Week16 – Day45B – Short & Sweet

Weight: 186.0 lbs

Nice and succinct work out.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×150 + 3×175 + 2×200 + 1×225 + 4×250 (1)

I’m usually aiming for 5 reps on these.  Couldn’t get the last rep out.  First stall at 250.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x6x15
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x6x15

A bit more difficult than last time.

Deadlift: 5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 1×225 + 5×255

Strained low back a bit after the first two sets.  The rest of the sets were good.  Top set felt strong, didn’t feel like I was rounding the back.  Stance was fairly narrow.  Kept the bar about halfway point on foot.  Having my feet too far forward, I think, has attributed to me rounding my back in the past.  Alternating grip on the top set.

Dips:  10
Pushups:  2×20
Wide-Grip Pull-ups:  2/2/2

I enjoy these shorter post core lift accessories.

Treadmill: 5 minutes – alternating 30 sec. @ 2.8-3.2 spd / 30 sec. @ 5.6-5.9 spd

Didn’t know where the stationary bikes were so I hopped on the treadmill again.  Strides felt better.  Increased active intervals speed from 5.5 to between 5.6 and 5.9 speeds.  Still felt pretty comfortable with this, but then again I only ran for about 5 minutes.  Regardless, I enjoy doing intervals much more than steady state running and I think probably healthier for my knees in the long run- less time under impact is always good for me.

Week16 – Day44A – Dominant

Weight:  187.4 lbs

Not sure what’s going on, but my weight has dropped pretty quickly over the last 2 days since I started doing conditioning and curbing back a little on the caloric intake.  I was extremely irritable and had a huge headache this past Monday when I first started lowering my food intake.  I’ll have to make sure to slowly drop the intake instead of cutting back significantly.  This should give my body the means to progressively acclimate itself to the slightly restricted diet.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×135 + 3×155 + 2×175 + 1×205 + 1×225 + 5×245

Used the belt for the first time on the top set of squats.  The 245s felt super light.  The belt definitely helped with keeping my core extremely solid.  I will continue using the belt from here on out.  315 here we come!

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×75 + 5×95 + 2×115 + 1×135 + 5/5/4/3/1 x 150

Stalled pretty hard on the bench press today.  I was benching right chest/arm dominant and so fatigue set in really quickly as my right arm/chest were working harder than my left.  Also had a bit of DOMs on the chest from the last session.

Rows:  5×135 + 3×135 + 2×135 + 3x5x155

Rows felt strong.  I was certainly lifting my torso a bit on the last reps of each set.  The first and second reps were usually executed with pretty strict form, no jerking.

Dips:  5/5/3
Pull-ups:  2/2/1

Chest was already pretty toast from the benching.  Surprisingly, the wide grip pull-ups felt easier than the chin-ups I was doing last session.  My right shoulder also felt much better than when doing chin-ups.

Treadmill: 10 minutes – alternating 30 sec. @ 2.8 spd / 30 sec. @ 5.5spd

Continued with some treadmill conditioning post workout.  Legs were a bit jello-like afterwards.  Left knee instability along with the jello legs made it pretty tough to remain standing, showering was a challenge!.  I think I will get on the stationary bike to help alleviate some hard impact on my knees.  Other than that, the intervals were pretty easy.  I was breathing well- not out of breath.

Week15 – Day43B – Out of Order

Weight: 191.4 lbs

Three gentlemen were using the squat rack doing quarter squats.  So, I went ahead and started doing my shoulder movements.  Finished, but they still weren’t.  What to do, what to do?  I went ahead and did some incline dumbbell presses and high rep dumbbell rows.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x8x15
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x8x15

Incline DB Press:  3x8x45
DB Rows:  2x15x40

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×135 + 3×155 + 2×175 + 1×200 + 1×225 + 5×240

These were absolutely brutal.  I was spent after the 4th rep on the top set, but I really didn’t want to stall again so I grinded out the last rep.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 1×25 + 5×250

These were pretty difficult today.  My ramp percentages jumped a bit more than usual.  I felt like I was expending too much energy doing the warm-ups.

Dips:  10/10/4
Chin-ups:  2/2/1

Sticking with dips and chin-ups for the accessories.  I get the most bang for the buck regarding many body parts being worked with these.  The only thing missing here is some more ab and lower body accessories.  I think I can get away with forgoing lower body accessories with the heavy squatting and deadlifting.  More ab work would definitely help though.

