that it is vertically above the base plate, versus positioning the bar a little further in front of me so that the elbows are in line with my torso, resulting in the chain being at an angle to the base plate instead of vertical.  I found that the Isochain measured a greater Reverse Curl force with the elbows in line with the torso, instead of the elbows behind for a vertical chain.  I went with high-angle Deadlift because it's the least stress to the lower back, and it engages the abs the most.  I chose high-angle Shoulder Press because it's more comfortable than medium-angle, and I'd been working so much with low-angle already.  

The Day 2 drill selection is also mostly the same as in the manual, with Zercher Squat substituted for Front Squat, based on the benefits described by Christian Thibideau.  The high angle seems to engage the abs the most. 

Maybe it wasn't smart to go for some max force readings on the very next day after a serious Isochain session.  But it was fun.

Saturday, February 06, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Week 5

Shoulder Press - Started Week 5 completing 4 reps of 6-sec. holds at a target of 65lbs, which is an improvement over the end of Week 4 when I managed only one full 6-sec. hold out of 4 reps.  Finished the week with 5 reps at a target of 65 lbs with a max reading of just over 70lbs.

Reverse Curl - Finished at a working load of 30 lbs, with a max reading around the 40 lb. range.  The week began with a max reading of 44.4 lbs, which is a new unofficial PR for me.

Hack Lift - Finished at a working load of 190lbs, with a max reading around 215 lbs.  Week 4 ended with the 190lb session feeling hard and barely achievable.  Week 5 started with 190lbs still requiring effort, but feeling easier to achieve, with a max reading back in the low 240 lb. range.  Finished the week with 6 reps at 190lbs with a max reading of 266lbs.

I'm pretty decent now at breathing steadily while practicing Hack Lift.   Not holding my breath while practicing Reverse Curl or Shoulder Press has been a challenge but I'm getting better.  Whole-body isometric contraction raises blood pressure quite a bit, so the Ultimate Isometrics Manual advises not using the Valsalva Maneuver - which is basically exhaling while holding the breath to maintain internal pressure - on top of that.  Valsalva Maneuver is ok for moving exercise because the extra tension it generates is only needed for a second or two.  On the other hand, the Promethean program has you holding muscular contraction for as much as 6 seconds.

Reviewing my training logs, I realized I've been training under the Promethean program for 2 months, when I combine my time under the book version of Promethean with time under my modified version of Promethean.  Earlier in the week, I thought of going for a 6th week under modified Promethean.  After today's session, I decided to go ahead and switch to my modified Promethean Mark II program next week.   I'll post more about my planned modified Promethean Mark II program.

The Hack Lift is very friendly to my back.  With yet another unofficial PR achieved today with a max reading of 266 lbs. I could probably still make gains on this drill at the same angle.  However, I'm curious about possible carryover from Deadlift to Front Lever, so I'm switching to Deadlift, at a high angle for least risk to the low back.  I switched from about medium angle to high angle on Reverse Curl in the middle of modified Promethean so I'll try a full 8-week cycle with high-angle Reverse Curl.  My shoulder health has improved enough that I can position my arms at medium angle for Shoulder Press - empty-handed anyway.  There's still some irritation with the weight of the Isochain bar in my hands at the medium angle, so I'll go with high-angle Shoulder Press. 

The soreness in the pinky side of my elbow has subsided a bit.  From GMB's elbow pain article, I tried the grip hold on a towel, but quickly decided it wasn't for me, because it's the same side as my still-recovering shoulder.  I bailed on the exercise as soon as I started to feel irritation in the shoulder.  I then tried Band Elbow Flexion, which is basically a negative hammer curl.  I did a couple of sets and that felt fine.  I didn't try the exercise anymore after that day because I wasn't sure how it would impact Reverse Curl performance, and the elbow has continued to improve without further practice of the Band Elbow Flexion.  I found another article that proposes a Blitzkrieg program for elbow pain.  I haven't tried this yet but I'm logging it here just in case.  The author mentions training grip extensors but the article doesn't mention any specific exercises.  I have a set of Expand Your Hand bands from Ironmind and have been using those for occasional extensor training.


Monday, February 01, 2021

Isochain Modified Promethean Week 4

Shoulder Press - Finished at working load of 65 lbs. My max reading for the last session was only 69 lbs. I managed to complete only one rep out of 4 with the timer counting all the way through.  I am not going to gain much more strength here without back-cycling or changing angle, which will also probably necessitate back cycling.

