ARD Documentary, Painkillers for Weightlifting, Optimal Training Frequency – Patreon Q&A 1

OK! I haven’t made a post for this website so I thought I’d post answers to questions I recently got from my Patreon page. I got a lot of questions so I just picked the best ones.  

I have stated multiple times that I am against drug testing, so I don’t care what happens to weightlifting. All this corruption is happening because drug testing exists. It’s impossible to have no corruption with drug testing.

You have to ask deep questions like: “why does anti-doping exist in the first place?” The reason it exists is to ‘protect the children’. Why does protecting children from highly competitive sports even matter? Competitive sports aren’t even a positive thing for wellbeing or health (ignoring drug use), countries in the past have used sports as a political tool. You can say that highly competitive sport is like war without guns. When I was a kid I really wish I was told about the reality of competitive sports and the Olympics, then I would’ve decided earlier to not compete in international competitions or dedicate my life to weightlifting.

This documentary highlights how corrupt weightlifting is, but what I don’t understand is when people have a positive response to all this information, saying “we need to clean up the sport and this documentary will force for a better system of drug testing”. This makes me hate competitive weightlifting even more and further demotivates me to even consider competing.

You need more experience squatting heavy. You can do this by adding more heavy singles and doubles (>90%) to your program. It’s best to do this during the last 2-3 weeks of a peak.

For example, if you squat 130kg for 6 reps it doesn’t automatically mean you’re able to squat 150kg for a single, it just means you’re strong enough for that weight.

I’ve been eating zero junk food recently. I’m trying to clean up my diet. But I say junk food cereal like fruit loops and frosted flakes are my favourite vegan junk foods.

 

Yes, multiple times. Basically, when you’re injured, you need to pick exercises that don’t cause pain and slowly reintroduce more exercises. Another thing you can do is change your form for a specific exercise. For example, if you have patella tendonitis you can do low bar squats instead of high bar squats to take the stress off your knees.

Internal rotation, but this is something that shouldn’t be coached. Focus should be put on improving overhead stability by going over multiple snatch variations like overhead squats, snatch balances and snatches themselves with lighter weight. You need to learn how to use the musculature in the upper body to support the bar overhead (retracting your shoulder blades, ensuring proper lockout by tensing your triceps).

Internal rotation can occur from lack of mobility going into the bottom position. Externally rotating your shoulders does not correct your overhead position, improving your ankle, hip and shoulder mobility for the overhead squat does.

I forgot. I think it’s 6’13 on a good day.

I wasn’t tracking my calories up to 100kg. During my earlier training years, my diet was awful in terms of health but it didn’t prevent me from progressing and getting stronger.

If you’re eating enough calories and sufficient protein, diet doesn’t play a huge role in performance. Genetics and training play a much larger role.

However, if you’re not gaining muscle mass over months of training because of a lack of protein and calories you will not make as much progress compared to if you were in a caloric surplus gaining muscle mass steadily. As I progressed through the beginner and intermediate stages of weightlifting, I was gaining weight steadily because I was in a caloric surplus.

That study only really applies to powerlifters and bodybuilders, not Olympic lifters.

If you’re an Olympic lifter, it is always an advantage to add more training sessions. The snatch and clean and jerk are very technical and fast movements compared to the powerlifts which primarily require strength. This means you can recover much faster from Olympic lifting sessions compared to Powerlifting or Bodybuilding sessions. Also, since Olympic lifting is a skill, you will need to practice it frequently.

As for high frequency training for powerlifters and bodybuilders, there is no difference in strength gains or muscle gains if you equate volume and intensity (spread the same volume and intensity over 6 days instead of 3). What high frequency allows is easily increasing total volume (through adding sets and an increased amount of warm up sets) and reducing time training per session.

The answer to this question comes down to who you are and what stage of training you’re in. For example, if you’re an elite weightlifter peaking for the Olympics and training requires you to lift >90% weights, then it would be helpful to take pain killers during your training sessions and during the competition itself. Sometimes it’s not even possible to train without painkillers, not training at all before a major competition would be a disaster.

It’ll surprise you how many high-level athletes take painkillers. They can be a valuable tool for training for elite athletes. Remember reaching high levels of performance in any sport isn’t a healthy activity. The general population shouldn’t do what high-level athletes do.

For me personally, I seldom take pain killers. The main use of painkillers for me would be before a max-out session if I have a nagging injury. Numbing the pain temporarily allowed me in the past to hit new 1RMs, which benefited me in the long term by increasing my confidence with heavier weights and giving me a higher goal for the future.

Obviously, in most cases, I would recommend you find the source of the pain, change your training program accordingly and slowly get back to regular training. I just thought I’d give you my opinion for advanced lifters.

