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Showing posts from August, 2011

Getting better at leg pressing and hopefully squatting...is it the beets?

Third quad pre-exhaust workout today.  Used the same 720 lbs on the leg press for my top set as last week but was able to get 10 reps in the activation set and 3 myo-rep sets of 3 afterwards.  A significant improvement over last week's effort that left my quads burning as if I had been doing leg extensions.  After unloading the leg press, I  made my way over to the squat rack.

Either I'm improving my conditioning or the can of beets I ate prior to the workout had an effect because I didn't feel nearly as shaky as the prior two pre-exhaust workouts.  With the competition about 18 days away, I decided to go slightly heavier but for doubles instead of the prior two workouts' 3 sets of 3 reps.

I loaded 395 (84% of my 1 rep max) and proceeded to do 5 sets of 2.  Each set was fast and very easy.  I found the 5 sets of 2 to be more effective practice than the previous 3 sets of 3.  With 5 sets of 2, I had 5 set-ups and 5 first reps.  Much better practice for a competition squ…

finally, hook grip success!

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Yesterdays workout at Toronto Rex headquarters marked a first for me.  I finally deadlifted something heavy using the hook grip without tearing up my hand.  After that last callus tearing cluster-f**k, I revisited my hook grip technique and determined that I needed to trust the hook and not try to seat the bar so deeply into my palm.

In the past using the more common mixed grip, I've always done two things:  off-set my right hand (the pronated one) a couple inches to the right and cranked the bar deep into my palm.  Off-setting the right hand was done to balance the support points of the index and middle fingers with the supinated left hand.  If you hold stuff at arm's length, in most people the part of of the hand closest to the ground are the index and middle finger knuckles.  When you hold something heavy, the weight will naturally settle to the lowest point of support--the index and middle fingers provide the majority of grip strength power.  Some people tend to windmill he…

Birthday workout--golf and squats

Used my birthday as an excuse to take a day off to play golf. Teed off at 0720 hrs and was done just after 1000 hrs. Shot 88, a good score for me off the blue tees at Royal Ontario this year. I guess the golf gods were kind on account of it being my birthday. No holes in one though, I guess I have to turn more than 45 to get that kind of charity from the golf gods.

Stopped at Starbucks on the way home to fuel up with a large black coffee and some sweets--I'd say I was using the birthday excuse but I don't need any motivation to eat carby sweet things. Anyways, I relaxed a bit and then decided to take advantage of being able to beat the afterwork rush at the gym.

I was curious to see if the tweak I felt in my right thigh from Monday's workout would affect today's workout. The plan was to work up to a training max, dial it down for 3 work sets and then finish up with some pause squats. In a perfect fairy tale world, my two quad pre-exhaust workouts would yield imm…

second quad pre-exhaust workout, it's tougher than I expected

After spending a very relaxing weekend with Vivian at Turkey Point, I was enthusiastic about getting into the gym tonight. Last week's inaugural quad pre-exhaust workout had resulted in some new post-workout soreness so I was hopeful that I was accomplishing my goal of increased quadricep strength.

We got to the gym later than usual and as a result it was much less busy. I could monopolize many of the gym's 45's without feeling guilty. My first two warmup sets with 6 and 7 plates a side went well so I decided to do my work set, myo-rep style with 8 plates a side. Myo-reps, poorly paraphrased, is a rep scheme where you use a weight that allows 6-8 reps (this is my interpretation based on strength goals) to a RPE of 9 (ie., leaving one rep in the tank). You immediately rest for about 20-30 seconds and then try to crank out as many more reps as you can, leaving one rep in the tank. You can continue this process for as long as you can stand it or until you can't get …

Pre-exhausting the quads before squatting is tough.

When I decided I needed to add in some leg pressing to help my mediocre quad strength, I originally figured I'd do them after squatting. Those plans changed when I got to the gym and the sole squat rack was occupied and the leg press was open (that never happens!). Did I mention I hate leg pressing? Not because of the movement but because almost all plate loaded leg presses are designed to soothe the egos of douchebags rather than actually provide useful resistance.