Treadmill: 10 minutes – alternating 30 sec. @ 3.2 spd / 30 sec. @ 5.5spd

Decided to start doing a little conditioning post everything.  I took this one from Jim Wendler’s 52-question Q&A in his 5/3/1 program.  Treadmill isn’t really my cup of tea, but I have yet to find a decent hill around me (and near work).  I adapted this one and extended the “sprint” intervals from 10 seconds to 30 seconds.  The same goes for the rest periods- 10 to 30 seconds.  It’s a bit of a hassle to constantly raise and lower the treadmill speed every 8 second or so.  Calves got sore pretty quickly.

Week15 – Day42A – Le Tired

Weight:  190.1 lbs

Feeling very groggy and tired post workout session.  One observation to keep note of is that I stayed up until 2:00 am last night.  I did, however, manage to wake up feeling pretty fresh this morning, despite sleeping late.  My legs had been suffering a little DOMs from the Wednesday workout and so I foam rolled them during the warm-up.  On a recent post, I briefly mentioned my past personal experience with enduring through the phase of lifting significantly high percentages of my training max on a regular basis.  I believe I’m encountering this stage again.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×125+ 4×145 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×200 + 1×225 + 3×240 (1st stall) + 5×135

Succeeded in legitimately stalling on the squat for the first time since I started lifting this past October.

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×65 + 3×85 + 2×105 + 1×125 + 5x5x145

Used a powerlifter arch to ensure that I kept a strong stable upperback while benching.  The first set was a little nerve wracking.  The placement of the bar was not at the base of my palm and so my wrists were buckling against the weight of the bar.  I narrowed my grip a little, placed my ring finger on the knurling and placed the bar at the base of my palms to avoid loading my wrists.  A narrower grip helped alleviate stress on my shoulders.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×135 + 3x5x150

Last set felt the best, minimized the upward jerk.  I will stick with 3 sets on the rows.

DB Incline:  10×50 + 8×50 + 6×50
Wide Lat Pulldown:  10×70 + 10×85 + 10×100
DB Bench:  3x10x40

Elbow planks:  45 sec.

The whole body was shaking a lot from the get go.

Week15 – Day41B – Biggy Biggy Biggy

Weight: 190.0 lbs

I’ve never been this heavy before.  190lbs is certainly a sight to see on the scale.  Good? Bad?  I’m not sure yet.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×135 + 4×155 + 3×175 + 2×195 + 1×215 + 5×235 + 5×115

Had some bit of forward lean on the last 2 reps of the top set.  I was trying not to look straight ahead as it would have put my neck in an awkward position relative to my body.  Instead, I tried to focus lower on the wall in front of me.  Most squatters tend to look up to keep their chest up- I used to do this as well.  However, this put my neck in a bad position.  With this in mind, keeping my neck in line with my spine proved to have been difficult in trying to maintain my chest and torso upright.  More core is definitely engaged when I position my neck this way.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x6x15
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x6x15

15 pounders were pretty grueling.  Took about 1 to 1.5 min. rests after the 2nd set.  Paused briefly between the lateral raises and shrug-clean-half presses to give myself a brief momentto get over some of the fatigue build up.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 1×25 + 5×250

Used the belt on the top set.  Alternating grip.  All the sets felt much better than before.  Definitely didn’t feel as though I was rounding as much.  No significant lower back pain after the reps, so that’s good news.  One thing I’m not too happy about is banging my knees up on the ascent and descent.  I’m trying to keep the bar close to my body, but at the same trying not to slide the bar down my leg.  I used a stance an inch narrower on each side and moved my arms closer in to keep them perpendicular to the floor.  I think this certainly helped so I will make sure to remember this cue when deadlifting next B session.

Incline Bench:  3x5xBar + 3x8x85
DB Rows:  3x8x50
Chin-ups:  3/1/1
Incline DB:  3x8x45

Did similar push and pull accessories for today.  I think I may swap a few of these for some more shoulder accessories and perhaps some low back strengthening.

Elbow plank:  1min. 10 sec.

Tough doing these today, whole body was a shaking.

