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.