Monday, February 28, 2022

Roland MC-707

In the half-year that passed, I ended up getting my own MC-707, even though I already owned the MC-101 which has the same Zen-Core sound engine and quite a bit of same sequencing functionality.   The money spent on the 707 could, after all, have gone instead to any of the newer, shinier synths out there.   Buying the 707 has proven to be the right call for me. Comments on various aspects:

Pads - I had to adjust the sensitivity because the pads seemed to require a little more velocity than I would like to trigger sounds. Even after adjustment, the synth still seems more responsive to MIDI velocity from my Arturia Keystep 37 than to velocity on the built-in pads. I find the pads most useful for sequence editing and auditioning drum sounds.

Synth Editing - Most commonly used settings such as Oscillator Type, Filter Cutoff, Amp stages, etc. are easy to find in the Easy Edit screen. However, some settings are less obvious like pages that require pressing the Func button to access. Unfortunately, none of the tutorial videos I could find on Youtube address how to map MIDI aftertouch and MIDI velocity to synth parameters, which to me seem like basic functions that any user who wants to use a keyboard controller would really want to know. After some trial and error, I figured out that SYS-CTRL2 defaults to MIDI aftertouch as a source - then I was able to map aftertouch to filter cutoff. Someday, hopefully in the near future, I will discover exactly where the information on what SYS-CTRL2 and other SYS-CTRL sources represent... is buried in the Reference Manual. What really gave me a devil of a time is figuring out where the MIDI Velocity setting are in the synth engine, because I wanted to add velocity-sensitivity to a particular preset, which had a sound I really liked but it was programmed to be full blast. I spent hours in the Matrix pages searching for them, testing different SYS-CTRL numbers in the belief that one of them would be velocity. I finally found the Velocity assignments, but they were not in the Matrix pages! They were actually in the Amp->Other section of the Partial Edit screens. This is the section where you set Velocity Curve and Velocity Sens for each of the 4 Partials. I made my changes there but the sound was still full-blast, unresponsive to velocity. I then figured out that I had to go to the Amp->Level section, where I saw that all 4 Partials had be maxed out to 127. I lowered these 4 values and, magically, the preset was suddenly velocity-sensitive.

Clip Grid - When I only had the MC-101, I had a lot of difficulty understanding how Clips are organized into Scenes and why others kept insisting that Scene Chaining was needed for a real song mode.  The MC-707's bigger display over the MC-101's stingy 2-line display proved to be the difference maker. In the MC-707, I have a much easier time seeing what Clips are under which Track, and what Clips have been selected when I save them to a Scene. As noted in the original review, in the MC-707's clip grid display, colunms represent Tracks, and rows represent the Clips for each Track and the default order in which they may be played. Also as noted in the original review, you can select any combination of Clips, as long as they're from different Tracks, and save them into a Scene - and the Clips do not have to be on the same row. I found all of this difficult to see on the MC-101's stingy little 2-line display. Thanks to the MC-707's bigger display, I was finally able to see and understand why Scene Chaining is so critical for "song mode", and Clip Chaining, while a nice update, was not adequate. I believe at the time of the original review, there were only 8 Scenes allowed, which would have limited "song mode" on this machine. Thanks to latest round of OS updates, you have multiple banks of Scenes for a total of 128 Scenes.

Preset Sounds - As previously noted, MC-707 comes with a generous selection - 3000+ Tones, 80+ Drum Kits - of sound presets, organized by category. My MC-101 purchase coincided with a Roland promo that gave me 1 year of Roland Cloud and Zenology Pro subscription for free. I never got around to messing with Zenology Pro for sound design as I'm not really a sound design freak, but I did grab about all the MC-101/707 Zen-Core Sound Packs that were available during this subscription period. After the subscription expired, Roland has continued to pump out new Sound Packs at a steady rate, so I bought some for 99 cents each, which is a steal because even if I use only 1 preset per pack in actual music, I still get a lot of educational value from studying the presets in the synth editor. Anyway, if you like Roland rompler tones, you'll probably like the PCM-based tones on this machine. If you prefer certain sample-based tones Yamaha or Korg romplers, then I'm not sure these tones will sway you. The VA tones sound excellent to me, although as noted previously, this too is subjective. Among the offical Sound Packs, my favorites are Ambient Pads, Ancient Discovery, Cinematic Beds, Modular Grooves, and The Drones. One caveat is that you can only save your user-edited sounds as part of the Project. So I will have to figure out a way to share my user sounds between Projects.

