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more weight training stuff (long)

post #1 of 30
Thread Starter 
i'm looking to change my routine; it's stale, i'm flat and battling myself to keep at it, and i'm curious about playing around with lifting less frequently but upping the intensity. i've KIND OF looked in a few of the weights-related topics here, so i know some people have some experience with resistance training.

it's about this time of year that i do a bike ride or two then give the aerobic-focused training a break over the summer. (i will move into maintenance mode, getting on the rollers for an hour or so two or three times a week while throwing in a once-a-week swim.) this is also the time of year when i am at my lightest (180, down from 190 a year ago); over past summers i've gained weight back by upping the lifting and, with much less saddle time, storing some calories. (ended last september at 205.)

this summer i'd like to really attack the weights, aimed at significant strength gains and laying a foundation for continued progress. at 43, my ceiling is low but i still firm up pretty quickly when i apply myself; and in a few years i expect to be spending a lot more time in the pool, so i'd like to get after the weights for awhile before diminishing, then vanishing, returns set in.

(the "returns," for what it's worth, serve as a motivation to keep at it, something that seems harder and harder to do. also, i've found working with weights to be fantastic where anger management therapy is concerned and, for whatever reason, i just feel calmer, more centered and generally better about myself. these same returns, by the way, are about strength, rather than size gains; the latter just happens by addressing the former.)

as it looks now, my routine, excluding bike and pool time, shapes up like:

chest and back on monday. basic stuff. presses from a horizontal bench, including a couple warm-up sets before five or six "serious" sets, each one with more weight. by the last set i'm pressing three, sometimes two reps. now and then i'll circle back around and throw in an "explosion," where i try for one rep with as much as i think i can do. (this is a machine, so i don't need a spotter. if i can't complete the rep i'll at least lower the weight as slowly as i can.) i finish with three or four sets of flys, again increasing the weight each set, though within a smaller range, and using more reps than when benching.

i hit the back from a machine at which i sit, reach for the handles/bar (palms down), and bring the weight to my chest. a modified "row," i guess. there's a station adjacent, same premise, but the weight is pulled down from above. same movement as a pull-up. i prefer the row as it feels more back-specific; the pull-downs tend to engage my biceps more than i'd like.

legs on wednesday. way basic. leg press station. (a sled, i guess. i'm seated/reclined and pushing the weight up and away at a 45-degree angle. i love this station because i can get a great stretch on my hamstrings and move a lot more weight than doing squats while saving the stress i feel squatting puts on my knees and back.) i'll do five to seven sets here, depending on how my legs feel, the first set of 10-12, the last set two to three.

then hamstring curls, five to seven sets, same principle as above, increasing weight through the last set, though with hammy curls i like to up the reps as that seems to work best where balancing ham/quad strength ratio.

calf raises. self-explanatory. five, six sets, maybe more if i'm feeling frisky.

shoulders and arms on thursday. military presses. followed by lateral deltoid raises. followed by what i'll call reverse flys. then shrugs. followed by arm curls, either with dumbbells, barbells or at the preacher curl station.
sometimes on these days i'll go back and forth between shoulders and biceps, rather than doing all my shoulder work before hitting the biceps. depends how i'm feeling.

so that's the plan. part of the long-windedness is about me trying to get myself PSYCHED : , part of it's trying to provide some detail for anyone who might have some feedback. i'm curious about lifting less frequently while upping the intensity because it worked last summer; i don't have enough experience to know how it'll go longer term, say, beyond four months, but it seems reasonable to believe this could work. in the past i think i tried to do too much; i'd end up working hard but losing weight, then later, strength. "over-training," i suppose.

(maddog, don't know if you're still getting after it but i'd be curious to know where you're routine is now, as well as news of some of the results.)

thanks for any notes from your Personal Experience files.
post #2 of 30
I'll just pass on some advice given to me by a Canadian Power lifting champion, since you are considering mixing things up.

If you want to gain strength, you should be doing three sets of between 5 and 8 reps each with about 30 seconds to a minute between each set. You should not be able to finish the last rep of the final set. Do all three sets of each exercise (bench, curl, pull-down, whatever) before moving on the the next exercise(as opposed to circuit training), and don't forget to do the unfinished reps, preferably at the end of your routine in a cleanup set. Ideally you should be doing 5 reps per set, but as the weight can only be stepped up in certain increments, you begin with sets of 5 and when you can do 8 reps per set, move up to the next higher weight. You may have to do 10 before you can do 5 of the next higher weight.

