KR Training 2017-04-22 – BP2/DPS1 Quick Hits

Saturday April 22, 2017 was another fantastic day at KR Training. On tap: Basic Pistol 2 (our Defensive Pistol Skills Essentials) and Defensive Pistol Skills 1. These are two of the core – and arguably most important – classes we teach. It’s here that students go from casual plinking at the range to starting to acquire the skills and understand the realities involved in using a handgun for self-defense.

We had a good turnout, with over a dozen students in the morning, and over half staying for the afternoon class. For those all-day students it’s a long day, but one packed with learning and growth.

A bit of an interesting day too, as the weather took a “pleasant” turn. Instead of the warm weather we’ve been having, a cold front blew through just as class was starting. Sure 60º–ish all day isn’t that cold, but the wind was strong and bitterly cold; not all students were prepared for it. I can’t totally blame folks, but now instead of my usual “wear sunscreen” I’m going to have to start suggesting to people to ensure to always bring clothing/gear to mind the weather – even if it doesn’t make logical sense, because days like today apparently do happen. 😉

As well, I was the Lead Instructor for this day. Karl was off at the annual A Girl and A Gun Conference, so I held down the fort. I had capable assistants in Larry, Brett, and Justin. We had a mix of students: young and old, male and female – we ran the gamut. Again, I always like to point out demographics because there are people who think they know who and what gun owners are, but really have no clue.

John Daub, instructing students on the range during KR Training’s Basic Pistol 2 class.

As for some quick take-homes:

  • Trigger press. Remember? Prreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesssss. Apply smooth pressure. Yes the pressure will and must increase, but keep it smooth (not sudden).
  • Grip should be strong (“Homer choking Bart”), and consistent. When you are holding the gun in the ready position, be gripping HARD – don’t tighten up when you get the gun out and in response to pressing the trigger.
  • Going fast is important, but not at the expense of accuracy. At this stage I’d rather you work on good mechanics, establishing good technique, and working to get acceptable hits. Speed will come.

One other thing.

For some, it can be a hard day. Not even so much on the skills and direct learning aspects, but what you go through, what you put yourself through. There can be a lot of emotions, a lot of discomfort. These two classes are filled with novel experiences, and sometimes uncomfortable experiences.

But guess what?

You made it through.

You are more aware.

You are stronger.

You are more capable.

And that smile on your face tells me, it was a good day.

Thank you for coming out and training with us. Thank you for putting your faith and trust in us, to help you learn and grow in such an important aspect of your life.

Practice well. Train hard. We’ll see you out on the range.

2017-04-25 training log

Made a last minute decision to NOT go to the gym.

It’s bench day, and my arms are not feeling it. There’s just enough ache/pain, and it’s been here for a couple days. I’ve been massaging and stretching.

As I was getting ready to go, I was just thinking to myself how to modify the session to not make things worse, e.g. I wasn’t going to superset in pulling work. As I kept thinking, the best solution? Just rest.

We’ll see how the rest of the week fares.

2017-04-24 training log

Nose bleed while squatting – achievement unlocked?

Yup. Squatting, then I feel something running out of my nose, then the distincting taste of blood. Alas, it’d mean more if this had been achieved under some heavy load, but it was nothing glorious. I had blown my nose to breathe better, and I guess while doing so I popped a bloos vessel. So, nothing glamorous. 🙂

In fact, the whole session was nothing glamourous.

I just felt off with every rep. Not getting depth, falling forward, all sorts of things. 😦

Top set, 4th rep, and I just racked it. Every rep had some problem with it, so I just racked it. As soon as I did tho, I felt I should have at least gone for the 5th rep and tried to push through.

Did pause squats because I needed that reinforcement: hit depth, clearly. It was good work. But after that, just packed up and went home.

Why? Not sure. I did have a LONG day teaching on Saturday, and spent most of Sunday sleeping/resting; so maybe I’m still just off from that. I also did have my mind on some other things, so that probably played a part as well.

Not the best day, but it’s a day. Moving on.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 210 x 3
    • 245 x 3
    • 280 x 3
    • 315 x 4
  • Pause Squat
    • 245 x 5
    • 245 x 5
    • 245 x 5

2017-04-21 training log

It was a day.

On Pressing, the top set was the same weight as the “5” week from last cycle. I hit the same reps, which straight-up isn’t progression, but given the work-up was more than last cycle I consider it progress. It’s not a lot of progress, but it’s progress.

I did press the work sets using wrist-wraps, given my experiences and thoughts from a couple days ago (bench pressing day). It actually threw me off some because it does put the bar in a slightly different position and thus the bar path is different. The first set was actually really screwed up because the path was unfamiliar. I don’t feel I NEED wraps on pressing day as press doesn’t seem to cause me issues, but if it is wrist extension issues that put some stress on everything, it isn’t a bad thing.