Sequencing - So far I have only created simple patterns as part of the learning process, not having gone as deep as the original reviewer. There are some interesting tricks for introducing pattern variation in real-time without using Scatter, such as manipulating First Step and Last Step parameters, and Step Jumps. Recent updates introduced Count-In, which is very welcome! When the metronome is turned on, however, it is freaking loud, and there is no obvious way to turn it down. I'm sure the setting is just one button combo away - Shift plus another button or something like that.

Effects - There is one Effect slot per Track, with a choice of about 90 different effects. The rest of the effects live at the Project level, affecting all Tracks, and referred to as "Total Effects" in the manual. These are Reverb, Chorus/Delay, MultiFX, Compressor, and EQ. You can really only select one effect at a time for MultiFX - I guess the "multi" refers to the choice of multiple effect types not covered under the other 4 Total Effects, such as Multi-Mode Filter and distortion. At the Track level, you have Delay Send and Reverb Send settings.

Various extra comments:

Project Naming - I like how this is implemented. C1 moves the cursor left-right. C2 switches capitalization. C3 moves the character wheel.

I did not find a 4-note polyphony limitation for Tone Tracks. I was able to enter 5-note chords just fine for a Tone Track. I also tried playing a 10-note chord - all 10 notes were played just fine. I have read there are voice-stealing settings, which are needed when polyphony-eating synth settings are used, as noted in the original review.

Easy vs. Partial Edit may be confusing, but having both modes made it possible for me to assign aftertouch to Level in Easy Mode, then switch to Partial Edit for Partial 2, and assign aftertouch to LFO1 Rate, so that aftertouch raises LFO1 Rate only for Partial 2 and also boosts the volume for swells. At first, I had aftertouch modulating LFO1 Rate for all 4 partials. In this preset, LFO1 modulates Amp. Amp being modulated for all 4 partials sounded a bit too intense for me. Having it modulate Amp only for one of the 4 Partials was more to my liking.

Friday, February 25, 2022

Hybrid GSCARVE: Week 2

Monday was a holiday. If it was a normal workday, I would have done the Leg session. However, I slept in a little late, and decided to skip training so I could shop at the grocery, eat lunch, and spend the majority of the day practicing on guitar, in preparation for a guitar-focused virtual teaching summit that I'm thinking of attending this weekend. Most of the practice time was devoted to Sean McGowan's arrangement of Have You Met Miss Jones, for solo fingerstyle guitar, which is a mix of single-note lines and chordal passages. I also practiced some riffs from Chapter 5 Grooves, from the Neo-Soul Guitar Book, because rhythm guitar is part of guitar playing and I don't want to neglect that aspect. I was able to get in a fair amount of practice until the Golfer's Elbow area started to feel sore - once that happened, I put the guitar away, because I don't want a full-blown flare up again.

For Tuesday, I warmed up with closed-chain elbow rotations, then played with Twisting Bear, Crab, and Twisting Bear to Crab transitions as shown in GMB's Shoulder Prehab article. My shoulder recovery progressed well in 2021, thanks to high-effort Shoulder Press on the Isochain, but I believe the GMB Elements practice that I did on my recovery days also helped. A lot of the Elements sessions featured Twisting Bear and Crab. I also practiced those two movements, among other Elements moves, as part of the shell warmup for Isochain training. What was new to me in the GMB article was the focus on internal-external shoulder rotation in Twisting Bear, as well as incorporating shoulder movement into closed-chain elbow rotation.

