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Showing posts from November, 2011

Squats and Barbell Shrugs

After four weeks of following the intermittant fasting meal schedule (16 hrs off/8 hrs on) combined with a slow-carb diet, I'm finding that I've adjusted very well to training on low carbs.  I typically eat my first meal at 12:30 to 1:00 pm, eat again before training around 6:00 pm, and finish with a post-workout meal around 9:00pm.  My sole source of carbohydrates during the day, if any, are about 2/3 cup of cooked lentils or some vegetables like broccoli.  Surprisingly, I've found my energy levels to be very good throughout the process.  I eat one or two heavily carbed meals on saturdays and then resume the slow-carb eating by sunday evening.  All in all, I've managed to drop 9 lbs so far in my quest to get down to 205 lbs by next May 2012.

Today's workout was heavy squats, light overhead presses and a new exercise, heavy barbell shrugs.  For squats, I decided to do singles with short rest intervals, inspired by Jamie Lewis' Chaos and Pain program.  While he …

Squat volume day, bench presses, and some Chaos and Pain motivation

Bought an eBook today by Jamie Lewis.  He writes the Chaos and Pain blog and if you're easily or even not so easily offended, it's best you don't check it out.  On the other hand, if you want to get motivated to smash weights, he's strong like bull and will shame you into lifting heavy and often.  Anyways, I managed to get about a third of the way through the eBook (it's something like 368 pages) before I had to get to the gym to redeem my manhood.

Today was high bar squat day.  I would also have normally done my leg presses but the eBook shamed me into   skipping those and doing heavy partial squats instead.

High Bar Squats:  135x10, 135x10, 225x10, 315x5, 365x3x6 sets
Partial High Bar Squats:  405x5, 455x5, 495x3

Doing heavy partial squats with the high bar ride is much harder than the low bar, powerlifting carry.  The last rep of the last set was a vessel busting grind--mission accomplished.  I just need to continue to get my body to adapt to moving massive weig…

Deadlift de-load day and gym douchebags

After three weeks of heavy singles and doubles, this week was deadlift de-load day.  Worked up to 78% of my 1 RM and did two beltless sets of 5 and 4 reps.  These were hard since I rarely do more than 2 reps with work weight in the deadlift.

Deadlift:  225x5, 315x5, 405x5, 475x5, 475x4

Overhead press:  45x10. 95x10, 135x5, 160x5, 185x3, 205x1, 160x5

These went well.  First time over 200 lbs in a long time.  My diet to lose bodyfat and eventually compete in the 220lb weight class isn't filling me with weaksauce after all.

Reverse Lunges:  135x5, 135x6, 135x7

Still feel like a total train wreck doing these but the practice is paying off as I've been slowly able to increase repetitions without fear of falling over.

Finished up with two sets of face pulls, 35x20x2 sets.

My rant for the day:  Lazy, stupid, douchebags.  The set up at the Y has 6 half-power racks.  Each rack has places to hold weight plates.   Because the power racks intimidate people, they're rarely used.  Ins…

Squat and overhead press day

Knees and left hip were sore today and seemed like they took forever to warm up.  At first I thought the soreness and my apparent weakness in the squat was a sign that I might need to back off and re-ramp back up--especially when my second set with 405 amounted to only 1 difficult rep.  I decided to drop the weight to 315 to get some reps in with some speed.  Doing two sets of 8 helped me realize in my quest to strengthen my quads, I had totally forgotten to 'spread the floor' with my feet and engage my glutes.  No wonder the heavier sets felt hard, I wasn't fully utilizing my big ass.  Good learning experience.  I'll dial the weight back a bit anyways to give the knees a break and to give myself a chance to dial in my form.

Squat:  135x10, 135x10, 225x10, 315x5, 365x3, 365x3, 405x2, 405x1, 315x8, 315x8

Overhead presses were next and being volume day, just worked three sets with 135.  Felt harder than it should've but I going to use the excuse that two weeks of die…

Squat volume day and pain free bench pressing!

After my tribulations with not getting enough squat depth in my last workout, I decided to do my squats with a high bar ride instead of the traditional powerlifting low-ride. In addition to making it easier to get below-parallel depth, the increased emphasis on the quads should be beneficial.

High-bar squats:  135x10x2 sets, 225x10, 315x5, 365x5, 365x4, 365x3, 365x3

Not being able to get as much backside into them made them significantly harder than last Saturday's low-bar sets with 365.  Should make for some beneficial adaptation.  Back had to work pretty hard too since the weight wanted to crunch me up due to the bar resting higher on my shoulders.

Bench Press:  45x10, 95x10, 135x10, 185x5, 205x5, 225x5

This is heavier than I've gone for about a month.  My shoulders didn't hurt at all so I kept adding weight to a top set of 225.  I didn't want to push my luck so I stopped there but it was nice to see evidence of some progress with my 'rehab'.

