Week9 – Day22A – Insomnia

Weight:  179.8
Duration:  11:08pm – 12:21pm 1hr 13min.

Couldn’t get to sleep for the life of me last night.  Brain just decided to go full throttle.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 1×135 + 5x5x150

Shoulder felt pretty amazing today.  I managed to lower the bar a bit more and balance it across my back with little to no bothersome pain in my right shoulder!  BUT, I was tweaking my lower back a bit on the last 2 sets.  Felt some lower back strain.  Shoulders may have been coming up much faster than hips so I was transferring load to the low back via pseudo-Good Morning.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 2x5x65 + 5×75 + 5x5x95

Felt very strong on these.  Didn’t go thumbless.  Made sure to shrug and keep a tight shoulder.  Used power lifter arch and tucked the elbows on the way down and flared them out on the way up.  Right shoulder felt like it worked a bit harder on a few reps.

Rows:  5×65 + 5×95 + 5x5x110

These felt pretty heavy today.  Squeezing the bar helps a lot with contracting the muscles pre-pull.  Still pretty heavy though.

Accessories:
Seated DB Curls:  8×30
Preacher BB Curls:  10×40
Standing BB Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×30 + 8×35
DB Bench Press:  20×30

Easy peezy lemon squeezy for sheezy.

Week8 – Day21B – Bang Bang

Weight:  180.0 lbs
Duration:  ~1 hour

Drove out 40 minutes just to get into the gym.  2nd session for the week was on Thursday since it was Christmas on Wednesday, so decided to get my 3rd session in today.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×105 + 3×125 + 5x5x145

Pretty good today!  I think I’ve settled on a slightly higher than low bar position.  Forcing my shoulder into a painful position isn’t going to allow me to rack up the poundages.  I’ll cross that bridge once I get there, but for now…I’ll stick to what I’m doing and keep it consistent.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x8x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x8x10

I’m going to increase the plate raises to 35 lbs moving forward from here.  There’s no doubt that my shoulders have become stronger, but I need to increase poundages on these to continue milking the gains.

Deadlift:  5x135 + 3×155 + 1×175 + 5×195

Heavaaaay.  Banged up the shins real good on these.  I’m thinking I was probably rounding the back pretty hard on the last few reps or so.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×40
Standing BB Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 8×30
Incline DB Press 10×30 + 5×35
DB Bench 10×30
Push-ups 10/5/4

Added some good ‘ole push-ups.

Week8 – Day20A – THE ILLEST

Weight:  177.6
Duration:  11:10pm – 12:08pm ~ 58 min.

Found a new song by Far East Movement feat. Riff Raff called “THE ILLEST” and was listening to it for most of the session.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×85 + 3×100 + 3×120 + 5x5x140

Less strain on the lower back today.  Did some extra shoulder mobility exercises before squatting and it seemed to help a lot with loosening up the right shoulder.

Bench:  4x5xBar + 2x5x65 + 5x5x90

Not bad.  I was switching between thumbless and with thumb grips between sets.  Doing a powerlifter arch also helped with stabilizing the lift.  Without powerlifter arch, I feel like I’m all over the place and my shoulders are taking the brunt of some of the load.  There was significantly less right arm dominance this time around.

Rows:  5×65 + 3×85 + 5x5x105

These felt pretty heavy today.  Squeezing the bar helps a lot with contracting the muscles pre-pull.  Still pretty heavy though.

Accessories:
Seated DB Curls:  10×25
Preacher BB Curls:  8×40
Standing BB Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×30 + 10×35

The preacher BB curls were pretty rough.  I made sure to get full extension, rest for a second, then curl.  This made the curls a lot harder since I wasn’t using the reflexive bounce at the bottom of the curl and instead curling from a dead stop.  I was only able to do 8 reps doing it this way instead of the usual 10 where I wouldn’t go full extension.  I was going to do some push-ups as my third chest accessory, but ended up actually doing some foam rolling!

