This is the fifth installment of my series documenting my experience with the powerlifting/strongman template created Sebastian Oreb. The program consists of 12 weeks, dedicated to building strength for strongman competitors. The program is split into three different phases culminating in a competitive event in the 13th week. I will not be competing in anything after the program. I am interested in how this affects my powerlifting numbers, which are the three big lifts: squat, bench & deadlift.
Squats: 4×4 at 382lbs
It feels great to be back under a regular barbell for squats. Not having squatted for a month using a regular bar, there was a tiny bit of readjustment during the warm up sets to get back proper squat technique. One adjustment I would make to the program, is to throw in a regular squat somewhere in the first phase, at a possibly lighter weight, but higher volume in order to keep the technique pattern ingrained.
After completing the first heavy set of squats, I understand the purpose of including SSB squats, in the first phase of development. The regular squat was a lot less taxing on the back, I felt less inclined to ‘fold over’ due to a week back. I did find myself shifting the knees backwards during the ascent, which would suggest a back dominant squat, since I am relying more on my strength in the back to ‘good morning’ up the weight, rather than use my leg strength.
SSB Reverse Lunges: 3×10 at 80lbs – 100lbs – superset – SSB Single Leg Calf Raise: 3×12 80lbs-100lbs
I had to trade in reverse lunges in for walking lunges, due to size limitations in my garage. I was hoping to see the end of lunges in the program, but I’m sure thats because I haven’t performed any sort of single leg work in at least one year, so this is probably sorely needed on my part.
I had to change over to a seated calf raise, again due to equipment restraints, I’m continuing on with the SSB single leg calf raises on a 45lb plate. I focused on getting a fuller range of motion, by making sure my heel touches the floor on every rep as well as trying to focus on a squeeze at the top of each rep
Rowing: 20 minutes – 4344meters / 252 cals
Extra cardio thrown in here, as a good finisher. I planned on adding an extra cardio session during the week, however, my workouts ran a little longer than expected.
High Incline Press: 4×4, 205lbs
This movement was tough, as I can’t move my head around the barbell, so the movement felt very awkward. I attempted 225, but was only able to perform two reps, before I felt like I could complete a third rep. I dropped the weights to 205lb, and was able to perform four reps at an RPE8.5. I feel that this is a great accessory movement for the overhead press, as it allows my to build some shoulder musculature without having to rely on the core in the standing version of this lift,
I opted for un-weighted variants to perform in between sets of the press during this week as my arms weren’t feeling up for extra intensity. I completed a total of 79 reps over the course of the superset.
Beltless Overhead Press: 4×8, 135lbs -Superset- Fat grip Row: 4×8, 95lbs
I wanted to sub in the beltless press variety, as the template called again for some dumbbell work that I don’t have access to.
Super interesting discovery, is how grip diameter of a bar affects the weights able to be lifted. The program calls for an axel deadlift, however, not having an axel barbell, I improvised by wrapping my wrist wraps around the barbell for a larger diameter grip, this small adjustment, halved the amount of weight I could row. I tried to row 135lbs and could barely keep my grip on the bar halfway up my shins. I dropped the weight a lot to 95bs, which allowed me to get the required reps in with the new grip size.
1″ Deficit Deadlift: 4×4, 380lbs
It also felt really good to start doing conventional grip deadlifts again. Much like the SSB squats performed during Phase 1 to build up the back muscles, my back felt a lot more solid during the conventional grip deficit deadlifts. Having performed the snatch grip variety for four weeks, created a lot more tension in the entire back musculature in order to lift the weight. Without the added stress of the wider grip, the range of motion felt a lot shorter this week, even though I was on a 45lb plate.
It would have been preferable to have a regular stretch of 10 meters in order to walk in a straight line. However, working within the constraints of the size of my garage gym area. I walked in circles for approximately 10 meters. This is definitely taxing on my grip first and foremost, which highlights another weak link in my body.
Romanian Deadlift: 3×8, 225lbs – 275lbs
Having performed the RDL’s in the previous phase, this just continued the weight progression. I have been trying to get a little bit lower over the course of the phases. This week I was able to get a decent stretch about 1″ below the knee, a little below this I stopped feeling the movement in my hamstring.
Bench Press: 4×4, 257lbs -Superset- Pull Ups
The progress on the bench press has been surprising. There was no odd sensation of quasi-numbness in my right arm, like there was last week. Although, this was only a two pound increase from last week and a drop off of volume, the weight felt challenging and close to an RPE8.5. I was also hesitant to increase the weight due to last week’s numbing sensation in my arm.
I opted to perform wider grip pull ups with no additional weight added. For a total of 48 reps.
Low Incline Press: 3×8, 215lbs -Superset- Pendlay Row: 3×8, 205lbs.
The incline press is starting to feel a lot better as a movement. Each week I’m introducing a new angle of the press in order to get more accustomed to the different pressing angles for the long run. The trend is an overall increase in weights over the course of a month. There has been minimal shoulder discomfort with the new pressing angles as well, which I hope continues moving forward.
The Pendlay row, is stalling a little bit, however, I think it may be attributable to accumulated fatigue in the lower and upper back from all the back dominant squat & deadlift variants.
Overall, I think this week is more in line with my thoughts as to what a powerlifting style template would revolve around. The introduction of the low bar back squat, conventional deadlift (with a deficit) and the continued inclusion of the bench press. Although last week, my performance was not on the path of progression, this week turned out a lot better than last week and looking at the overall trend, I am back on track for getting stronger.
Tune in next week for a review of week 6!