Always do bench first, work your way out from your core in succession to the smaller muscles. Don't allow more than one minute between sets. Get that next adjacent muscle group going while it's still warm.

Exercise a particular muscle (or muscle group) every other day. One day of work, one day of rest. You can alternate upper and lower body for example.

Ease into heavy weights. If you start out doing sets of 4 with as much weight as you can do without being able to finish the 3rd set, chances are pretty good you will injure yourself. Starting off with 3 sets of 10 is a much better plan.

One last thing: use free weights, not machines (except for tricep pulldowns).
post #3 of 30
Ryan, I switched to boxing for my strength training. I had three bad falls on my right shoulder this ski season and one injury to the same shoulder the year before. The boxing works wonders but does not cause the problems that overhead lifting did. I still do the pushups, pull-ups, dips, squats along with the boxing but for the upper body the martial arts are the cats meow. I have had few injuries and good to great results.

My biceps are about 17" down a bit from my heavy lifting days of 10 years ago but I am 46 now not 36.

I might add in one day of lifting but I like the current workout so much (it is a professional workout managed by an Olympic boxing coach so it changes each workout) I can't see changing it for the foreseeable future.

If you really want to get big, try inverted pyramids. Example: place a warm-up weight on the bench press bar, press it up 10 times to warm up. Then immediately go to your maximum weight. Press your max weight till exhaustion but no more than Five reps (if you can go more it is not a max weight). Then drop the weight to your next weight where you can do five or fewer reps. Repeat one or two more sets for a total of three or four sets.

My lifts looked like this: 180 lbs 10 reps, 400 lbs, 3 - 4 reps, 300 lbs 5 - 6 reps, 270 5 -6 reps.

The theory is that you are always exhausting your muscles completely and as such you are always building muscle. It worked for me, but it was my own unscientifically created system so . . . .

Good luck and I hope you get the results you want no matter what your routine. Think about boxing or martial arts it's great for core work and, well, sparing is da bomb.

post #4 of 30
Originally Posted by Maddog
....My biceps are about 17" ....
For some reason, this made me curious and I decided to measure my own. Ten whopping inches. Almost. The middle of my THIGH is 17 inches, geez.
post #5 of 30
Hasn't anyone heard of periodization? Geez, you guys are lucky you've never hurt yourselves with these suggestions. Lift harder but less than once a week? Lets see, detrain and increase poundage. Sounds great. :

Anyone survive routines like these that increase poundage as much as possible for longer that 12 weeks? Or is it max out, burn out and give up...

Go here:


Good luck.
post #6 of 30
Actually BigE, HIT (high intensity training) does mean that you train harder and less frequently. You need the recuperation period (about 1 week) when you truly blast your muscles. However, I would not recommend that approach for a 40+ year old.

Ryan, I think you have the right idea to train each muscle once a week. Keep as much intensity as you can manage without injuries. I also train chest/back Monday and Arms/Shoulders on Thursday. For legs I only do hamstrings and never bother with my thighs, since my mountain biking and running do enough damage.

I should add that Maddog's suggestion for pre-exhaustion is very valid. It allows one to use less weight (i.e. safer lifts), but pre-exhaust the muscle to effectively hit very high intensity levels.

But my bodybuilding days are long gone and these days I am into serious mountain biking and trail running. I only train with weights to keep up strength and some muscle tone.
post #7 of 30
Thread Starter 
thanks all.

first, re: free weights vs. machine, i am confident (and have been told many times by people i have no reason to doubt) free weights probably are the preferable way to go, if i were competing or training. but i "trained" in my 20's and much of my 30's; i don't approach the gym or the bike that way anymore, though i still take it seriously enough.

also, i generally work out alone, though i'll spot someone if they need it. thus my use of machine stations for some body parts, rather than free weights. i have a feeling that as i get stronger and the neuro-circuitry stuff kicks in i'll start moving more toward the free weights and asking for spots. right now the machines work; i focus on form, i can do a half-rep, for example, when i'm blasted out, and not worry about being crushed or getting hurt. as i said, this may all change as i get more into it.

i'm still a newbie to this, though i've been goofing around (best way to put it, given lack of staying with it beyond a couple/few months at a time), but it does seem different bodies react differently to different methods, thus people having their own recipes for success. still, there are certain basic principles that seem to always be in effect; namely, that you must push yourself to break plateaus, but find the right balance of rest and work so that the muscles are broken down but then have ample recuperative time to come back sound and ready for the next load. it's this work/rest mode i have not yet got dialed in.

i appreciate the feedback.
post #8 of 30

Just because it has a name doesn't make it right.