Week8 – Day19B – No Muzak

Weight:  177.4 lbs
Duration:  53min.

December and it’s 55 degrees out.  Start of the 8th week on SL5x5 and I’ve gained roughly 7-8 lbs of weight.  On heavier days, I actually sit a pretty 180/181 lbs on the scale.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 5x5x135

Not much shoulder pain today.  I think it’s a combination of two things.  1.) It’s really warm out so the joints were probably nice and loose.  2.) I kept a relatively high bar position with a fairly wide grip.  The downside to this, however…is that I was probably using my low back more than I wanted to- I felt it.  Inherently, with the way I’m using the high bar, I’m not able to keep my chest up as much as I want which inadvertently makes me “hunch” a bit, creating a greater moment arm from my hips and ultimately transferring some of the load to my low back.  My left knee also feels…tingly.  That’s the best word I can use to describe how it feels after squatting.  It doesn’t look or feel as if it’s swelling, but it’s just…strange.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x10x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x10

Since these exercises are primarily isolation and not compound, I do really well with the first round.  Afterwards, the fatigue build up and slow recovery just makes these super grueling.  I didn’t have much neck strain like I did the previous time I did this.  Tried to make sure I wasn’t jerking my head around and kept my head stable.  This is especially hard to do on the lateral raises.  For the half presses, I pressed a bit farther up where I was close to doing a full press, but not quite.  They were probably 85% to 90% from being a full press.

Deadlift:  5x125 + 3×145 + 1×165 + 5×185

These weren’t bad.  I was definitely grinding the bar against my shins hard on the top set.  One of the employees from the front desk was looking around towards the free weights area, most likely from all the loud weight dropping noise.  I was fairly gentle with dropping the weight on the deadlifts.  I can only do so much before I hurt myself trying to lower the weight lightly.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×40
Preacher EZ Bar Curls 20×30
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Incline DB Press 10×30 + 10×35 + 4×35

Hit the chest today instead of triceps.

Week7 – Day18A – Ego Part Deux

Weight:  181.2
Duration:  11:25pm – 12:25pm ~ 1 hour

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×85 + 3×95 + 3×115 + 5x5x135

Not bad, felt some strain on the lower back.  Stance was probably a bit too wide, was going a bit lower than parallel causing a greater degree of arch in the low back since I was keeping my torso up right.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 2x5x65 + 5x5x85

Shakey, but not as heavy as last time.  I think I performed the best rep on the last rep of the last set.  I’m noticing that I’m shrugging considerably more on my right shoulder vs my left shoulder under load.

Rows:  5×65 + 5×85 + 5x5x100

Made sure to maintain extremely strict form on these.  In other words, no jerking of the bar up and cheating using momentum.  This involved pretty much a whole body contraction, core, glutes, upper back and bracing before every rep.  I always feel my legs working during these, not sure if this is expected or not.  Banged the bar on the bottom of my left knee cap on one rep.  Definitely not a pleasant feeling.

Accessories:

Preacher BB Curls:  10×40
Preacher EZ Bar Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×30
Standing BB Curl:  10×40
DB Bench Press:  10×35
Tricep Extensions:  10×40
Tricep Pushdown:  20×25

Dumbbell bench pressing is bothersome to my right shoulder the less I tuck my elbows.  Pretty much did tucked pressing on these.  I think I might go with pushups over these next time.  The incline dumbbell press isn’t too bad, there’s less strain on the shoulder doing them so I’ll keep doing them.

Week7 – Day17B – Twist & Ow

Weight:  181.2 lbs
Duration:  12:08 – 1:15 ~ 53min.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×55 + 3×75 + 2×95 + 5x5x125

Right shoulder wasn’t cooperating much again today.  The bar doesn’t seem balanced on my back, there is a slight “twist” in the way the bar is position as if I’m driving the bar forward more on one side than the other.  I can feel my right traps engaging more than my right.  Since my right shoulder isn’t as mobile, I’ve been resorting to having a slightly wider grip on the right side.  This relaxes my traps and rear delts, this could explain the twist.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x10x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x8x10

Not bad, went down to 10lbs today from 12 lbs.  There’s this strain that I get sometimes in the back of my neck when doing the lateral raises.  Should look up what’s going on.  I’m banking on it being bad form.

