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

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 – Day27B – Rush

Weight:  181.4 lbs ??
Duration:  11:20am – 12:15:pm ~ 55min.

A million things racing through my head this morning.  I had to get back to work by 1:00pm for a meeting so things were very up tempo today.  Clocked back on the warm-ups did 5 rep leg swings instead of 10.  Jump rope for 15-20 seconds.  Static hip flexor stretch and fire hydrants.  No foam rollage.  Didn’t do any wall walks with my shoulder.  Forgot to do my planks at the very end.

Squats:  3x5xBar + 5×115 + 3×135 + 1×155 + 5x5x175

Didn’t get much stretch in on the shoulder so low bar position was pretty tight.  Not much pain except for a few reps when the bar was a little too low.  Surprisingly, I didn’t feel much in the low back and my left knee was feeling comfortable despite not having a knee brace on it.  I watched my left and right shins carefully to see if I was shifting my weight to my left or right legs.  Took about 1 minute rests between the last 2 sets.

Seated Plate Raises:  3x10x35
Seated Lateral Raise: 3x10x10
Seated DB Shrug + Clean + Half Press:  3x10x10

Brutal.  35 lb plate raises killed my shoulders.  Rested about 1.5 to 2 minutes between sets.  I sped up the transition from the clean to the half press, using my clean momentum to press upwards.

Deadlift:  5×145 + 3x165 + 2×185 + 1×205 + 5×225

Took some extra resting periods between the 3rd and 4th warm-up sets.  Used the belt on the top set.  Wore long socks along with sweatpants, so the skin on my shins took some rest, less bruising.  Banging up my shins sometimes makes me hesitant on the lift, messing with my form.  The 2 plates felt pretty light though.  Used a supinated grip on the left hand and regular pronated grip on the right.

Accessories:
Preacher BB Curls 10×50
Standing EZ Bar Curls 10×40
Seated DB Curls 10×25
Incline DB Press 10×40
DB Press 10×35
Dips 6/3.5/3

Did some more dipping today.  Cranked more on the first set, but pretty much dead by the second and third.  Not much strength endurance on these, especially after beating up the triceps with the incline dumbbell pressing.

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!