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.

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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 – 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.

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!

Week 3 – 5/3/1 – Day 10

Cycle #1

Treadmill walk 5min + Agile 8  Hips are noticeably more flexible.  The mountain climbers are much easier; this dynamic stretch along with the groiners still gets me sweating and breathing quickly, but definitely not as exhausting compared to when I first started doing them.

Deadlift:  5×125, 3×150, 2×175 + 5×205, 3×230, 1×260

I got my numbers right this time, woohoo!  I banged up my left shin good pulling the bar against them.  Important technique change that helped alleviate a lot of lower back stress was narrowing my grip width.  I noticed that having my grip width about 2 inches wider was causing me to pull un-perpendicular to the floor.  Narrowing my grip helped to reduce strain on my lower back and actually got me to lift much more efficiently.

Boring But Big 50%

Squat: 5x10x135

First 3 sets got me tired.  I rested a bit longer prior to my 4th and 5th sets.  Noticed that the bar was, again, rolling up on my lower back.  Eventually on the last few reps, the bar is almost in high bar position and part of the bar ends up resting on my right trap.  I feel as though I’m using more of my left trap and not enough of my right.  Right shoulder injury may be causing me to lose flexibility in the right arm- I really don’t know…

Ab Wheel:  10/7/7

Felt much stronger on these today than previous ab wheel sessions.  Also…forgot to do two additional sets, doh!

Treadmill 1 mile @ 3.0

Week 1 – 5/3/1 – Day 2

Cycle #1

Today’s workout was grueling.  I decided that since I just started a new routine and the weights are relatively light to what I’ve been working on that I would forgo using supplements until the lifts get a bit heavier.  I felt pretty exhausted by the end of the Boring But Big 5x10x135 squats.  I got lightheaded for the first time in a very very long time.  The squats themselves were easy, but I definitely don’t think my body was acclimated

Agile 8  I was curious to see what type of dynamic stretching and/or warm-up I should be performing seeing as how I no longer squat at the beginning of every workout session.  Going straight into lifting deadlifts without proper warm-up or stretching, in my opinion, would be a very poor choice and prone to getting one injured.  I managed to find the “Agile 8” warm-up/stretch routine.  I was quite happy about performing the stretches- it’s always fun to learn and do something new.  Managed to work up a good sweat doing the stretches.  The glute/piriformis myofacial release didn’t seem to do much for me even though it’s probably one of the more painful stretches of the eight.  The groiners were a pretty good way of gauging my flexibliity.

Deadlift:  5×190, 5×215, 5×245

Used alternating grip on the last set.  Weight is still relatively light, but it was a bit challenging.  Lower back was hurting a bit afterwards.

Assistance:

Squat: 5x10x135 – These were pretty brutal.  The actual lifting action wasn’t bad at all.  I had good depth and squatted somewhat explosively from the hole.  However, after each set, I was very fatigued and out of breath.  These sets felt more like high intensity cardio if anything.  One thing I noticed that bothered me quite a bit was my low-bar bar positioning.  I had never noticed it before, but I think this may be why I’m having slight muscle imbalances in my upper back and arms.  After thinking about it for a while, I came to the realization that my left side wasn’t being fully engaged in a low bar position.  It seems as though I continually shift the bar ever so slightly until the bar ends up resting on my left trap while my right side is still somewhat engaged in the low bar position.  This, of course, can also attribute to why I feel like my torso is twisting when I go down.  I think what I’m going to do for the next squat workout is to lower the bar’s starting pin height so I can really dig the bar low on my upper back.  I need to make sure I focus on keeping the upper back tight to avoid having the bar shift up.

Ab Wheel:  10/6/5/5/5 – These are hard as hell.  In addition to having to keep a tight core, my arms ended up being worked pretty hard as well.

Week 2 – Madcow5x5 – Day 5C

Weight: 178.2 lbs
Body Fat: 12.3%

Squats:

5 x 115
5 x 145
5 x 175
5 x 200
3 x 235
8 x 175

Not too bad.  Definitely easier than last week’s heavy day.  I think my recovery’s improved a bit.  I’ve been eating pretty well this week as well too so that may have contributed.  The last 8 rep is deceivingly difficult.

Bench:

5 x 65
5 x 80
5 x 95
5 x 110
3 x 125
8 x 95

Again, I’m using my right arm and lats more than my left arm.  I think my right elbow is flaring out which is causing the load to be placed on my right arm.  I need to find people who have the same problem and figure out what they did to fix this.  Otherwise, the lift was still medium to easy difficulty.

Rows:

5 x 65
5 x 85
5 x 95
5 x 115
3 x 125
8 x 95

Stupidly easy.

Accessories:

BW Dips, 8/8/7 – Pretty easy.  Technique improvement:  turn wrists inward towards body to alleviate stress on the shoulders and put entire load on the triceps.  Basically have arms  as close to the body as possible.

BB Curls, 3x8x40lbs – Not bad.  Definitely burning a bit more on the last set, but not as bad as last week’s heavy day.

Tricep Extensions, 8×35, 8×40, 6×45 – Ramped weights, triceps were spent by the 6th rep on the 3rd set, but otherwise still pretty easy.  I think in due time, my stamina will improve on this lift.