Deadlift:  5x115 + 3×135 + 1×155 + 5×175

I may need to get some pads on the plates, dropping the bar to the ground is really loud in the gym and I get the feeling one of the workers is going to come up to me and say something.  I think I was using a little of my lower back, but I don’t have much DOMs today from the deadlifts, just slight bruising on the shins.  This is definitely getting a bit heavy

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Tricep Extensions 10×40
Incline Bench 10xBar
Tricep Pushdown 10×40

Tricep pushdowns were fairly heavy, probably shouldn’t have done 40 lbs!

Week7 – Day16A – Ego

Weight:  ??
Duration:  12:09pm – 1:47pm ~ 1:38 min.

That ego.  Trying to impress a non-existent audience.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×85 + 3×105 + 3×115 + 5x5x135

Jumped to 135 lbs, 45 lb plates.  These got me breathing nice and deep, especially the last 2 sets.  Tweaked the right shoulder a bit when getting in position, so one of the sets was done in a bit of pain.  The bar placement felt a bit unbalanced at times.  Felt like I was working my left upper back more than my right upper back.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 5×65 + 5x5x85

These felt a bit inconsistent.  Still benching with right dominance, right arm is burning more and working harder.  More specifically, my right triceps are failing sooner.  Moreover, my right anterior delts are not liking these pressing movements at all.  It’s a bit bothersome.

Read into this article a bit to see if I could correct my technique:  Bench Pressing Cues

Rows:  5×655x5x100

These felt heavier in the later sets of the work weight.  Read in an article when perusing about for bench technique aid that the negative (lowering the weight) shouldn’t be just dropping the weight like in a deadlift.  The negative is just as important as the positive.  I’ll have to take note of this the next time I pull some rows.

Accessories:

Preacher BB Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×30
Standing BB Curl:  10×40
Incline Bench Press:  5×65 + 5×85
Seated DB Curls:  10×25
DB Bench Press:  10×30

Second set of incline bench press nearly failed on last rep.  Right triceps were already spent from right dominant benching and the dumbbell bench pressing.

Just double checked the weights I was supposed to do today and…looks like I jumped a week ahead.  Explains a lot of things!

Week6 – Day15B

Weight:  178.0 lbs

Changing up the posting format…again!  The wall of text doesn’t look very appealing to me when I flip back through my posts, so I’m going to break it up by exercises.

Duration:  11:03 – 12:07

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×55 + 3×75 + 2×95 + 5x5x115

Squats were great today.  My shoulder cooperated a little bit better.  I made it a point to bang through the empty bar and warm-up ramp sets.  The warm-up sets should be done fairly quickly and the time between sets should only be time to increase weights and add/remove plates.  I think the shoulder was feeling much better since I moved the bar up a bit, pretty much high bar and resting on the traps.  Kept the elbows up to lock the bar in place, but it didn’t feel great with the bar riding up towards the back of my neck.  I’ll have to do some more shoulder mobility work, I need to get my low bar grip back!

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x8x12
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x8x12

Shoulder shockers were definitely exhausting.  I managed to find 12lb dumbbells!  I used those to increase resistance a bit on the shoulder shockers, they were getting a bit easy.  Because of the nature of these exercises isolating smaller muscles and they’re not really compound movements, I definitely understand getting fatigued a lot sooner.  I might try some empty bar overhead presses as warm-up next time.