There is a study showing that high dose ibuprofen lowers hypertrophy gains, but that was with 1200mg of ibuprofen for 8 weeks, a very high dose for a long period, whereas I would only take 400mg of ibuprofen before a heavy training session maybe once every 4 weeks on average. Would that have a negative impact on strength and hypertrophy in the long run? I doubt it.

Honestly, from my experience training and coaching people, most people who think they’re better at squat jerks just haven’t spent enough time learning the split jerk. Squat jerks are hard and inconsistent so I almost never recommend them.

Yes, squatting itself is a great way to improve your ankle and hip mobility. The best exercise though is pause back squats with light weights (30-60kg). I would recommend 6 sets of 1 rep where you pause at the bottom for 10-15 seconds. This is best done before training sessions.

Another mobility exercise you can try is a banded squat where you lean on each ankle for a few seconds.

The most important thing is to choose mobility exercises specific to the lift you want to improve. Banded squats and pause squats are a better choice than a towel stretch.

If you’re a powerlifter, squatting 6 times per week is unnecessary. In order for it to be effective, you have to vary intensity and volume intelligently.

Assuming you’re an intermediate level powerlifter or weightlifter, I would recommend squatting 3 times per week with a schedule like this:

Day 1: Moderate weight, high volume
Day 2: Light to moderate weight, moderate volume, different squat exercise (front squat, pause squat, etc)
Day 3: Heavy weight, low volume

You’re probably experiencing DOMs because of training with too much volume too quickly. It takes time to adapt (repeated bout effect).

If I was to do it I think it would only do it with multiple high quality cameras, a fast internet connection and a good set up (home gym). Right now that’s not possible. It wouldn’t be great to record a live stream with my phone at a busy gym.

If you just search into google: “vegan greek yogurt” you can just make it yourself. There’s a vegan substitute for pretty much every animal product. A Spanish start-up company is soon releasing a vegan steak that’s made with 3D printers.

I usually eat oats for breakfast. The ingredients I typically use are oats, soymilk, peanut butter, flaxseeds, chia seeds, cinnamon and frozen fruits. This contains plenty of protein, fibre and micronutrients.

I never do. I developed the mobility I need for the Olympic lifts so there’s no need to stretch. There isn’t even strong evidence to suggest stretching is useful for injury prevention.

I usually try to do pulls close to or slightly above my 1RM clean or snatch.

The most important thing for clean pulls and snatch pulls is that you do them correctly. If you use too much weight and your upper back rounds, it will have no benefit for the Olympic lifts.

The speed at which you pull off the floor doesn’t matter. You should ensure your hips and shoulders move up at the same speed when you pull the bar from the floor, your lower back and hamstrings must not take over.

I would recommend pulls 2-4 times per week usually at 100-120% (of your best snatch or clean) for 4 sets of 3 reps. The number of sessions depends on individual weaknesses, a lifter strong at squats and weak at pulls should do pulls more often.

If you’re a weightlifter, powerlifter or crossfitter a basic weightlifting shoe is fine. The Adidas Powerlift shoes are what I recommend. If you’re a high level weightlifter, the type of shoes matter. In that case, I would recommend the Nike Romaleos.

I’ve gotten this a lot. It’s probably because I interact with people around the world (from coaching) and I travel often so I learned to soften my accent. I also don’t go outside often (lol) and I watch a lot of American tv shows and American YouTubers.

I’m from a part of Ireland where the accent is very thick!

It was around 8 months when I injured both my knees. Although I was still training around 2 hours per week with light weights. You can read about it here: https://www.allthingsgym.com/clarence-kennedy-interview-2015/

After I got knee surgery I started training immediately with high volume and low intensity. I slowly increased the intensity and made my way back to regular training. I was lifting ~85% of my max lifts after 2-3 months of training.

If you take a long break from training it’s very important to increase the intensity slowly, it is very tempting to get back to heavy weights as quickly as possible but this isn’t wise because your body has lost its ability to tolerate heavy loads so injury is highly likely during this time.

 

The problem is, a complete beginner can’t follow a program because they still need to learn the Olympic lifts. The best ‘program’ is to practice multiple drills for both the snatch and clean and jerk. A complete beginner ideally needs a coach to walk him/her through the Olympic lifts.

Many people question what I do and ask why I don’t put a lot of effort into making money. I don’t desire to make a lot of money, what I desire is making a decent amount of money with little effort for a long period of time, so I focus on earning passive income (YouTube, Patreon, T-shirts, etc).

Basically my philosophy is, if I don’t have enough time to play video games then I’m not living the best life.

Having a coach for weightlifting is valuable. I’m not just saying that to advertise my coaching business, but I say that from personal experience. Even after 11 years of weightlifting, I struggle to write myself a good training plan and I struggle to correct my technique.

I think the question comes down to: do you have money to hire a coach? A good coach is better than no coach.