October 14

Lessons From The IPF International Coaches License (Day 2) – Part 1


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Today started off with me asking a question about what to do when your hips rise first in a squat, and quickly moved into an in depth discussion of how to set up programs (workloads as Dietmar calls them) to correct weakness.

If you haven’t read my blog about day 1 of my experience at the IPFs International Coaching License at La Manga in Spain, you should start here.

When a coach identifies a problem there, is a certain approach that should be followed…

#1 – Identify if it’s a mobility or flexibility problem first, if it is – work to correct that before trying to “strengthen” anything

#2 – Assuming mobility is not a problem, identify the dysfunctional pattern and prescribe warm ups to correct it

#3 – Once the warm up has been completed, continue on to perform the competition lift, but only up to the point where the new positions and correct technique can be held

#4 – Increase the volume of competition lift variations that will correct that weakness, while decreasing the volume of the competition lift itself during the preparatory phase.

So for example if a lifters hips rise first and you know it’s not a flexibility issue… You get them to perform wall squats (using a barbell and small plates so they can get to the wall) before continuing on to perform competition squats with perfect technique, and using something like 5050 squats, or front squats with perfect technique in other sessions.

The view this morning on my way to stretch and sauna
The view this morning on my way to stretch and sauna

It’s weird writing this with such a prescriptive voice and without adding my own flair to it, but I feel given the time constraints I have over here, it’s the best way to get it done. I know this blog post will eat at least 2 hours of my day before I email it or post it to social.

So, for sumo deadlift, the most important thing to do is strengthen the start position. Without that, the lift will die. On conventional deadlifts, most lifters allow the hips to go up and back too early which eliminates the quads and stresses the back.

“How do I fix that?” you cry, well the answer is that if you have a squat or deadlift correction priority, the volume of the non-priority lift must be dropped in favour of an increase in the weak area.

Here’s a few rapid fire deadlift ideas;

  • most people’s rhomboids are too weak to allow for a solid lockout position
  • many bicep ruptures happen because of tigthness in the chest and shoulders which leads to the lifter being unable to externally rotate their shoulder enough to get a good position
  • …so hook grip is a good option and a lot of norway’s lifters now feel stronger there, but the best way to set up the hook is to internally rotate the shoulder so the back of the hands face each other on initial contact with the bar, before externally rotating to lock the position in
  • if you turn your toes out 10-15deg when deadlifting you can get your hips closer to the bar and have less torque acting on your lower back, which means bigger deadlifts
  • on warm up sets, you should use the opposite grip to your competition grip to preserve balance and development
Here's the IPF 2016 120kg Masters Champion doing some stability work with kettlebells (...and 215kg!)
Here’s the IPF 2016 120kg Masters Champion doing some stability work with kettlebells (…and 215kg!)

We spent some time talking about nutrition, but it was nothing you probably don’t know already, so like yesterday, here are the things took away from the session. Hopefully they’ll help you too.

One of the coolest parts of the session was hearing some thoughts on how to identify when it’s time to move up a weight class. The answer is – when a lifter is consistently 3% above their weight class, it’s time to go up. BUT that assumes the lifter pays attention to the food he eats and legitimately tries to match calorie intake to output. It doesn’t mean you can be a lardass and move up a weight class because you like cake.

(please remember, everything in this course is written and presented with the idea of a powerlifter training as a professional athlete, so if it seems cold or harsh, that’s why)

Typically, when moving up to a new weight class, it takes about 2 years, or more, to properly fill it out.

If you’re overweight coming into a competition, water cuts and fast (1/2 week) diets are not a good idea. Instead, the diet should be gradual over a 4-5 week period (and since you’re only ever allowed go about 3% above your class, should allow for ample time to complete it without crazy measures).

Dieting 4-5 weeks out makes sense as well because by then the heavy volume phase will be complete, and you will have moved on to a competition preparation cycle (peaking). During that phase, volume is lower and intensity is higher. The lower volume means less of a physical recovery demand, so having less kcals is not seen as detrimental.

For the longest time I always wondered why I saw lifters smashing back protein bars and rice cakes full of peanut butter at competition. I always thought it was a bit counterproductive as one you could keep your blood sugars up, not much else mattered. And the more food in your stomach, the more the digestive load, the more the risk of cramp, stomach upset and poor performance.

The topic of supplements obviously came up too, and we were told that the Norwegian national team only has the option of buying supplements off approved suppliers who are fully compliant with WADA protocols and do batch testing.