Week14 – Day40A – I Kind Of, ♥ U Gurl

Weight:  185.4 lbs

Found a nice little gem yesterday.  It’s a remix, by C. Justice, of Destiny’s Child’s classic, “Say My Name”.  Absolutely addicting bassline.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×145 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 2×205 + 5×230

Still going strong on the squat.  Had to expel a maybe not so little grunt on the 4th rep of the top set.  I’ve tried controlling these more, but usually my grunts are short and emotionally driven.  When I feel that I must complete a rep and I’m pretty much feeling near or at empty in the tank, my mind shifts gears very quickly, almost like…flooring the gas pedal.  At that brief moment, I’m trying to exert as much contraction as I possibly can and squeezing my core to get that bar up.

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×80 + 3×100 + 1×120 + 5x5x140

These weren’t bad today.  My grip was a bit different.  Middle finger was on the knurling.  Not too wide, not too narrow.  The main focus was to keep the bar at the base of my palms.  In addition, made sure to keep the scapula contracted and prevent it from separating and losing contraction throughout the entire set.  This really helped with removing the load off my shoulders.  Still doing 5 sets across of 5 reps with these.  Definitely think the added dips and incline bench accessories are helping tremendously with maintaining the weight progression on the bench.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×135 + 3x5x150

Messed up on the grip a bit today.  My previous A workout, I noted that I had used a wider grip, 1-2 inches outside of the knurling.  Made the mistake of putting the index finger on the knurling.  Wider grip felt easier.  Stayed with 3 sets as I was using my back.  I was lifting my chest a lot, messy form, not very strict.

DB Incline:  10×50
DB Rows:  3x8x55
Dips:  8/8/8/2

DB Incline was pretty easy, but I only did 1 set.  I will make sure to remember to do an additional two next time around.  Made sure to exchange 1 pressing movement with 1 pulling movement.  So, after DB incline, I did some DB rows, going up from last time, 50 -> 55 lbs.  My left arm rows were more difficult than the right side.  After this, I went on to do some dips.  Definitely did quite a bit better than last A session.  I will stay with 3 sets of 8 and increase rep count for each set by 1, workout to workout until I stall.  I’ll continue progressing the dips until I can do 3 sets of 15 at which time I’ll add weights and drop back down to 8 reps and continue the progression with weights instead of reps.

Elbow planks:  1min. 5sec. + 30sec.

Was a bit more fatigued today so the burning started a bit sooner.

Week14 – Day39B – Butterflies

Weight: 186.4 lbs

It’s been more than a full year since I last lifted my near to my current poundages.  Coming into today’s session, I had a bit of the butterflies and anxiousness that comes with squatting my 225 lbs.  Looking at my logs over the last 2-3 years, I’m definitely appreciative and happy with my current gains.  I endured very taxing and completely exhaustive sessions where I was pushing myself to the very end.  Those nights were ended pretty much in delirium.  This time around, I’m being a bit more proactive and listening to my body a lot more.  Some say that “overtraining” is a myth, some say to avoid it all costs.  I personally do agree that training too hard consecutively, even between rest days, had a strong impact on recovery and my overall well-being.  My motivation to go to the gym waned as I anticipated having to lift to complete exhaustion.  With my history in mind, I have been approaching my strength training with a primary focus on protecting my health.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×145 + 3×165 + 2x185 + 1×205 + 5x225 + 8×115

Did a single set of 5 at 225 lbs.  Performed a backoff set of 8 reps using close to 50% of the top work weight.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x6x15
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x6x15

Increased the weight on the lateral raises as well as the shrug-clean-press from 12 to 15 lbs.  It was difficult, but not terrible.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 1×225 + 5×245

I’m not sure how I felt about these…  I narrowed my stance a bit and it felt a bit better.  Getting from the knee to the lockout seems to be a struggle.  I feel like my shoulders are rising at a faster rate than my lower body which is causing me to engage my lower back, round and do a good morning.

DB Rows:  3x8x50
Chin-ups:  3/2/2

Didn’t really have a plan on what accessories to do today.

Elbow plank:  60secs + 30secs

I’m lasting much longer on these, so good news!

Week14 – Day38A – Got Milk?

