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.

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

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 – Day29B – Beat

Weight:  182.4 lbs
Duration:  11:20am – 12:30pm ~ 1hr 10min.

As promised, I went on the Internets to do a little research on some shoulder mobility exercises I could do.  I found the following, I’ll be adding it to my collection of videos.

I’ve already been doing the shoulder stretch-apart stretches throughout the day.  I’m using my green Theraband that was given to me from my physical therapist for the shoulder.  I’ve also been doing the second exercise, but only with my right arm.  The first exercise was new to me.  It was certainly very different, but I did feel a great deal of stretch on my shoulder.  The man in the video is Joe DeFranco.  I’ve also used his “Agile 8” exercises, a collection of 8 stretches/exercises that help with improving hip mobility and ROM.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×135 + 1×155 + 5x5x185

The right shoulder was still pretty super tight when getting under the bar on the empty sets.  The tightness went away when I had heavier weights on the bar.  These got me breathing very heavily.  Used a little bit of lower back on the last set, but I think, at that point, the fatigue was really affecting my form.  I was happy to crank these out though.  I was really beat after these.

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

Used 12 lb dumbbells and dropped the 35lb plate raise.  Still killed me.

Deadlift:  5×135 + 1×155 + 2x175 + 1×195 + 1×215 + 5×235

These weren’t bad.  Used the belt on the top set.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×50
Standing EZ Bar Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Incline DB Press 10×45
Dips 8/4/3
Push-ups 10/8/6

Core:
Elbow Planks 45 sec.

Week11 – Day28A – Light Head

Weight:  182.5 lbs
Duration:  ~1 hour

Did a pretty condensed and short warm-up again.  Need to do some more shoulder mobility exercises during warm-up.  I’ve only been doing lower body dynamic stretching.  Today’s session was pretty exhausting.  I can clearly remember when I last did StrongLifts 5×5 with Squats going upwards of 225+ lbs and it was just absolutely brutal.  The linear progression that can be achieved doing 5×5 can only be sustained for so long, but I definitely feel like my linear progression is at the start of the plateauing phase.  

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×120 + 3×140 + 1×160 + 5x5x180

Right shoulder was pretty tight in the first few sets.  Loosened up a lot afterwards.  What helped me was assuming a very wide grip to start and then narrowing as I got under the bar.  Starting from a narrow grip then getting under the bar doesn’t seem to play nicely with my right shoulder.  Again, I’ll have to start doing some serious shoulder mobility exercises.  Last thing I want is to develop some chronic shoulder impingement issue.  I used kinesio tape on my left knee- it was given to me from the mum when I started talking about my left knee and its instability.  I can’t tell whether or not it’s helped- I do feel more confident with them on.  But, then again, this may just be a placebo effect.  I also wore a knee wrap over this which kept the entire area pretty tight, especially during squatting.  Not much lower back, so I’m happy about that.  Last 2 sets were definitely pretty rough.

Bench:  3x5xBar + 5×55 + 3×75 + 1×95 + 5x5x110

Used Dave Tate’s setup on the bench, keeping the feet back and using a powerlifter arch.  I made a point not to full extend my right arm to avoid losing my scapular contraction aka squeezed shoulder blades.  I felt some load being transferred to my shoulders a bit.  Driving through with my feet was a bit weird since they were underneath me and my feet weren’t planted on the ground, just the balls of my feet.  The lift did feel significantly lighter using this form.

Rows:  5×65 + 3×85 + 1×105 + 5x5x125

Pretty heavy.  Made the mistake of using 4, 10lb plates instead of using a bigger 25 or 35lb plate to get the barbell higher off the ground.  I was going upright and jerking a bit more on the last set, so strict Pendalay style was out the window.  

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls:  10×50
Incline DB Press:  10×40
Standing EZ-Bar Curls:  10×40
Dips:  7/4/3
Seated DB Curls:  10×25
Pushups:  12/12/10

10 rep preacher curls were very taxing, especially the last 2 reps.  Incline db pressing was a bit wobbly, but still pretty light.  I’m thinking of going up on these.  Dips were a bit easier today, less shakiness.  Pushups were also easier.  Forgot to do my planks!  The mat area was pretty packed.

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!

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.