HIT has been debunked. What the folks are proposing above is not HIT. HIT is one set to failure. The above "workouts" are far worse than HIT. I've bolded the important info from the following is a brief from www.sportsci.org about HIT:

Originally Posted by www.sportsci.org
Frederick C Hatfield PhD, International Sports Sciences Association, Santa Barbara, California 93101. Email: drsquat=AT=issaonline.com. Sportscience 2(4), sportsci.org/jour/9804/brief.html#sets, 1998 (734 words)
For most folks a session of strength training at the gym means a circuit of exercises repeated for three or more sets. According to all the text books, performing multiple sets of an exercise gives you greater gains in strength than performing a single set of the exercise. But in a recent review Carpinelli and Otto conclude that several sets of a strength-training exercise are no more effective than a single set. Their method requires you to choose a weight which you literally fail to lift somewhere around the tenth repetition. All you do in your workout for each exercise is one such set. It's a style known as high-intensity training, or HIT.
Subscribers to the Sportscience mailing list will recall a vigorous debate about this style of training in July last year. It transpired that the devotees of HIT are widely regarded as a commercially motivated fringe group whose ideas fly in the face of experience and objective evidence. I am now concerned that some of their ideas will gain legitimacy from this review, which is deeply flawed. In particular...The gains in strength in almost all of the studies reviewed by C&O are too small. For example, they cited a study by Stowers et al. (1983) showing gains of 15%, 20% and 27% for 1 set, 3 sets, and a periodized training protocol respectively. Stowers et al. suggested that significant differences are more difficult to produce when using small muscle mass exercises. More recent evidence also supports this view (Stone et al., 1991,1998). Multiple sets employing exercises that involve greater muscle mass produce gains equaling 100-170% or more in previously untrained subjects (e.g., Fiaterone et al., 1990; Morgan et al., 1995; Nau et al., 1998). Somehow the comparison studies in the C&O review have been loaded against multiple sets, possibly by restricting the review to studies of smaller muscle mass. (Incidentally, C&O commented that there were no differences between the groups in the Stowers et al. study, but that is clearly not so.)
Most of the studies in the review are of untrained subjects, who gain strength with any form of training in programs of 12 weeks or less. Most of the gains stem from neural factors rather than muscle hypertrophy (Abernathy et al., 1996; Hakkinen, 1985, 1994; Stone, 1993). But when it comes to prolonged training programs--well beyond the 12-week protocol typical of the studies reviewed by C&O--recent and other studies not included in the review favor multiple sets for both well trained and sedentary subjects (e.g., Marx et al., 1998).
In any case, gains in strength are only one aspect of strength training. The majority of gym-going customers want to LOOK strong. There is little doubt that multiple sets produce bigger gains in muscle hypertrophy than single sets, despite C&O's claim to the contrary.

Injury and overtraining are known hazards of weight training, especially if it does not employ periodization. Both appear more likely when training to failure, whether using one set or multiple sets. In a recent review Stone et al. (1998) noted that training to failure produces considerable fatigue. Fatigue increases the risk of injury, probably through changes in movement patterns. Additionally, the work of Nimmons et al. (1995) suggests that training to failure and beyond (e.g., forced reps) on a consistent basis can lead to overtraining.

My advice: keep doing multiple sets, periodize your training intensity, and watch for a thorough objective review.

