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Old 02-02-2013, 09:48 AM   #21
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I know this is an old thread, but since it's mine, I'm bringing it back from the dead for an update. In the time since I posted this, I took all the advice that was given here and tried it ALL on my own. I found what I was looking for wasn't so much "mind-muscle connection", and I wasn't even asking the question right back then because I didn't know what I meant yet. I still think about this when I lift, a separation between upper and lower back movements. My main goal is to get stronger everywhere, but I don't think there's anyone here that would honestly not want to increase aesthetics as well if they could do it while getting stronger. Some of the things I do now may be incorrect, but experimenting has given me some results from them, so until I actually DO something that works better, I will continue.

To better prepare myself for pullups, I do a very light set of lat pulldowns. There's no intention of getting stronger from these, it's just enough resistance that I feel the contraction of the correct muscles prior to hanging my body weight from them. This has helped me to really SQUEEZE a pullup rather than just yank myself at the bar. They're still little, but I also have no trouble "flaring" lats now either. I think down the road this method will help increase size, and keep my form strict so I'm reaping the most benefit from each rep.

I'm no longer trying to touch my traps to my ears. I know this is not the plane of movement where I have strength. I exaggerate the arch in my lower back, lean forward about 10-15* and lift my shoulders straight (90* from the floor) and squeeze hard. Again, I'm far from the trap development many of you have, but with a burn like I'm getting with each rep, and no injuries from doing this, I can only ascertain that this is doing what I want.

Chins are way more difficult for me to truely "contract" myself to the bar, but I'm 95% certain that's due to a lack of functional strength in the movement, not an incorrect method. I will continue to assess this as I increase the number of BW reps I can do, and eventually add weights to the movement. From the hang, I rotate the shoulderbehind me, squeeze traps, and pull. I'm not getting the muscle burn as much as arms, but I'm still developing my body to the movement.

Barbell rows are still awkward, though I decided last time I did them that I would back off the weight considerably, and just do reps until I don't have to go through a mental checklist of the movements anymore. I don't want to be like the guys I see load up a bar, and do 5 half rows with too much weight and quit. Dumbbell rows are in the same boat.

Lower back is still what it's always been, stupid strong. Core is way off balance due to lack of proper ab training, which I'm hoping to address.
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Top Gym lifts:
Squat: 415lbs
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Old 02-02-2013, 11:18 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepingdog View Post
I know this is an old thread, but since it's mine, I'm bringing it back from the dead for an update.
I wondered!

Quote:
Originally Posted by sleepingdog View Post
In the time since I posted this, I took all the advice that was given here and tried it ALL on my own.
Good job. After the beginning, lifting becomes very user-specific.

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Originally Posted by sleepingdog View Post
To better prepare myself for pullups, I do a very light set of lat pulldowns. There's no intention of getting stronger from these, it's just enough resistance that I feel the contraction of the correct muscles prior to hanging my body weight from them. This has helped me to really SQUEEZE a pullup rather than just yank myself at the bar. They're still little, but I also have no trouble "flaring" lats now either. I think down the road this method will help increase size, and keep my form strict so I'm reaping the most benefit from each rep.
Good find. I was always good at pullups but didn't get lat flare or upper/outer lat development until I started pulling wide grip.

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Originally Posted by sleepingdog View Post
I'm no longer trying to touch my traps to my ears. I know this is not the plane of movement where I have strength. I exaggerate the arch in my lower back, lean forward about 10-15* and lift my shoulders straight (90* from the floor) and squeeze hard. Again, I'm far from the trap development many of you have, but with a burn like I'm getting with each rep, and no injuries from doing this, I can only ascertain that this is doing what I want.
I can easily injure my traps, so this adaptation has worked for me too.

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Originally Posted by sleepingdog View Post
Chins are way more difficult for me to truely "contract" myself to the bar, but I'm 95% certain that's due to a lack of functional strength in the movement, not an incorrect method. I will continue to assess this as I increase the number of BW reps I can do, and eventually add weights to the movement. From the hang, I rotate the shoulderbehind me, squeeze traps, and pull. I'm not getting the muscle burn as much as arms, but I'm still developing my body to the movement.
Tightening the mid-back is key for strong pullups or chin ups. Do to arm position, you can't contract as much with hands supinated and your biceps do more work. Again, experiment with hand grip width and try doing pullups with a D-handle for variation. There's also the good old prison row aka inverted pushup.

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Barbell rows are still awkward, though I decided last time I did them that I would back off the weight considerably, and just do reps until I don't have to go through a mental checklist of the movements anymore. I don't want to be like the guys I see load up a bar, and do 5 half rows with too much weight and quit. Dumbbell rows are in the same boat.
This one has so many variables...hip angle, grip type and width. I will be mixing Pendlays using a medium pronated grip (primary move) and Yates rows using a narrow supinated grip (secondary move) and, when I add volume, DB Rows. For these, I let my grip angle develop naturally and focus on different lines of pull (at least, until they get heavy).
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Old 02-02-2013, 12:46 PM   #23
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JD, for the back tightness with chins, that took a LOT of practice, and it's still far from perfect. The farther into the set, the less squeeze I can manage without fully resetting. I would guess over the last two months I've gone from 3-4 really good, tight pulls to 6. When I get to 10, I'll add a small amount of weight so that I'm back at 3-4 and work my way up again. It will be a long, but rewarding, process.
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Personal tips that I've learned along my still short journey:

Leave your ego at the door.
Prepare. Showing up dehydrated, hungry, and tired will guarantee failure.
Be ready to fight for that grinder of a PR.
Listen and learn. Absorb everything you can, and assimilate that knowledge.

Top Gym lifts:
Squat: 415lbs
Deads: 440lbs
Bench: 315lbs
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Old 02-02-2013, 03:32 PM   #24
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I like the plan.
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