Leg Press:  360…

Recovery enters the 5th year

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Strange but the month of November has more than halfway passed and it just hit me that I'm now in my 5th year of recovery from obesity.  November 2007 was the tipping point where I finally reached bottom and decided I needed to reverse my self-destruction.
Friends try to be nice and say things like, "you're just a big guy or you have big bones" but the reality was my  BMI of 44.1 was in either the "super obese" or "morbidly obese" range depending on which table you reference.  While it was true I still retained a higher than normal amount of muscle mass from my past powerlifting experience, the 'exploding head' feeling I got when I bent over to tie my shoes negated any rationalization I tried to use to downplay my unhealty weight gain.
It wasn't until I saw those pictures that it finally hit me that I needed to take immediate action.  Since that tipping point in November 2007, I have steadily made progress and have managed to maintain …

Deadlift day and more dysfunctional lunging

Conventional Deadlifts:  225x5, 315x5, 405x3, 495x1, 545x1, 565x1

These went pretty well, increased top set single for the third week in a row.  565 was slow but not a blood-vessel busting grind.  Only 30 lbs shy of my gym max wearing tennis shoes so things seem to be on a good track.  Next week's deadlift workout will dial back the top set poundage to approx 80% of my gym max (595) for two sets of reps.  If I can find a step platform that isn't broken, I'll do them from a deficit.

Step back lunges:  45x10, 95x10, 135x6, 135x5.  These continue to be horrible.  I lunge like a newborn fawn tries to walk.  It's pathetic really.  But evidence that there's a significant opportunity to correct dysfunction that will hopefully allow my two-legged exercises (squat and deadlift) to bust through their current plateaus.

Overhead presses:  45x10, 95x10, 135x5, 160x5, 185x2, 135x5, 135x5.  Didn't have any energy on these and my top set with 185 was a regression from my last …

Struggling with squat depth

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Tried widening my squat stance a few inches to try to get more glutes and hams involved and it didn't go that well.  Vivian was able to video my second set of 2 with 405 and my depth is borderline at best and it felt like I was going down as far as I could.
I dropped the weight for the next three sets and did 365x3 for 3 sets to try to get deeper.  A little frustrating since my squat depth has been progressively getting worse since last January 2011.
Jan 2011, OPA Provincials, I was heavier, 250lbs versus 235 lbs but I was able to get a lot deeper--not that I wanted to squat that deep in a meet, it just happened.

September 2011, good depth, definitely no room to cut them any higher.  Only problem was, I was trying to get deep, not cut it right at the 'break parallel' point.

I may have to go back to the high bar ride and narrow my stance a bit to where I was back in January 2011.    Anyways, with these form issues and the existing remedial strength issues, really not sure w…

Squat volume day

Almost turned today's workout into a, "I'll go tomorrow instead" but finally made it out the door.  Squat volume day which, in the context of my current plan, means a 5x5 with 365 lbs.  Same as last Saturday.  I also planned to do some bench pressing, light with high reps (for me) to slowly ease the shoulders into tolerating the movement.

Squats:  135x10, 225x10, 315x5, 365x5x5 sets.  This time they went much better than last week when I whined and bitched my way through.  I will admit that I set my iPod on the "metal" playlist instead the usual "electronica" playlist. I usually use the music as a distraction but avoid trying to listening to something will 'pump me up' because I'm by nature an anxious person.  If I let myself get too amped up for workouts, I find that I get burnt out very easy.  Today, I decided to let the music assist my workout a bit and listened to a playlist with bands like System of a Down, Symphony X, Alabama Thu…

De-load Deadlift day

Very short and simple workout today, conventional deadlifts, partial anderson squats, and overhead presses.  I'm still supposed to be in de-load this week so I kept the volume low on deadlifts, tried but failed to increase the degree of difficulty in the partial anderson squats, and kept the intensity low on overhead presses.

Deadlifts:  225x5, 315x5, 405x1, 495x1, 545x1, 545x1   These felt good, the second single with 545 was almost a grind but my rest period was under 180 seconds.

Partial Anderson Squats:  decided I'd try to do these the correct way and start the first rep from bottom position.  That didn't work out too well.  I simply couldn't get into position under the bar to lift even 225 off the pins set to approx half squat depth.  I ditched that idea and did the sets after 225 with a walkout and then a rest-pause on the pins at the bottom.  By doing that I don't completely disperse the stretch reflex but, for the time being, it's an acceptable comprom…

De-load week

Supposed to de-load this week because everything felt heavy last week and my SI joints are starting to ache.  Today was my third day in a row of doing some leg work.  I don't think I do the de-load thing exactly right.

Anyways, I did at least reduce the total volume in today's squat workout.  It was very short and simple.  135x10, 225x10, 315x5, 365x3, 405x2.  The 405x2 was easy although I could feel my SI joints barking when I walked the bar out of the rack and I could feel my glutes from yesterday's leg pressing and lunging.  Still, it feels good to handle the four wheels without stress.