Selected References:

Carpinelli RN, Otto RM (1998). Strength training: single versus multiple sets. Sports Medicine 26, 73-84

Kraemer WJ (1997). The physiological basis for strength training in American football: fact over philosophy. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11 131-142

Kraemer WJ, et al. (1997). Effects of single versus multiple sets of weight training: Impact of volume, intensity and variation. Journal of Strength and Conditioning Research 11, 143-147

Marx JO (1998). The effect of periodization and volume of resistance training in women. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise 30(5), S164 (Abstract 935)

Sanborn K, et al. (1998). Performance effects of weight training with multiple sets not to failure versus a single set to failure in women: a preliminary study. Presentation at the International Symposium on Weightlifting and Strength Training, Helsinki, Finland, November 10-12, 1998
post #9 of 30
Thread Starter 

hmm, is harb involved in this?

"...the devotees of HIT are widely regarded as a commercially motivated fringe group whose ideas fly in the face of experience and objective evidence..."

ah, the PMTS of weightlifting.
post #10 of 30

I don't quite understand why the above workouts far worse than HIT?

Also what rule says that HIT is one set to failure (Hatfield says it, but that hardly makes it so). That is one extreme version. I can easily say that HIT can be one rep to failure. The fact remains, that HIT (when used by people who think and listen to their bodies) can be taylored to the individual. Some muscles need a little more action, some a little less. HIT expects one to work the muscle to relative failure (it takes years of experience to understand what that means for your own body) and then rest until fully recuperated. Some people can get away with one set (after a long and thorough warmup, of course), but most need 2-3 sets, since their physical and mental capacity won't allow them to reach failure in one set.

For pure strength gains, HIT is probably the best approach, assuming that you know how to cycle (periodization). For bodybuilders, HIT is not the complete answer. No doubt that you need a lot more work, at lower intensity, to reach that type of physique.

I should say that I speak from a little experience as I was a competitive bodybuilder for many years. I should also add, that in order to truly be able to survive hardcore HIT workouts, you need perfect recuperation. Many augument their recuperative powers with steroids. Those who don't take steroids, have to be much more intelligent about it and much more careful.
post #11 of 30

I'm no competitive lifter, but still, once a week:

Originally Posted by ryan
presses from a horizontal bench, including a couple warm-up sets before five or six "serious" sets, each one with more weight. by the last set i'm pressing three, sometimes two reps. now and then i'll circle back around and throw in an "explosion," where i try for one rep with as much as i think i can do.
This is safe? There is extensive muscle exhaustion, including stabilizers, and then an explosive try at 1RM, from time to time.

IMO, form breakdown and injury are imminent. I don't think this is safe even if a machine is being used -- unless ryan has seriously under estimated his 1 and 2 RM, and he's only doing 2 reps in what could actually be done in a 4-6 rep set.

Here's a quote from an HIT founder, from an article by Dr. Squat on www.bodybuilding.com:

" Jones' opinion of an acceptable level of intensity might best be summed up with one of his many colorful quotes: "Have you ever vomited as a result of doing one set of [biceps] curls? If not, then you simply don't know what hard work is"

Yeah, that's for me!
post #12 of 30
OK, BigE, I see what you meant, but remember that bodybuilders have used the pyramid approach described by ryan for years. Indeed this is not close enough to HIT, but many have used this "traditional pyramid" approach anyway.

And as far as the Jones' comment goes, I heard that one many times. That is what I meant by "you need the physical and mental capacity to truly use HIT". Mike and Ray Mentzer were well known bodybuilders who followed Jones quite succesfully. Of course they both used steroids heavily. Mike Mentzer was also one of the first to truly explore low carb diets, complete with going into deep ketosis. Sadly both Mike and Ray are dead.
post #13 of 30
a neat article today re functional training;

post #14 of 30
Originally Posted by TomB
OK, BigE, I see what you meant, but remember that bodybuilders have used the pyramid approach described by ryan for years. Indeed this is not close enough to HIT, but many have used this "traditional pyramid" approach anyway.

And as far as the Jones' comment goes, I heard that one many times. That is what I meant by "you need the physical and mental capacity to truly use HIT". Mike and Ray Mentzer were well known bodybuilders who followed Jones quite succesfully. Of course they both used steroids heavily. Mike Mentzer was also one of the first to truly explore low carb diets, complete with going into deep ketosis. Sadly both Mike and Ray are dead.
Your comment that recovery has to be complete is certainly true. Bodybuilders guarantee that by using steroids. The traditional pyramid is one type of workout, but IMO, should be part of a periodized regime, not the only part.

