Technically, You're Weak

TAGS: no excuses, JP Carroll, weak, back training, accessory work, programming, technique, strength, powerlifting, training

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How many times have you seen a video or a training session where someone misses a lift and the list of reasons why? One of my favorites is a raw bencher saying he just mis-grooved.

I flared early, touched high, touched low, got forward, threw my hips up too fast, didn't have my feet set right, the bar rolled down my back...

We all know the laundry list of the technical reasons someone missed a lift. At the end of the day, it all boils down to one technicality: strength. Technically, you're just weak.


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I remember hearing a story about a Russian or a ninja, someone training their son with a PVC pipe and only a PVC pipe, reinforcing technique for years, and when the father felt his method was perfect, he benched 500 pounds. I’m calling bullshit. I get it, it’s a story to drive home the fact technique is essential. Unfortunately for the anti-JP readers, I have to clarify that I believe that having proper technique plays a crucial part in moving big weights. I also KNOW being strong is just as, if not more, critical, and here's why.

Hear me out. If I put 405 on the bar (benching), I can lower it to my chest, take my hands off, clap, tell you to go fuck yourself and grab it and smoke it. You know why? Because I'm strong. According to the technical masters, I should have never made that rep.

I feel like it’s just another crutch, another excuse to justify the shortcut era’s reasoning. I fuck up a lot when I squat: I go forward, but I have a strong back, and my strength allows me to recover and finish the rep. See, I’m not against training techniques; it’s quite the contrary.

I’ve been lucky enough to train in many gyms across the Midwest, and a trend I’ve been noticing is crews spending more time rolling and stretching pre-training than they do pounding accessory work after training the main movements. A four-hour squat session and no back work, and the same applies to bench and deadlift. These are sports-specific movements, and they need to be hammered, but you have to grow, and if you are serious about increasing strength, you have to train your back a lot!

Think of your favorite old-school powerlifter and look at their back — stacked. You can train your back every time you're in the gym. Overtraining? Come on, you have the energy to roll on the floor for 45 minutes before you train, take 34 selfies, and tag the gang before you leave the gym, but you can’t spend an extra 30 minutes on your back? I promise you if you hit your upper back one day, and mid- and lower back another, and hit it with purpose, your numbers will go up on all three. This isn't one of those things that only works for certain people. Ask yourself, have you ever seen a dude with a big ass back yoked up? Who was weak?

Here’s how this looks for me. These are my weights, obviously. You’d adjust according to your strength.

Example 1: Squat Day / Back Accessories

After my main movement, I have mechanically similar movements. Straight Bar Squats followed by Safety Squat Bar Squats or Front Squats.

I do 5 x 10 Reverse Hypers with about 10 plates to start off my accessories, and then I will choose two back exercises. I go heavy and keep the reps and sets at about 5 x 8.

While peaking for the XPCs, I’ve taken out my direct back day and added in back training to every session. The two I’ve been liking the most are:

T-Bar Row with 3 plates and a quarter for 5 sets of 8-12 reps. I focus on driving back with my elbows and holding the top for a 1-second count to squeeze that blood in. Who woulda thought I’d be chasing a pump someday?

This one is a little tricky to explain, but you can always just use your normal cable-style rowing for this. I like to set up the Westside Athletic Training Platform by placing a box far enough away. I use the edge of the platform to place my feet. I use the Wide MAG Grips and a couple hundred pounds — no exact weight here. There are kilos and bumpers and hundreds and regular plates there. I work up to a weight that feels right and I get 5 sets of 8-12 reps in. I like the angle of the upward rowing motion, even with my short range of motion in hammers my upper outer lats.

Example 2: Back Day — Offseason

Here are my two back days from my offseason. I used Tuesday and Thursday for my biceps and shoulder touch-up days as well. These are copied and pasted right from my log.

Tuesday

  • Pull-Ups: 5 sets of 5 still using a band, but dropped to a smaller band. I'm thinking a couple more weeks, and I'll be back to being a man and not using assistance.
  • Wide Grip Lat Pull-Downs: 5-minute cluster 8 reps with 150 pounds
  • Chest-Supported Rows: 170 pounds for 5 x 8
  • Hammer Strength Low Row: with a plate aside for a cluster with 8 reps.
  • Straight Bar Pull-Downs: with the fat silver bar 120 pounds for 8s with a cluster.
  • Wide High Face Pulls: with 100 pounds for 5 x 12.

Thursday

This was more of a high rep conditioning style day with all very short rests done in under an hour.

  • Banded Pullaparts: 200 pounds — 50 x 2 and 25 x 4
  • Close MAG Grip Lat Pull-Downs: 90 pounds — 25 x 4
  • Fat Bar Straight Arm Push-Downs: 110 pounds — 10 x 10
  • Chest-Supported Rows: One plate — 4 x 25
  • Iso Low Row Hammer Strength Machine: One plate a side — 4 x 25
  • Dumbbell Rows: 70 x 20, 90 pounds — 10 x 3, 115 pounds — 10 x 1
  • Hammer Curls: 35 pounds — 3 x 25
  • Regular Single Arm Curls: 3 x 15
  • Rear Delt Flyes: 145 pounds — 4 x 25

In whole, I’m saying be well-rounded, do your main movement reps and sets as your tech work, and your accessory work is where you get bigger and stronger. Practice your main movement with precision, but be strong enough that when shit goes wrong (and it will), your strength will help you recover and complete the rep.

Come meet day, you don't get an extra white light by having perfect technique. By all means necessary, I’d rather muscle-fuck a squat for a PR than hit a super clean squat for 10 pounds less. Plus, who doesn't want to be yoked up?

If you’ve ever listened to anything I've said, let this be the one thing: Focus on being strong, and all that other shit falls in place.

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