In the Wednesday session, I struggled again with the concentric phase of the Pike Pushup, in particular, shifting my weight away from my hands when I get stuck on the way back up. I set the P-Barz a little too far from the chairs for my first set. I moved the P-Barz closer for subsequent sets but I still could not figure out how to shift my weight back. On the bright side, even with the sloppy performance of the concentric, I still got a good workout on the eccentric, even having some fun letting the feet float a bit. The ideal form is for the hips to be above the shoulders and I got pretty close.

The reps I did for my pull up sets were: 8, 7, 6, 6. Thus I did 4 antagonist pair (pike pushup and pull up) sets, with 3 min. rest between each exercise.

Later in the afternoon, I got into pike pushup position and lowered myself to try to figure out how to shift my weight away from my hands when I get stuck on the concentric. I figured out that I need to pull my hips back. Hopefully on the next session, I won't forget to to shift the weight back to my hands as leverage makes the load feel light again, on the last quarter of the concentric movement.

I did a GMB Recovery session on Thursday. Apparently, GMB updated the Recovery program with more total sessions. When I logged onto the GMB site and selected the Recovery program, I was taken to the very first session in the program, which introduced the Iquana Walk and hand-assisted backward walk to Squat. I don't mind restarting Recovery. My only issue with Recovery is I keep forgetting to look for the lacross ball that I bought for the self-massage drill in the program.

For Leg session on Friday, I did 4 antagonist pair sets of assisted pistol squats and suspension hip hinges - which are also called "hip extensions" on the Red Delta Project Youtube channel. The rep numbers:

Assisted pistol squat: 3 3 3 4
Suspension hip hinge: 8 8 8 10

I applied the Backfill strategy taught by Red Delta Project, to spread out the reps more evenly from set to set. This looks like an improvement over how I did calisthenic exercise two years ago, which would be to push the reps for the first set, then do the rest of the workout with a significant reduction in reps for subsequent sets because I had expended too much for that first set.

Some Instagram finds:
J-Curl variations
Using Monkey to work on tuck planche, bent-arm stand, and other skills
Example preparatory movements for single-leg squats

Saturday, February 19, 2022

Hybrid GSCARVE: Week 1

This was the first week of my new exercise program, which I call Hybrid GSCARVE (Grind Style Calisthenics-Accommodating Resistance Vertical Emphasis). It combines ideas from the Grind Style Calisthenics method taught on the Red Delta Project Youtube channel and Mindful Mover's adaptation of Accommodating Resistance to calisthenics. I'll use GSC's Tension, Stability, Strength, and Finisher phases for my leg training. The Mindful Mover influence will be in the application of Accommodating Resistance to pike pushups and the exercise selection. Almost all execises are from the Mindful Mover Big 5, which have been found to deliver free gains in many other exercises.

The schedule will be:
  • Monday - Leg (Pistol Squat and Hip Extension)
  • Tuesday - GMB Elements
  • Wednesday - Vertical Upper Body (Pike Pushup and Pull Ups)
  • Thursday - GMB Elements
  • Friday - Leg
The Leg sessions will be GSC-style, using the NOSSK suspension trainer. Since I am not strong enough to do Pistol Squat with additional weight, I won't be doing the Leg sessions with Accommodating Resistance. I'll see how I progress with 2 Leg sessions a week. For ths program, I want to emphasize vertical push-pull for my upper body, so I selected Pike Pushup and Pull Up for my push-pull pair, with 3 minute rest per Mindful Mover's recommendation for antagonistic movements. I will be applying Accommodating Resistance to the Pike Pushup, so one Upper Body session per week should be enough. I will play it safe by doing only 3 sets per strength exercise for the first 2 weeks, and then add sets depending on feel.

