easypeelhardboiledeggs

These days, I typically eat 2 hard boiled eggs in the morning for breakfast (along with a cup of tea with whey protein, and a cup of coffee with whey protein).

However, peeling hard boiled eggs is a huge pain in the ass.

At least it used to be.

I can’t recall making hard boiled eggs myself, so naturally, I thought the process would be super simple and I would master it in no time. I was wrong, and ate a lot of egg shells in the process.

What I would end up doing is boiling the eggs, and when it came time to peel them I would make a huge mess.

Often times when I attempt to remove the egg shells, parts of the shell would come off, but the egg shell membrane would be intact. If I tried to take off the shell and membrane, I'd take off a good chunk of egg white along with it. I would either try to eat the little bits of egg white that was attached to the removed egg shells, or just throw it in the garbage out of frustration.

Sometimes, once I got frustrated enough from trying to peel off the eggshells, is put what is left of the hardboiled eggs and either eat or spit out any of the shells I put in my mouth!

So after getting sick of eating egg shells, naturally I searched online for a way to make “easy peel hard boiled eggs”.

I've tried a variety of different methods online that claim to produce "easy peel hard boiled eggs", ranging from:

  • Adding vinegar
  • Adding baking soda
  • Using a potato masher to pre-crack the eggs
  • Room temperature eggs first
  • Cold eggs
  • Using fresh eggs
  • Using older eggs
  • Ice bath after boiling
  • Put the eggs in the water before boiling
  • Put the eggs in the water after the water starts boiling
  • etc, etc.

Using the methods I’ve found, there wasn’t anything that could produce easy to peel hard boiled eggs consistently. The keyword here is consistently.

Some methods would work better than others, but not all the time.

After much experimentation and a lot of egg cartons, I’ve combined some of the methods and come up with the least pain-in-ass way to consistently make hard boiled eggs that's super easy to peel!

All you need is a pot, eggs, and a fork.

Here’s how you do it:

Steps *

1. Boil Water First, Then Put In The Eggs *

01

Fill the pot with water so that the eggs can be fully submerged.

Turn the stove on high, and allow the water to boil. Do not put the eggs in yet!

Wait until the water boils, then put in the eggs. I normally take the eggs right out of the refrigerator and put it into the boiling water. I’ve only had 1 instance where an egg cracked on me. This can be done with room temperature eggs as well.

Turn the stove to low-medium so that the eggs don’t end up bouncing all over the place and crack prematurely.

Set the timer for 10 minutes.

2. Pre-Crack Eggs With A Fork *

02-crack

Once the timer is up, turn off the heat. Leave the pot on the stove, though.

Use a the edge of the fork to make small cracks in the egg. You can also use a spoon, but I find I have better control with the flat fork than a curved spoon.

Then, use the bottom (flat part of the fork) and gently press down to create more cracks. Do can press and roll the egg. The more cracks the better. Be careful not to squish the egg!

3. Immediately Cool Down *

03

Take the eggs out and submerge it in a container full of ice. You can add some cold water to make sure that the eggs are submerged.

At this point you can add more cracks to the egg shells if it’s not cracked enough.

Stick the container in the refrigerator for at least 10-15 minutes.

4. Shake! *

04

Now, with the eggs still in the container, give it a good shake.

The shaking process will loosen the hard boiled egg from the egg shell membrane, making it easy to remove.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you may even shake the egg shells right off!

5. Peel The Egg Shells (With ONE HAND) *

05

Removing the shells at this point should be super easy. If the above steps are done properly, the egg shell should come off along with that clear film lining an eggshell (egg shell membrane).

In fact, it can be done with one hand!

Rinse any remaining shells off with water.

15 Second Video Showing All Steps *

Here's what it looks like altogether, compressed in 15 seconds:

There you have it, a consistent way to make hard boiled eggs that’s easy to peel.

MVI_1081.MOV_snapshot_02.09_[2015.04.14_11.19.32]

Enjoy your egg-citing new gainz.

labelled

First, a warning:

Don’t try this at home! If you do, I am not responsible for any injuries you may incur, blah blah blah.

OK, now that that’s out of the way, I’m going to show you how I set up a DIY power rack safety suspension strap system to catch the bar in case of a failed rep.

In my power rack, there are metal sabre style safety pins that insert in the holes through the front and toward the back. Here’s what it looks like:

IMG_1066

They have saved my life many, many times. They allow me to bench press heavy alone without a human spotter, and safely receive the barbell whenever I miss a rep for the bench press and the squat.

They’re more reliable and stronger than multiple human spotters, capable of supporting 1000 lb (according to the manual that’s written in Engrish).

However, the constant metal-on-metal impact of the Olympic bar and the metal safety pins left dents on the pins itself, and wore away some of the knurling on the bar.

IMG_1056

I’ve though about purchasing Spud Inc suspension straps, but I haven’t found this item available in Canada.