I've tried the ketosis thing too -- following Lyle Macdonalds ketogenic diet and the "ultimate diet 2.0". UD 2.0 is truly amazing. But you have to be extremely careful when lifting in ketosis, or doing Cyclical Keto Diets.... Sadly, I always manage to injure myself in the gym, then get very discouraged and fat once more.
post #15 of 30
Periodization: What's that mean?

Some very good points are made above with regards to injury, and using heavy weights. It seems obvious that using heavy weights is more dangerous, than using light weights.

Perhaps less obvious, there is an extra degree of danger involved when using a machine. Please be very careful if you are going to use heavy (as in you can only do three sets of less than 8) weights on a machine. The machine will guide the weights up for you, and allow you to strain every muscle remotely connected with the movement. With free weights, you must do the movement correctly; supporting, stabilizing muscles will be included, and if not used properly, the movement will go astray. With a machine the groove is set by the machine and you can be using the wrong muscles, but because you are pushing in that groove, so to speak, they will contribute to making the weights go up.

I have only injured myself once lifting weights. It happened many yers ago, using not that heavy a weight, and using a nautilus-type machine, before I got my advise from the former power lifter (he quit when steroids became too popular, as he was religiously opposed to polluting his body with steroids). I had learned to do circuit training(one set for each exercise, complete all exercises before beginning the second set) in high school, and was finishing my last set. I had decided that the 12th rep of 120 lbs was going up (I only weighed 120 lbs at the time). I got it up at the expense of tearing a minor muscle in my shoulder. I had to stop weight training, but as I moved away from the gym at the same time, so I don't know how long I took to "recover". That shoulder bothered me for a couple of months though.

Regarding overtraining. The summer I got my weight-lifting advise, I was working long hours as a construction labourer, so I didn't get to put the "method" to the test, as I did not train out regularly. That fall however, when I returned to school I started weightlifting regularly and put on 10 lbs of muscle and gained a lot of strength within one month. Unfortunately, I was also trying to advance in my Karate, and was OVERTRAINING. I was too exhausted to be able to make any progress in my martial art. I chose to stop weightlifting and continue Karate. As far as once a week training goes that might allow you to maintain your strength, but IMHO it is not enough to advance. Three times a week is more like it.

BTW I don't regret my choice, for many reasons, not just selfdefense, but I have to admit that looking like the incredible hulk might be a more effective means of selfdefense (deterent), than being able to use a martial art.
post #16 of 30

Leg workouts and periodization

1. Periodization: A program of conditioning broken into segments of, say, three weeks to two months, with different specific goals for each segment, typically designed around a specific sport schedule. (Say, for a ski racer: Rest/recovery/recreational activity immediately post season; summer conditioning; early pre-season conditioning; late pre-season conditioning; in-season conditioning; championship conditioning.) Current mainstream sports training thinking is (A) that you move from general fitness (strength and/or endurance) long before the season to sport-specific movement skills (more functional training, sport-specific balance and agility drills) during the season, and (B) you train more effectively if you train to emphasize one area of gain at a time (endurance, maximum strength, power, weight loss) and then move on to the next goal for the next (say, six week) segment, rather than trying to maximize all of them at once.

2. Legs: That's really the only part of your workout I can give you much input on, since I train for ski racing, where (except for some start- and early poling-related explosive work with the lat pulldown machine and dip station) there isn't a lot of emphasis on the arms and chest.
2.1 Squats. Squats are much, much better ski-related exercises than the leg press. They use more muscles, work your core for stabilization and have a functional training/balance aspect that crosses over much more to ski specific movements.
2.2 Lunges. Same, especially walking lunges, where on the rising up phase you balance on one foot and stop briefly at the top of the movement. That balance component really makes it a ski specific exercise.
2.3 Deadlifts. Nice combination hamstring and lower back for core strength.
2.4 Hamstring curls. This is different from the other exercises, since it's an isolation exercise that doesn't involve any balance or core stabilization. But the other exercises (other than deadlifts) emphasize your quads and you need to build up your hamstrings to avoid muscle imbalances.
2.5 Lateral box jumps. A ski racing fitness video suggests doing a set of 40 lateral box jumps (alternating 20 in each direction off a bench or box) between sets of hamstring curls. Make sure you're doing it on a surface with some give or you'll trash your connective tissue.
2.6 Calf raises.
2.7 Practice squats, tucks, and haybalers with a medicine ball on a bosu at the end of your workout to really thrash your legs.
2.8 15 minutes (easy) on the exercise bike or elliptical trainer, and light stretching at the end of the workout to flush out some of the lactic acid buildup and sharply reduce delayed muscle soreness, which is otherwise pretty crippling about 48 hours after the workout.

