Keep those joints warm!

In the last year I have made a real effort to get my squat going again.  At 45 I’m not looking to set any records or even personal bests.  The goal more than anything was and still is to have a healthy lower body that allows me to do full range motion lifts without injury.  My progress is gauged more than anything by how heavy and how many sets can I do without tweaking a groin, feeling the onset of patella tendinitis, or spraining the SI…all ailments that have plagued my squat training since the beginning.  I decided I would try something a little different with my squatting – a three day a week program.  I figured if I kept the volume and frequency high I would give myself a break on the poundage and not feel so bad about how light I was keeping the weight – again the goal was injury free training that improves, not tears up, the back and lower body.  Well this worked.  Yes there have been a few tweaked groins along the way and a bizarre oblique strain but for the most part my knees feel great and back is getting stronger.  I found with this experiment of squatting Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, that Monday is the worst day pain wise and Friday is the best.  As long as I keep the volume in check and the intensity low on Wednesday my Friday workouts usually go really well with far less time necessary for warm-ups than my Monday workouts.  Squatting again has my energy high and has really got my gym intensity going again. The healthy knees have me feeling younger and more athletic – even keeping up with my girls on the basketball court!

While multi-day squat training was new to me I have always used this approach in my grip training.  I recently watched an interview with a popular strongman that advocated a much more conservative approach to grip training.  When I trained and competed in strongman I would agree that one day a week on specific grip training is appropriate because all the event training really fries your forearms and hands.  However as a general weight trainer or powerlifter your hands can take much more.  I have always excelled at pinch training and I’m at my strongest waskWadehen I am training pinch multiple times a week.  Recently I have been training Two Hand Pinch on Mondays, Grippers on Wednesdays, and Thick Pinch on Friday’s.  After adjusting again to the volume I have hit some big numbers on these three lifts recently knocking on the door of my personal bests.

My hands, like my knees, feel best when they are “warm”.  Warm comes when there is some fatigue and maybe even some stiffness, but the joint is ready to go with just a little light warm-up. This is opposed to “cold”.  Cold comes when there has been no recent joint activity.  The joint might feel fine but once you start warming up the joint feels brittle and prone to injury.  I’ve had the good fortune to represent GNC for the past 14 years at over 50 fitness expos, running the GNC Grip Gauntlet contest.  At these events I will end up lifting the grip implements 100+ times over the 2 or 3 day event.  I’m typically strongest on the last day…when I’m “warm”.

Keeping with the theme of staying warm, my favorite pre-workout supplement is GNC Pro Performance Beta-Alanine 3200.  Beta-Alanine gives me a nice flush that warms the whole body up and energizes me for the entire workout.  There’s nothing like the feeling of being warmed up before you event touch a weight.

I’m not too old to remember the good old days of going into the gym and warming up just because it was habit and what you did to get to your heavy set…not anything you really needed to do. I remember the “old guys” that would stretch and roll and do endless sets to try to get loosened up.  I guess I’m one of those old guys now.  Weight training is as much mental as it is physical and as you advance in years the mental part becomes more about preparation and planning than execution and intensity.

Train Hard and Live Well!