Sunday, March 23, 2014

My first impressions on side presses and zercher squats

In my last  attempt to stick to a program, I’ll give my impressions on those two movements after my first 5 practices. I remember that I tried the barbell side presses when I started strength training over 2 years ago and you know what? I’m still just as weak as I used to with them. Of course, my coordination has improved and the movement feels a lot better, but the weights I used were very similar than before. Despite what we say all the time about the synergy between the lifts and all, I’m now very convinced that strength is very specific and working on so many lifts kept me from improving faster. That last thought makes me wonder about skills transfer into the sport as well, but a better mobility, stability and the ability to create tension when needed are all obvious results of my past years training. Though it comforts me in my decision: to alternate 2 simple presses every 2 weeks should work better for me.

I did not expect to feel that press just as much in my upper back as in my front delt and pec. Once you understand the awkward slightly twisty forward upper body position, it feels like a  natural biomechanically position to press something overhead compared to the strict press for example, 1 or 2 handed, and it’s harder to jerk it. Moreover, I look pretty cool in my commercial gym balancing a barbell overhead with some mullets doing dumbbell curls all around me. It’s funny how people give you the space you need when they are scared for their life…. Food for thoughts!

The Zercher squat rocks and sucks at the same time. How is that possible? Well, it hurts quite a bit, somehow bearable,  and, compared to the back squat, it just doesn’t go away. The big upside, especially if you do it with a wider stance, is that it mimics a deadlift with the weight placed somewhere else. Plus, because of the awkward placement of the weight, it forces you to create tension in your upper body which, with the principle of irradiation, contribute to create more torque. I now understand why it is one of the few squat variations, with the box squat and the pistol, praised by Pavel.