Back with the power cleans

It’s been a while since I’ve been either lifting or working on this site! I’ve been busy with other sports, getting married, honeymoon and all the other things that happen in life.

But then a CrossFit gym opened up near my workplace. Upon visiting, I realised a CrossFit gym (or box…) has all the equipment one would ever need or want for gaining strength. While I’m not so into CrossFit because it trains you to be a more jack of all trades from endurance to strength, even if you’re after strength alone there is something there. Crucially the owners are happy to let me get one with getting strong and missing out on the WODs. And they still help me out with technique. So for the first time ever, I got some education on power cleans.

Here’s my latest attempt at a power clean. While it is me giving the analysis, some of the points (particularly the lack of leg extension) came from the coach there.

Plan your workout before you go to the gym

Failing to plan is planning to fail. Successful gainers know what they are going to do in the gym before they go to the gym. What weights they will do, how many reps they will attempt.

With this in mind, I’m incubating a new feature were you create your workout first – with some help to auto-generate the workout perhaps. Next up is a more simplified mobile interface to actually perform the logging.

Strength levels added to your log profile

A new feature is being incubated! On your log profile (or under Stats/Scores on your mobile app), you will now see your Big 3 strength exercises being rated. More to come on how they are calculated but here are the key things to know

  • Barbell squat, bench press and deadlifts are the key exercises to measure your strength
  • Increasing your rep maxes will increase your level and points
  • The scoring is scaled 10 levels, ranging from the rank beginner to an elite lifter.
  • Just like various RPG games out there, the levels get exponentially harder to achieve
  • It takes into account your body weight (so make sure this is recorded!) and how many reps you do in your exercise
  • It will eventually take into account gender and maybe age
  • It doesn’t take into account how height, body physique, training methods etc. but does otherwise provide a fair score of comparison with your fellow lifting buddies, so invite them along to compare scores!

The formula may otherwise get refined but the levels should be pretty accurate as they are.

And this is me as of the time of writing

Analysis on EXRX and Rippetoe’s Strength Standards – Part 1 is a popular website to figure out how “advanced” a lifter you are in various categories. It’s also referred to in Rippetoe’s excellent book Starting Strength – a copy of the standards at

People often refer to this table as gospel but instead miss this key tidbit of information:

In other words, they sort of made it up, albeit from the best possible sources:

To see if I can do better I am going to run some regression analysis and use accumulated performance data to figure out both what we can learn from the experience of these Starting Strength authors, see if the standards can be improved and ultimately get a better measure of strength.

The only regression study I’m aware of is what has become the Wilks Coefficient. Is anyone else aware of similar analyses? If not, I will rely solely on Wilks, exrx and some basic maths.

Before that, I can draw some inferrences from Starting Strength tables alone. All else being equal (i.e. ignoring height, genetics etc. etc.) the Exrx table indicates male atheletes from intermediate onwards split their totals as follows

  • 35% Squat
  • 25% Bench Press
  • 40% Deadlift

Or to interpret it another way, a typical deadlift is 14% higher than the typical squat and benchpress is 71% of the squat. That’s kind of interesting – it’s an FAQ on what typical Squat/Bench/Deadlift ratios are, so here you go. Furthermore, the ratios don’t change across different bodyweights! (Height probably matters though)

For the newer athlete, squat/deadlift take a lower ratio, whilst bench press takes a higher ratio. I pay less interest to this because it may be the typical untrained athelete has actually tried to bench before whereas squat is a foreign exercise. Or perhaps it is interesting because it shows how the Squat can proportionally improve as the fastest exercise when you are first starting out.

Announce: Gainstrack mobile app betas!

Maintain a training log has been one of the keys to my personal success – in terms of accountability and the support you get from others. You get measurable progress in seeing how you progress with your strength goals.

When I heard my old community, SLIC, was getting shut down, I was spurred into action. I thought it unacceptable that hundreds of training logs -  long term diaries of progress could be lost forever. Furthermore, the logging there was never quite as good as it could be.

So since the SLIC shutdown, I’ve been working on making my perfect training log software to track my gains. Perfection will take time but it is now in a state I am happy to log my workouts on my phone for myself and to start sharing the capability with others who want the same things from logging like me.

So who is me then?

I’m a lifting techie. I care about stats, progress. I want to know all the analysis from my training log so I can learn what I’m doing, what to target and how to do better. Rep maxes, graphs, plate calculators etc.!

I believe in open standards and am against vendor lock-in. Never again should a training log be at risk as when the site closes down. Logs should be transferable within sites. You can get your log entries in and out of Gainstrack and I’ll make it as easy as I’m allowed to integrate with sites like CrazyStrength.

I believe in open platforms. Whether you are on your desktop, on your Android or iPhone mobile or offline in the gym, your training log and training tools should be available for you to use. Hence a mobile app.

Desktop version is at

Android users can pick up it up from the Play store now soon. In the mean time, you can download the APK from

iPhone users follow instructions at

I welcome feedback, suggestions, feature requests, bug reports and any general commentary!

Goal Setting And Motivation With Your Login Password

I’m currently participating in an online course around Usable Security where we cover things like the pains to create and remember passwords… that later need changing very 30 days because company policies say so. Then someone posted this gem of an article

So how about making your password something like lift3xthisweek and type that into your PC every day?

Secure, memorable and motivating

How To Reset Pelvic Torsion – If Only I Knew This 10 Years Ago

I wish I saw this video 10 years ago. I was running for a bus and something “moved” around my hips. The next day, my whole lower back and hips fell into spasm. One leg felt longer than the other and I was stuck like this for weeks before the spasms reduced but by then the resulting hip torsion stuck around for months before I found a physio able to reset. But then, the imbalance was engrained and I kept this imbalance for years. This led to running problems because one leg was functionally longer than the other due to the hip twist.  ITB pain followed and finally this caused me to quit running because my ITB would always flare up. As a last resort, I decided to do Stronglifts 5×5 to increase hip/glute strength… I didn’t return to running but I did get hooked on lifting. So maybe it all led to good things after all.
This video identifies exactly the symptoms I had 10 years ago and how I could have fixed it if I only knew…

If you like this, I first discovered this technique in KST’s book A Supple Leopard. These days, the 10 year muscular imbalance is starting to clear out as I do strength exercises that force you to stay well aligned!

How I fixed lower back pain from over-arching the back during squats

Here’s a summary how I went from incessant back pain -  only doing front squats because back squats were killing me – to pain free stable back squats
It’s a long boring and tortuous story – most of it in my training log here. First step was to join an online lifting community to pick up new cues and tips and then try applying various. I’ve made many a mistake along the way.
The content here is primarily to help those who are over-extending their back at some point during the squat motion

Firstly hip-mobility. The most magical mobility video you’ll find this: Instant relief and effect, and gets better the more you do it. It counts as a magic bullet.

The real tough technique is the stuff about bracing your spine and core. There’s a lot of stuff you can read and watch but it takes a while before it clicks in practicality.
First you need to know where neutral actually is. So, also by Kelly Starrett, you’ll here tips around “external rotation” and screwing your feet into the ground. This was the best explanation for me for the first half (tight glutes)

That move gets your spine into the right position. Now “all” you have to do is maintain that by flexing your abs and holding it all tight. Best general explanation is from this article:
I learned to brace myself into neutral but it took me ages to figure out how to stay neutral as I went down in the squat (since you have to release your glutes from part 1, but keep your abs flex and your ribs in the right place). This hip hinge exercise helped me with the proprioception.

After 2 months of absorbing all the above, I’m now in a world where I know what my back angle is doing and I can keep it relatively stable. All my back soreness is gone…