If you can do them with correct form without hurting yourself, olympic lifts like cleans, power cleans, clean and press, especially combined with front squats, are nice all-body exercises emphasizing the legs. But it's very easy to screw up your back if you don't do them right.
post #17 of 30
Since when do big muscles equate to good skiing.

Core work remains key. Flexability!

I work my legs hard and rest em. I try to work hams hard too. That's not easy. I also add a high rep set at the end of the heavy sets.

Don't do much with my chest, work triceps and lats. Biceps are easy - they don't help my skiing much!

lower leg exc. lacks for me.
post #18 of 30
For leg work you really ought to try sumos! They really add the bulk in the quads. That's the only area that I find strength to be a huge factor in skiing. If you want strong quads work the hams too.
post #19 of 30
Periodization is certainly the way to go and I think that Tudor Bompa is a great resource in this field.

Tudor Might still be in your toronto area, I'd look into his courses at something like www.tudorbompa.com (or .net?)

PM, or E-mail (xtrpickels@hotmail.com) with exact workouts, weights, cross training, deficiencies and most importantly specific goals. I'll make up an excel sheet and send it back... yours to use if you want, you can always toss it out.

The proper quad/ hamstring ratio to avoid injury and maximize performance is 3:2.
Even though you don't like working quads, check to make sure they are within a decent ratio. A few sets a week may or may not be needed, but at least you'll know.
An example is if you can do leg extensions at 150lbs for 5 reps, then you ought to do seated curls (mimics the muscle length b/c they are biarticulate) at 100lbs. Its fair game if you only have prone leg curls (laying down) The reason for doing the test at 5 reps is that the hamstrings are primarily type II muscle fibers (fasttwitch) which means they may fatigue easier at higher reps, obscuring the results.

FYI, I am an exercise science graduate, currently working as a research biomechanist for Ithaca College in Ithaca Ny. I turned down a job with Carmichael Training Systems (lance's coach) and will be working a the US Olympic Training Facility in Colorado Springs in the fall.
post #20 of 30
Originally Posted by paul jones
Since when do big muscles equate to good skiing.
It depends on what your goal is, Paul, and what you see as your limiting factor. Ron LeMaster says that when you go from 60 degree inclination to 70 degree inclination in a racing turn, you go from resisting 2Gs of force to 3Gs of force. For a 175 pound racer, that means resisting 525 pounds of force, with about 80% of the load on your outside leg, a non-trivial eccentric strength challenge, followed by a non-trivial power (explosive strength) challenge, as you explosively extend to launch quickly into your transition to the next turn. At that level, yes, big muscles in fact are required.

And if you race speed events, you need to be able to turn in a tuck for a minute and a half, so lactic acid buildup/threshold training becomes important too.

Other people can ski themselves into shape. I live 3 hours from the snow, and have appallingly high goals about racing better than guys who ski three times as often as I do, so I need to be in better shape.

But you're right in that basic leg strength probably isn't as important as balance and core strength for most skiers. IMHO that core/balance training has the most crossover to skiing when it mirrors the challenge: Small balance adjustments against rapidly changing force, like being balanced kneeling on a large Swiss ball and tossing a medicine ball from hand to hand (an advanced balance exercise you need to work up to) or juggling on a bongo board or tossing a medicine ball from hand to hand balanced on a Bosu.

Hip flexibility tends to become a serious limiting factor for Masters racers about my age, so hip flexibility exercises become helpful. The squats, deadlifts and lunges I suggested above also have some range of motion benefits for many.

Plyometrics (jumping exercises) are probably better training for skiing than most weight lifting, because they involve the same emphasis on eccentric load (resistance against weight on the lowering phase) followed by explosive extension.