Overall I felt kinda weaker today, but when I think about it I really wasn’t. I pushed the pressing pretty far, leaving a “maybe 1 more” in the tank, so I just didn’t have a lot left for the rest of the session. But then all “not-pressing” movements I did better on, so I think I was overall stronger, I just pushed hard. Whatever. It was what it was.

Dips are interesting to me. Every time I do them (since I started doing them again), the first couple reps are hard. My body feels unstable and doesn’t like it, taking me the first 2-3 reps to actually find a groove. Unstable, shaky, can’t go all the way down. But then by rep 3-4 I’m going just below parallel. I reckon it’s just from being “tired” and I have to get things into it, but as well the body feels…. loose? Not sure how to really describe it, because I’m not really sure what it is yet. Today I thought about scrapping them, but no, it’s really a sign that I need to keep doing them to suss out what the problem is and get better.

Otherwise, today was… a day. It’s technically cycle 5 so things SHOULD start to get tougher. It is what it is. I felt it was an OK day, just not a great day.

  • Press (superset with pulldowns)
    • bar x whatever
    • 75 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 3
    • 120 x 5
    • 140 x 5
    • 155 x 5
    • 140 x 8
    • 120 x 10
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
    • 140 x 12
  • Dips (superset with shrugs)
    • BW x 8
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 7
  • DB Shrugs
    • 85e x 15
    • 85e x 15
    • 85e x 12
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 30
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 11
  • Skullcrushers
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 8
  • Hammer Curl
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10

2017-04-20 training log

I felt out of groove today, but I’m not sure if it was just the day or the minor change.

The minor change was my deadlift setup. Long ago my setup put my feet and the bar at “the 3rd eyelet” on my shoes. Then some time ago I moved it to the 4th as that felt “more correct” to have the bar in so closer. But today for some reason when I set the bar down after the last rep of the first set, I opted to pause and look down at my feet to see where the bar was — it was at the 2nd eyelet. So I kept working from there. The change was the bar didn’t start as close to my body, but it did go straight up instead of a little out then up (gravity recentering things once the bar broke ground). I think that’s better, but at the heavier weights it felt more like I was starting out of balance, since the bar was a little away from me.

I’ll just keep playing with it.

On hypers, I played around with foot angle. So with my new approach it has the feet pointing outwards at around 45º. For sure I feel it more in my glutes than my hams. I tried straight, and I also tried pointing my feet inwards as much as I could. The more inwards things went, the more I felt it in my hams. Whatever I did, of course both glutes and hams were working, but it was interesting to see how the foot angle did play a part.

Another play around was the leg curls. In the past I’ve tried to keep my feet loose, and then found when things got tougher my body naturally wanted to flex my foot, so I tried to shy away from that because I didn’t want things to become easier. Well, watching a video the other day, apparently flexing the foot takes the calves out of it, so I tried that today. Of course, I was stronger. So… could it be that I’ve been more dealing with my calves and they’ve been a weak point and holding things back on working my hamstrings? Could be. I’m going to keep playing with this as well.

  • Deadlift
    • 170 x 5
    • 215 x 5
    • 260 x 3
    • 280 x 5
    • 325 x 5
    • 365 x 8 (8 rep PR)
    • 325 x 7
    • 280 x 10
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
  • Leg Curls
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12

2017-04-18 training log

Because of my continuing arm/elbow issues, this cycle I’m changing up a few things. And today, while I planned a couple changes, there was also an unplanned change that I think made the biggest difference.

First change is while I’m keeping the 5/3/1 progression, I’m adopting Paul Carter’s rep scheme: 5/4/3/2/1. Then on the top set, it’s 1+. The intention is to keep intensity but reduce volume at higher intensities, which seems to aggravate the pain. Hit a single at the top, and if I’m feeling OK give it a little more – but I don’t have to set a record here, just get SOME work in, whatever I can do with the pain. After that, an AMRAP set plus a 50% set, again to get some volume at a reasonable intensity level, but again here I don’t need to push it to death; mind the pain and don’t make things worse.

Second change was not using elbow sleeves. I started using them when I had my first round of pain because some suggest it helps. Does it help? I don’t know. For sure knee sleeves make my knees happier when I squat and deadlift, but the jury is still out on the elbow sleeves. Part of the answer will lie in working without them for a bit, then with them, then without, and just alternating for a bit to see how things go. The other factor here is I have wondered if the sleeves contribute to the pain, given how they add bulk in the “elbow pit”, so when the elbow angle grows more acute, there’s some lever compression from the sleeve material and it adds additional pressure to the tendons in there. I’ve felt this, but hard to say if the sleeves are causing it or just happen to be there. Still, worth trying without sleeves to see how things go.

