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.

Accessories:
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.

Core:
Elbow planks:  1min. 5sec. + 30sec.

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

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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.

Accessories:
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.

Accessories:
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.

Week13 – Day35B – Beefmode

Weight: 185 lbs ??
Duration:  11:45am – 1:02pm ~ 1hr. 17min.

Time recorded is from when I started the pre-workout stretches until I started my post-workout stretches.  The Shoulder Shocker felt hugely improved, weights felt light for the first 2 sets.  Usually, I’m dying at the end of the second set.  Weight on the scale was at 187 this morning!  Getting into freshly washed and dried jeans was pretty tough, haha.  Legs are getting too beefy from all this squatting.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×145 + 2x165 + 1×185 + 3x5x205

Went down pretty slow to control the bar and prevent tweaking the back.  This makes it quite a bit harder since I’m increasing time under the bar.  These are getting pretty heavy.  Getting close to the magical 225, 2-plate squat.  I think I may incorporate some back off sets, very similar to Madcow’s heavy day scheme or Wendler’s Boring But Big accessory.

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

Able to get to the end of the second set without feeling dead.  Felt a huge improvement here.  Doing the cleaning movement, I’m using a more explosive pull to clean the dumbbells up instead just using all shoulders.  It is a clean after all.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×215 + 1×240 + 5×265

Supinated left, regular right.  Pretty heavy, kept the bar glued to my shins.  Not sure if I was rounding, but my low back wasn’t killing me afterwards.

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

Cranked out some extra reps on the 50lb preacher.  I think once I get to 18+ reps on the 50, I’m going to jump up.  Went up to 50lbs on the incline db press.  These were pretty difficult, so definitely sticking to 50s for a while.  Dips are still improving, both in strength and endurance.  Pushups felt improved today as well.  Going to for 3 sets of 10 reps across next time.

Core:
Elbow Planks: 1min.

Burn, baby, burn.

Week12 – Day33B – Deload

Weight: 183 lbs
Duration:  10:55am – 11:55am ~ 1hr

My neck twinge and low back issues have gone away since they’ve cropped over the last 2 sessions.  I’m making sure to get a good warm-up in, jump-rope to start off, dynamic leg swings and Agile 8 as well as shoulder mobility work with the green band.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×135 + 2x155 + 1×175 + 3x5x195

These felt pretty heavy.  Definitely felt a lot of resistance trying to keep the arch in my low back and avoiding it from rounding.  Core strength plays a big part in preventing this.  Decided to knock down the top set scheme to 3×5 from 5×5.  I want to be able to continue progressing on the weight without killing myself.  With this, I can recover better, avoid injuries and technique breakdown.

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

These felt a smidge easier than before.  No neck strain this time around.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 4×155 + 3×175 + 2×195 + 1×215 + 1×235 + 5×255

Pronated grip on the left, supinated, palm up, grip on the right.  Definitely felt pretty heavy today.  Of all lifts, I’ve never felt uneasy with the deadlift.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  10×50
Incline DB Press:  10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls:  10×40
Dips:  11/4/3
Seated DB Curls:  10×25 (need to go up on these, pretty light now)
Pushups:  12/8/4

Bumped up the incline dumbbell press to 45 lbs.  Not bad, but did feel fairly heavy and struggled a bit on the last rep.  Dips were really strong, managed to crank out 11 reps on the first set, but was spent on the next two.

Core:
Elbow Planks 45 sec.

Week12 – Day31B – Tweaked

Weight: ??
Duration:  11:30am – 12:21pm ~ 1hr 10min.

And when things were going so well.

Squats:  5×135 + 5×155 + 3×175 + 5×195 + 3×195 + 5×185

Someone else was on the squat rack with 4 more sets so I decided to work in with him.  He was using high bar squat and had pretty impeccable form.  I didn’t want to inconvenience him so I decided to keep 1 45lb plate on and do a warm-up on that.  I proceeded to go completely off of my normal ramp sets.  It was at the point that I did my 3rd rep on the first work set that I felt something weird happen in the low back.  I’ve felt the same sensation before when I was doing plyometrics.  I got it checked out and X-rays didn’t show any problem and I was told to keep off activities with low back for a week and…it went away.  Bending over, currently, has a slight twinge that is very familiar, but not as aggravated compared to last time.  I may get it checked out again.  Suffice it to say I’ll probably warm-up considerably more to avoid this.  In addition, I need to work on more core to stabilize my torso and prevent it from falling forward.

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

Instead of looking forward, I decided to, instead, look a bit down in order to put less strain on my neck.  These weren’t as bad as last time.

Deadlift:  5×145 + 3×165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 1×225 + 5×245

Pretty easy.  Rested plenty between last 3 sets up to the work set.  The lower back tweak had subsided a bit more by this point.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×50
Incline DB Press 2x10x40
Push-ups 10/10/6

Core:
Elbow Planks 45 sec.

Week11 – Day30A – Hesitation

Weight:  181 lbs
Duration:  11:15 – 12:10 ~ 55 min.

Encountering and experiencing the unknown.  There’s always an inherent feeling of hesitation, a feeling of awe, excitement or sometimes fear that goes along with it.  In the realm of lifting the iron, my past experience has dictated that achieving something beyond what I fathom to be my capable limits, the unknown, required me to have such an intense and single-minded focus on the lift at hand.  The most fearful part of lifting for personal records is the beginning of the lifts.  The beginning of the lift, for me, is the sole driver, mentally, of whether or not I’m going to finish that rep out or not.  Without intention, without conviction and without absolute confidence that I will accomplish what I’ve set out to do, I will have already placed myself in a dangerous place.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×135 + 2×155 + 1×175 + 5x5x190

Low bar position got better as I progressed.  Used a little low back as I was positioning my torso a bit too upright, my low back would round at the bottom.  Stayed inside the squat rack this time so I had the safety bars to catch the bar if I failed on the reps.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 5×55 + 3×75 + 1×95 + 5x5x15

First few sets felt pretty light.  I was tucking the elbows a lot so the forearms weren’t perpendicular to the floor, or at least I didn’t feel as if they were.  Almost couldn’t finish last rep of the last set.

Rows:  5×65 + 3×85 + 1×105 + 5x5x130

These felt magically light.  I don’t know what it was, but compared to the previous row’ing session, the weight felt considerably lighter.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  10×50
Incline DB Press:  10×40
Standing EZ-Bar Curls:  10×40
Tricep Extensions:  20×40
Dips:  6