Deadlift:  5x115 + 3×135 + 1×145 + 5×165

Man, do I love me deadlifts.  The pulls still felt pretty light.  Time to video record some of these pulls to ensure my form is on point!  Not looking for any herniated disks or sore lower backs.  I was trying to keep the bar on my shins as much as possible.  I leaned back a bit when pulling as if I was going to hurl the bar backwards over my head.  I feel like this helps me engage the hamstrings more and to avoid transferring the entire load onto my low back aka back rounding.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×40
Preacher EZ Bar Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Tricep Rope Pulldown 15×30
Tricep Extensions 15×35
DB Fly 10×15

Doing preacher curls using a regular straight barbell was definitely different.  Good different, in that it felt like it worked the biceps a bit more than using the EZ Bar.  Dumbbell flies were bothering my right anterior delts on the positive.  I’m going to lay off these or drop the weight on it.  Other than that, the arm isolations were good.

Week6 – Day14A

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×65 + 3×75 + 3×85 + 5x5x110
Bench:  3x5xBar + 5x5x75
Rows:  3×655x5x90

Preacher EZ Bar Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×30
Standing BB Curl:  10×40
DB Fly:  10×15
Seated DB Curls:  10×25
DB Bench Press:  10×25

Duration:  1.5 hours

Weight:  177.0 lbs

Good workout!  Weights are still relatively light.  Squats got me nervous a bit- slightly hard to stabilize the heavier weight.  Had a harder time with getting my right shoulder to cooperate with the bar grip today.  In other words, I was in some degree of pain, more so than last session.  Bench was slightly easier today.  Rows were still pretty easy.  Performed some more chest isolation again with some heavier weights performed than previously.

Week6 – Day13B

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×65 + 3×85 + 5x5x105
Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x10x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x10
Deadlift:  3x95 + 2×115 + 2×135 + 5×155

Standing BB Curls:  10×40
Preacher EZ Bar Curls:  
10×40
DB Fly:  10×10
Incline DB Press:  10×30 + 2x10x35

Duration:  1 hour

Weight:  175.6 lbs

*will add notes later*

OK!  So, yesterday’s session was good.  When doing squats, I payed particular attention to my grip à la the following video by Mark Rippetoe:

The grip was definitely still bothersome to the shoulder.  What I’ve been doing to alleviate the pain in the shoulder was to have some flexion in my wrist.  But, for the purposes of ensuring proper form, I sucked up the small bit of pain and straightened my wrists out.  Definitely noticed a big difference in the tightness of my upper back.  Shoulder shockers weren’t bad.  The upper back work from the Squats definitely fatigued my shoulders a bit.  The work is definitely getting easier, but I don’t like sticking to the same weights over and over.  For the routine itself, I think I want to work my way up to 45 plates.  Luckily, the gym also carries 35 lb weights, so I might increase the weight soon.  Increasing the weight on the dumbbell portions is a bit intense, I’ll have to see if there are 2.5 lb increment dumbbells.  Going from 10 to 15 lbs for the lateral raises and shrug+clean+half press is a pretty big jump, so perhaps 10 to 12.5 wouldn’t be as bad.  Deadlifts were good, getting up there in weight!  I don’t like jumping into the top set of these lifts especially once the deadlift starts getting very heavy.  Squats, as Mehdi says, already hits some of the muscle groups that the deadlifts works on, but for my own safety, I still did some warm-up reps with lighter weights, progressing up to the top weight.  The StrongLifts program has always prescribed a single set of 5 reps for Deadlifts and I can definitely understand the methodology behind this when thinking about how fast weights progress.  At the point that one starts doing close to maximal effort weights, doing 5 sets of 5 reps of Deadlifts would be murder!  Especially after 5×5 of near maximal effort squats!  I can remember when I was just completely spent and drained during these workout sessions later in the program in the past.

I increased weights on accessories.  The bicep curls went from 30 to 40.  And instead of the usual tricep isolation, I did some chest isolation with db fly and incline db press.  The inclinde db presses were done with heavier weights I’ve done previously, going from 20 to 30/35 lbs.  35s were heavy, but I would say definitely not that close to maximal effort.