However, I’ve seen many videos and pictures of powerlifters squatting in the mono-rack with what appears to be some sort of heavy duty strap looped to the top of the rack in order to save a missed lift.

Something like this:

000_0003[1]

So, out of curiosity and paranoia, I’ve decided to put together my own!

Here are the materials I used:

Materials *

Soft Ties *

Normally used for hauling motorcyles (or something like that), they’re basically really strong webbing with loops on the ends.

61o8dU-ePSL._SL1500_[1]

It looks as though this might be good for a weightlifting strap.

Also, it can probably be used as a means of attaching single arm cable handles onto a chin up bar, for joint-friendly chin ups and pull ups.

The other alternative was to use axle straps, which are thicker, stronger, and have a metal ring on either ends of the strap.

71QZRMicoOL._SX355_[1]

But the soft ties were cheap (<$5 per pair), and so far it’s doing the job.

Quick Link *

These are cheap and attaches the chain and other items onto stuff. A bit of a pain in the ass to open and close, since you need to unscrew and res-crew all the time #firstworldproblems

10628.951841_4[1]

Carabiner *

oval%20carabiner[1]

I’m using the Black Diamond Oval carabiner which came with the Rogue Cannonball grips. They’re about $7 when purchased separately.

It has a “Closed Gate Strength” of 18 kN (4046 lbf). So errr…I’m going to assuming this is pretty strong.

Chain *

IMG_1064

5/16” thick chain from Homedepot. The label says: Safe workload - 1,900 lb.

Tree Saver Strap *

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IMG_1065

2” wide and 6’ long strap made of polyester with a break strength of 10,000 lb.

For some reason, the straps I’ve found online are mostly yellow in color. I have seen others that are neon green, orange, and blue, but yellow is the most common (and in my case, the cheapest). I would have liked it if it were blue to match my rack, but safety and price is more important to me than strap aesthetics.

The Weakest Link *

As they say, a chain is only as strong as the weakest link, and with my DIY safety strap setup, the weakest link is probably the soft ties.

It’s only 1” wide with a working load limit of 830 lb. And I’m not sure if this is for one of the straps, or two!

Eventually, I might double up on these soft ties since they’re cheap anyways, or upgrade to axle straps which are typically wider and stronger.

If you plan on setting up a DIY safety strap system for your home gym, and you’re super paranoid, you could go balls to the walls and get:

  • thick chain
  • wider tree saver straps
  • axle straps instead of soft ties

Notes On Stretchiness *

Spud Inc suspension straps is made of nylon of resembles a recovery strap more than a tow strap or tree saver strap.

From my extensive researching, I’ve found out that generally nylon webbing stretches 20-30% while polyester stretches 5-15% under a 2500 lb load. There’s no way I’m going to test that out to find out for certain, but it’s probably safe to say that polyester webbing (like the stuff in the tree saver strap I’m using) is going to be stiffer than the Spud Inc suspension straps or nylon polyester straps.

I’m not 100% certain about what the soft ties are made of, but based on descriptions of other brands, it’s probably nylon.

I think the stretchy properties of the nylon Spud Inc suspension straps would be helpful if the bar was suddenly dropped from a high distance to better absorb the impact and prevent any chances of the bar bending, but I could be wrong.

I’m sure the metal chains I have won’t stretch with any loads I’m using.

The Set Up *

Here’s how this is all set up:

The soft ties (4) loop around the top of the rack.

To prevent these straps from sliding towards each other, it is “blocked” by the chin up bar (front) and a pair of band pegs (back).

IMG_1044

A pair of carabiners are connected to the 2 soft ties in front, while a pair of “quick link chains” are connected to the 2 soft ties in the back. I used quick links because they were cheap, but you could use another pair of carabiners, or something else.

IMG_1047

The tree saver strap is connected to the front, while the chain is connected to the back.

The tree saver strap connects to the chain via another pair of quick links:

IMG_1050

 

Now, when set up to the right height for the squat, there’s a lot of left over chain that hangs loose. I just connect this to the carabiner to make it nice and tidy.

IMG_1049

Adjusting The Straps *

To adjust the height of the strap, I would simply connect the quick link onto a different part of the chain.

If I wanted to use the chain to suspend the barbell, I would connect the chain on the appropriate link to get the height that I want:

IMG_1053

Preventing The Strap From Getting Sandwiched In Between The Bar & J-Hooks *

At first when I tried squatting, the strap always got sandwiched in between the bar and j-hooks after the set. That’s because the straps and chains are aligned (more or less) with the j-hooks.

What I did was attached some of the excess chain that was dangling onto the carabiner that the tree saver strap was on . This pushed the tree saver strap to the side (towards the middle of the rack), so when re-racking the bar, the strap is automatically pushed out of the way of the j-hooks.

IMG_1055

Some Testing *

Failed 420 lb Front Squat *

The safety strap set up was able to accept 420 lb no problem.

The drop was only a few inches.

Failed 520 lb Low Bar Squat *

No problems.

Rack Pull *

Loaded the bar up with 600 lb, followed by 620 lb.

