Gather round, Ktowners. A new cycle began Monday, and I am going to explain it to you.
We just finished up with a ten week cycle revolving around squats, 2k row, and midline stabilization. We had some big PRs on the squats and 2k rows, and we also had some little PRs on both tests. We even had some people that did not set a new record on their squat or row. Part of that could have been the programming. I have used that squat cycle several different time now, and part of me thinks that it leaves a little to be desired on peaking for the 1RM test. I will probably alter it going forward. As for the 2k, I am putting that one on you if you failed to PR. Check your diet, recovery, and grit. I know it hurts, but only for a little while (and it hurts me more than it hurts you).
This next cycle will be replete with tempo and pause squats, single leg and single arm work, upper body density sessions, and a continued focus on the midline. A lot of the upper body work will come in the way of straight arm work like ring supports, planks, farmer’s carries, waiter’s walks, and the like.
Why all of the upper body and straight arm work? Being able to manipulate an external object with a straight arm is incredibly important. Does your jerk suck? Are you afraid to jump a big weight overhead and catch it locked out? You need practice, strength, and confidence in that overhead locked out position. The hips and shoulders should not be your weak links. We are always addressing those hips, but this cycle I wanted to place more of an emphasis on those shoulders.
Why the tempo and pause squats? Well, frankly, a lot of your positions during a squat suck – myself included. My knees collapse when I approach my 1RM. So we are going to lower the weight, slow things down a bit, add in a few pauses in the bottom position, and come out the other side of this stronger and moving better. Tempo squats help you maintain good positions by slowing things down and having a movement focus versus a weight focus. The tempo of the squat will help you build awareness and body control of the positions, and also the muscles used, within the squat.
If you struggle keeping your chest up, collapse in the hole, or have problems with knees collapsing on the concentric portion of the squat then tempo squats can shore up those weaknesses. When you struggle with a position it is best to attack that specific weakness with proper loading and consciousness of movement. And so we are.
The last thing I will say about tempo squats is about the idea of changing the stimulus. Any time your body is exposed to something new it will work to adapt – for better or worse. If you expose your body to sitting a whole bunch it will begin to adapt to those positions by shortening tissues among other physiological responses. If you expose your body to tempo squats, it will hopefully adapt by laying down new tissue, improving the efficiency of the tissues already there, and then force adaptation to the new stimulus.
Here’s to forcing specific adaptations to imposed demands,