Workout 22/04/2016 – leg day and a new exercise. Safety squats!

On a day that I’m stillĀ very stiff andĀ very sore from my last arm/back/shoulder day (damn those pull-up negatives!), I hit leg day with limited enthusiasm. Luckily I really enjoyed the session, with thanks to a new barbell – the safety squat barbell. As I’ve said before, I have issues with back squats. I can’t get my weight in the right spot, I lean way too far forward, and my depth is shocking. Experimenting with front squats has helped – with those I can squat deeper and with better technique, but I have to drop the weight. Fine for technique, not so great for my legs.

The safety squat bar sits on your back, but has handles across your shoulders that you hold at the front of the body. I knew straight away we were going to be friends. With this bar I could squat deeper, with better technique, and still maintain a decent weight. In fact, I ended the session feeling that if I did a few more sessions at that weight, I’d probably be able to increase the weight pretty soon. I even feel like I might be able to squat unsupervised with this bar.

safety squat bar

I know it’s not the solution to just stop back squats all together, but it’s nice to know that I can improve my depth, technique and weight in my squat.

3 sets:

  • 10 x safety squats (30-35 kg, 40 – 45 kg x 2 sets) – we weren’t sure how much the bar weighed!
  • 20 x walking 2 pulses lunges (no weight, 10 kg each hand x 2 sets)

1 set:

  • 25 x leg extensions (25 kg)
  • 25 x hack squats (raised heel squats)

Workout 17/03/2016 – squats and opera singing

Yesterday I compared doing squats with Opera singing. When I first finished high school, I jumped straight into a Bachelor of Classical Music (opera singing). Ultimately I never finished it, and this story probably indicates why.

I wasn’t (still aren’t) a fan of opera. I didn’t (still don’t!) know what good opera technique sounded like, and I certainly didn’t know what it felt like. When I was singing in a way that felt comfortable and ‘right’, I was told I was doing it wrong. When I sung in a way that felt physically odd and sounded (to me) bad, I was told I was doing it right. But only sometimes. I could feel odd and sound bad in many ways, and sometimes I was told I was wrong and others I was right – but I couldn’t tell the difference.

To me, squats provide a really similar experience. I’ll do 10 reps and none of them will ‘feel right’, but at the end of the set my PT will tell me that reps 6, 7 and 8 were good. But to me they all felt different, and certainly none of them felt right. I explained this to my PT yesterday (including the classical singing anecdote) and he looked at me kind of confused, but also like he kind of got it. We talked about my absolute discomfort with back squats, but how my (rarely practiced) front squats felt better. We did squats san-the barbell, which my arms in back and front squat position, and ascertained that even without the barbell I couldn’t do a squat with my arms in back squat position to a decent depth or with decent technique. Holding my arms in a front squat position was better though, so we went down some weight and played around with that.

My PT realised that if he verbally cues me at the right time I push my weight back where it needs to be, and I did some really decent low squatting reps like this. Unfortunately I couldn’t do very many, and (luckily my PT was spotting me closely!) I ultimately ended up losing power and falling over backwards. But that’s ok – I felt like it was my best squat session in a really long time. I had a technique breakthrough, and although I’m a long way off being able to confidently do them on my own with good technique, yesterday’s session took me a step forward.

2 sets:

  • 10 x back squats (40 kg, 50 kg)
  • 10 x high jump squats with arm thrust

1 set:

  • 9 x front squats (30 kg) – failure and rest at rep 5, failure and stop at rep 9
  • 10 x high jump squats with arm thrust

3 sets:

  • 10 x horizontal leg press (80kg) with wide-legged stance, and angled toes