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.

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

Core:
Elbow planks:  45 sec.

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

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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.

Accessories:
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.

Core:
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.

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.

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.

Accessories:
DB Rows:  3x8x50
Chin-ups:  3/2/2

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

Core:
Elbow plank:  60secs + 30secs

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

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.

Week13 – Day34A – Dirty

Weight:  185 lbs
Duration:  11:35am – 12:40pm ~ 1hr 5min

Had some not so wonderful food post workout.  I believe the term coined in the bodybuilding community is “dirty bulk”.  I’ve been pretty aggressive on the face stuffing for the last week and a half or so.  The “see food” diet.  I’m a firm believer in simple calories in/calories out, BUT, I also like to believe in putting good quality calories in 90% of the time.  My current weight is roughly where I was floating around at the peak of my strength some 1.5 to 2 years ago.  My lift poundages, however…are no where near what I was lifting a littler over 2 years ago (Fall 2012).

Squats:  3x5xBar +5×115 + 3×135 + 2×155 + 1×175 + 3x5x200

Shoes off, was heavy, but made sure to avoid going too deep into the hole to avoid rounding the back.  I felt a bit more forward lean, but I tried to keep my neck in line with my spine.  Other than that, it wasn’t too bad.  Mentally, I think, knowing that I’ve cut out the 4th and 5th sets, I have a bit more confidence in avoiding injury so I can squat without any hesitation.

Bench:  3x10xBar + 5×65 + 5×85 + 3×105 + 5x5x125

The first 3 sets of the work weight felt pretty light.  Last 2 sets, there were a few small grinders, mainly lockout of the bar.

Rows:  5×85 + 3×105 + 1×120 + 5x5x140

Damn heavy.  Strict Pendalay was out the window, I was definitely jerking upwards.  The one thing I tried to pay attention to is to control the bar on the negative.

Accessories:
Preacher Curls: 12x50
Incline DB Bench: 10×45
Standing EZ Bar Curls: 10x45
Dips:  11/5/2.5
Seated DB Curls: 8x30
Pushups: 10/10/6

Core:
Elbow Planks:  55 seconds

Week10 – Day26A – Aha!

Weight:  181.4 lbs
Duration:  ~1 hour

Got to the gym pretty early today.  Did my leg swings, fire hydrants, static hip stretches and some brief jump roping to get the blood flowing.  Took my time with a lot of the lifts, especially rest periods between heavy sets.  A lot of things fell into place today.  Today’s workout session probably tops every other workout I’ve had thus far since I started lifting again in October.  Low bar position was on point on the squat.  The whole upper back felt super tight.  I had an “Aha!”  moment when benching that lead me to realize why my right arm sometimes works so much more than my left arm.  Rows were also better, technique wise.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 2×135 + 1×155 + 5x5x170

Counter to what Mr. Rippetoe says about bar grip width, today, I went for a slightly wider grip width than normal.  This point my forearm more towards a 45 degree angle than when using a narrow grip which would probably be closer to a 30 degree angle with respect to my body.  One immediate thing that happened was that my palm would turn out more, putting the bar closer to the meaty part of my palm around the thumb and the base of the hand.  This relieved a lot of strain on my right wrist because, before, the bar would essentially be along the top of my palm and this would lead my wrists to buckle.  Widening the grip also helped me to easily get the bar placed in the right low bar position that Mr. Rippetoe was speaking about in his bar position video.  Once the bar was in place, I lifted my elbows and this, in turn, allowed me to lock the bar really nicely on my upper back by driving my palms forward as if I was trying to push the bar through my back.  I went a bit lower than parallel on some reps and I think this caused me to round my back a few times.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 2x10x65 + 2x5x85 + 5x5x105

So, the “Aha!” moment.  Many times in the past when benching, I’ve experienced a load imbalance between my left and right arms.  I would also find my right arm cranking out and doing so much more work than my left arm.  So, today, I had an epiphany while doing the warm-up sets.  To give a little background…  With benching, I’ve always gravitated towards closer grip, tucked elbows rather than wide grip benching.  Wide grip benching puts a certain degree of strain on my shoulders than I’m not all too comfortable with bearing, so I’ve always gone by way of safety first.  Along with this style of benching, one thing of note is the importance of squeezing the shoulder blades together.  Doing this along with the use of a power lifter arch and driving through the ground with the feet creates a very strong kinetic chain, stabilizing the entire lifter’s body from the feet all the way up to the traps, giving the lifter the best means and position to press.  So, what was my problem?  I wasn’t squeezing my right shoulder blade in.  So, what I noticed was that, when I pressed into the lockout position, I would essentially lose my squeezed shoulder blade position.  This resulted in my right arm being removed from the kinetic link with my shoulders and traps.  To fix the issue, I made sure to press only to a point where I would still be able to maintain my squeezed shoulder blades.

Rows:  5×55 + 3×75 + 1×95 + 5x5x120

I tried not to bend my knees too much.  It was turning into a semi-deadlift when I bent my knees too much.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  10×50
Incline DB Press:  10×40
Standing EZ-Bar Curls:  10×40
Dips:  5/5/4
Seated DB Curls:  8×30
Pushups:  10/10/8

Are those dips?  Yes, they are!  My doctor cleared me and basically told me I have no restrictions any more with regards to exercise activity.  The only thing to avoid is any behind the neck pressing.  Increased the incline dumbbell pressing weight from 35 to 40.  They felt relatively light.  Seated dumbbell curls also went up, they were pretty difficult, used a bit of swing.

Core:
Pushup-Position Planks: 45sec.

I may have jumped an extra 5 seconds today, but that’s alright!