Weight:  186.8 lbs
Duration:  10:57am – 1:15pm

I decided to stick with StrongLifts for now and milk as much out of it as I can.  My weights will be monitored pretty carefully- I’m not trying to train until failure because at the point of failure, I feel like my technique is no longer there.  My preference is to maintain good technique over attempting to push more reps to failure where I could potentially injure myself.  For this reason, I’m basically going to go for 1+ sets of 5 on the squat.  The weights are all pretty heavy so I’m basically going to do it by feel.  Bench press is still improving, I don’t feel a need to drop down to 3 sets just yet.  The same goes for the rows.

Soon enough, I’m going to start sprinkling in some conditioning into the mix.  I’m not sure where I’d like to start.  Ideally, I would like to perform conditioning for a short period post workout 15-20 minutes, not on rest days.   Adding conditioning will no doubt affect my recovery times on the lifts and my numbers may drop a bit.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×100 + 3×125 + 2×150 + 1×175 + 1×205 + 2x5x220

Decided to do 2 sets instead of just the one on the top set.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 5×75 + 3×95 + 1×115 + 5x5x135

Decided to go up in weight anyway instead of doing 130 again since I failed on a few reps last A workout.  Finished the 5 top sets pretty strong.  Gave myself ample rest time, but not too long.  Grip was slightly wider than usual.  My middle fingers were on the knurling.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×125 + 5x5x145

I stuck with the same weights.  Using a different form, I was able to have less difficulty and also engage more upper back and biceps in the lift.  Typically, my stance and grip has been fairly narrow.  Feet are about shoulder width and the hand grip is pretty much on the outside of my shins, kind of like a narrow bench.  Today, I tried a wider stance as well as wider grip placement.  My index finger when gripping the bar was about 1.5-2inches away from the knurling.  Basically, the stance was close to how someone would prep their snatch lift, minus the snatch.  This effectively shortens the distance the bar had to travel and at the same time, I definitely felt a lot more upper back and bicep recruitment on the lift and less quads.  My form looked pretty good from the side mirror, but again, I’ll have to record to really be sure.

DB Rows:  8×50 + 2x8x60
DB Incline:  3x8x45
Dips:  8/7.5/4

Changing things up a bit.  I minimized the amount of accessory work here.  Instead, I’m incorporating more exercises that complement my core lifts or train weak points in my core lifts.  I know for a fact that my bench has always been weak so I kept the dumbbell incline and dips.  The 45s on the incline were very easy, I will most likely press 50s next time.  To complement the pushing, I did some dumbbell rows to add some pulling into the mix.  50s felt pretty light.  60s were slightly more demanding so I stuck with them.  Next time, I will probably do 60s across and work my way up in weight from there.  Dips weren’t bad.  I split up the reps a bit more evenly and am going for 8 across 3 sets.

Week13 – Day37B – Slow Down

Weight: 186.0 lbs 
Duration:  11:35am – 1:25pm ~ 1:50 min.

Well, it’s about that time.  Initial strength gains are slowing down quite a bit.  Taking quite a bit more rest time between sets on the core lifts.  I’m assessing whether or not I want to continue with SL or move on.  Madcow has been on my mind which would move me from workout-to-workout progressions to weekly progressions.  With weekly progressions, I can aim to break PRs on the 4th week of the cycle.  I can back off on my current weights and perhaps drop the current volume down by 15-20%.  This would give me some perhaps needed rest period before I start hitting 80%+ RM weights again.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×135 + 3×155 + 2x175 + 1×195 + 3x5x215

Last rep was a grinder.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x10x12
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x12

Squat definitely affected my ability to get through these.  They were a bit more difficult than the previous sessions’ workout.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×155 + 2×185 + 1×215 + 1×245 + 5×275

Definitely felt bad form on these.  I was lifting with my back once I got the bar up to my knee.  I felt disgusted doing the 5 reps because I completely knew my form was not good.  This is all coming off very negative, but knowing you actually have a problem is a great first step to figuring how to solve the problem.

Preacher BB Curls:  15×50
Incline DB Press:  10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls:  12×40
Dips:  14/4/4
Seated DB Curls:  10×30
Pushups:  15/8/6

Dips were improved, but most likely due to it being B day a.k.a. no bench press.  Pushups were also improved for the first set, narrow arm positions.

Snow Day

Weight:  186.4

Not particularly ecstatic about it, but gyms were closed due to the nasty weather out.  Working from home.  Made sure to stay active as much as I can.  Did sets of 10 rep pushups through out the day.  Doing these cold did not feel wonderful.