Static Hold: 830 lb *

IMG_0937

IMG_0930

IMG_0932

  • 7 x ~45 lb = 630 lb
  • 2 x ~35 lb = 70 lb
  • 2 x ~25 lb = 50 lb
  • 2 x 10 lb = 20 lb
  • 2 x 5 lb = 10 lb
  • 2 x 2.5 lb = 5 lb

785 lb in plates, and with a 45 lb bar: 830 lb.

Bar was visibly bent with most of the plates I have, and nothing snapped.

All the straps were pulled tight.

The Good Thing About A Strap Safety System *

The 2” wide tree saver straps are more bar friendly and won’t mark or damage the knurling of the bar compared to the metal safety pins.

Adjusting the height of the straps is a little less annoying than adjusting the safety pins. With my rack, the metal safety pins slides through the front towards the back. The metal-on-metal screeching noise is not something I enjoy.

Some Problems With A Strap Safety System *

The main problem with using straps as a safety system is that the lowest position of the strap will be in the middle of where the two points connect to the top of the rack.

If I do not position myself so that the bottom position of the lift is aligned with the bottom position of the straps, then the bar will end up touching the strap on the descent.

As mentioned earlier, safety straps (that I have seen used in powerlifting) are typically used when squatting in the mono-lift. With a mono-lift, you don’t need to walk out the bar when you squat, and it’s easier to align the bottom position of your squat with the bottom position of the straps.

If I am bench pressing, then I would need to adjust the position of the straps since the bottom-most point of the bench press is closer to the front of the rack compared to the squat (where it’s more in the middle). Reverse grip bench presses touches lower on the body than the regular grip bench press, and adjustments may be needed.

To be honest, I don’t like using the strap safety system for bench presses. The safety pins are already set at a perfect height so that if I fail, I can just deflate my chest and the bar will rest on the pins. With the straps, if it’s positioned even a tiny bit higher than the safety pins, the bar will hit the straps at the bottom of the bench press which can be distracting. Also, when I miss a rep, in order for me to get out from under the bar, I just roll the bar towards my feet.

When the bar is supported by the straps after a missed rep, I cannot roll the bar forward and sit up. I could push the bar towards my feet and try to sit up, but since the bar is supported on straps dangling from the top of the power rack, it would just swing back in my direct. I don’t think this would be a good idea with 400+ lb on the bar.

Other Applications *

There are a few other applications with this DIY safety suspension set up.

Chain Suspension *

Using only the chain connected to the soft ties, the bar can be suspended by the chains making it an easy way to perform overhead presses inside the rack without having to walk the bar out, or having to hear the metal-on-metal screeching when adjusting the sabre-style safety pins.

The bar will always move to middle of the chain, eliminating the need to re-adjust the position of the bar when pressing from the safety pins.

The chains can easily be adjusted for overhead lockouts and partial reps as well.

Summary *

This safety strap system will be continually tested as I train, and I’ll probably made some modifications to it over time as I see fit.

For squats, I’ll keep the existing metal safety pins in place, just in case. The straps would act as a first line of defense for a falling barbell, while the safety pins would be the backup. Also, there’s less work that way.

Again, if you want to try this out, do it at your own risk. It’s probably a good idea to have some secondary safety measures in case some piece of the safety strap system fails.

If you die somehow after setting up your own power rack safety suspension strap system, don’t come complaining to me in ghost form about how some cheap, made-in-China product broke and didn’t live up to the specifications listed on the packaging.

My home gym is my sanctuary and home office. Right now, I am nearly satisfied with the layout and the exercise equipment that I have. I can do just about everything I need to get stronger.

But I'm always looking at stuff I want to get to improve my home gym to make it more functional (PHUNG-ctional). And even though I have the basic equipment to get big and strong, there's other equipment I'd like to try out in order to improve my lifts.

I already have a wish list of "stuff I want for my home gym" written down in my mind, but I thought maybe I should put it down on paper to clarify what items I'd like to obtain, and the reasons why they would be beneficial to my basement gym, it's utility, how it would affect my overall training, and any cons involved.

So, what I have done is written one of those popular "top 10" list post!

This list serves the purpose of keeping track of the stuff I want to buy for my home gym, and maybe help people who are reading this figure out what they could get to improve their home gym.

SHUT UP AND TAKE MY ZENI

In no particular order:

1. Front Squat Harness *

FSH_cropped__09040.1410907150.1280.1280[1]

I've been attaching a pair of straps to the barbell for front squats, because the clean grip position is extremely painful on my wrists and elbows.

Although this has been working, I think I could front squat more if I had a front squat harness.

As anyone who front squats know, if your torso isn't upright for the entire lift, there's a chance of the bar slipping off your shoulders. This has happened to me many, many times.

With a front squat harness, the pegs that hold the barbell in place could prevent the bar from rolling off and save my front squat if I happen to lean forward slightly.