I rewatched this video, in which Matt of Red Delta Project shared his updates to Grind Style Calisthenics. One thing I missed from earlier viewings of the video, is the recommendation to not use the same exercise for both the Strength and Finisher phases of GSC. For example, if you were doing pull ups for your Strength phase, doing an easier pull up variation for the Finisher phase is not recommended. What he recommends instead is to choose a different exercise, for your Finisher phase, that works the same tension chain as your Strength phase exercise. So if you did pull ups for Strength, do a row variation instead of pull ups for Finisher. The idea is change enough variables - bilateral vs. unilateral work, angle, cadence - to flood your system with new information. I'm not really keen on adding yet more muscle mass to my already large - for my size - thighs, so I will skip Finisher for my leg sessions. In my Upper Body sessions, I will do drop sets of push ups on the NOSSK, as the Finisher for the Pike Pushup; and drop sets of rows on the NOSSK as the finsher for Pull Ups. I believe I saw a post from Mindful Mover somewhere recommending being able to do a set of 10 pull ups before beginning training with Mixed Grip Chin Ups, which is the next exercise in the progression towards One-Arm Chin Up. If I do progress to Mixed-Grip Chin Up training, I probably won't do a pull-chain Finisher, because I don't want to risk a flareup of Golfer's Elbow but I'll see how it goes.

I also rewatched the RDP video on why Matt prefers close grip for pull ups. The reasons sound pretty good to me, and I am all for anything that is easier on the joints.

The Monday session went fine for a first Legs session. The first set of pistols required a lot of effort and were a bit sloppy, which was not a total surprise as I hadn't done pistols in almost 2 years. The 2nd and 3rd sets were better, because I increased the amount of assistance from the NOSSK, while trying to be mindful of not taking too much load away from the working leg.  The hip extensions were about 6 reps per set. For finisher, I did a set of walking prisoner lunges, then a set of close squats, then a set of regular bodyweight squats. The legs, especially the quads were hit by DOMS (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness) lasting several days.

The GMB Elements session for Tuesday focused on Baby Frogger and Bear to Crab transition. I did not try too hard to achieve Baby Frogger stalls, which are practically a Tuck Planche, as I had the heavy upper body session scheduled the very next day.
The Wednesday session was also fun and interesting. I set up the P-Barz parallettes in front of two armless chairs facing each other for the Pike Pushups, with the idea of putting my knees on the chairs, as that is the easiest variation shown in Mindful Mover's pike pushup video. My main fear that I had to overcome, was that I might drop too fast into the bottom of the pike pushup, and somehow hit my head on the floor. This fear went away with I did my first rep, and felt like I was in good control of the movement. In fact, the movement felt too easy. Also, the chairs started sliding because the legs have sliders on them to prevent scratching the hardwood floor. So I paused to move the chairs next to the wall to stop them from sliding, and finished the set trying to keep the feet instead of the knees on the chairs. The pike pushup felt too easy with my knees on the chairs, so I tried to shift my weight to my feet, when I needed to shift weight away from my hands. I was surprised to see my feet floating in the air, even for just a second or two, when I was in the bottom of the pike pushups. From the bottom position, when I started grinding the concentric, I kind of got stuck when I tried to shift my weight to my feet, to reduce the load from my hand just enough to continue the concentric. The problem was my hamstrings were not flexible enough to let my legs extend the feet to the chairs with enough leverage to take the load. Thus I ended up falling to my knees for a bit, before I got high enough in the pike pushup to shift more of the load back to the hands and get the knees off the chairs. So next time, I'll try setting up the P-Barz further away from the chairs, so that the angle of my legs to my torso will be greater, and thus tight hamstrings should be less likely to stop my legs from extending and applying pressure to the feet when I need to shift weight there.

It was a fun first pike push-up session AR, despite the hiccups. It's always more fun when you discover you're stronger than you thought you would be, after more than a year passing since the last time you did full-range pike push-ups, with the shoulders going down to the height of your hands. I finished my latest Isochain session with my 1-rep max in the Shoulder Press just under half bodyweight, so I did not think I would be this far up the pike pushup to handstand pushup progression. However, I did not account for my overhead pressing strength being greater at the lowest position of the Shoulder Press, which is also the lowest position of the pike pushup.

