Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Prison Workout 3: Gear List and Preparation

While the equipment list for PWO#3 is short, I make MANY suggestions here...some out of necessity and some items of luxury. I will recommend some "best practices" or "preferred" items. Keep this is mind: Expenditures are investments in your personal health and wellness. What is your fitness worth??

Floor Space: about 4'x8' of area is generally enough room. Bigger is better. The height of the ceiling should allow your barbell AND PLATES to be raised overhead. For some of you in basement venues, you'll have to do overhead lifting while ensuring the weight plates rise between the joists in your basement ceilings!

Bar: An Olympic/Powerlifting bar is not absolutely necessary. A good Oly bar is obviously the preferred item here. However, for many of you smaller, shorter statured participants, even a cheap beginner barbell set will be acceptable. But on the other hand, for some larger, taller participants, the length of the bar between the weights is important for certain exercises. For example, during overhead squats, less flexible and taller users require quite a wide grip on the bar...extending almost out to the weight plates. At near $300, a high quality bar is not cheap...but it is an investment. I bought my Pendlay bar through Wichita Falls Weightlifting.

Weight plates: How much weight? All depends on two factors: your strength and your pocketbook. The deadlift is going to be the heaviest lift for most participants. Try to acquire as much as you can deadlift for 1 repetition. But keep this in mind: If you cannot acquire that much weight, we'll easily be able to work around that obstacle. Email or call me...we'll figure out what you need.

Rubber bumper style plates are most preferred. I personally use Kraiburg brand plates. I recognize many of you will be forced (financially, availability, gym rules, etc) to use metal plates. Solid rubber bumper plates are safer to use than their metal counterparts. They can be "bailed on," or dropped during a failed lift. There are certain healthy risks you simply CANNOT take with metal plates. Users of metal plates cannot work up to challenging loads of questionable success...for fear of dropping and damaging flooring -or- from a user trying to "save" the bar from striking the floor, causing personal injury. Either is bad. If all you have available are metal plates, you must recognize some shortcomings in your training.

Also, consider the diameter of the plates as critical for some lifts. The standard diameter is 450mm (17.5 inches). Some companies make training discs to make this allowance. Other users make cut-outs from thick plywood. Other users simple purchase only a pair of 10s or 15s in solid rubber bumper plates to get the bar the proper height off the floor (some care to not bend or crack thin plates must be taken here!). Whatever bar/weight combo you choose, please consider one of these options to safely ensure your bar is the standard height from the floor. You will not want to reach all the way down to the floor when all you're loading is some small-diameter 2.5#s or 5#s.

Collars: Don't care which ones...just get something that will keep the weights from sliding off the ends. I use cheap spring collars.

Pullup bar: Use your creativity here. For those who do full pullups, you obviously need a strong enough mounting system for your bodyweight. Pipe, nipples, and flanges are an inexpensive way to attach a decent bar to ceiling joists in a garage or basement. Another option is a portable bar, whether bought or made. For those of you who cannot yet do pullups, look into assist products like Iron Woody bands. Assist bands are better than scaling to inverted rows!! We will be using the high pullup bar for other movements, such as hanging-knees-to-elbows. Do your best to get a high bar! Lastly, use gym rings if you have to.

Timer: A stopwatch is fairly important, but not as important as a countdown. Many modern wristwatches have repeating countdown timer and interval timer features. We will not use interval timers (different length segments). We will only use a repeating countdown timer, such as 30- or 60-seconds. If your watch does not have such a feature, check out the GymBoss or other boxing timers. It must repeat on its own and beep and/or vibrate.

Chalk: Unless you've used chalk on your hands before, you probably cannot appreciate the difference it makes in your grip. It's messy. Some gyms won't allow it. It's not critical, but more of a luxury. If you already have all the above items, maybe a small investment here won't break the bank. I'll probably buy a few bricks and a bucket to save my hands during this PWO#3. (and when some idiot in my gym gets it all over the other equipment, a new rule against it will quickly be posted. Thanks idiot.) ... and to you who will post "I wear gloves": So what? I don't care. Wear them.

Footwear: I'm really starting to knit-pick here. I recommend flat-bottomed shoes. Some popular barbell lifting shoes are Converse Chuck Taylor's and the goofy Vibram Five Fingers. Before I got my VFFs, I did a lot of the lifts barefooted or in socks. I got a much better feel for the ground. Wearing cushioned running shoes is not the best option for serious barbell lifting. Barefoot is cheap. Just keep good hygiene.

What is NOT suggested/necessary: Lifting straps. Weight belts. Cushioned running shoes. Mirrors. Squat rack. Lifting straps do allow you to lift more weight, but at the cost of weakening your hand grip. Weight belts do prevent training injury, however they frequently "protect" some muscles from being strengthened. Those same muscles protected in training are then used in real life....and BAM....injury. Forget the belt, and work all the muscles. Cushioned running shoes....already discussed above. Mirrors: Do yourself a favor and do NOT look into a mirror during these lifts. All it will do is jack-up your mind. I always turn away from the reflection so I can concentrate on what I should be focused on. Squat rack: We will be doing all our lifts from the floor. A half-cage, squat stands, or power rack might help if you desire to go really heavy, or adjust some movements (like substituting back squats for front squats). For everyone else, you'll probably be just fine picking up the weight from the ground each time.

SUMMARY: The list of required equipment is short. Get the equipment now and start practicing some of the more technical lifts as I post them.

No comments: