World's Longest Question Ever – Jim Wendler

World's Longest Question Ever

World's Longest Question Ever

Question:  Dear Mr Jim Wendler, I wish my email will not makes you bored. In the last years I've always been dreaming to write you and ask you how to improve my training that I was doing alone, now I' m writing you to ask you how you think I got to solve some problems and restart training properly. I hope you will not want to kill me after this email, but I've to write the whole history to makes you understand, I hope you will read it and you will want to give me some help, because I know you love training and you will understand how much I love it too, and because life seems to be against me in the last years and makes me front a lot of tragedies, and training has been my strenght against them and I really want to go train me more and forever. I'm Italian and I've been training in Judo since I was five years old,with the Japanese Kodokan first assistant of the best guy from Jigoro Kano, Judo founder; I stopped my training for six years and now I'm training again since 2006, I'm 29 years old. I restarted my training alone,old school training, I was tryin' to do 200 hundred push ups in set of ten after a ten minutes power stretching warm up, so body weighted full squats and abs and then go back to my dojo, where I had two trainings a week, the same warm up followed by three sets of ten of differents push ups, 2x20 sit ups, 2x10 squats and sumo deadlift (body weighted), 10x5 uchi comi (we repeat the throw against a standing opponent) and 10x 5 uchi comi moving, 3x5 minutes rounds of randori (stand up fighting)3x5 min rounds on the ground. After 4 months I got an acromion clavear sublussation on the left shoulder,after been throwed in a not correct way,and in a hard life period,1 month of dessault bendage, 1 year of no push ups, do lifting, uchi comi, no fights. I asked to some trainers and bought me some weights,build up some functional things to train me, I didn't know much about weight lifting, but I knewn commercial gyms sucks, I can not go to the central dojo where we had weights, so I decided to ask some to my doctor and do it my way. First it was all exercises under the shoulder level, one that get my back shoulder work (I did not operate the clavicle that is still 2 cm sublussated)so over that, 6 exercises ten reps, so I go on with volume till 10x10 for any exercise, 400 abs, 2oo bw squats, other sumo exercises to failure,push ups again and fighting again.First I was training old school philosofy, no days off, no deloads,so I discovered some rules and add a day off on sunday, mantein the same weight to put more energy in fighting, so read some books and start with more weights every week and learn the basic exercises (or thought I was doin'at)like deadlift,squat,bench, clean and press, military press, snatch and all the assistence work I can.I was starting with the warm up with power stretching,then body weight: 200 pushes in sets of 50, 400 abs in sets of 100 and 50,50x2 squats, shadow judo,power drills, rope jumps 3 minutes, weight lifting, sometimes followed by drills. So I add 1 Judo training with the same warm up, but 20x20 uchi comi and 10x5 minutes rounds followed by push abs squats circuit training x50 to failure(we count the reps all together screaming).I was doing 100x25 metres pools swimming and apnea every day in summer and still lifting all the year, no stops. I discovered searching for help and start reading articles everyday, so I tried some 5x5 sets with deadlift (at home, alone, I can save myself from the bar if it is under me).During those years I got a shoulder joint laxity on the front of my right shoulder after an armbar, but I did not stop, simply done more on the rotators' cuff, and the same on the left knee after an uncorrect throw with a 80lbs. more then me opponent. One day a woke up with a back inflammation, solved. The most frequently problems where contractures on the upper back, maybe because by asimmetry or because I stopped the exercise that stimulate the muscles clavicle swithced off with is new position and neck and back vertebraes with less elasticity. I tried all to reduce volume, but I thought I was overtrained and with no trainers help I stopped weight lifting thinkin' to increase Judo and body weight to recover me manteing qualitities,put rehab exercises if needed, so lift again (by rx I got no problems in lifting, we do not check for hernias because the doctor sayed it is possible to train with it and also raccomende, because some dead selas got it and live, train, die with it,because of their hard training and I preferred this way, I stopped lifting because I was overtrained and the only problem on the back is neck and lower back less elasticity on vertebrae) but in the last two years life's shit impede me to train more, only two judo trainings and the same body weight training I wrote you. I got a true recover from that "shit training", life is still fighting me, but I'm still clapping back, so, this years I got the opportunity to train more and I'd like to ask you some about what I got to do. I had a surgery operation on the right foot on the 29 of June, under the foot, something get into me and they pulled of, but it takes 3 months to let me walk properly again, so I had my summer at home, still training alone withouth the leg, training it only withouth touching the ground, in september I restarted with body weighted squats and uchi comi with my leg too and so went to the Dojo by 7 weeks and try to get me to the last year (wake) level. Now I' ìm still seeing the doctor to cure the callus over the wound that it is no more opened, I've been training 1 year with the object inside, no thinking at that pain to don't stop training,we do not stop full body for one part, now my brain try to protect me from using the foot, but is going better in the weeks. In this two years I achive elasticity on the shoulders, loosing mass and strength, you gonna hate me for that but I'm 120lbs., and my Judo is like water,so I use elasticity, speed and techinique first,with the seoi throw on the back and all flying armbars and ground techniques, but I used power too, because I was training strenght and because my master says I got it against opponents of a lot of lbs more then me, and that was true, I thought I was some like strong at my weight, but I can't tell to you this. During the years I made a lot of researches about training, maybe I've done lot of shit too, but that was the only way I had to found out what works. I discovered a lot of similar things in power lifting method and Judo training too, and that's why I'm writing you. I think that's what happened: first I trained not muving and stressed from life,with wake techniques and get injured, so I do rehab without good warm up (because it couldn't be done)and not working properly on the lateral raises on 45 degrees that activate the muscles clavicle switched off, so I get overtrained, maybe 'cause of the ten set range on hihger volumes and no trainers help,during all this time I trained well anyway in fighting, the shoulders had stability and loose it even if I was lifting. After