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Old 08-10-2011, 01:41 AM   #1
Ben Byram
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Default Imperfection training

In Pavel’s book Beyond Bodybuilding he mentions imperfection training whilst referring to Tommy Kono’s book whatever it is called. The premise being to train (your back in this instance) through ranges of motion you would normally avoid with a view to better injury resistance for those times when you end up out of your normal ROM under loading.

I did this before with very light SLDL’s using a kettlebell and slowly rolling the spine as I lowered the weight to the floor from the top down as Pavel recommends. My back did feel feel good and resilient after several weeks of this although it feels a bit risky whilst doing it. I stopped because I felt like I didn’t need it anymore and I thought it was a bit risky given the recommendations by nearly all trainers to avoid loading a flexed spine.

I recently aggravated an old bulging disc injury in my lower back whilst on honeymoon through simply tying my laces and standing up despite having no issues with it for a year. I’m considering doing this again when my back is rehabbed.

Another example is Pavel's idea to lift a KB from the outside of foot with straight…ish legs, stand-up normally then lower to the opposite side - flexing and bending the spine under light loading.

What are people’s opinions on this type of training?
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Old 08-10-2011, 05:36 AM   #2
Steve Shafley
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I would call this more of a 'round back lifting' than an imperfection.

The Kono movement is called a 'loosening deadlift' and is also seen in a few other places...Bill Starr recommends it somewhere, as does Dreschler in the WLE.

Another examples are doing hyperextensions with an exaggerated rounding and extension.

There are 2 schools of thought on this stuff.

1. Any rounding is bad, especially underload, and should be avoided.
2. Rounded back training, when done sensibly, can strengthen those small muscles and tissues that have to take the load when the spine rounds, so it's something to decide on a case to case basis.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:13 AM   #3
Ben Byram
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Thanks Steve. I know you are a knowledgeable fella, so what is your personal opinion on the loosening deadlift for someone with no 'major' back issues?

I'm aware of the 2 general schools of thought, but I'm trying to decide if it's a good idea to do them again or not worth the bother for an everyday Joe. I wondered if many people had tried them.

If I recall correctly Pavel suggests 2/3x8-12, is there any value in going higher reps say 15-20 or is that likely to increase injury risk? I don't think I'd fancy going lower rep.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:32 AM   #4
Steve Shafley
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I have no idea.

I've tried them with a dinged back, and it didn't make it any better or any worse.
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Old 08-10-2011, 06:41 AM   #5
Ben Byram
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Ha! The jury is still out then...

Logically they make sense, but not if they will damage my spine in the process. Hmm....?
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:38 AM   #6
Josh Heinrichs
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Strikes me as a completely foolish thing to do. By lifting weight with a rounded back you're loading the intervertebral discs unevenly, forcing them against the sheath in which they are encased rather than against the verterbrae. The inevitable result is a bulged or herniated disc.

Why not just train the lower back muscles in the conventional way, avoiding spinal injury? Are you really so strong in exercises like the deadlift that there's no room for improvement? What percentage of your bodyweight are you currently deadlifting?
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Old 08-10-2011, 07:56 AM   #7
Ben Byram
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I appreciate what you are saying and I'm haven't made my mind up about them... but I don't think Pavel, Kono or Dreschler are fools. I think Siff may have advocated something similar, although I'm not sure.

The idea is to use weights of 30-40% of what you can clean which isn't a lot for the likes of me and work very carefully and slowly through the movement.

I have been training my back in a conventional manner using deads/power cleans, RDL's, back extensions, swings etc, together with trunk strengthening work. However, the idea is it doesn't prepare your back for when you are hunched over in everyday life and something tweaks outside of an ideal deadlift position where your back is in a nice arch and everything is perfectly balanced.

I made no mention of being strong. My back is currently knackered and I'm rehabbing it which made me think of this movement. I could easily DL over twice BW not too long ago for what it's worth. I know that isn't breaking any records.

I'm more interested in getting my lower back healthy and resilient for everyday life currently and wondered if this albeit unconventional method may be of benefit. I won't stop doing deads and the rest of things, just wondered if this is a worthwhile addition, or just stupid.
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Old 08-10-2011, 09:00 AM   #8
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I don't think there's anything wrong with round-back lifting if you don't have existing injuries and you're conservative going into it. Round-back straight (or stiff) legged deadlifts standing on a block/bench to allow full range of motion are great, as are back extensions (ie. actual back extensions, not hip extensions). As long as you're maintaining adequate hip mobility and also strengthening the back isometrically, I think these can be good supplemental exercises. And if you notice any pain or problem, you can stop doing them.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:00 AM   #9
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Gregg, thanks for your input. I think I'll try the loosening deadlift again as a preventative measure when my back strength and mobility is re-established.

What are your thoughts on the following exercise (also from Pavel's BB) which involves twisting together with bending - also worthwhile, or a step too far?

Deadlift a light KB with both hands. Then slowly lower it to one of your heels. Straighten out and twist to the other side. Perform 2-3 sets of 15-20 reps.
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Old 08-10-2011, 10:09 AM   #10
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I like that kind of stuff - windmills, halfmoons, etc. Again, if you're currently injury-free, have adequate mobility and are smart when breaking into these kinds of movements, I do think they can not only be safe but protective.
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