Andrew Thornton has been training with me for about 18 months now after coming to see me following pec surgery. He has made great progress, losing over 30kg, and also getting back into lifting pain, and injury free.
Andrew Post Pec Surgery
He wrote a nice post on Facebook the other day, so I thought I would share it as it is good to show that you are never done until you decide you are. He could have made excuses and decided to take it easy, but he chose to get back into training and improve his health.
"It’s been 2 years to the day that I had surgery repairing my ruptured pec tendon.
I had been weight training for quite a few years and not seeing the results I wanted and still putting on weight gradually each year. I decided it was time to seek some expert advice with the rehab on my pec and also to start trying to get the results I was after in the gym.
I had a chat with Nathan from THP (and after chatting and finding out he had suffered a similar injury and was still lifting weights) I was keen to learn more about there training program.
Since beginning with THP 18 months ago I have realised there is so much I didn’t know about weight training and diet (that I thought I knew). The variety in the training programs and the accountability that comes with weighing in and the skin folds each fortnight keeps you focused on your goals.The varying programs and the constant guidance and correction in technique and making the required changes in eating have been crucial.
From this, the question was asked "what is the difference between a single arm DB row with a neutral grip compared to a single arm DB row performed with a pronated grip?
The main difference between these two exercises is that the lats are used more with the neutral grip whereas when you perform the exercise with a pronated grip, you work more the scapula retractors.
We use both variations regularly. If you want to target your scapula retractors more specifically, then opt for a pronated grip with the elbow out.
I like to use single arm work as the dumbbells allow you to use a greater range of motion than with a standard barbell row, you can also correct left to right discrepancies over time, and it requires more stabilization.
Using a thick grip, like those on our Watson Dumbbells, can also challenge the grip and help recruit more motor units.
Two common problems I often see in the gym in regards to correct performance in the front squat are:
Tight scapulae re-tractors and
Weak scapulae re-tractors
If your infrasprinatus and teres minor are too tight you will struggle to grip the bar correctly,
it will be tough to keep your elbows up and in, and will have a hard time staying upright in the front squat.
To correct this problem, we can get some quick results with our performance sessions, or you can go and see a good soft tissue practitioner. On top of this, some correctly programmed mobility exercises will help. Our exercise physiologist, Gem, takes care of this for all of our clients.
Whilst you are working on correcting these limitations, you can use straps to help keep your elbows high whilst performing the front squat. But don't use these as the solution long term. Make sure you try and correct the problem, which is often the tightness in the shoulder. It will help reduce the risk of injury to the shoulder.
Rounding of the upper back is a common problem in the front squat. This can be due to fatigue or just a lack of strength in the upper back muscles. We don't front squat for more than six reps, as fatigue of the scapulae re-tractors becomes the limiting factor (another tip I got from Charles Poliquin that has served me well). I still do see some rounding of the upper back at times when athletes are performing heavy front squats, so this is a clue that they need more work on the strength of these muscles.
All types of rows are used to help address this issue. Seated rope rows to neck, single arm dumbbell rows, bent-over barbell rows, all sorts of variations are used.
Strengthening the upper back will help all lifts, not just the front squat, so it is worth the time putting in the work. You will find your bench press and deadlift will improve and just the general health of your shoulders will be better.
Your First Rep Should Look the Same Technically As Your Last
Your first rep should look the same technically as your last rep is something I learned from Charles Poliquin many years ago. Strength is a skill. You want to learn a movement pattern and become very good at it. The more perfect reps you perform in your training, the more productive it will be. By focusing on perfect reps, there is also less chance of injury.
Some of the common errors you see once the weight starts getting heavy, or you start getting fatigued during a set, are bouncing / using momentum, cutting the range of motion shorter, or changing your movement pattern, like worming around under the bar on the bench press trying to wiggle it up, type of thing.
Bar speed may slow down on the concentric range but your technique should remain the same.
You call an end to a set when you reach technical failure, not absolute muscular failure. So, once you have to start deviating from the optimal technique, you call an end to the set there.
When you increase load, your technique should remain. Don't increase the load at the expense of your technique. This is something I see far too often. I would much rather you stay at a lighter load and use perfect technique then to increase the load and have to cheat the weight up. There are many ways to increase the overload during a training session, then to simply add more weight.
This tip is simple but it takes discipline to stick to. The rewards for doing so have paid off for myself and clients over the years so I think it is good for you to focus on. You may have to leave your ego at the door and back off on some of your current lifts for a few weeks, but it is like regressing to progress further later on. Two steps back to take 4 forward.
Igor Almeida, Nathan Waters, Charles Negromonte, SJJA 25/1/20
Gem and myself had a great day on Saturday catching up with the SJJA boys and meeting Charles Negromonte for the first time.
We got to sit down with the boys and make some plans for 2020 in regards to their nutrition and strength training.
For Igor, we will be focusing on adding some muscle mass and working on increasing his strength in the gym. As many of you know he has had some big injuries in the past few years, so we will be addressing those and trying to make him as healthy as possible for when he returns to competition.
As for Charles, he has some important competitions coming up over the next few weeks, and in April will be competing in Abu Dhabi for the worlds. This week, Charles will be competing in Melbourne at the UAEJJF National Pro, so we won't be making any changes until next week where we will begin preparations for the worlds.
He already has a solid foundation so we will be making some changes to his nutrition and we will start general preparation in the gym.
Charles recently won the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam Event so we don't have to come in and make extreme changes to his preparation. We will layer in certain things so that it doesn't disrupt Charles' preparation and he can have confidence leading into the important competitions.
If you look at Charles' achievements and ranking, you will see that he is already world class. The important thing from our point of view is to work in with Charles and not just throw a whole heap of craziness into his world. Too many times I see coaches go too extreme with athletes to try and prove they know what they are doing or something like that. I would much rather take it slowly and make sure Charles feels comfortable with his training, is recovering well, and feels motivated to train, than to try and implement a perfect plan that may disrupt his performance in a negative way.
This is a very similar approach we took with Professor Bruno when we first started working together. He was already very successful so its not like he didn't already know what he was doing. We just helped identify a few areas he could work on to further improve his performance and worked with him on how to implement it in his current plan. The biggest thing I was concerned about was not coming in, changing all these things, and ruining his career. The boys put their lives into this, they only get one shot at it. Over the years though we got to a point where everything we wanted to implement, was, and the progress continued with each new preparation. We were fortunate enough to be apart of many world titles that Bruno won over recent years.
It will be a big year for the SJJA team so I will keep you updated with their progress.
For the next month, the priority is conditioning. So, if you don’t have time to lift, miss that, and do the conditioning.
Where it says Cond.20, you will be doing 20 minutes of conditioning, and where it says Cond.40, you will do 40 minutes.
You pick your workouts from the list below and send your times through to the coaching staff after each workout. You have to rotate your workouts, can’t do the same one every single day. When doing conditioning for 40 minutes, you will pick two workouts from the list and perform them back to back.
For example, if you are 6:45 or above, you will do conditioning Monday, Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. If you have time, you do your weights in ADDITION to the conditioning, NOT INSTEAD of.
Sessions to Select From
Option 1 - 10 x 1 minute max effort with 30 seconds recovery. Goal is 300m or over each row.
Option 3 - Max sprint for 40 seconds, slow jog for 90 seconds x 8 sprints.
When running, run outside, not on a treadmill.
Option 1 –20 burpees on the minute, every minute. You do 20 burpees, as soon as clock ticks to 1 minute, you do another 20 burpees, when it clicks over to 2 mins, you start another set of 20 burpees. You do this for 20 minutes.