Interestingly, they’ve seen very good results super dosing glutamine (30-40g daily split 10g breakfast / lunch / dinner / postworkout) to protect against illness during peaking phases for competition while a lifter is dieting to make a weight class.

On the subject of eating - this was our view on the way to lunch
On the subject of eating – this was our view on the way to lunch

One of the coolest and most unexpected things from the day was a nice little set of calorie guidelines I hadn’t seen before. Basically, BMR is;

  • GUYS: 1kcal per kg of bodyweight per hour
  • GIRLS: 0.9kcal per kg of bodyweight per hour

So for me, a 96kg lifter – 1*96*24… a BMR of 2300. Which using other calculators comes out as close as makes no difference. Then, once you know BMR you can adjust to maintenance by;

  • x1.2 for seated workers
  • x1.5 for little movement or standing activity
  • x1.8 for mainly standing activity
  • x2-2.4 for people with hard physical jobs

So say for me, working in a gym, that’s 2400*1.5 (since I only stand approx. 2/3 hours per day) that’s 3,500 as maintenance calories. BUT for hard training individuals you add 0.2 to 0.3 to those activity multipliers to get final daily figures.

So, for little old James… 2700*(1.5+0.2) = approx. 3,900kcals per day. That would be about right to keep me in the 15-17% bodyfat range, which they reckon to be optimal for training (competition may be a few % points lower). The reason given is that  in order to recover maximally you need to be sure to have enough kcals to recover during volume phases, and coming to come you want your bodyweight lower to maximise wilks points.

Finally the last of the theory(for now…), we spoke about injuries. Acute injuries tend to have 2 phases – an intense pain that sometimes will subside and allow the continuance of training, into a phase 8-16 hours later where loss of strength, function and ROM occurs, along with increased pain. In that situation we were directed to ice and compress the injured area as soon as possible and seek medical assistance.

Worse tho, is overload injuries, because as a coach you should see them coming. They can take approx. 3 times as long to recover from as they did to create. So if you pick up elbow tendonitis after a few months of low bar squatting, plan to spend the rest of the year fixing it. BUT even if you are injured, you can continue to train. You must just adjust the training style and load to ensure the effected area is not made worse, until the pain subsides.

The best part of the day, and the whole reason I made the trip, was to talk to Dietmar about programming. He kindly laid out entire annual and multi annual training phases he uses with his lifters, along with volume prescriptions. But we’re already 1,300+ words deep into this post and I haven’t even talked about the practical session yet. So, I’ll post a “Day 2, Part 2” just about programming. Because it’s really really worth spending some time on.

Unevenly loaded bench pressing as a warm up to increase stability and activation is the real deal
Unevenly loaded bench pressing as a warm up to increase stability and activation is the real deal

If you were in the gym with us today, you probably would have laughed. We did some weird shit. Everything from unevenly loaded bench press, to benching on bosu balls. It sounds crazy, and maybe it is, but from doing about 10 sets of it I can see why it COULD be beneficial.

The unevenly loaded bench press (feet up) is very cool. It reminded me a lot of the one hand barbell variation Christian T showed me around this time last year. You really have to work hard to get the shoulder stabilised during the movement, and as a warm up towards heavier weights I can see a benefit. It’s especially true considering I benched pretty strongly in my own training session afterwards despite having a lot of volume and fatigue build.

The bosu ball bench is again.. an.. intersting.. contraption. Having done it, I don’t think I’d recommend it to anyone I wasn’t coaching personally… BUT I did understand very quickly that if I didn’t set the shoulders, deliberately lower the bar and pull it apart, I’d get shaken all over the place. A useful reminder for competition bench conditions. Again, probably not something for everyone, but useful in certain circumstances.

One of the most interesting things I picked up along the way today and yesterday was the idea of using non conventional competition variations as part of the warm up to prepare and correct problems.

Finally… 1,700 words in, here’s some thoughts and random conversations that happened while we were all training in the gym together after;

  • as the bar passes your knees on deadlift, breathe out hard to snap thru to lockout
  • instead of adding weight to my sheiko bench workouts (my bench is stalling bad and I feel the sheiko style training isn’t the best solution for it) I’m adding an extra rep to every prescribed set instead of adding weight. The total volume resulting will be SUBSTANTIALLY higher (like 270kg in 2 sets today versus 10kg if adding an additional 2.5kg) and should drive gains
  • perfect execution of technique at lower intensities and higher volumes can do wonders for your total, you don’t always have to train heavy to get strong, but if you’re not training heavy you have to train to fatiuge

Here’s my bench, enjoy the crotch shot: https://www.instagram.com/p/BLjVJQSgavn


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