Seriously, I think it takes almost as much energy loading the leg press up with weights as it takes to actually do the dubiously effective movement. I had planned on working up to a heavy enough weight to do a single set, myo-rep style but the Oakville YMCA doesn't have a very large supply of 45's and I didn't want to monopolize nearly half the gym's supply. I ended up doing 3 sets of 10 with 7 plates per side. I estimated my RPE to be 7 or 8. Seriously, I can't squat 500 lbs for one repeti…

A new gym PR, finally a grinder, and Anderson Squats

On my current workout scheme, I squat to volume one day and to a training max on the second day. Tuesday was my volume day so that meant today was to be training max day. Earlier in the day I figured I might as well give 470 a ride since I hit 460 last week and my all-time training max was 465. Warm-ups went okay and to be honest, my last sub-90% warmup with 415 didn't feel as explosive as I thought it should.

Still, I stuck to the plan I had made earlier today and loaded 445. This weight felt pretty good. Not feather-light but it moved well and the extra weight seemed to set up easier than the prior single with 415. Onwards and upwards to 470 then. The weight didn't feel too heavy on my back and I was immediately struck by how solidly it was anchoring my heels to the ground. I took that as a good sign. The weight went down and up with only a bit of grind through my current sticking point. It felt good enough that I decided I'd do one more single with it but not e…

Why?

A few days ago the site www.powerliftingwatch.com posted an entry titled, "Why?"

I didn't think much about it at the time but as those self-help books often say, "if it's not written, it's not real" so here goes.

I am not a powerlifter.
I compete in powerlifting.

For me, that's an important distinction. If I never competed again, I might or might not still regularly go to the gym and train. I know when I did not compete between 1992 and 2007 I rarely went to the gym. In the absence of competitive enthusiasm, my recent history suggests it is not in my identity to spend time working out.

There was a time when it was, when I was younger and felt like I needed layers of muscles to insulate me from the world. For many of my formative years, that's why I went to the gym. Not for health, but because I equated layering my old self with muscle as bettering myself. Everybody has their own reasons for trying to get bigger muscles, for me, it was sim…

Six weeks out from the 100% Raw Easterns

Good squat workout today. Weight was also lower than it's been in a while. I had let it creep up to 240 and now I'm back down to 235. I doubt I'll go low enough to entertain lifting in the 220lb class in mid-September but while it's dropping I'm going to go with it.

Lately I've read quite a bit of depressing literature that suggests the body's set point only up-regulates and once moved higher, won't re-set at a lower point. For people that have lost significant amounts of weight from previously obese bodyweights, studies suggest that we'll always feel hungry at our new weight's caloric maintenance levels. It's depressing in that it suggests weight management for the previously obese will always be a battle, versus the much preferred outcome of finding a new lower set point that is easier to maintain. I've been on a weight loss journey for going on 4 years now and I've long accepted it will take a while to get back to what I c…

Deja Vu all over again

Two weeks ago I tore a callus off my right hand while using the hook grip for deadlifts. I attributed that to poor callus management and have spent the past two weeks sanding down my calluses while waiting for the torn skin to heal.

Today, I thought the torn skin had healed sufficiently so I was excited to test the hook grip with 545 lbs. 545 lbs is right around my usual opening attempt in the deadlift so I needed to feel confident the grip would hold with at least this much weight.

Warm ups went well and the grip and my healed callus held up with no hint of problems. I did an easy single with 495 and proceeded to prepare for the test single with 545.

Deadlifting while wondering if your grip is going to hold is not easy since the lift involves so much commitment if you're going to break it off the ground. 545 lbs is just over 90% of my 1 rep max so even with a 100% secure grip it demands my attention. To make a boring story short, the weight came off the ground somewhat tent…

I can still squat with mild vertigo, who knew?

In another concession to getting older, I've discovered that roller coasters give me vertigo. It last happened three years ago when I went to Canada's Wonderland with a group of employees. As usual we hit the Behemoth first since it was the baddest ride and had the longest lines. Right after that we hit the Minebuster, a battering throw-back wooden rollercoaster After those rides, I was done for the day, feeling dizzy and unable to move my head quickly or track multiple objects with my eyes. This passed after a few hours and I didn't think much of it.

This past weekend my girlfriend Vivian, her son, her son's friend and I went to Canada's Wonderland and again we hit the Behemoth first. This time I didn't make it to a second ride. I immediately got the flop sweats, got dizzy (which is weird since the ride doesn't really do any circles), and couldn't concentrate on anything. Not wanting to be sick in the park, I walked back to the car, got a towe…