T Nation

5/3/1 Program - Critique My Lifts

Quick background: I am 39, an I have been lifting regularly through my 20’s, but slacked off during my 30’s. I started to workout again last summer and now I am doing 5/3/1 program.
The videos show my 4 major lifts. These are not 1 rep max, but they are 85-90 of max, and they are to failure (or close to it). Therefore I was hoping that you could critique my form, but also to analyze what muscle groups are the weakest links, causing the the lift fail and the form to crumble. And, maybe suggest some assistance exercises for those muscle groups as well or give some pointers. Thanks.

BENCH PRESS:

SQUAT:

MILITARY PRESS:

DEAD LIFT (sumo)

Since nobody else reply I guess I have to.

Squat: Make sure your whole back is tight and arched, And don’t let the weight shift to your toes. I can’t really tell if this is an issue however. Also you might be better off with a wider stance. Check out this thread - http://tnation.T-Nation.com/free_online_forum/sports_body_training_performance_bodybuilding_strength/why_do_you_squat_the_way_you_do
There are lots of form critique threads here that could be interesting for you.

Overhead press: Your elbows should be more front of the bar. Looks like you don’t rest the bar across your clavicles, but hold it awkwardly in front of you. Hope that makes sense. Im sure you can find somehing about that here if you search.

Looking at videos of skilled lifters would help you. Also, what assistance work are you doing? I think what would help you most is actually doing the lifts more to improve form and get comfortable with them, that’s what has helped me.
Hope it’s helpful.

Above poster is right about your OHP, but I think the problem is probably because you are gripping the bar very wide. This is not good for long term shoulder health. I would recommend taking a much narrower grip on the bar (just barely outside shoulder width). This will help you set the bar on your lats as a shelf, keep your elbows in a better position, and protect your shoulders from unnecessary rotation.

I didn’t watch the other videos, sorry.

My advice:
Take your breath and get set before you move. You were rushing it. Take a breath, get tight, then lift.
Bring your grip in on military press and maybe try thumbless grip. Feels better on the shoulders.
During your deadlift try to keep a neutral spine. You aren’t doing the PEZ dispenser thing, but it can still help to try and keep it neutral.
Your bench looked good other than you were breathing during descent.

Also, I could be wrong, but I think shoes would help your sumo deadlift. Since you’re trying to “spread the floor” during a sumo pull I think shoes would help.

PS I think it is great you are getting back into lifting after such a long layoff.

Bench: Hard to tell from the video but you seemed to lose your “tightness” under the bar you got on your setup after you unracked. You had a spotter so you should have had him give you a handoff. But from what I could tell you had good bar control and tucked your elbows well. Maybe just a maybe of arching more and getting your shoulders really planted into the bench.

Squat: Depth seemed questionable on a a few reps, could be a matter of driving your knees out a little more, and like the above poster said of keeping your back arched and tight.

Bench. Hard to tell anyhing with that. Clothes are too loose and baggy to see what your body is doing, except for lots of hip thrust. You might like to give wrist wraps a try.

Military press. You ain’t doin’ it. You are doing a push press. Lock your knees, then press. Feet are too wide apart. Girp is way too wide as well. Get your hands close to or on the start of the knurl (assuming you are using a proper powerlifting/olympic bar). Lock your knees. Become a pillar of power. Push up and get your head under the bar.

Squats. All sorts of horrible goin’ on dere. Widen your foot stance, way wider. Toes in line with the knees (you can track them back a touch once you get stronger). Now you have somewhere to drop your arse. You are squatting waaay too high. Halve the weight and do some practice sets. Again, wear tighter clothing for a test vid so we can see what is happening in the hip area. Your hip joint should be below your knee joint. In some feds they describe that as the crease at your hip joint being below the top of the knee. Your lower back arch is rounding at the bottom and is not that crash hot at the top. Get that arch going. To keep it all the way down and back up, stretch out your hamstrings before and during squatting. Lots of dat. You will improve in back tightness and lower back arch if you bring your hands in a whole lot more. While experienced lifters can and do use a wider grip (mostly because their shoulders are stuffed) for a beginner you should keep them in much closer to help bunch up your upper back. When Ronnie Coleman does a back pose, what does he do? He does a double bicep flex. Hands end up close to his head and that bunches up his massive back. Do the same with your grip. Try hands close to the knurl, like the military press. You should feel uncomfortable and “compressed”. When you unrack, it should feel rock solid.

Deadlift. If you must pull sumo, get your balls over the bar. Or close to it. You are "good morning"ing the bar up instead of using your hips. It’s all back.

Lots more, but that will get you lifting a lot more without getting any stronger.

And edit the first 1/3 of your videos. We don’t need to watch the wall.

My .002¢, read what Wendler has to say about bench grip width. Depending on your goals, where you are in relation to a competition, this may or may not apply. It appears that you drive your ass off the bench every rep. Try walking your feet as far back as possible (heels on ground) and then as far out as possible… then a little wider. Once you have used up your range of motion, you can stay tight and use leg drive but have “run out of room” to lift your ass.

I think your squat looks pretty good on the way down, but your hips drive up first and your trunk angle increases/thoracic spine caves at the start of the accent. It’s hard to completely eliminate but I like to focus on maintaining trunk angle/upright chest especially on the heavy ones. If your not already, good mornings are good assistance.

I only watched the two. Congrats on the comeback, looking strong.

Thank you guys for all the advice as well as the civility of your replies. Not a single occurance of the word faggot… maybe I just watched too many lifting videos on youtube :slight_smile:
Bench press - the wider grip feels a bit stronger to me but I am still experimenting with different grips. I am taking a deep breath as the bar goes down then hold my breath and exhale when I am just about to lock out. Any suggestions?

Also I see a bit of a move in my hips. I didn’t even know about it until I filmed my bench. Does that indicate some weak muscles or is it just a matter of improving my set up?
Military press - again I am not sure why I grip the bar wide. But I will narrow the grip some and lock out my knees. Honestly I thought that the term military press is just a blanket term for a variety of overhead presses…

Anyway I can see that by using a leg drive I indeed was doing more of a dynamic push presses. Although at the end it was neither a military press because I was using a leg drive nor push press because I actually try to keep the leg drive to a minimum. Will work on that.

Squat - this one is a huge eye opener for me. Until I filmed my squat I thought my form was good and depth was deep. I sure went as low as I could go. I have to do some serious work on the form and even more on my mobility. I had a hard time with my shoulders and wrists when using low bar but after several weeks of mobility exercises I could put the bar low - no problem.

But I clearly have some serious mobility issues with my hips and ankles and strenght issues with my glutes and hamstrigs. I tried to do front squat the other day and found out I can only do 1/4 squats before dropping the (empty) bar. However when I put small plates under my heels it totally helped. I was able to go much deeper and kept my back straight.

Also tried to do glut raises (modified ones as there is no machine for that in my gym) and it was an epic fail when I managed to do one half ass rep and my hams were totally cramped out. I even had a pain in them the next day as if I worked them out. WishI worked on these issues sooner…
Deadlift - sumo just seems natural to me. I tried conventional too but sumo wins hands down.

I will try it with shoes on and also hope that once my mobility improves and hams get stronger I will be able to keep my back in a better position and engage the hip area more too.