Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Lockouts as Warmups?


I found the following article on dragon door:

Sean Williams describes using 125% weight lockouts, as a warmup, then lifting 5 heavy singles. The idea is to trigger "ligament receptors" that will make an 80% weight feel lighter. Arthur Saxon mentioned this technique in one of his old books as well. Including occasional heavy lockouts within a cycle makes sense but this program seems too extreme. Your thoughts?

Andy Hendrickson
, Minnesota

Thanks for the note Andy and excellent question!

The short answer is that yes, I think heavy lock out can help increase strength. A few thoughts though.

1) The heavy weight can "jam" the joints also, so doing some mobility work like Z Health is of paramount importance when using heavy lock outs. See this post HERE- Jammed Joints for more info.

Here is how I would set it up:

Z Health Neuro Warm Up before training
Z Health lift specific work

So if you are doing a bench press day, after a full Neuro Warm up do the Z Health specific work on a bench, in the bench press position.

So I would lay down, have my arms like there was a bar in my hands and do hand/finger/wrist,etc work in THAT position. This makes it VERY SPECIFIC to the lift. SAID principle.

2) Warm up to your working weight.then add a static hold
Do a heavy lock out starting at 100% of 1 rep max and add form there each week.

When you are doing the heavy lock out work, the key is to be "relaxed". By relaxed I mean do not let the bar hit you, but hold it in the lock out position with APPROPRIATE tension (not excessive tension). You don't need to look like you just sucked on a lemon to hold it there.

Contrary to popular belief, adding tons of tension in your face will not help you lift (or hold) the weight. Once the weight is secure at lock out, take a few breaths and then set it back in the rack with the help of a spotter. While the time you hold it there can vary, 2-10 seconds is a rough ballpark.

ALWAYS USE A POWER RACK. If something weird was going to happen, make sure the safety supports are set high enough that you won't injury yourself and their are collars on the bar!

People DIE every year from the bench press, so safety first always. Death and injury are very bad for performance.

3) Note any excess tension
If you have a partner, have him/her watch your face after the hand off and note any excess tension. Less tension is better while maintaining proper form.

Also notice the blink rate of your eyes--higher blink rate may indicate more startle and this is not good for performance (a basic tenant of the Z Health system, less startle = higher performance). Watch any elite sport and the athletes appear relaxed and make it look easy. That is your goal.

4) After each lock out, do some joint mobility for the main joints that were loaded to "unjam" them.

5) Note any changes in your movement after the lock outs to make sure they are good for your body. If your overall movement quality changes, then they are NOT good for you for you on that day. Strength training of all forms should make you stronger and INCREASE your range of motion.

Why does it work?
The key is that it allows your nervous system to handle heavier weights with less startle. Over time that equals increased performance. While the golgi tendon organ (GTO) is involved, newer research says that it is much more complicated.

I will only go with one study but Fallon, JB et al. (1) stated, "The responses of the various muscle receptors to vibration are more complicated than a naive categorization into stretch (muscle spindle primary ending), length (muscle spindle secondary endings), and tension (Golgi tendon organs) receptors".

Where does the signal from the GTO go? Yep, the brain!

Joint mobility work first
Safe heavy lock out
Joint mobility work again
Note any movement changes
Continue on to your working weights
Note any performance changes.

You can purchase the Z Health Neuro Warm Up 1 and R Phase from the link in the upper right hand side of this blog. Full disclosure: I do make a few bucks off of each purchase and there are very few products that I recommend and this is one of them.

Let me know how it goes for you!

1) Fallon J. B., V. G. Macefield. Vibration sensitivity of human muscle spindles and Golgi tendon organs. Muscle Nerve. 36(1):21-29, 2007.