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.

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!

Week10 – Day25B – Roundabout

Weight:  180.4 lbs ??
Duration:  1 hour??

Forgot gym shorts so…what did I do?  Buy a new one of course!  For $26!  At the gym! Woo!  Best money I’ve ever spent.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×105 + 3×125 + 1×145 + 5x5x165

Lower back did not feel great.  These are getting pretty heavy.

Seated Plate Raises:  2x10x25
Seated Lateral Raise: 2x10x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  2x10x10

Did these first since a couple was using the squat rack.  Tweaked something in the back of my neck during the first set of the lateral raises so I took a few extra breaths and massaged the area.

Deadlift:  5×125 + 3x145 + 2×165 + 1×185 + 5×215

Used the belt on the top set.  Low back was getting killed.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×50
Standing BB Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Incline DB Press 10×35
DB Press 2x10x35

Core:
Pushup-Position Planks 40sec.

Week9 – Day24A – DOMSoreness

Weight:  178.4
Duration:  11:35am – 12:17pm ~ 42min.

Inner thighs are still suffering some serious DOMS.  Snowstorm Hercules swung by so some friends and I went up to do some snowboarding down a mountain.  Haven’t snowboarded in…4 years.  Lots of falling, twisting and putting my body in weird contortions.  I realized how little stamina I had.  This is definitely to be expected.  Strength training, to some degree, will exercise the heart, especially as poundages go up.  BUT, the kind of work being done, at least on the StrongLifts regiment consist of short 2-3 second spurts of stress under load.  That’s it.  There is no doubt that 5 sets of 5 reps near maximal effort will definitely get the heart rate going.  However, the stamina I’m talking about is endurance stamina.  CrossFit’esque I guess you could say.

I’ve intentionally left out conditioning at this phase.  My primary goal before I’d like to start adding conditioning is to first regain close to the strength I had before my shoulder surgery.  This means, 5x225lb squat, 5x275lb deadlift, 5x145lb bench.  I haven’t included the Press here because, well…I haven’t been doing them.  My next and potentially final appointment with my shoulder doctor is this coming Thursday.  My shoulder is still fairly tight during squats so I will definitely remember to let him know.  I haven’t been consistent with my daily stretching, but I have been wall walking with my arms during workout days.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 1×135 + 5x5x160

Shoulder was pretty tight today.  I was trying very hard to dig the bar down lower, but shoulder just wouldn’t budge.  It got a bit better on the later sets.  Legs were already suffering from some DOMS.  Luckily, I didn’t feel much of it during the lift, but still had a presence when walking around or going to sit down to rest.  Last 2 sets were really good, shoulder locked the bar well in place and raised my elbows up to keep it locked in.  I made a conscious effort not to look straight ahead since it would be putting my neck in a very compromising position and instead tried to imagine keeping my neck inline with my back, kind of like the picture in front of Mr. Rippetoe’s Starting Strength book.  I saw that my butt was going up faster than my shoulder on some reps so I’ll have to watch out for this.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 2x5x65 + 3×85 + 5x5x100

Used a with-thumb grip.  Used less tuck.  Felt the load a bit more on the shoulders because of this.  Right triceps were working a bit harder.  Drive my feet through the ground helped a lot towards the last few reps of the last set.  Consciously made sure to squeeze the hell out of the bar and keep whole body contraction once I unracked the bar.

Rows:  5×55 + 3×75 + 1×95 + 5x5x115

Felt some of the reps in my low back.  I was definitely jerking some of these, especially towards the last 2 sets.  I banged the bar on my knees on the way down on one of the reps.  Definitely felt pretty terrible and painful, but luckily it was mostly the bone and not the soft middle part of the knee which would have hurt quite a bit more.

Accessories:
Seated DB Curls:  8×25
Preacher BB Curls:  8×50
Standing BB Curls:  10×40
Incline DB Press:  10×35 + 15×30
DB Bench Press:  10×35
Pushups:  3x8xBW

Arms were pretty beaten up today.  My forearm is still sore from the snowboarding.

Core:
Pushup-Position Planks 3x30sec.

Should’ve done 35 seconds per set, doh!

Week9 – Day23B – New Year

Weight:  179.6 lbs
Duration:  11:40 to 12:35 = 55 min.

The duration doesn’t include warm-up.  I officially got to the gym at 11:20ish.  The warm-up was a bit longer today as I incorporated some Agile 8 into the mix to get my legs prepped better.  More warm-ups = more time spent outside of office soooo I’ll have to be super efficient with my core lifts and try not to rest for too long.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×95 + 3×115 + 1×135 + 5x5x155

My shoulder is still cooperating!  I was able to get the bar off the right traps and on the top of the posterior delts.  There was definitely still a bit of resistance, but I once it was placed the bar was pretty much locked in.  The “shelf” that Mr. Rippetoe was talking about in his bar position video felt super solid and super stable.  The squats definitely felt heavy today.  I felt like my knees were travelling forward a bit.  Felt a little lower back engagement on a few reps when this happened.  This reminds me…I need to start video recording myself again!!  Also, I noticed that my right quads were a bit more worked than my left.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x8x35
Seated Lateral Raise:  3x8x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x8x10

Jumped up to 35 lbs on the plate raises.  These drained the life right out of my shoulders as I went from set to set.  I could barely get through the first 2 reps of the third set on the plate raises.  I think I have to stagger the weight on each start of the plate raise sets.  The fatigue just builds up way too quickly for me to recover and do honest reps with good form.

Deadlift:  5×125 + 3x145 + 2×165 + 1×185 + 5×205

Progressively increased resting time between warm-up sets as I worked my way up to the top set.  I used an alternate grip on the last set and it felt very solid.  The left hand was supinated while the right hand was using regular pronated grip.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×50
Standing BB Curls 10×50
Seated DB Curls 8×25
Incline DB Press 10×35
DB Bench 10×35
Tricep Extensions 15×40

Did some tricep extensions to hit the triceps a bit more and give the chest a bit of rest.

Core:
Pushup-Position Planks 3x30sec.

Was browsing through imgur and found one of the 30 day get more fit things and saw one for planks.  This motivated me to start doing some regular core training.  I did 3 sets of 30 sec. planks using the top pushup position instead of the more popular elbow planks.  I’ll see if I can do these daily and increase the length of time by 5 seconds each day.