The pull-up session also went better than expected, despite not practicing pull-ups in a year. I got nowhere close to 8 pull-ups in one set last year, partly because the Golfer's Elbow bothered me more and my shoulder was not feeling that great. I felt the Golfer's Elbow a little this time around, but for most part, I was able to do the pull-ups without any pain as long as I focused on initiating the pull from between the shoulder blades and allowing the palms to turn with the movement.

By Thursday, I had upper body DOMS from the Wednesday session, as well as some lingering leg/glute DOMS from the Monday session. So, I decided to do a GMB Recovery session, instead of GMB Elements.

For the Friday leg session, I went lighter, by using more NOSSK assistance for the pistol squats and setting the foot slings lower for the hip extensions. I did 3 antagonist pair sets, and 4 pistol squat reps and 8 hip extension reps per set. For the Finisher phase, I tried a few reps of the plie and grand plie squats, from this ballet dancer exercises article. I tried them out of curiosity about how it feels to do those movements. My fitness goals are to achieve a handstand pushup, one-arm chin up, full planche push up, front lever row, and pistol squat with a 32kg kettlebell. I've had those goals since I saw B-Boy Junior flow into planche push ups with ease, saw Jackie Chan do handstand push ups, and learned about front lever and one-arm chin ups in the Dragondoor forum. Thus I bought into Mindful Mover's fitness methods when I realized their Big 5 matched my 5 goals. So, I don't know if those ballet dancer exercises are relevant to my goals. I might even get free gains from those exercises from Big 5 training and weighted mobility drills advocated by Mindful Mover, Tom Merrick and others. win a movie despite not being convinced I need to do them to reach my fitness goals.

In the afternoon, I tested myself a little to see if I would be comfortable with practicing pike pushups with the parallettes about 2 feet or more further away from the chair. I found I could indeed put enough of my weight onto my hands to move the feet back and forth on the chair. 2 years ago, I would have been shaking because working with this much weight on my hands was more difficult. I still have some DOMS from the Wednesday session but that's fine.

Monday, February 14, 2022

Isochain 6x6: Week 6

I got off to a late start for my Monday session so my warmup was just 14 bodyweight basic squats and about 30 or so wall pushups. The Ultimate Isometrics Manual recommends a 5-minute warmup to raise the body's shell temperature - the "shell" includes the skin and limbs - then drill-specific warmups. So far I've found that drill-specific warmups only seem to be necessary for 1-rep max test sessions and the Promethean program, so I have not been doing those for 6x6. I have however found that skimping on the shell warmup seems to compromise performance on the Isochain, and Monday was no exception. While the Jefferson Lift numbers were same as always, there was a drop in last-rep max numbers for Shoulder Press and Drag Curl.

In the afternoon, I tried some pull-ups to test my shoulder and elbow. The shoulder felt fine as long as I kept the scapulae depressed. The elbow did not feel good with supinated palms, as expected for Golfer's Elbow. Pull ups with pronated palms all the way felt somewhat ok with extra focus and effort on the back-driven torque technique taught on the Red Delta Project channel. Pull ups with pronated palms in the bottom position, and rotating the palms to face each other at the top, felt the best - I still need to use the torgue technique to keep pressure off of the elbow, but I don't have to pour as much effort into that technique - which seems counterintuitive because on the surface, the palms appear to rotate inward instead of outward. Yet, pronated palms with arms extended to neutral or supinated palms at the top of the pull up feels best to me, so I have go with what feels best, and least painful. The reason I tried the pull-ups was to test my readiness for switching next week to a calisthenics program that includes pull ups. I feel more confident about practicing pull-ups again.

I finished the week with stronger performances in all 3 drills. I decided to end the 6x6 program instead of going for 8 weeks, as the rate of progress seemed to be settling rather than accelerating.

My biggest gain was in the Drag Curl, which was replacement for the Bent-Over Row after I felt the pop in my spine in Week 1. My last-rep max force reading for my first Drag Curl set that week was 37.2 lbs. Based on my last-rep max reading for the last Drag Curl session of 48.8 lbs, my strength gain was about 31%. Part of this gain was achieved by experimenting with lowering the Isochain bar. It turns out that the force output in the Drag Curl is actually greater with the elbows at closer to 45 degrees than at smaller degrees, where I thought the bicep contraction would be at their greatest.

