Saturday, May 9, 2009

The Randy Couture Grappling Workout

Whose idea was this, anyway??

Dang, this was hard!

Again, this workout is a barbell complex: 7 exercises, 8 reps per exercise, no setting the bar down until you're done unless of course you have to due to, oh, I don't know, muscle failure or cardiac arrest or something.

The seven exercises are as follows:

bent-over row
upright row
military press
good morning
squat push press from behind the neck

Let me state from the get-go that this is not a workout I would even consider giving to a client. I don't much like upright rows as an exercise because they mostly target the upper traps, which on most people tend to be overdeveloped. It's not that upright rows are inherently unsafe, but if you overstrengthen the upper traps you can end up creating a muscle imbalance that'll dangerously destabilize the shoulder girdle.

I don't care for good mornings either because I think they are a difficult exercise to execute correctly. Nine times out of 10, if you ask someone to do a good morning, instead of hinging at the hip and sticking his/her butt back, he or she will fold over at the waist. Not a great thing to be doing even with no weight resting on the shoulders, and downright unsafe with a barbell sitting there! If I'm even considering giving this exercise to a client I'll have him or her practice with something called a waiter's bow, which is basically an unloaded good morning with one hand behind the back, clutching a fold of skin. If the client loses her grip on the skin fold it means she is rounding her back, maybe due to tight hamstrings. Anyway, if she can't get down to where her torso is parallel to the floor without rounding, it means we've got stuff to work on before I'm going to want her doing any sort of good morning or deadlift with added resistance.

Last but not least, behind-the-neck presses are one of those exercises that I consider to be unnecessarily unsafe for just about everyone. Think about all the people you see in the gym who don't have sufficient flexibility in the pecs and anterior delts to be able to get the bar into position for an overhead squat. there's no way on earth those people are going to be able to execute a behind the neck press without hurting themselves.

Anyhoo, if you want to give this workout a shot but you're a little worried about the good mornings and the behind the neck push presses, a safer alternative for the former would be a stiff-legged deadlift and a safer alternative for the latter would be a front squat to push press.

Okay, enough with the preliminaries. Here's how it went down:

Rounds 1-4, I managed with a 40 lb barbell. In round 5 I hit muscle failure on rep 6 of the militaries and had to set the bar down and lower my weight by 5 lbs. I finished the round with 35 lbs, then did round 6 at that same weight. It took me about a half an hour, which I guess makes sense given that my usual tempo when I'm lifting is about 4 seconds per rep.

Not surprisingly I had tremendous lactic acid buildup in my shoulders and upper arms, and I pretty much knew from the outset I wasn't going to make it all 6 rounds at my original weight unless I modified the workout by extending the rest period or changing the exercise selection. I'm actually pleased I made it to round 5 without having to go down in poundage.

I'm also pleased I'm not feeling any ill effects from the deadlifts yesterday. No tenderness in the low back whatsoever.

Time to stop being pleased with myself and eat something!