The Camera’s Eye

Since just about everyone carries a high definition camera in their pocket I encourage everyone to film themselves working out.  Not all the time but at least enough so you can get a good idea of your technique or lack there of.  Many people have a hard time being aware of where their body or body parts are in space.  Watch someone trying to perform a good morning for RDL for the first time and how they can’t get the idea of pushing the hips back without excessive bending of the knees.  They may not be able to feel this because they have never tried that motion before.  By being able to immediately see what you looked like it can help people realize what they are doing wrong and/or implement coaching cues more effectively.  In this gym we film a good bit and often review in slow motion immediately after the lift to work on small details especially in the Olympic lifts.  It is difficult for anyone to feel their lower back rounding in a squat or being able to judge their own depth while looking straight ahead.  You can’t really be a judge of the relationship of your hips and knees when looking at your own face.  Cameras are great for this if you train by yourself.  Even if you are inexperienced and don’t know anatomy very well most movements aren’t too complicated.  If it looks wrong it most likely is.  This doesn’t mean film every workout and post it online.  There is a difference between analysis and vanity.  Although, to write that I guess I performed an analysis of vanity.

Program overview of a 218KG (481lbs) bench press 4 months out of elbow surgery for exercises nerds

This was a personal record that had been a long time in the making.  The training cycle leading up to this was focused more on Olympic lifts than bench specialization.  In addition the lifter was not as well rested as he could have been.  The interesting part is that the he never lifted more than about 87% of this weight leading up to testing day.  It should be noted that the lifter was very experienced but is not built optimally for the bench press and  previously had trouble with fully utilizing his enormous strength base and explosiveness out of the bottom of the lift.  A number of sets backs from surgeries to an extremely demanding work and travel schedule had prevented him from breaking his previous PR always coming within 5KG of it.

Because of elbow surgery 4 months earlier programming had to be focused on regaining strength through range of motion rather than building to maximum weight.  From a strength stand point this allowed more focus on lockout strength and power at the end range of the bench press.  After some weeks getting used to full range bench press a program that included slow introduction to mild upper body plyometric exercises was used building up in intensity in a linear fashion.  This was not only to help activate the CNS but also to reintroduce the bodies ability to absorb eccentric force and utilize the stretch reflex.  The volume of horizontal pushing exercises was not excessive as the actual focus of the 2 month program was more towards regaining abilities in Olympic lifting.  The athlete already had a good amount of muscle mass so besides a brief period during the rehab phase, direct hypertrophy work was unnecessary.  Bench press weights were assigned with 1 heavy session and 1 light session per week when possible.  The weights were kept manageable increasing an average of 2% per week with a jump on week five of 3% and week six of 5% with a corresponding drop in reps and increase in sets.  The goal was every rep achieved and to be able to walk away from the exercises with more in the tank every week thus keeping a good groove on every rep.  Week 6-8 more time was spend on double and single repetition sets with the goal of practicing the feel of heavy weight without losing form.  Ballistic work was increased in intensity while other accessory work took a back seat.  It should be noted that the athlete was unaware of his goal for the day until he was in the gym.  Sleep had been sub par and he had trained in high volume Olympic lifting the night before.  However, he is gifted in the ability to operate at a high level in sub optimal conditions.

This shows the importance of specific programing for athletes at a high level.  Programs need to be designed with the considerations of the unique abilities, weaknesses, psychology, and lifestyle of the person in question.

This was the approximate sequence used on testing day.  (In kilograms)20kgx10