Devil’s Advocate: The Seven Seals

TAGS: Jim Wendler, deadlift, squat, powerlifting, strength training, Elitefts Info Pages, barbell, training

The First Seal

When training your lower back, think about it two ways; to strengthen your lower back and injury prevention. These don’t necessarily go hand in hand. Many people who have very strong backs injure themselves. Lack of endurance is a great indicator of predicting who is more at risk for a lower back injury. Some great ways to improve this would be to isometric holds on a hyperextension bench as well as high rep work with band good mornings, back extensions and 45 degree back raises. Since squatting and deadlifting require you to statically hold your back in the same position, some of your training should address this. Thanks to Tom Deebel D.C. for clarifying this for me.

The Second Seal

During a training session at the Compound, Dave had some prophetic words. We were talking about what it takes to lift weights that most people can only dream of. Basically what it came down to was taking your training, your ideas and your beliefs and “toe the line”. We are always in a state of having one foot on land, the other dangling over the abyss of stupidity and injury. Sometimes you fall in. Other times, you keep your balance. Either way, you learn something. The trick is trying to figure out how to NOT fall into the abyss too many times. But it is those that toe that line that are going to go to limits that they could only imagine. My advice to you is to toe that line but keep an eye and an ear open. Listen to those that have fallen into the abyss too often and ask them what they would have done differently. Experience is a great teacher except it takes years to develop. Accelerate the process by learning from those that came before. During the training session, I ended up getting hurt.

The Third Seal

A lot of times people will ask what kind of weight they should use for their box squats if they don’t know their squat max or bench max. A simple answer – if you don’t know your squat or bench max (or even come up with a ball park number) then you probably need a more basic program. The only time a novice lifter can get away with using a very strict Westside program is if they have a group of very experienced lifters that can help guide him.

The Fourth Seal

Why is it that strength coaches love the dynamic effort method? I’ll tell you why. Because most athletes are very fast, thus they excel at dynamic effort squatting and benching. Because they excel at it, the coaches can stand in the corner, nod their heads in approval and claim “they are doing Westside” and show the sport coaches how advanced they are because they’ve attached a band to a barbell. This is like enrolling a math wizard in an Algebra class. If you are a fast, you must learn how to strain against slower weight. If you are slow, you must train to overcome this weakness.

On the same note; ever wonder why Olympic lifts are always built up by field athletes, namely throwers? Because most throwers have long arms and thus are very good at Olympic lifts.

The Fifth Seal

I finally have proof that God exists. The proof isn’t in the fact that I saw God or that I have found Jesus. It’s simply that Darwinism really doesn’t exist. So, by default (and yes this is flawed logic but I’m having some fun here) God must exist. Why can I make such a bold statement? I can say this because there is no such thing as the “survival of the fittest.” There are too many people stupid people that have defied the laws of Darwinism and haven’t fallen into the crevice of a glacier or gotten eaten by fire ants. Sometimes I hear someone speak or do something so damn stupid that I wonder how they haven’t been swallowed by the Earth.

The Sixth Seal

There is no such thing as a 40 year old virgin. Eventually you will stub your toe and fall into a vagina or plant yourself on a man-sicle.

The Seventh Seal

How to work up to a 3RM:

First set an approximate goal for your 3RM. If you can’t even come up with a number then you are doing the wrong program. If you are doing a board press (2, 3, or 4 board), for example, try for 85% of your current 1RM on your bench press. So let’s take a 400lbs bench presser doing a 3 board press. His goal (85% x 3 reps) is 340x3. It’s actually 345 because putting 2 ½ plates on the bar is super not-straight.

• 45x5
• 135x5
• 185x5
• 225x3
• 275x3
• 315x3
• 340x3

Now the lifter has a number to work with. So let’s say that this lifter wants to come back and break his record the next week. This week was pretty easy for him and all he wanted to do is establish some kind of 3RM. It didn’t matter that it wasn’t an all out set. So the next max effort day, the lifter is feeling a little tired and run down. He wants to cut down on his volume and get the hell out of the weight room.

• 45x5
• 135x5
• 185x3
• 225x1
• 275x1
• 315x1
• 355x3

You will notice that this lifter is really only concerned about getting warmed up enough to break his 3RM. But here is the problem; when all you are concerned with is the performance on that max effort day, but not the overall goal (getting a bigger total). There are times, especially when you are using a larger volume, for example, that it is ok to take a few extra sets and have it negatively affect your performance on that day but have a positive effect on your overall goal. Remember that you are not peaking for max effort day; you are peaking for a test day or a meet.

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