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Posts Tagged ‘mobility’

glutes and hamstrings versus the quads

December 14, 2012 Leave a comment

The 2 largest muscle groups in the human body are the glutes and the hamstrings. It’s that backside that ought to be propelling you along when you walk and run. But it may be that in this day and age of comfortable chairs and jobs sitting at a desk much of the time, that many people have a posterior chain of reduced consequence. I was thinking about that yesterday as I tried to remain conscious that when I go up the steps, that I put my heel down on the step and drive myself upwards through my heel.

I also carried that same thought into the deadlifts of last evening. I wanted to feel very strongly that I was pushing the basement floor away with my heels. It seemed to work nicely, too. The pulls felt strong and I went to 10 reps, the same number of reps I did last Saturday but with 10 lbs less on the bar.

After deadlifting, I then did some farmer’s walks and closed out with carrying a sandbag with over half my bodyweight for about a 1/4 mile of distance. All in all, it was a good workout. I already feel a lot stronger than almost 4 weeks ago and it feels like I’m being smarter about my training than when I first began fumbling around with strength training back in 2007 — I’m paying more attention to the lower body and paying very close attention that I improve how much the glutes and hamstrings are doing what should be their proper share. If I’m correct in my suspicions, I don’t think it’ll be any great difficulty for me to move past my old deadlift PR. A little over 2x my own bodyweight ain’t a terrible PR, but it’s probably far short of what I should be able to achieve.

Another way I’ve been focusing on reactivating the glutes and hamstrings is to do simple squats more often. Now, when I go to the wood stove and check how it’s doing, I squat down instead of dropping to one or both knees. Doing that, along with the goblet squats in warmups before lifting, has helped a lot with me restoring better hip mobility, and use of the glutes and hamstrings when standing up.

Another daily use trick has been to change how I sit in my office chair. Instead of sitting back fully in it, I sit at the edge of it and with my left and right legs forming a right angle with each other. Then when I stand up, I do it with the thought of the glutes driving my body straight up.

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I almost didn’t want to get out of the bed cocoon this morning. It was one of the colder night we’ve had lately, and it was really nice in that warm shell. The bedroom had become quite chilly overnight.

falling in love

December 12, 2012 Leave a comment

It’s maybe not all that spectacular. It kind of sucks almost. Going in a circle, just enough illumination to keep the darkness at bay. There’s a heavy weight and eventually the fingers begin to uncurl.

It’s the farmer’s walk. I’ve been using them 3x a week as a finisher to workouts, the first time I’ve ever made them a regular effort and I’m gaining appreciation for them. It has a side effect of teaching a person just how much their forearms can hate them. Mine hated me last night when I finally dropped the weights to the floor for the last time. I also felt finished. But most of all I felt the sensation that I am getting stronger again. You almost can’t help feeling that after having picked some heavy weight and carried it for some distance. Of course there’s a feeling of strength when deadlifting, but it gets deeper when you deadlift some heavy weight up and then walk around with it.

A couple of things that I’ve observed so far with FWs:

— a lighter weight sometimes produces more intense hatred from the forearms. Something about carrying it for a long period of time, even at the point where it’s getting to where just the fingertips hanging on, that seemingly causes your body to pump nearly your blood into the forearms and forget to pump it out again. The forearms then hate you with intensity.

— heavier weights really begin working the traps which have to stabilize the shoulders. Mine are a bit sore today after doing my heaviest FW yet last night. And the heavier the weight gets, the harder it is to turn, even if you’re using dumbbells and not farmer’s walk bars. It seems the most natural direction to go when you’re carrying a balanced heavy load is straight ahead. I’ll have to try some suitcase carries to see if that holds true when carrying weight with only one arm.

— I wonder if they’ve given me a metabolic kick in the pants some. The last time I had done strength training and put on weight I had gained a bit more fat around my belly than I had ever had in my life. I had lost some of that fat while I dropped weight this year down to the upper 140s, but not all of it. Now in the 3+ weeks of training, I’ve put on a couple of pounds, but can pinch less fat down around my waist. It very much looks like I’ve burned some fat and put on some muscle. I have suspicions that a lot of whole body tension under load and moving is a signal to the metabolism that you need to build muscle and burn fat. I’ve been eating a hell of a lot more food these past few weeks and it looks to me right now like I’m gaining muscle and losing fat. I suspect a lot of people could benefit from doing farmer’s walks 2 or 3x a week as a finisher to workouts, or even just as their workouts.

— FWs are excellent for grip strength. I’ve pretty much regained the grip strength I had lost. This morning, while my hands and forearms still feel slightly fried from last night, I grabbed the CoC gripper that I had been able to close at my strongest, but had since lost over the past 2 years. Mashed it closed this morning without having touched it prior to this for over a year.

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Did a longer stretch and mobility session last night too. I try now to do those once or twice a week, as just an effort to really work on things. I’m pretty well settled into a habit of using 10 to 15 minutes a day for a stretching/mobility session that hits most of the muscles and joints. It’s been paying off. I’m no Plasticman, but at least now I’m not Brittleman. It’s maybe even helped with waking up, as I don’t feel a godawful sense of immobility when I wake up now.

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Fortunately the sun reappeared yesterday, after around 4 or 5 straight days of being mostly cloudy to overcast and foggy. It’s still not nearly enough light, but it’s far better to have some light than to feel like you’re living in a cave.

Actually, I suppose one thing that can be really nice about winter and if you’ve had snow is it that it can make sunny days seem more powerful. The world can look bright and clear. When you have a winter without snow, the surrounding can be rather drab. Brown dead grass, brown dead leaves.

The other day I remembered the Cat Stevens’ song, “Don’t Be Shy.” So I went and listened to it on Youtube. It reduced me to tears. Good enough advice that I cannot practice.