I wanted to make a third change: wrist wraps. I generally don’t use them, but I know they add rigidity and stability to the wrist area. Given all that I’ve experienced, I wondered if they might help. But I’m already changing 2 factors, no need to add a third.

But that said, it still came into play.

As I was setting up on my first set, I found myself clenching the bar. I mean, I normally grip the bar, but now I was really crushing it – like a grip where the bar should start to ooze out from between my fingers. Of course, that’s how you SHOULD bench, but it’s something I tend to overlook. But today, I really focused on that, and I think that above all things helped me out. I’ve been noticing how the pain exists, and there’s a lot in my brachioradialis and brachialis. The flexed wrist seems to play into this, given how it causes the muscles and skeletal structure to have to then support things. I also think about how the pain existed when I squated under similar form. It’s making some level of sense here. So the rigid wrist? Helped a bunch.

Now, when I got to 225, my wrists couldn’t support it alone. So yes, I’m thinking always crushing, but bare wrists on the work up, then heavier weights get the wraps. I’ll be curious over the next 2 weeks (3’s week and 1+ week) how it goes.

As for the other two changes, I will continue without sleeves to see how it goes; jury still out. And I do think the reduced reps should help for a bit as well. I should be able to still make progress. Hitting 225×8 today wasn’t a PR by any stretch, but all things considered it’s acceptable.

As for other things…

I am wondering if a bigger part of the problem is rowing. Maybe not rowing directly, but for sure I find myself more irritated after rowing. One thought I have is to stop supersetting pressing with pulling. Yes I know that’s stricter 5/3/1, but I’d rather work pain-free. My thought is to stop supersetting, focus on solid pressing work, which I expect might go better without rowing contributing to arm issues. Then do back work but bump it up a bit. Like right now since I rest so long between sets, I’d be curious if I dropped the weight and rest interval down (e.g. drop 10-20% weight, and no more than 60 seconds between sets). That would bump up the work, but drop the intensity, which may be better for me. I don’t want to change this JUST yet because again so many factors already in flux. But it’s on the brain.

DB benching I am trying to change slightly as well. I found I was keeping the DB’s closer to each other, which was a nice range of motion, but then a more acute elbow angle in the bottom position and pain, stability, etc.. So now I’m keeping them further out, with the outer edge of the DB touching the outer edge of my pec — keep the DB’s fully outside the body. That seemed to help, but of course weight and reps had to go down due to the leverage change, but that’s fine.

Kroc rows stopped short, just irritation.

Other things were what they were, but the one notable change was instead of normal BB curls I switched to reverse curls. Again, if my issues are with brachioradialis and brachialis, might as well work to get more blood into the area AND do some more direct work to strengthen them.

We’ll see how this plays out over the coming weeks.

  • Bench Press (superset cable rows)
    • bar x whatever
    • 105 x 5
    • 130 x 4
    • 160 x 3
    • 170 x 2
    • 200 x 1
    • 225 x 8
    • 170 x 15 (AMRAP)
    • 170 x 5 (50%)
  • Cable Rows
    • 105 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
  • DB Bench Press (superset with Kroc rows)
    • 75e x 10
    • 75e x 8
    • 75e x 8
  • Kroc Row
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 15
  • DB Upright Row
    • 30e x 15
    • 30e x 15
    • 30e x 15
  • Overhead Rope Extensions
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 11
  • EZ Bar Reverse Curl
    • 45 x 15
    • 45 x 15
    • 45 x 15

2017-04-17 training log

Another cycle begins. This is technically cycle 5, since resetting. Things seem to be progressing well. Today was a couple interesting mental milestones.

First, 300’s. Today was the first time of hitting 300’s during my “light” day. No more flirting in the 300’s, where maybe I do 1 or 2 sets in the 300’s during a cycle. No, this is the light day and I’m 300’s. So for whatever reason, it still messes with my head a bit, but I can easily put it out because I know I won’t have any problems. I mean, if I’m scheduled for 300 today, hitting at least 5 reps should be easy, right?