My Shoulder Press gain was a more modest 15%. Most of the gain was from realizing that I can generate more force by locking out my knees and hips. When my shoulder was feeling less healthy, I was not even able to train with the elbows at 90 degrees and the arms greater than about 30 degrees from the sagittal plane. What I did to train pain-free was to set the bar slightly higher so that the elbows were closer to 120 degrees, and closer together, and slightly squatting so that the legs could assist a little. But now with the ability to train with the elbows at 90 degrees and a little wider apart, I can generate more force from the shoulders and make my torso and legs straight to give them a solid platform to work from. The most important shoulder press gain for me was the dramatic reduction in pain when reaching overhead, which is key to being able to do pull ups again.

The Jefferson Lift was just a drill I wanted to try out of curiosity. I have not heard of any carryover from Jefferson Lift to any of the Big 5 family skills as identified by Mindful Mover - Handstand Pushup, One-Arm Chin Up, Planche Push Up, Front Lever Row, Single-Leg Squat. Still, my curiosity was satisfied. I felt one leg working a little harder than the other, and I felt my core working as well, because of the anti-rotation aspect. However, I didn't feel the core working as hard as when I tried Pseudo Planche Push Up or Front Lever Row with Accommodating Resistance. My low back and hips felt better - not dramatically so, but noticeably better.

The plan next week is to start a calisthenics cycle emphasizing vertical push-pull and leg strength. The push-pull pair will be Pike Pushups with Accommodating Resistance, and Pull Ups, with potential transition to Mixed-Grip Chin Ups, depending on the Pull Up progress. The leg exercise pair will utilize the suspension trainer - assisted Pistol Squats and Hip Extensions. This cycle will last 8 weeks.

Sunday, February 06, 2022

Isochain 6x6: Week 5

Monday was 1-Rep Max testing day. Results in lbs:

Jefferson Lift: 237.3
Shoulder Press: 63.4
Drag Curl: 42.7

This was the first Isochain session with the new spring. Without the spring added to the chain, the nervous system limits the force of muscular contractions, because the chain will feel like an immovable load. This limit is referred to as "cortical inhibition". With the spring added, the nervous system will sense the chain being stretched when enough force is applied, and thus allow the muscles to exert more force. One fellow Isochain user reported that it takes about 110 lbs of force to stretch the spring, which led to discussion among other fellow users. If you cannot stretch the spring while exerting as much force as you can for a particular drill, it is as if the spring is not there at all. You can still train productively on the Isochain, but because of cortical inhibition, your progress won't be as fast as it will be on drills where you are strong enough to exert the minimum 110 lbs. of force. So naturally, this led to discussion about trying replacement springs that will stretch at lower force levels. The spring that comes with Isochain is said to have a 1000 lb. force capacity. Thus, I ordered a spring with 700 lb. force capacity. It cost $17, which I felt was a reasonable price for experimentation. The experiment of course is to see if progress in drills, where my 1-rep Max is less than 110 lbs., will be sped up by training with the lighter-capacity spring.

The 1-Rep Max results the two upper body drills reflect progress that is satisfactory to me. I used the lighter spring for testing these drills but did not feel the spring stretch. So the minimum force to stretch the spring, and thus reduce cortical inhibition more dramatically, must be greater than 64.4 lbs., which is the highest measurement I got for a single attempt - out of the 3 attempts recommended for testing.

I felt my Golfer's Elbow flare up when I first started testing my Drag Curl. I then realized I had set the bar a little too high. The lighter spring is longer than the heavier one that came with the Isochain. Lowering the bar made it easier to engage the shoulder rotators, upper back, etc. muscles to take the load off the elbows.