Reverse Curl - Finished at a working load of 30 lbs, with a max reading around the 40 lb. range.

Hack Lift - Finished at a working load of 190lbs, with a max reading around 215 lbs.

While Week 3 ended kind of weak, which I blame on improper warmup, Week 4 was off to a good start with a strong performance.  I breezed through 6 reps each of Hack Lift at 170 lbs. and Reverse Curl at 20 lbs.  My gains in the Shoulder Press is slowing down as indicated above.  Since I only have two more weeks to go, I will start Week 5 at 65 lbs. and just keep pushing through as best as I can, first just working on completing 4 reps with the timer counting all the way through to 6 seconds, then work towards 6 reps.

I continue to find details in Ultimate Isometrics Manual that I'd missed before.  This time, it was the guidance to apply as much force as possible on every rep.  Of course there should be a ramp-up period, but by the time the Timer beeps the end of the 6-second hold period, I should be applying as much force as I can, in order to maximize my strength gains.

I've been using a spreadsheet to log my Isochain force readings, track target loads, etc.  I added new columns to track the max force as recorded by Isochain after my last rep of a given drill.  I think it will be useful to help determine when strength gains are starting to slow down for a given drill.  For example, in the Shoulder Press, when I was working with a Target Load around the 40-50 lb range, Isochain was measuring a max of 84 lbs.  As my Target Load has increased, my max force has dropped.  I'm sure part of it is the energy expended to achieve a higher Target Load leaves less in the tank to produce a high max force.  As another example, I am unlikely to slow down in my Hack Lift gains, because while my Target Load has gone up, so has my max force readings.  About a couple of weeks ago when my Target Load was 160lbs, I hit a max of around 230 lbs.  At the end of a set at a target of 180 lbs, I hit a max of around 250 lbs which is even higher.     So, if I track my max readings every session, it will be easier to see if I'm still trending towards gains or if I'm trending towards a slowdown of gains, which would me it's time to plan for an adjustment such as a change of training angle or even changing the training program.

I've been trying to find a way to support the Isochain bar for the Front Squat, using the clean grip.  I just can't do it without irritating my still-recovering shoulder.  I also could not solve the problem of the bar putting pressure on my fingers or palms/wrists.  Cross-grip seems to work fine.  However, I  then remembered trying the Zercher Squat when I had a barbell.  I had enough flexibility to drop into a deep squat, put my arms under the barbell on the floor, then deadlift the barbell into position for the Zercher Squat.

Thus, for Modified Promethean Mk. II planning, I decided to swap out Front Squat for Zercher Squat. Supporting the Isochain bar in the crooks of my elbows for the Zercher Squat feels comfortable because the bar is thicker than my old barbell bar and coated with rubber.   Christian Thibaudeau covers the benefits and instructions for the Zercher Squat and Deadlift in this article.  He has another article in which he addresses common complaints about the Zercher Squat.  One big selling point of the Zercher Squat for me is the core works harder compared to the Front Squat.  Another selling point is that when you are carrying something heavy in front of you and squat - either to lift the heavy object, or set it down - it's pretty much the same movement as a Zercher Squat, which is why I've seen this exercise recommended by various coaches as a functional strength exercise for combat sports and strongman competition.  From what I'm reading, Zercher Squat training should lead to gains in core, upper back, and quad strength, which happen to be areas of strength required for the L-Sit, so I might get a "free" L-Sit out of this deal.

For my Modified Promethean Mk. II routine, I will likely continue on the same training path for Reverse Curl and Hack Lift after I finish the current Modified Promethean routine.   If my shoulder progresses to where I can raise the Isochain bar to the Middle angle of the Shoulder Press - where my upper arm is parallel to the floor - without any pain at all, then I may end Modified Promethean early and change to Modified Promethean Mk. II.   It's so tempting to change early because I feel like I'll be plateauing for a while on the Reverse Curl because I'm so weak at it, and I have the opposite situation with the Hack Lift where I might still have a lot of room left for gains.

Since I stopped attending classes at the dojo I haven't been working on my falling techniques.  I'll see about finding time to resume the practice.  GMB recently put up an article on how to fall.

Today's Music Discoveries