Also, because the metal pegs keep the barbell in place, my elbows are not required to be kept up to create a shelf for the bar to sit. I could take advantage of this freedom and pull the elbow down and back while holding onto the bar or the pegs. This would allow me to contract the shit out of my lats to assist in the front squat, possibly pushing my numbers up higher.

With a normal front squat, it's difficult, and probably impossible to force the elbows up while at the same time contracting the lats. However, lats assist in core stability, and core stability is necessary to keep the torso upright. I have a hunch that I could front squat more if I contract my lats.

Here's an Eric Cressey quote that explains this further:

http://www.ericcressey.com/how-to-front-squat-technique

"…because the arms are elevated (flexed humeri), the lats are lengthened.  This is in contrast to the back squat, where the lats can be used to aggressively pull the bar down into the upper back and help create core stability.  I firmly believe the lack of lat involvement is what accounts for the significant differences in loads one can handle in the front squat as compared to the back squat".

The extra pegs on the harness can allow me to comfortably train another squat variation that I normally hate and never do: The Zercher Squat. Supposedly Zerchers have a carry over to deadlifts, but I don't know first hand because Zerchers and painful and I never do them (ironically I'm OK with the hook grip for deadlifts).

2. Spud Choker Wrist Wraps *

thumbnail[1]

 

For bench pressing and overhead pressing, I like to have my wrists wrapped up to ensure that they remain rigid to prevent my hands from bending backwards. I've used a few wrists wraps since I began training seriously, starting with the GASP wrist wraps (too short, not much support), Shiek (not much support, wore out quickly), Titan Max RPM (OK support, velcro wearing out) and currently using the Titan Signature Gold wrist wraps.

When I first received my Titan Signature Gold wrist wraps, they were extremely stiff and didn't have much flexibility at all. Which was great because it provided a ton of wrist support.

After almost a year of using these, they're not as stiff, are more flexible. They still provide adequate wrist support, but it's not as rock hard and painful to put on as it used to be.

The problem with conventional wrist wraps is that it will wear out over time. The repeated stretching of the elastic and fastening and unfastening of the velcro will degrade with use.

Also, it takes a little time to wrap them before every set. I like to have the wrist wraps tight, so I can't leave them on in between sets or else I'll lose circulation in my hands and they'll fall off.

I have a pair of leather wrist straps that I can leave on during the entire training session, but it only offers support when the wrists are bent backwards to a certain point.

The Spud Choker wrist wraps looks like it has similar properties to the leather wrist straps (where I can wear it during the entire session), and be able to tighten it as much as I want in order provide support for my wrists at all angles.

Because it's essentially a cuff rather than a wrap, it looks easy to tighten and un-tighten.

These wraps aren't legal in powerlifting competitions, but I could use the Spud wrist wraps for training and save the tradition elastic wrist wraps for competition. This would prolong the life of my Titan Signature Gold wraps, while saving me time from wrapping and unwrapping my wrists during training.

Win-Win, if you ask me.

3. Thinner, Whipper Multi-Purpose Olympic Bar *

The bar that I own is the B&R Bar from Rogue Fitness (review here). It's a pretty stiff bar with very little flex given the amount of weight I lift. It's 29 mm thick, which is the maximum thickness for bars in many powerlifting federations.

The federation that I compete in uses a specialty deadlift bar, which is 27 mm thin. My less-than-gigantic hands benefits from hook gripping a thinner bar for the deadlift. Even though I can hook grip a 29 mm bar, a slightly thinner bar would be nice to use. I may even miss less reps due to grip being an issue.

Also, since I'm deadlifting more often, that means I need to take the bar out of the power rack whenever I pull. Having a separate bar outside the rack would be nice, and would shave off 5 seconds from my training sessions. Multiply that by the number of training sessions where I perform exercise outside of the power rack over the course of a lifetime, and that adds up to quite a few minutes I bet!

A deadlift bar is much thinner (27 mm) and longer (roughly 7 and a half feet long), which would be great for increasing my ego and deadlift numbers, but not so great for the wallet ($590). I'm not sure if this bar would be good for lifts other than the deadlift, such as a power clean or clean and press. Additionally, this type of bar is not legal in all powerlifting federations, so if I happen to compete in those federations, this bar would not be beneficial.

I've also looked at the prices for 28 mm bars like Rogue 28 mm Training Bar which costs $442.81 CDN, and others that costs around the $350+ but that's too much I'm willing to pay.

So, with this in mind, I'm really looking for a (hopefully) thinner, multi-purpose bar that's easy on the wallet to serve as a secondary, outside-the-rack bar for lifts such as the deadlift, along with the occasional power cleans, hang cleans, and clean and presses.

The bar that looks the most appealing and fits the above criteria is this:

CAP Barbell Cap OB-86B *

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There's quite a few reviews on Amazon, bodybuilding.com forums and elsewhere online and it's well received, especially for a product made by CAP barbell. The general consensus seems to be that it's a solid, all purpose barbell that is priced surprisingly low. Had I known about this bar earlier, I may have purchased this instead of the B&R bar.

