Me…attempting to squat 275 lbs.

So, some of you may have seen my post from last week where I tested my maxes on squat and bench… as you can see they went pretty well.  The week before I maxed out, I de-loaded, and then in the days leading up to maxing out I just did some light lifting.  After maxing, my good friend and Coach Mike Robertson sent me an email basically saying, “OK…you have the next 10 days to do whatever you want in the gym.  Your new program will start after that.  Remember to have fun, but also remember that fun is FUN, fun isn’t STUPID!”  Hmmm…what ever could he have meant by that?

Umm… well… uhh… ahem… doo-dee-doo… lah-tee-dah…:::whistles and looks around innocently:::

So maybe, just maybe I have a slight reputation for doing really ridiclous stuff occasionally.  Like, I dunno… taking a Beyond the Whiteboard Challenge (a CrossFit website) and seeing how many times I can deadlift 155 lbs in 2 minutes causing my glutes and hamstrings to seize for a solid 25 minutes afterwards? (answer: 54 reps.  Beating every CF female in the world who entered the contest! ;-D)  

Or maybe taking a Survival of the Fittest challenge and seeing how many times I can front squat my body weight of 170 lbs? (answer: 18, and I used a Safety Bar backwards cuz I’m a cheater).  

Or possibly he was referring to taking Bret Contreras up on his Sexy Challenge, killing myself to beat THE Jen Sinkler’s total so I could be reigning QUEEN of the Sexy Challenge only to have her crazy-ass do it AGAIN a few days later just to come back and beat ME (she is one BAAAAAAAAD chick.  If you didn’t know, now you know!)  

And it was worth it because I front squatted my body weight again, and beat myself by 8 reps for a crazy 26 reps.  Yes, I was only using 165 this time instead of 170 (per Bret’s instructions of rounding down to the near 5 lbs) but I was pumped either way.

(Side note:  notice that every time I completed one of these things it was a “challenge.”  Apparently the way to get me to act like an idiot is to make it a contest with the prize nothing other than bragging rights).

I can just see it now…”Hey Molly… wanna see who can eat more live taranchulas?  The winner gets to tell everyone they’re more awesome than the loser!  Alright Molly you go first…!”

So yeah… maybe now you’re starting to get an idea of what Mike thinks I might do something ridiculous when I have free reign to program my own training.  So what did I decide to do this time?  Another nutty CrossFit challenge?  A ridiculous 1,000 pushup contest?  Or maybe I tried to cage fight a giraffe? (I would totally win by the way…)

Nope… you’re all wrong.  I decided to take the biggest challenge of all, a challenge from myself… to reign in my crazy ways and spend this week getting back to the basics.  

Yes, you read that correctly.  

I am taking this week in the gym to do exercises similar to what appeared in some of my beginner programs from Mike.  So that means Goblet Squats to Box, Half Kneeling Cable Rows and Presses, Tall Kneeling Lat Pulldowns, Prone Row to External Rotation…and all kinds of other ‘exciting stuff.’  And I tell you what… it’s kicking my butt!  

Those exercises that I just listed may not look like much, but when done correctly, they can absolutely annihilate you… and we are only doing 2 sets of 12 reps!  (Another good example of this is when I helped out with the mobility station at the EliteFTS Learn to Train Seminar last fall.  Out of all 5 stations: squat, bench, deadlift, strongman, and mobility, all the guys and gals complained that the mobility station was the hardest! ;-D). The reason I am doing this is 3-fold:

1.  We can all benefit from constantly refining our basic movement patterns.  Tony Gentilcore even wrote about this recently and you can read about it here.  

Basically, as we become intermediate and advanced lifters, we sometimes neglect the really basic stuff that allowed us to get to an intermediate or advanced level in the first place.  It’s kind of like when my brilliant friends have a hard time helping their 7th grader with Algebra.  It’s not that my friends can’t do it, it’s just that they are a little rusty and need a little reminder and a little tune-up and they are good to go.  Same thing with these movements patterns.  I needed to be reminded to:

               – Get tall through my ribcage not my lumbar spine, while keeping my ribcage down (yes, sounds weird and it’s hard!)

               – Stay tight in my anterior core, obliques and glutes to help stabilize my body when my limbs are moving every which way

               – What it felt like to get my chest “out” without hyper-extending my lumbar spine

And boy was it exhausting!

2.  To see how I have improved, and where I still need improvement.  When I first started with Mike’s programs 2 1/2 years ago, I was a disaster.  I couldn’t sit in a proper half-kneeling position without falling over.  Now, I can sit in a proper half kneeling position and do all kinds of chops, rows, presses, pulldowns, and the like.  

My training partner was shocked at how far I’d come and said everything looked fantastic!  Of course, there were a few cues I needed to get in the right position (like the ones I listed above), but all in all, once I got cued, I was able to maintain that position pretty darn well.  It’s a good feeling to know that all of the hard work you’ve put in has been worth it, and it’s also great to pinpoint where you still need help.

3.  To exercise self-control.  I have said it before and I’ll say it again —  in my experience, willpower and self-control are like muscles, the more you exercise them, the stronger they become.  There was a time many years ago when my self-control/willpower was absolutely pathetic.  I was an, “I-want-it-now-don’t-wanna-wait-instant-gratification kind of person.”  

Over the last decade, I have had a lot of practice exercising self-control and I have been pleased to watch it get stronger and stronger every day.  Any opportunity where it serves my best interest to practice self-control (see: above reasons) should be taken in my opinion.

I can’t lie… I would probably rather be doing all kinds of crazy rep challenges or body weight exercise contests this week (my friend Allen Tucker calls me a “closet CrossFitter”) but I decided to do what was in my best interest instead, and take it back to the basics.  Have you ever done that?  Have you taken time off from your hard and heavy lifting to work on the fundamentals?  How did it go?  Did you improve?  Tell me about it below!  Thanks for reading!

18 Responses to Back to Basics… A Challenge from Myself…

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