I'm still figuring out how to position my body in the Jefferson Lift so that I can productively stimulate gains, while minimizing risk of injury. It will be a while before I feel comfortable enough to put out more force. I don't feel any pain while practicing the drill but I'm still a little afraid that I might injure something if I pull too hard, even though I've read the Jefferson Lift articles assuring how good this lift is for people with back pain. I guess one could say a different type of neurological inhibition is in play here.

Wednesday session went well, with the new target loads for the 3 drills as set by Monday's testing - 70% of 1-rep max for each drill.

Friday session went even better. My last rep max in the Shoulder Press was 62.8 lbs. I did not expect to progress this close to my 1-rep max so soon. I had a feeling that I could shift the load a little more from the forearms to the biceps in the Drag Curl if I lowered the bar a bit. So I lowered the bar by 2 chain links. My last rep max was 47.6 lbs - so I already beat my 1-rep max! Just getting the biceps to work a little more, by changing the bar height, resulted in a 7 lb. increase!

My Jefferson Lift max numbers continue to be in the 250lb. range. Still figuring out the body positioning that will maximize safety, especially for my suspect low back and hips. This lift seems much safer than most other deadlift variations, but I'm being cautious nonetheless.

Some finds:

The Bioneer's new leg exercise video. Some exercises are familiar to me like Pistol Squat and Glute Bridge. Weighted Jump Squat is less familiar - interesting that the recommended weight is 30% of bodyweight.

The Cultured Food Life website encouraged me to start making my own kombucha and kefir. Their article on hesperidin is encouraging me to get an orange squeezer and start making fresh-squeezed orange juice.

Today's Music Discoveries

Wednesday, February 02, 2022

Isochain 6x6: Week 4

The week got off to a strong start, with a 291.2 lb max reading for the right side of Jefferson Lift, a 41 lb. change from Friday, and 59.8 lb max reading in the Shoulder Press, about a 10 lb. change from Friday despite raising the target load to 40lbs. Drag Curl max was 37 lbs., which is 2 lbs. down from Friday - which was more like what I expected with the target load raise to 28 lbs. The Jefferson Lift is an exercise I'm still exploring, searching for the foot and grip positioning that will make the most sense.

One thing I changed for the Shoulder Press was to straighten my legs, locking out my knees and hips. I thought that I could get higher force output by pushing with my legs, glutes, etc. and adding the power of my lower body to the force generated by my upper body muscles such as my shoulders and arms. I had been using this approach since I got the Isochain. Instead, straightening my legs, tucking in my tailbone, and squeezing my butt to make my legs and torso straight and tight as possible resulted in about a 10 lb. increase in force.

Since I'm new to the Jefferson Lift, I searched the Web to see how people are coaching this exercise. I eventually found this article on the USAWA site. USAWA organizes competitions in which you can compete in the Jefferson Lift and other "odd lifts" found in the USAWA rule book. The article mentions two ways the shoulders can be aligned with respect to the bar - perpendicular to the bar and parallel to the bar. Until Wednesday of this week, I had the Isochain bar neither parallel nor perpedicular - more like 45 degrees to the shoulders. I was also setting my feet about 90 degrees from one another with the working foot perpendicular to the bar. I then changed to the parallel foot alignmnent after rereading the Dave Dellanave article and reviewing the video in the article. Thus for the Wednesday session, I trained with the shoulders parallel to bar, parallel feet with the bar about 45 degrees to the feet, narrower grip, and the toes up to the edge of the plate. This combination did not result in a dramatic change of force output, but the likelihood of the knees, shoulders, or anything in the core (back, hips, etc.) being pulled out of aligment into pain felt greatly reduced. Under previous approaches, I always felt like my knees could collapse inwards if I didn't focus intensely on pulling them outwards. I did feel some soreness around the MCL part of the knees after some 6x6 sessions, which led me to pay more attention to keeping those knees flexing outwards.

For the Friday session, I tried raising the Shoulder Press target load to 44lbs. I did the first 6-sec. hold rep or two fine. By the 3rd rep, I lowered the load back to 42lbs. because I was unable to complete the 6-sec. hold. I also raised the target load for the Drag Curl and was able to do the full 6x6 set at a target load of 30lbs.