It's 28.5 mm thick, which is a tiny bit thinner than the 29 mm B&R bar. It's cheap (half the price of some other 28 mm and 28.5 mm bars) and it can ship for free from Amazon.

There's no center knurling, which is fine because I won't be using this to squat on a regular basis.

It has 120,000 psi tensile strength, supposedly being able to hold up to 1200 lb according to the manufacturer's description.

It has a lower tensile strength than the B&R bar (120,000 psi vs 205,000 psi), so I'm guessing it will be a whippier bar. May be good for deadlifting.

Reading the reviews on Amazon, it looks as though this guy is using the CAP bar:

With 215 Kg (~474 lb), there doesn't appear to be much flex to the bar.

The review also said that they purchased this at $135. With the current price at $170, I'll hold off until the price drops.

4. Incline Bench *

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Here's the thing with the overhead press: Your body needs to be at an incline to press efficiently and effectively.

<rant>

Plenty of anonymous Internet lifters have criticized my OHP form as being a "standing incline bench press" without providing any evidence of themselves performing this mythical "strict military press" with a respectable amount of weight. I'm talking limit or near limit lifts (1RM etc) with an RPE of 9.

But here's the thing: Leaning back is necessary for the OHP. It's covered in the strength training book for beginners, "Starting Strength" on page 90 (3rd edition).

Heavy weights tend to move in a straight line. As with many lifts including the overhead press, this straight line is the imaginary line above the mid foot. You want to press along this line as close as possible and minimize any moment arms that would make the lift inefficient (which equals to a lower weight to be pressed overhead, which then equals to less gainz).

If you were to stand straight and hold a barbell across your shoulders, you could maintain this position with an empty bar. But as you put on body weight+ on the bar, you'll have a tendency to lean back slightly because the loaded barbell is situated in front of your body (in front of the mid line). To keep it balanced, naturally people want to bring the load towards the mid line. This is just holding the barbell we're talking about, and there's already an inclination to incline.

There's an obstacle in the way when you're pressing overhead. That obstacle, is your face, namely your chin and nose. You could lift your chin up or pull your face back, but along with balance the bar, you'll lean backwards slightly so that the bar is closer to the imaginary line above the mid foot. This keeps the bar in balance, and moves the face out of the way of a more vertical bar path when pressing upwards.

During the initial drive out of the bottom and at the sticking point, the muscles of the trunk need to stabilize and remain rigid so that the shoulders and arms can do it's job and press the bar overhead. If you've done any overhead pressing that's taking your body to the limit (like a 1RM or repetition max attempts), you'll know (from experience) that sometimes the bar will stall and you end up pushing yourself away from the bar. Although not ideal, it happens. Sometimes you'll recover, and sometimes you won't. In any case, you'll need strong abs to maintain and recover this position, which is an incline.

So, in order to have an efficient, mostly vertical bar path for the overhead press, you're pretty much at an incline from the start of the OHP, and during the execution of the press before lockout (that is if you push your head through and straighten out your body so that the bar is directly above the scapula and midfoot).

It's going to look like this, more or less:

RdTJPV8[1]

The so-called strict military press, when correctly performed (let's be "strict" in keeping the "strict" military press true to it's original form and not deviate from the original description here), with heels together, no torso movement from start to finish, with the bar needed to be pressed out and around the face before pulling back towards the top of the head and pressing up (i.e. a curved bar path, bigger moment arm) is not an efficient way to press heavy objects overhead.

Here's what it would look like:

press two[1]

Good luck pressing 300+ lb with an inefficient bar path, kids. (Note: I'm sure there's a monster-human hybrid out there who would be able to press like this for 300+ lb, but they're probably not at their limit, i.e. not 1RM and/or RPE @9).

ANYWAY…

</rant>

Back to the incline bench.

After reading the training methods of old school lifters who used to clean and press back when it was a contested lift in the Olympics, a common accessory movement was the steep incline bench press.

Setting the bench to a high incline and performing an incline bench press would be a good accessory movement to the overhead press, mainly because the OHP is done with a slight incline to begin with. I could take the "standing and stabilizing my core" out of the equation and focus on pressing at similar angles.

I could even perform a seated shoulder press with the bench set at 90 degrees, but the bar path and body position during this lift would have less resemblance to the OHP (because the bar would have to be maneuverered around the face first before pressing upwards). Note: most seated shoulder presses I have seen are set with a slight incline. If the seat is at 90 degrees, usually the lifter would sit on the edge of the seat, creating an incline with their torso before shoulder pressing.

Although most incline benches can adjust to multiple angles, I'm really only interested in a high incline in order to improve my overhead press. I'm not really interested in "hitting my chest from multiple angles" for "maximum pec development" or anything like that, so it's utility is low for me.

I could use it as a chair to sit on though.