Went straight to overhead presses and kept the intensity low, maxing out with 135lbs for 8,6,5 reps in three sets.  Finished up with high rep pulldowns for recovery since my lats were still sore from yesterday's barbell rows.

Tomorrow is planned to be a day off from gym after three days in a row but if my plans change, it'll be single leg exercises, and horizontal pulls for the…

Squat assistance day

Progress on the leg press continues, was able to handle last leg press workout's top weight much easier and went up to 7 plates a side (315lbs).  Just did 5 reps per leg but it definitely feels like I'm getting better at leg pressing.  While being able to do one leg at a time is a nice benefit, there seems to be a bit of a design flaw.  The individual leg sleds are mounted on two bars and when the loaded up, the bars flex and the sleds wiggle side to side.  It's not very noticeable at 4 or 5 plates a side but at 7, it's a significant distraction.  Not sure how much higher I'll be able to go, single-leg wise.  Hopefully when I have to leg press with the connector pin in, I'll be able to keep my hips down and lumbar flexion to as close to zero as possible.

My next exercise was to be reverse lunges but I had a hard time finding a bar.  Even though the gym was nearly deserted and has 6 half-racks, all of the racks but one appeared to be in use.  As I started to se…

I was a whiney douchebag today

Today's workout was squat volume day.  Thought I'd work up to work sets of 365x5x5 in the squat and then finish with light, speed bench presses if my shoulders were up to it.

Instead, I started my workout whining like a sissy.  It was so bad, I actually tweeted during my workout.  Tweeting during a workout is actually a sign that you're a douchebag.  Guilty.  Damn.

After my first warm-up set of 135x10:

@northernhiro tweeted: 1st warmup set of squats, holycrap, of all days to wake with a 45 yr old body #achesandpains
I took it again and felt a little better so I went through my normal warm-up progression, 225x10, 315x5. My first work set of 365x5 didn't feel great so I continued my douchey ways and bitched:
@northernhiro tweeted: At this point I'm questioning the wisdom of over-riding my orig desire to stay home. Training is not starting to pop at all.
Not surprisingly, my mommy didn't miraculously appear at the gym to give me my soother so I did my second set of 36…

Deadlifts, more overhead press progress and some deadlift analysis

Conventional deadlifts and overhead pressing:

Deadlifts:  225x5, 315x3, 405x1, 455x2, 505x2, 535x2, 535x2

The 505 represented approx 83% of my 1 RM, the 535 represented 88%.  All three sets were fairly fast and represented a decent amount of volume compared to previous conventional deadlift workouts.

Overhead Presses:  45x10, 95x10, 135x5, 165x5, 185x4, 195x2

The set of 185x4 was a rep PR, previous PR in this training cycle was 3 reps.  195 is the most weight I've handled in his training cycle so progress to date has been very good.

After the workout I decided to do some analysis of my previous limit and near limit deadlifts in my video library.  I timed lifts from initial pull to completion and from initial pull to the knees.  Lately when I've been missing deadlifts, I fail to get them off the floor with any speed so I wanted to see what I used to when I was stronger (and younger).  Video of my 622 lb deadlift from 1989 showed significantly more speed from the floor to my kne…

Assistance work day

Today was a bonus workout.  Vivian couldn't make it to the gym yesterday and wanted to go today so I got to get a bonus workout in today.  Tomorrow is deadlift/overhead press day so I decided to do squat and upper body pull work today.

Decided to start with barbell reverse lunges.  I can't remember the last time I did any lunges but I knew that I needed to add more unilateral movements to this phase of my training.  I was humbled by my horrible form and terrible stability.  I had initially expected to do my work sets with 135 since the bar and a wheel is the universal basic unit of weight room currency.  That plan went out the window as soon as I tried to do a set with 95 lbs and it felt hard.  Not heavy hard, but, "this movement feels very foreign" hard.

I ended up doing three sets of 12 reps per leg, alternating legs each rep.  By the time I was done, my quads were pumped and my glutes were cramping.  I was literally and figuratively lame.  Oh well, another exercis…

pre-Halloween squat day

Today's workout was scheduled to be heavy squats, heavy squat assistance work.  My work sets of 405x2 reps X 5 sets went well.  I seemed to get stronger every set and felt just about as fresh after set 5 as I did before I started the workout.  At the same time, it didn't feel like I could've done triples without the third rep slowing to a grind.  I probably should've taken that as a bit of a warning but I was enthused about seeing if I'd continue making progress on heavy quarter squats.

First set with 495 was a debacle because I set the safety bars one setting too low and got pinned.  I unloaded two plates per side and proceeded to barely Anderson squat the 315 so I could set it back in the j-hooks.  I re-loaded the bar to 495, raised the safety bars one setting and then proceeded to grind out a lame set of 3.  What the heck?  Last week 495x5 was easy.  This week it felt like the weight was crushing me and I just couldn't summon any limit power.  I rested and t…