Wednesdays are easy, take #2

So today is the third day in the second phase of my HFT program.
It is also the first day I completed the whole thing.

During the last days, I just didn’t have enough time to work all those 200 repetitions. The pistol squats can be done just about everywhere, however, the pullups and leg raises require some form of equipment.

Today, I was teaching the the dayschool I mentioned in my original „Wednesdays are easy post“, so I had three breaks of about 15 minutes each.
Plenty of time, if you’re at least a bit smart about how you organize your sets.

As for the program, although it’s a bit harsh (my quads are sore from the last two days, so stairclimbing is no fun at all), I think it’s the right thing to do at the moment. My goals are, as mentioned before, better lower-body intermuscular coordination, a strong core that prevents spine injury and general upper-body strength. That’s why I choose the pistol squat (lower body), the hanging leg raises (core) and the pullup (upper body).

In his book, the „naked warrior“, Pavel Tsatsouline, calls the one legged squat a „full body exercise“. I completely agree on that. You need to keep control throughout the whole movement by activating a whole lot of core muscles and stabilizers. Apart from it’s obvious impact upon your legs, doing pistols squats could be seen as „pilates on steroids“ so far as your „powerhouse, box“ or whatever you wish to call it are involved. Also, not only will the pistol squat strengthen your quads, glutes and core, it’ll greatly improve your intermuscular coordination. So, instead of merely increasing the strength of single, isolated muscles, all participating muscles learn to work better as a team. For that reason, a pistol squat (or any form of squat, for that matter) will always beat any machine hands down when it comes to carry-over to any athletic discipline. Doing the unilateral version (only one leg is working) will come even closer to the requirements of combat athletes, especially stand-up figthers like me that heavily rely on kicks. As a bonus, when doing them on a tatami or mat, you
can even do without buying an mft-board or a similar gadget, since your proprioceptive training will be part of your functional strength training. Sometimes, live’s good, isn’t it?

As for the pull-ups, Charles Poliquin once said that chin-ups should be considered the „upper body squat“, because of their mass-building quality and huge
carry-over towards functional strength. Now I couldn’t be bothered with the difference between pull-ups and chin-ups. After doing a quick google search, I’ve
come to the conclusion that even bodybuilders discuss the difference betwen those terms to death, so I shall refrain from doing so. For me, what matters is the hand position, the „grip“ if you will. Since in the last phase of my HFT I was doing more-than-shoulderwidth pull-ups, I’m now doing them with a neutral grip (i.e. palms facing each other). I’m using a towel instead of my „iron gym“. This method translates into more grip-strength in grappling. Again, that’s a sport-specific benefit I get out of choosing the right non-specific (i.e. „general“) exercise.

Since after this phase I’m going to progress to a program that exclusively revolves around big, compound movements, I decided to add the hanging leg raises. That’s a pretty good exercise to use as a means of preparation for serious deadlifting. On the one hand, it works the rectus abdominis, thus stabilizing your core and making you less prone to spine injury. On the other hand, it strengthens the tensor fasciae latate (a.k.a. Hip-flexor), something that definately comes in handy when moving big weights.

Again, Sundays will be „max days“, meaning that all 200 reps will be done in one single session. Over the week, I’ll have my body and nervous system learn strength as a skill, while on sundays I’ll force physical adaptation. I’ll have to work out a rest pattern that works for me but I think that is going to be easy. Since each exercise targets different muscle groups, local fatigue probably won’t be much of an issue. For example, my arms and shoulder can rest while I’m doing my pistol squats. My glutes and quads can rest over the time it takes me to complete as much as three sets – the leg raises, the pullups and the pistols on the other side. Quite frankly, I’ve no idea how this is going to be when it comes to global fatigue, but then I’ll figure that out just Sunday, won’t I?

While I know I’m going to hate those max days (especially the following mondays), I’m really looking forwards to doing this. I like simple training programs and they don’t come any simpler than that. One lower body exercise, one for the core, one for the upper body. High intensity, high reps.

I’ve attached a video clip that shows the exercises I’m using. As you can see, I’m still doing a wall-supported version of the pistol squat on my left side. This is due to my torn side-band. As soon as I can do them on my own, I’ll do so.
As always, I’ll keep you updated on how I progress, what works and what doesn’t.

So long,

take care

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