5. Tree Saver Straps *

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From what I understand, a "tree saver strap" is a super strong strap with loops at the end. The intended use of this strap is to wrap it around a tree, and then attach some sort of cable to it in order for a vehicle (like a Jeep) to pull itself up using a device called a winch. Or something like that.

I'm assuming, because it's made of polyester, it's supposed to cause less damage to a tree than say...a chain. Hence the name "tree saver".

But I have no intention of using this to save trees.

My purpose is to save myself (from dying!) and save the bar from any scratches and dings from missed reps.

Essentially, it will be used as a suspension safety system inside my power rack.

Spud Inc sells suspension safety straps (which basically looks like tree saver straps attached to a chain), but I can't find this product in Canada. I've seen a few videos of equipped powerlifters squatting inside of a monorack using a set up that looks like a pair of tree saver straps attached to chains on either end of the barbell being used as barbell safeties.

spud-rack-straps-400[1]

With the straps in place, combined with my current chain safety set up, I can:

  • Perform rack pulls inside the rack without the bar slamming into the metal safety pins
  • Partial reps for squat, bench press, and deadlifts
  • Dead stop/Anderson squats/bench presses that's set slightly higher than the height of my safety pins
  • Use the straps as a 1st line of defense for saving my life during missed reps, while the existing metal safety pins would be the 2nd line of defense, in case the safety suspension system snaps somewhere. The bar would be landing on the polyester strap, and I'd bet this would cause less damage to the bar than a metal rod.

They're about $10 each (for a 2" thick, 6' long tree saver strap) and have a "break strength" of 20,000 lb. Pretty sure I won't be using even 10% of that weight in the near future.

Here’s a blog post about someone making safety straps in a power rack with similar parts.

UPDATE: Bought these straps, and have a DIY power rack safety suspension strap system set up.

6. Squat Handles *

I’ve temporarily quit performing low bar squats, mainly because of the elbow tendonitis I experience for a few days afterwards. Sometimes I even get shoulder pain that shoots down my arms, and for some reason saps my arm strength to 50%, making any pressing or pulling movements weak and painful.

I’m currently focused on front squats (with straps) and high bar squats. There’s less pressure on the shoulders, elbows and wrists with the high bar squat compared to the low bar squat, but there’s still a little bit of stress.

I’ve high bar squatted using hanging onto straps, which eliminates the stress, but it’s not as stable as grasping the bar with your hands.

Something along the lines of Dave Draper’s Top Squat device would allow me to high bar squat while holding onto a pair of handles. Here’s a demonstration of how it works:

Unfortunately, it’s no longer being sold on their website.

Another alternative is to construct some sort of handles that can attach to the bar, similar to what this guy did:

attachment[1]

Or this guy:

Now, the issue with these squat handles is that it can only be used in a high bar squat (from what I understand).

I did come across someone making a pair of handles specifically for the low bar squat, which is great because it’s this particular squat variation where i get most of the shoulder/elbow/wrist pain from.

It’s looks pretty sweet, and it looks like it would work. It would be nice if the handles could rotate somehow (so the hands can be slightly angled based on the lifter’s preference).

UNFORTUNATELY, it doesn’t look like these are in production or being sold anywhere! Which really sucks, because I’m not the only person who experiences shoulder, elbow and wrist pain from low bar squatting. I’m sure people would probably buy the shit out of this product.

squat-handle[1]

Relevant: http://startingstrength.com/resources/forum/showthread.php?t=45015&page=1

7. Mini Bands *

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What I want to do is try out and progressively train are reverse band overhead presses. I already have full sized bands from Rogue Fitness, however they're awkward to set up and use for the overhead press. They're too long, and probably have too much tension. I've looped them around the top of my rack in many different configurations, but the tension is not consistent between both bands at either ends of the bar.

Mini bands are more likely the correct length and easier to set up for the purposes of overhead pressing, mainly because the bar starts and ends close to the top of my rack.

I could even use the mini bands for the bench press by attaching it to the bottom of the rack and to the bar. But I prefer reverse bands because I can figure out more accurately the weight at the top and bottom of the lift.

8. Deadlift Jacking Thingy *

Using axle stands as a deadlift jack works, but they wreck the knurling on the bar.

Lately, I’ve been rolling the innermost plate on top of a 2.5 lb plate. This works as well, but it chipped off a lot of paint from the 2.5 lb plate, leaving paint chips everywhere and an un-aesthetic looking Olympic plate.

I could get a mini deadlift jack with some sort of protective plastic, like the Rogue Mini Deadlift Bar Jack.

mini-deadlift-bar-jack-web6_1_1[1]

But a cheaper option would be this deadlift wedge from LIFT.net:

Looks like it would be easy to use and doesn’t look as though it would damage anything. Also, it’s pretty cheap ($9.99, and $6.99 for shipping).

Alternatively, I could use roll the innermost plate on top of a rubber paver tile I have lying around. I’ll try this the next time I pull.

