So guys if you’ve followed my previous posts on last year’s ‘Get Lean in 12 weeks’ you’ll know that this year I’ve been focused on ‘Getting strong in 12 weeks’.
I like to have a time frame so I think 12 weeks is about right: I’ve had 3 PT sessions with a local trainer Chris Burford so I thought I would give you an insight into how it has been going. Chris Burford is legitimately strong- he has a 300kg squat. Check it out here:
My first session was a bit more talking based so that Chris could establish my goals, my training history and my injury history. I also brought in a 3 day nutrition log. I told him I wanted to squat 2 x my bodyweight for 1RM (150kg). I told him I typically never lift for less than 5 reps and that typically heavy squats would aggravate my knees. I also said that I know that I am weak in the core but kid myself that doing compound lifts will be sufficient. I said I reckoned I could lift 100kg for 1 rep and I comfortably do 70kg for 6 reps.
1. leg lowers 1 x 20
2. tic tocs 1 x 20 (10 each side)
3. glute bridges 1 x 30
I realised this is an area I just can’t afford to neglect. I normally skip any sort of direct core activation as part of my weights warm-up and usually just do a barbell complex or a kettlebell routine. What is probably worse is that I don’t do any core either in between my main lifts (as fillers) or at the end (as finishers)!!! Having Chris make me do these is giving me the impetus to do them myself so it doesn’t hurt so much when I am with him!
Kettle bell Introduction:
Squat swings 2 x 30
Single arm exchange squat swings 2 x 20
Kettle bells (KB) are something I was already familiar with. I was originally taught that the swing needs to be done from a stiff leg and that this minimises the stress on the back. So for this reason I have always done it as more like a dynamic Romanian Deadlift (RDL). But Chris said that the squat swing (where you bend more at the knees is focused on getting that hip drive that you need to teach the explosive power needed on a heavy squat). I have been convinced of this because when I did the squats afterwards I could really feel the benefits of having fired up the hip drive. Notice I didn’t say fire up the glutes!! Some S&C coaches will say it is impossible to not fire the glutes otherwise you couldn’t stand up but I guess what I am saying is the KB helped groove the pattern!!!
Barbell squat Introduction:
Chris then proceeded to ask me to do a warm-up set of bodyweight squats to see my general technique. I did about 1 set of 10. Then I got under the bar and did another 10 with an empty bar (20kg). Technically he said I was very proficient so we carried on by doing a set of 5 reps with around 60kg, a set of 3 with around 80kg and a single with around 100kg. Chris wanted to determine at what point I reach failure and then he helped me lift it up.
I’m not talking about ‘failure’ in the sense of muscle failure that you would experience when you do hypertrophy eccentric type work and you reach fatigue and physically run out of gas. This is the sort of mechanical central nervous system failure when you just can’t recruit enough of your fast twitch fibres to get the force production necessary to lift it up!
I was a little surprised by this because I have always been trained to view my training as having to ‘earn the right’ to lift something heavy. Actually Chris said that the biggest barrier to lifting heavy is to be mentally able to know that you might not get back up. Now as long as you have a competent spotter or safety squat bars then there is no problem with this. I used to think that you just needed to keep nudging the weight up one session at a time and now I can see that in my situation this will accelerate my progress. I say this because I have an extensive lifting background and I have an extremely competent spotter in Chris who can feel exactly the point when I am struggling and then give me just the right amount of help to get out of the hole!!
We then went back to a lighter squat and I immediately felt the benefit of having activated my core to it’s limit!
I will give you some more updates on the next few sessions in my next post.