two years of no lifting I have no more contractures, but only because I do not use strenght in Judo trainings, yesterady I've done that and so now I got it again,it demonstrate that it was only caused from asimmetry and overtraining and so I can lift and do Judo training together, simply I got to be gradual and recover because a contracted muscle in a fight means injuries. shoulders loose stability,but they gives less pain when they moove out of the correct position,but if I push hard I feel the same old pain and so I think no lifting is time wasted. I got no injuries, but I think it is only because I had no competitions and I do not fight hard.So first I was thinking to do what I first planned to  go to my dojo after the first month of 2 trainings and home training manteinance and start training 5 times, 3 with the 10x10 uchi comi and 8 rounds, 2 with the 20x20, 10 rounds and circuit to failure,putting my sets manteinance training at the end of the two hardest trainings, and put the short drills before them, putting the rehab raises with little dumbles, a band row for the right shoulder at the start of the two most important trainings as prehab work, before the specific warm up (power stretching, short sets, prehab, drills, shadow throwing, power strech again, uchi comi, fighting, circuit, sets, maybe lift again. I thought to do this for twelve weeks and then start lifting after the two trainings (to simulate mde training: monday and thusday speed, thursday and friday end with resistence to it and so strenght trainig..going to train power with weights on the first two days and strentgh and resistence on the next days, with a lighter training on wednesday, saturday and sunday are day off, only mobility, stretch and walking or swimming)plus I got a recover 30 minutes speed walk everyday imitating strongmen recovery strategies. I had my first month with the last year level,two judo trainings 10x10 and 8 rounds, 2 home trainings with short reps warm up, shadow uchi comi,drills,circuit training and two others with only ground shadow uchi and ending with long reps sets (50x to 400 abs, different exercises every two sets, 50 push ups, 50 indu push ups,50 squats, 50 sumo's deadlift),not increasing nothing, only on the third week and so get back to the same reps(done for two years so I'm no more adapted to increase training everyday);done that 4 weeks and decided to wait for the foot, so now I will wait after xmas. I only putted yoga,that i use for streching in 2 days, on the other days too (do you think I can consider that as streching and posturals and so do it free or count 12 weeks to adapt me to that too!?! who teaches this says it most be done 3 6 times...if it is I will cut it immediately to add some I need more, I've done that only because I shifted my trainings on the evening for 4 weeks and so want more stability during the day; I decided to wait after xmas for the foot(tot 12 weeks of training). Do you think is ok planning to go 5 times etc after xmas as I wrote you? So do you think it is ok goin' from 2 to 5 trainings putting rehab too and so after 12 weeks start increasing body weight training or doing anatomical adaptation to weight training? And so train all together on the next year, after swimming during the holiday again because I stopped it for 2 years and need weightlifting before I go? The two exercises must be done at the start of the training, maybe with rehab dumbles only 1x10 not increasing reps and so see if it works, or I got to do a 3x15 to wake up the muscles? So it must be done before the training anyway?(after that we train speed so I thought it must be done before, in the ten reps range, 1 set). Or do you think I have to do my "preconditioning" before I will go training more?(shoulders have more elasticity, but same pain and no strentgh and less stability...I loose strenght...). So what could I do for that? I thought, 4 to 12 weeks same as last years plus all rehab for the foot, leg and hips(body weight,stretching...)increasing only sets training or circuit too because they are body weighted and on alternating days. 4 to 12 weeks 1x10 raises 45 degrees, 1 times a week or 3x15 if the 1x10 does not work and the same for band's rows and other upper body exercises trying to mantein elasticity that it is one of the most important things in our training? So go to have a full anatomical adaptation and start strenght training for 12 weeks, so mantein that and have a "light" power training doing uchi comi with bands, some to mantein elasticity, some dummies conditioning, so go there training 5 times, manteining strenght training and so on the next year train all together? Or go judo first and so do my lifting training for strength after achieving more elasticty and elasticity that are killed by strenght training if started together. In this case the risk is to loose elasticity and that's why I first planned to do go put judo training and rehab and so strenght training. So if I do this second way are the 4 to twelve weeks right? I thought that in 12 weeks the body will be adapted to do the new exercise and lift train so it will be possible to put more training days (for twelve weeks...)doin' like 12 old level, 12 rehab increasing resistence to strenght, 12 weeks for aa and strenght or 12 for 5 judo's and so aa phase...or can I do it in less time? If done along the year it will be an increase of number of trainings (volume) and volume of them for all the year, is it right? Do you think it is possible to do Judo training and weight lifting without no drugs?(I do not use drugs) Could I use some other exercise for the clavicle that not involve weight lifting(so I can try to go fight first if it is ok). It is ok to put new assistance exercise when needed or we must wait another cycle to increase volumes?First I was always putting everything when I thought I needed, when I was having shit on my back I thought to go in the pool but I did not do it , now I still think I've done wrong. If I do my preconditioning do I have to increase qualities one by one or all together? I mean can I increase resistence to speed body weighted circuit 2 days and resistence to strenght on th other two days? When I will train Judo and lifting with the coniugate training can I increase strength, speed, resistence,all together or do I have to mantein some and increase something else even if I simply need all? I've always been thinking that doing higher body weighted reps at the start of the training was right, my master says it is not because warm up must start distant from the heart, what do you think about that? I started and still do all I think is ok when i think it, adding all exercisese, trying to do more everyday and training with no deloads, no fear, no rules, and I still have the feel that this was the right way, but must be supported   by a good trainer for the weight lifting I ain't got the possibility to go to, to get me to another I want to do all I can to mix my madness to knowledge and don't do shit, even if I still feel training hard core is the only way. I'm sorry if the email have been boring, and I hope you will give me some help. Anyway, thank you very much. Federico