9. Treadmill For A DIY Treadmill Desk *

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I should probably do some cardio, for fat loss/heart health/recovery/stuff like that. But the thing is, I don't want to spend extra time doing extra workouts throughout the week.

So, a solution I came up with in my head is to do some sort of cardio while I'm doing something else I'm currently doing in my existing daily routine.

My home office is located inside my home gym in the basement. I currently have my desk (which is an easily adjustable Ikea Jerker desk) set up as a standing desk, but I do a lot of sitting in a drafting chair. But, if I got a treadmill and set up a treadmill desk, I could walk (which is cardio) whenever I'm doing anything in front of my computer.

If I'm currently spending 5 hours per day sitting (hypothetically, I haven't actually measured this), and replace that with 5 hours of light walking, I'm going to guess it'll be better in the long run for my overall health. Probably could even get more gains (or loss) if I wear a weighted vest for this.

I've read a few articles about people's experiences with a treadmill desk, and they appear to be mostly positive. But I'll really have to try it out for myself to see if it works for me. The good thing is, people are always getting rid of their old treadmills on Kijiji/Craigslist, so it won't cost much to set up and test out a treadmill desk.

Here are some articles about using a treadmill desk:

And here are some tutorials I'll probably use to set up a DIY treadmill desk:

 

10. Pegboard To Hang Stuff *

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I have a lot of exercise equipment lying all over the place in my home gym.

Some of them are hung on the pegs of my rack, others on nails on the wall, and a lot of stuff on the floor. It's very unorganized an not very aesthetic.

I've seen pictures and videos of other people's home gyms, and it looks like a peg board (a regular peg board that's often seen in garages to hang and organize tools, not the ones used for climbing) would be a good solution to organize stuff that can be easily hung up (like straps, skipping ropes, wraps, chains, etc).

This guy even used a peg board to hang bars.

Summary *

In my future blog posts and videos, you may see one, some, or all of the items above in my home gym.

I’ll try to be good this year. Santa, I hope you’re reading this.

Leaning Back And The Overhead Press *

This past week I managed to hit 9 OHP (dead stop) PRs.

To be fair, I only started training this variation (it's a variation for me since I normally press with a rebound) a little over a week ago (January 30, 2015). Just by starting off with conservative weights, getting better at the technique and training it frequently will result in a lot of quick progress.

At first, I couldn't even press 250 lb from a dead stop, but now my 1RM is sitting at 280 lb.

Pressing from a dead stop without a rebound was very humbling at first, but it was also very instructive and educational. It reinforced a few things I'm sure all very strong pressers know: a lay back (or leaning back) is necessary for the overhead press. If you look at the the video when I first tried the dead stop OHP, and compare it to the videos below, you'll see a change in technique. At first, I was standing too erect. While some would consider this "good form" and "strict form", it is really inefficient form, because the bar was not in a proper position to press up in a straight(er) line. Since then, I shifted my hips forward, tilted my torso back slightly to position the bar above the mid-foot before pressing.

By making this small adjustment (a "weird trick"), I've taken my dead stop 1RM from 250 lb to 280 lb within a week.

Working pretty well, if you ask me.

I have gotten a few comments recently about leaning back during the press. For some reason, people think that standing erect during the press is good form, and leaning back is bad form.

To copy-and-paste a response I had on (goddamn) REDDIT to a self proclaimed "beginner" with a 5RM of 115 lb at a height of 5'10" and probably malnourished weight of 185 lb who referred to my OHP as a standing incline press:

Leaning back is necessary to get the bar closer to the invisible line above the mid foot, making for an efficient press (since heavy weights like to move in a straight line). Also, it helps position the head out of the way for a more vertical press (instead of pressing around the face). Leaning back can be minimal with light weights (because it's so light it's easy to control even if the bar is in a poor position), but when you approach heavy loads closer to your 1RM, you will lean back before and during the press.

Here's another response to another comment on another thread (that has since been deleted) about leaning back:

...my OHP 1RM is only 300 lb. I'm sure there are people here who consider this light and can press this weight with less leaning back, and have the bar curve around their head before pressing straight up, but this weight is my (current) limit for me, so I need to position my body so that I'm pressing up in as straight a line as possible. Almost all of my videos are pushing at some sort of limit (ie. some sort of PR attempt), so there's going to be a lean back in an attempt to produce a vertical bar path in the videos.

Leaning back is necessary for the OHP, especially with heavy weights/maxes/rep maxes. It's covered in the popular strength training book for beginners, "Starting Strength" (pp 90, 3rd edition).

Here's the text, for those who don't have the book:

12 Personal Records *

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 250 x 1, 260 x 1 (1RM), 250 x 2 (2RM), 225 x 5 (5RM) *

Did 250 lb x 1 first, which was a 1RM (couldn't get it last week). Felt easy so went up to 260 lb. That felt OK still. I was thinking about pushing it up even more, but I'll save that for later on.

Dropped back down to 250 lb for a 2RM, then finished it off with a +25 lb 5RM PR from a few days ago. May have gotten another rep but my quads were cramping.