All that having been said, I never see anyone in the gym doing what I'm doing. The guys are almost all working their chests, shoulders, and spending endless hours with arm curls. The women are mostly using the machines.

post #21 of 30
I'll assume that you are doing the kneeling on the swiss ball... but have you taken it to the next level and actually stood on the ball? Holding a tuck standing on the ball is one of the best ski specific things that I have done, but once you master this you can move on to over-head squats on the ball.

Personally, BOSU balls are a stepping stone, I've found that many people adapt to it quickly and once it becomes easy it is no longer useful. I would say that holding a tuck on a balance board or doing single leg squats off a box work the dynamic leg action needed in skiing more then the ankle proprioception practiced by single leg balance movements on the BOSU(ball side up).

Placing the platform side up adds an interesting fore-aft element, but the squishy ball side tends to add a resistance that makes standing on it easier then a balance board. (again, good stepping stone)

I would go on, but i fear we are getting away from the original question
post #22 of 30
Originally Posted by RJP
The proper quad/ hamstring ratio to avoid injury and maximize performance is 3:2.
Even though you don't like working quads, check to make sure they are within a decent ratio. A few sets a week may or may not be needed, but at least you'll know.
An example is if you can do leg extensions at 150lbs for 5 reps, then you ought to do seated curls (mimics the muscle length b/c they are biarticulate) at 100lbs. Its fair game if you only have prone leg curls (laying down) The reason for doing the test at 5 reps is that the hamstrings are primarily type II muscle fibers (fasttwitch) which means they may fatigue easier at higher reps, obscuring the results.
No arguments from me with anything you said. I have big, overdeveloped thighs (relative to my hamstrings) so I generally need to ensure that my hamstrings have to come up to the ratio you mentioned.

By the way, I have done lots of balance ball work where I stand on the ball in a tuck or even do squats on it. Very challenging exercise. I do it near a dipping station so that I can get on safely. And in case I lose it, I have someting to hold on to.
post #23 of 30
My plan was to start doing standing work on the ball last season, and I did a little of it, at home. I'm still not comfortable doing it in my gym near other people and on a hard surface (carpet over concrete.) I find standing on the ball is a lot harder balance challenge than kneeling on it.

As you point out, the bosu is easier than a bongo board, but I still like using it for post-fatigue sets with lighter weights and lots of reps (plus, there's the small matter that I have a bongo board at home, but only a bosu at the gym). I like doing sumo squats with dumbells in each hand; lawnmower pulls with a dumbell; lactic acid threshold training with holding a tuck, going back and forth from high tuck to low tuck, and tossing a medicine ball from hand to hand in each position until dogs several blocks away can hear that high pitched screaming of thigh muscles. My theory about all that (at odds with some of the books, which suggest balance training at the beginning of your workout, before leg fatigue) has been that (1) a more skiing-specific resistance challenge is lifting weights while you have to balance as well; and (2) when you most need those advanced balance skills is when you're already tired--end of the day, end of the bump run, or last tough turn on the Super G course.

I find balance carries over pretty well despite a break in the off season. What I always lose the fastest, though, is the ability to do lots of reps with jumping exercises. (Was in the gym today. Rest of my workout: Good. Plyometrics: Gee, are you recovering from chemo?)
post #24 of 30
RJP and sfdean:

Some very interesting comments. I'm 47 and have been working my core/legs hard over the last 2 years. I think I may have screwed myself up by creating an imbalance. An example of my leg workout:

1. Warmpup - seated 2 leg extension - 3 sets of 10 @ 120lb
2. Olympic bar squats sets of 10 @ 135lb, 185lb, 205lb, 225lb, 205lb, 185lb, 135lb
3. Seated leg press sled w/ olympic plates, 2 sets of 10 @ 270lb, 3 sets of 10 @ 360lb
4. Hamstring curls 3-4 sets @ 90lbs (ooppss - clearly not enough)
5. Calf raises, 4 sets @ 115lbs
6. Plyometric side-side lunges off BOSU ball - 3 sets of 1-2 minutes.