I hit 7 reps, which is a rep PR at that weight, so that’s cool. I had at least one left in the tank, and was good with that as that’s where it should be. I look at charts and progression, where a theoretical 1RM is (375 or so), and that’s pretty darn cool to me, to see this sort of progression after so long. I feel confident that by the end of the year the goal of 405 is attainable. So 300’s don’t really mess with me much; at this point it’s just cool to be finally in the 300’s. 🙂

Second, 230. 230# is an interesting number for me, especially on squats, because way back when I was starting and doing Starting Strength I had worked up to 230 and plateaued there for quite a while. It was a confounding number for me because I worked and worked and couldn’t bust through. I also know that while it was 230, it was a terrible 230. Horrible form, probably cut dept short. Just poor. But now? It’s just a warm-up weight. Now? After PR’ing at 300×7, I’m doing 3×5 pause squats with that weight. So, any time I have 230 it’s always a step back for me, to remember how things were, and to see how far I’ve come. And yes, that I still have a ways to go. But, just keep at it.

So all in all, good day. Rep PR, pause squats went well. Lunges took a bunch out of me because I took very long strides. But all good work put in.

Oh, there was one point of concern/interest. During pause squats I noticed when I came out of the hole my right leg would… it’s hard to describe, but instead of the leg extending straight, there was a sort of outward “push”. Basically instead of straight forces extending, some lateral forces. Basically this could be a knee-blowout in the making. I don’t know how long I’ve been doing this, but I did notice it and once I did worked to ensure “straighter” forces on extension. I will have to keep an eye on this.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 210 x 3
    • 230 x 5
    • 265 x 5
    • 300 x 7 (7 rep PR)
  • Pause Squat
    • 230 x 5
    • 230 x 5
    • 230 x 5
  • Lunges
    • BW x 12e
    • BW x 12e
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 9e
  • Leg Extensions
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
    • 50 x 12
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 10

2017-04-14 training log

Deload.

  • Press (superset with pulldowns)
    • bar x whatever
    • 70 x 5
    • 70 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 90 x 5
    • 110 x 5
    • 110 x 5
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
  • Dips (superset with shrugs)
    • BW x 8
    • BW x 8
  • DB Shrugs
    • 80e x 15
    • 80e x 15
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 15
  • Skullcrushers
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
  • Hammer Curl
    • 40e x 10
    • 40e x 10

2017-04-13 training log

Deload. Nothing to write home about.

  • Deadlift
    • 170 x 5
    • 170 x 5
    • 210 x 5
    • 210 x 5
    • 250 x 5
    • 250 x 5
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
  • Leg Curls
    • 40 x 12
    • 40 x 12
  • Crunches
    • BW x 20

2017-04-11 training log

Deload continues.

Today was an interesting experiment.

First, bench technique. I was watching someone’s bench video and they had comments about tightness, including squeezing the glutes. One thing I’ve struggled with is keeping the lower body tight while I bench, and glute squeeze makes a lot of sense both in terms of actually being tight AND helping to encourage overall lower body tightness. So I tried it, but alas, I will need to really modify my technique. Either putting my feet way behind me (closer to my head) or way out away from me (legs almost straight). It’s a matter of longer legs, not quite a competition bench height. Because when I squeeze like that, you can’t help but have the lower half rise up to a certain level, then you need to adust everything else to meet it. I’m very curious and still should play with this some, but for now I’ll just file it away.

I didn’t feel much arm/elbow pain until later — DB benching. It felt like in the bottom position the DBs were close to my body and caused a more acute elbow angle, thus. Kinda interesting observation. I may reduce the DB weights and keep them further away from my body to see what happens. Or I may move away from DB’s for a bit and maybe do inclines. I don’t know. If anything, I expected today might give me some idea of where to go, but it just gave me more questions.

That said, my current feeling is to take a Paul Carter-like approach. Keep the 6 sets working up, but 5/4/3/2/1/1+ rep scheme. The + on the last set is that in general I will not go for 5/3/1 prescribed reps, just focus on the single — and this is every week, regardless of weight. So the progression remains 5/3/1 but the rep scheme is Carter’s. If however I am feeling good, go ahead and go for reps on that last set. Then instead of the pyramid down sets I may not do anything additional, or I may try for a simple first-set-last or something of the like. Something where I get some volume and some work, but again it’s all going to depend on how things feel.

Otherwise, it’s just a deload.

  • Bench Press (superset cable rows)
    • bar x whatever
    • 105 x 5
    • 105 x 5
    • 130 x 5
    • 130 x 5
    • 155 x 5
    • 155 x 5
  • Cable Rows
    • 105 x 12
    • 105 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
  • DB Bench Press (superset with Kroc rows)
    • 75e x 10
    • 75e x 10
  • Kroc Row
    • 50 x 10
    • 50 x 10
  • DB Upright Row
    • 25e x 15
    • 25e x 15
  • Overhead Rope Extensions
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 10
  • EZ Bar Curl (narrow grip)
    • 55 x 15
    • 55 x 15