Hail to the Dinosaurs!
I'm sitting here with a TENS unit
zapping my shoulder and right trap
because I didn't follow my own
And because I made a simple mistake
that many older trainees make.
For the last couple of years, I did
the clean and jerk as one lift. In
other words, I would clean the weight
and then jerk it.
But a few weeks ago I switched to cleans
in one workout, and push presses in the
The idea was to go heavier on each
movement by splitting them up. And to
do push presses rather than jerks to
build some extra shoulder and triceps
And I'm pretty strong on push presses,
and went too heavy too soon. That was
mistake number one.
Mistake number two was separating the
clean and the push press. It would have
been better to do them together.
Because I position the bar better when
I rack it in a squat clean than when I
take it off the squat stands.
It's not a big difference - but it's a
difference. Enough of a difference to
give me a nice shoulder and trap spasm
that feels like someone is poking a
red-hot pitchfork into my neck and
Hence, the TENS unit to break up the
spasm and let me get back to training.
So now I am reminded that I need to be
very careful to follow two important
1. When you change to a new exercise, don't
go too heavy too soon.
2. Clean the bar before doing a press, push
press or jerk.
Rule no. 1 applies to anyone at any age.
Rule no. 2 may apply more to older trainees,
because they're the ones who tend to have
flexibility issues such as tight shoulders.
Rule no. 2 reminds me of other things for
older trainees to consider -- and note that
the answer will vary from person to person,
and may change for you over time:
1. Is it better for you to use a lifting belt,
or to skip the belt and go a little lighter?
2. Do you go too heavy (and hurt yourself or
not be able to recover) if you use lifting
straps for your pulls and/or deadlifts?
2a. Same question for hook grip vs. regular
3. Can you still recover from heavy pulls?
4. Can you still recover from heavy deadlifts?
5. Can you still recover from heavy squats?
6. Can you still recover from heavy partials?
7. Is it better to do front squats by
cleaning the weight or by taking it off
8. Which work better for you -- front
squats or back squats?
9. Is it easier to recover from deadlift
sessions if you use the Trap Bar?
10. How many exercises can you do in a
given workout and still recover?
11. Are dumbbell presses (or push presses,
or jerks) harder or easier on your shoulders
than doing the same exercise with a barbell?
12. How many workouts per week are best for
you, and how many heavy sessions per week
are best for you?
These are interesting questions -- and they're
very important questions for any older trainee.
And the answers will vary for all of us --
and for all of us, they'll change over time.
Anyhow, I'm nursing a temporary battle
wound, and the TENS unit is feeling pretty
darn good. Kudos to Trudi for buying it a
couple of years ago. She must have known
I'd do something like this sooner or later.
As always, thanks for reading and have a
great day. If you train today, make it a
Yours in strength,
P.S. Here's the number one book about
sensible, real-world training for older
P.S. 2. My other books and courses are
P.S. 3. Thought for the Day: "Strength
training is a life-long journey. You never
stop learning." -- Brooks Kubik