lifting form changes with Dave Hoff

Training with Dave Hoff and Jimmy Grandick Part 2 – 2 years later

In 2018, right at two years ago, I went up and had a couple of training sessions with Dave Hoff. You can read about the bench press session here and the squat session a couple of days later and what I learned during this time. In short, there’s a reason why he’s the best-equipped bencher of all time. The details matter, so do the basics.

The Arnold weekend was a cluster, but I made the most of it by just getting done what I could. And for that matter, I thought Dan/Wayne, Mike, all did the very best they could have done considering the confusion. Once I read Arnold basically canceled, I tossed my briefs, belt, and shoes in my suitcase and figured I could get in a training session while I’m up there.

So Friday, after the meet was over for the men, I walked over to Jim Grandick and others who were discussing training the next day. I got the time and decided to show up at the Dog House the next day, the home of the former night crew from Westside barbell. I needed to get a session in regardless, and this was a great opportunity.

I don’t talk about it much, but I have bouts of horrible anxiety (esp with training, esp lifting out of town) and like being in control of my practice, the location, the conditions and all of that stuff, so training out of town always makes me step out of my comfort zone. I guess this comes along with training in the same space for 15 years straight. But I’m so glad I went to train. Hoff has tried to get me to go wider on my squat for a few years, and I’ve had bouts of going more extensive, but naturally, if I’m not intentional, I move back in over time. The timing was perfect since I’d been working wider in training, and with my weight gain, going much broader is necessary.

So to start, after our discussion and me telling him what I’ve been working on: he told me he’d help me and took me out even wider, far more wide than I would ever go. This change felt a little bit awkward at first, but each set, it felt better and more stable as the weights kept climbing. Watching Grandick squat so wide helped everything click more and more.

Hoff’s coaching cues were:

  • Squeeze the bar out of the rack
  • Let the bar settle for a moment (don’t rush it)
  • Sit back and open up. (Opening up with a wider stance is far more easy than opening up in a closer stance. This jumped out at me right away.)
  • Spread the floor/OPEN up – and maintain the neutral spine and be patient

What I’m going to have to work on and it’s going to take time – The hardest part about going so much wider is the unrack. 1. it feels unstable, and two the rack has to come down much lower than I’m used to; it feels like a half squat – so these are the things that I’m going to have to get used to. It’s hard for me to get under the bar. But as I say to the people that I coach and dial in their form: it will likely feel worse for the next couple of sessions, so don’t get discouraged and revert to your old ways. So far, not too bad. Week 2 wasn’t bad either, as I worked up to 805×3 shown above. I did, however, creep my stance back in slightly, so I will adjust this next week.

Anthony O was back-spotting me and coaching me on filling my belt with air, as I sat back into the briefs and opened up. This was very helpful because sometimes when given a new cue, you can forget the basics. Stepfen game me some fantastic knee wraps, and everyone was so much help to me!

Once the weight crossed 800lbs, each set got better and better until we ended with 980, and considering I haven’t been in gear nor lifting heavy; I was happy with this. I’m going to stay in my 2ply preds size 46 for a little while, although they are a little bit big and will continue to dial in my form over the next few weeks to squat 1100 in Preds and atomics before the babies are born. This will be my cue to deload. I will need it.

In conclusion: It’s easy to coach other people, but not always so easy to keep yourself to such a high standard and identify your flaws. This doesn’t make you a hypocrite, it makes you HUMAN. It’s also hard to put the ego aside, but it’s essential to go to the next level, and this is why you must go outside your group for critiques. We are all a work in progress, and I’d be a fool not to listen to a guy who has mastered 1200lb squats, 900+ benches, and 800+ pulls the way that Dave Hoff has.

Thank you, Dave, Anthony, Val, and crew for all of your help and for letting me join you all for a very productive training session. I do appreciate it! Get out of your rut and take the next step toward more significant numbers.

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Brian Carroll

Brian is a world-class powerlifter with over two decades of elite and pro-level powerlifting under his belt. Coming back from a devastating back injury in 2012 that broke multiple bones and that most experts said he would never recover from, he has returned to the pinnacle of world-class lifting (while 100% pain and symptom-free) and is now dedicated to helping others avoid the same mistakes that he made in the past through private and group coaching in Jacksonville, FL. Brian’s impressive recovery has given him the opportunity to teach and deliver talks to physical therapists, chiropractors, medical doctors, professional strength & conditioning coaches and experts from all facets of sport, on how to avoid injury, while building anti-fragile strength and resilience in athletes.
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