T Nation

three questions - long post

Hi all:

I work out using mostly “big” heavy lifts, bodyweight conditioning, and kettlebells (you can see where I get most of my ideas ;)) and martial arts. I am what you would call “solidly” built, with big shoulders, broad back, big thighs, etc. However, I am trying to get as strong as I look sometimes and improve my appearance as well as other physical attributes.

I have 2 (well 3) questions

Anyway, for years, I have had a tight left shoulder (which is also a little higher and possibly more developed), and sometimes neck too. It gets worse with stress, but otherwise it’s inconsistent. I also have a hemivertebra somewhere in my upper back or neck (it was found when I was a kid and is something I share with some family members…I wonder if that mutation qualifies me as an X-man ;)).

Sometimes stretching or bridging helps, sometimes not, sometimes heavy lifting loosens it up, sometimes not, sometimes kettlebells make it feel better, sometimes not…in other words, I can’t seem to find consistent relief other than not really working out at all and avoiding all stress. That’s not realistic.

My goals are to become strong but not that big (I’m already 195 or so, want to drop a little fat and lean out)…in other words I want to be well rounded…flexible, strong, durable, and explosive.

I mostly use KB’s and bodyweight stuff now, with occasional heavy lifting. How can I avoid this tightness & pain?
I’m constantly checking on my form in the deadlifts and KB exercises as well, yet sometimes my lower back feels great, sometimes feels like an old man. (It also bugs me to see a lot of guys I know working out for years with crappy form and have never read a single training article or book and never have these problems, and when they talk t o me they’re often impressed that I know as much as I do about exercise and training). I used to be pretty flexible, but I am finally beginning to incorporate regular stretching because it has caught up with me.

Other considerations: I am a student who otherwise spends a lot of time sitting in front of a computer or reading books all day, or walking around with a heavy bookpack.

I have started working on Matt Furey’s bridging exercise more regularly, and have thought about trying one of the “injury-proofing” workouts on here for a few weeks to see if it helps.

My second question is related…my schedule is really hectic, so I mix things up from the above training modalities and try to measure my overall progress…for example I will do KB’s 3 or so times a week, and do CC on the other days and notice my progress in some of the exercises skyrocketing a lot faster than when I did them exclisively as my program…same with the occaisional heavy lifts. How can I plan a program using a somewhat randdom schedule with different workout types, yet still make progress?

my 3rd question is what are good resources (books, journals) to learn principles for exercise or program design? Being a martial artist, I have occasionally designed original exericese or variations on existing ones that I felt mimicked the movements of the art, in order to strengthen them. So where can I learn the biomechanics/physiology/neuroscience I need to know in order to evaluate whether the exercises are safe and also targeting what I want them to target? Or if I design a program, that it does what I want it to do. I am constantly impressed by many of the authors on these and other forums, and it’s usually because they can back up their programs with actual and not pseudo-scientific knowledge. (I am already studying biological sciences at a post-graduate level, so I feel I am equipped to at least obtain a basic knowledge of these things, if not formally pursuing degrees in these areas.)



Btw…I apologize for sounding a little long-winded and disorganized in my post…I’ve been doing a lot of work lately and as such I think my brain is starting to rebel :slight_smile:

But please, any advice would be helpful.