I mixed in the eliptical trainer, running, modest biking and tennis. After 2 years of this my legs felt great but... I blew my ACL this spring. I felt like I drove my femur away from my tibia during a move to correct my balance. After lots of reading about ACL injuries I've started to wonder if I created an imbalance between my quads and hammies that helped cause my injury.
post #25 of 30

Strong hamstrings will resist the tibia sliding forward on the femur which will help the ACL. Unless your "warm-up" sets at 120lbs are incredibly easy, or your hamstring curls are less then 10 reps, you really aren't that far out of the ratio. In fact, given those numbers, your curls ought to be at 80lbs, so you're stronger. 120*2=240/3=80... 120/80=3/2 Everyone is going to have a slight imbalance either way. I don't think that yours is enough to be the cause of the ACL injury, especially seeing as though your hamstrings are "stronger" then the accepted ratio...those things just happen sometime.

Other things to note, how are you doing your calf raises/ sets? The gastroc (outer most) is bi-articulate, meaning it crosses two joints... the ankle and knee. It is used primarily when you leg is extended and is better at higher weight and lower reps because it is mostly type II fibers. The soleus only crosses 1 joint, and has a higher type I (oxidative, slow twitch) % of fibers. It is worked best with bent knee calf raises, with higher reps.
post #26 of 30
TomB- I'm glad to see you've been doing those squats and holding a tuck on the ball. I try to use it for as much as possible in everyday life. When I'm working on the computer in the lab, i try to sit regular, indian style, kneel, and even sit on my heels... those are not only functional for the core, they also pass the time as i fall over trying to get my work done.

I wish that I could be out on the bike enough to get big over developed quads, Ive been putting too much time in the weight room and i've gotten paranoid about long rides that could tire me out for my next lifting session. with a sprinter/ hurdler background, I've always had over-developed hamstrings, I'm finally now correcting that.
post #27 of 30
I'm no expert, but early season I do 10-rep sets of squats with 202-222 lbs., and 12-rep sets of seated hamstring curls with 165 lbs and lying hamstring curls of 110-120, and deadlifts of 160-170 lbs, and I figure that I still have an imbalance with overly strong quads compared to hamstrings. I'd say your strength imbalance is pretty significant and that most of your workout emphasizes your quads, which are already disproportionately strong compared to your hamstrings.

And, unfortunately, that particular strength imbalance is correlated in some studies with ACL injuries.

I think the 3:2 ratio of strength is generally measured by comparing the weight moved on that (otherwise fairly silly as an exercise machine) leg extension machine working your quads against the hamstring curl machine, working your hamstrings. (I assume your warm up set on the leg extension machine doesn't represent anything close to your maximum.) But as your physical therapist probably told you, you need to be really careful, post-knee injury, moving much weight on a leg extension machine, which puts a lot of force on the knee.

My condolences on the ACL tear. If it helps to hear, statistically the Alpine skiers currently active on the World Cup now average slightly more than 1 ACL tear (because although some have never torn an ACL, more have torn both). And they manage to do pretty incredible things, post-ACL tear. Good luck with the rehab.

As pointed out above, you might also consider a lot heavier weight on your calf raises. (Since you're already doing an angled leg press at 270 and 360, you may find that something close to 270 works well for calf raises--but leave the safety locks in protective position, in case your toes slip off!)

Finally, of course, the efficacy of any exercise routine drops dramatically the more you repeat it. (Plateau being the operative word. No new challenge stimulus to adapt to being the operative concept.) So in general you want to vary your exercise routine and change it regularly.

post #28 of 30

You mention the strength of you hams vs the quads. It is what it is, right. If you can't go higher on the weight, that's where you are. Do the best you can on the curls and continue to do well with your quads. Training hams is often difficult. Those who do it well usually have heredity behind the strength. Your hams will respond to strong quads if you continue to work your hams.
post #29 of 30
It seems that exercise order changes about as much as "are eggs healthy for you" or various other health tales. You make valid points about doing them later in the workout and if its working for you, then right on.

You are right that the best way to figure out the ratio is with extensions and curls, because with a deadlift or other multijoint muscles you have synergists such as hamstrings, glutes etc. working and not just a quad or hamstring group
post #30 of 30
Thanks for the advice. The leg extensions at 120lbs were easy warmups. The hamstring curls at 90lbs were my max. I assumed that all of the squat work (standing and seated) primarily built my quads and neglected my hammies.

I'll never know if it was a factor in the blown ACL. Currently I'm pretty weak - one leg press on the operated leg around 70lbs, hamstring curl 20lbs. Once I get through PT and get back into training I plan to be smarter about my approach.
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