I think I'm starting to get the hang of this OHP with a dead stop.

Paused High Bar Squat: 475 lb x 4 (4RM) *

Wanted a 525 lb x 2 paused high bar squat first, but only got 1. I think my squat has been suffering from the winter blues lately.

Went for 5 reps with 475 lb, but only got 4. Still a PR.

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 265 x 1, 275 x 1 (1RM) & 235 x 5 (5RM) *

265 lb x 1 is a +5 lb OHP 1RM from 2 days ago. Felt fast. Thought about going for 270 lb, but 275 lb looks better on the bar. 275 lb x 1 is a +10 lb OHP 1RM from a few minutes ago, and +15 lb 1RM from Monday. Not bad!

I think all that pizza I ate earlier this week is starting to show it's true power.

Finished off with 235 lb x 5 for a 5RM, which is a +10 lb PR from a couple of days ago #progressiveoverload #linearprogression #nevergiveuponnewbiegains

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 280 x 1 (1RM) & 255 x 2 (2RM) *

Had to get some blood testing done this morning, and because blood was extracted from my body, my hit points (HP) is lower today.

Also saw a poster at the clinic that said not to lift anything heavy for 24 hours after a blood test. I complied. I was going to squat today, but changed it to another movement that uses lighter weight and kept the workout short (30 minutes).

Paused Front Squat (No Belt) 410 lb x 1 (1RM) & Dead Stop/Bottom-Up/Anderson Front Squat: 385 lb x 1 (1RM) *

410 lb x 1 paused, no belt was EZPZ.

Tried for a 420 lb beltless front squat 1RM after, but missed. Since the bar was on the safety pins, I figured why not try out the Dead Stop/Bottom-Up/Anderson Front Squat. Used a cross grip first for some reason. Couldn't get it with 410 lb. Lowered it to 385 lb and still couldn't stand up with it. Probably not accustomed to the cross grip, so I held onto the straps. Not bad! May have gotten 410 lb had I used straps.

Stuff You Should Check Out *

  1. Powerlifters Should Train More Like Bodybuilders by Greg Nuckols
    • More reasons to become a muscle sphere.

Torn a callus last week during deadlifts.

Apparently what I did was wedge the barbell in the middle of my hands instead of having the bar closer towards the fingers (on or near the proximal digital crease) like I normally do.

I'm not sure why I did this. Maybe it was to get a better grip. But this was not the case, as the bar slid in my palms towards my fingers during the deadlift, taking a callus with it.

I ended up cutting off the callus that was flapping in my palm with a pair of nail scissors. I think it's healing quite nicely, and hopefully I'll be able to pull sooner than later.

Healing nicely #justmoisturized #torncallus #callus #aloevera #Deadlift #nailscissors

A photo posted by John Phung (@johnny_phung) on

Also started performing a more humbling, stricter version of the overhead press with a dead stop at the bottom.

Anyways, 6 PRs this week:

6 Personal Records *

Paused High Bar Squat: 455 lb x 5 (5RM) *

That Hungry Man TV dinner I had for breakfast messed me up. Felt boated and lethargic all day. Missed the 3rd rep at 535 lb (would have been a 3RM), and attempted a beltless high bar squat at 525 lb (got pinned). Played it safe and went with 455 lb x 5. Lesson learned.

Bench Press: 395 lb x 1 (1RM) *

+5 lb 1RM! Felt heavy in my hands and coming down, but seemed to bounce right back up.

Tried 400 lb. Got pinned. Good thing is that it's easier to take the plates off the bar from safety pin height level.

Deadlift (No Belt): 510 lb x 2 (2RM) *

Almost locked out the 3rd rep with 550 lb, but couldn't maintain grip. Bar started to slide off the tape. FOCK!

510 lb x 2 is a no belt 2 rep MEH. Ended up tearing a callus on that set. Guess I'll take a break from deadlifting for a while!

 

Overhead Press (Dead Stop): 230 lb x 3 & 200 lb x 5 *

Wanted 265 lb x 3 (OHP with a rebound at the bottom like I normally perform it), but only got 1. I think my overhead pressing muscles are on vacation after pressing 300 lb a few weeks ago.

So, to continue to hit OHP PR's, I've finally implemented a close variation: the dead stop overhead press. I needed to play around with my grip width to get the bar touching my collar bones, and breath at the bottom instead of the top. These are pretty tough. To put it in perspective, I can perform 230 lb x 6 and 200 lb x 10 with a rebound.

Front Squat (No Belt): 385 lb x 3 (3RM) *

Couldn't get a paused 1RM @465 lb, so did this instead.

Looks easier than it felt.

Stuff You Should Check Out *

Pretty sure my work capacity is shit now since I only perform 1-3 working sets and I don't do any intentional cardio. Eventually, in order to get to higher levels of strength I'm sure I'll need to do more work.

By the way, be sure to like and subscribe to updates to Strengtheory (if you're interested in getting strong and stuff).