Finally...The Answer

Answer:  My advice to you is to set up a lifting program that consists of very basic exercises that stress the shoulders, back, legs and hips.  Some examples of exercises to choose from are: squat, bench, deadlift, press, clean, pushpress, trap bar deadlift.  Pick 4-5 of these exercises and train in a progressive manner, 2-4 days/week.  Assistance exercises should be based on your sport, prior injuries and providing balance to your body.  This would be things for your torso (abs/low back), shoulders, upper back/lats and arms.  Some examples would be towel chins, lunges, pushups, back raises and various abdominal work.  These exercises can be done for strength or done in a circuit fashion - doesn't really matter too much as long as they are done.  Other sessions should consist of recovery work (mobility, stretching, light cardio) to assist you in bringing your body back stronger from the training and the skill work. These MUST be done and how many are done are 100% determined by you. I also believe you should perform some sort of dynamic training in the form of throws, jumps/bounds - these things will help you greatly in your sport. In conclusion - the lifting of the big exercises will help strengthen the body in a non-specific fashion in an efficient manner - training economy.  Use the assistance work to help strengthen and balance the body for your sport.  Use the jumps and throws to bridge the gap between strength and speed.  Periodize your training according to your competition schedule; there is no point in becoming a weight room hero if you can't perform and excel on the field of battle.  "Hardcore" isn't about throwing up  - although for some this is what they will need to get their bodies and minds prepared and that makes that style of training 100% correct (there is a huge backlash in the Training Community that turns their backs on the mental aspect of training and how some athletes need that edge.  My theory is that those that ignore this part of training (and shit on those that DO need to train like a madman to get that edge) are short sighted and usually have nothing in their backgrounds but a degree and a ton of back fat.)  These are the same people that seem to think Dan Gable is full of shit.

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