Showing posts from 2012

2012 training recap and 2013 goals

Last year's summary of 2011 included the following:
Bodyweight, started at 250, dropped to 230, gained to 240, and finished the year at 230.138 total training sessions, 3 competitions, high of 20 sessions in one month, low of 8Trained all year IPF "raw", battled a bad shoulder, converted to hook grip for deadlifts
2012 saw progress in most areas with the exception of bodyweight.
Bodyweight started at 230, ended the year at 250.124 total training sessions, 3 competitions, high of 13 sessions in one month, low of 8Trained all year IPF "raw", shoulder got better, made big improvements in squat form
With the exception of my bodyweight sliding up a bit, 2012 was a year of some very encouraging progress.  I was able to hit an all-time raw PR in the squat after making some technique improvements.  My shoulder finally started feeling better and I was able to train the bench press properly for the first time in almost 2 years.  My total at my last competition upped my raw…

last training session of 2012, bench press and deadlift assisstance

Friday's squat session and yesterday's snow shoveling left my lower back feeling less than recovered for today's deadlift assistance session.  My chest was still a little sore from Friday's dumbbell power flyes too.  On a slight digression, back in the day, the dumbbell flyes we did were what some call power flyes today.  It wasn't until internet form police pukes started bitching about "you're bending your elbows" or "your elbows aren't straight enough" that flyes became the ultra-strict abomination that you see in bad YouTube videos.

In order to avoid the inevitable keyboard warrior bitching, the flyes that actually work are now usually referred to power flyes--although I doubt Arnold would give two craps about what some internet weenie thinks about his exercise form:

Anyways, with that pet peeve out of the way, I hit the bench press with a pretty decent amount of volume based on my previous sessions and felt pretty good.  I'm pau…

Found an old fat pic from 2007

I found a letter with some pictures from a trip I made to Hawaii in 2007 to visit family.  The picture was taken from the 290+ period when I had reached the peak of my recent bout with obesity.  It's a good reminder of where I was and that any progress I've made is a big improvement over the stress and strain my former 290+ lb self was under.

Slowly increasing the volume

First training session in 7 days, 4 of them spent eating all manner of Christmas goodies and turkey.  It felt good to get a little rest in but to be honest, my back doesn't seem to hurt any less when I don't lift.  My elbows enjoyed the 7 days off though.  They had been getting a little crispy from the heavy back squatting leading up to my meet.  We had our first snow dump of the season in time for yesterday's morning drive so I spent an hour shoveling the driveway.  In addition to the unintended cardio workout, my back was pretty worn out from the winter chores.  It turned out to be a pretty good ramp to tonight's session.

My back and hips were still a little worked from the previous day's repetitive strain but they also felt ready for a higher degree of stress.  My plan for today was to hit overhead presses, squats, and if time permitted, power flyes and dumbbell rows.

Overhead presses went pretty well but it was very apparent that my stability or lack thereof w…

Deadlift and Squat videos from the 2012 O.P.A. Classic Championships

I just got copies of my squat and deadlift videos taken by fellow competitor Benjamin Butty from the recent 2012 Ontario Powerlifting Association 3 Lift Classic Championships.  Benjamin recorded them with a digital SLR so he was able to take advantage of both the zoom lens and the higher quality sensor to get some excellent videos of my lifts.

My second attempt squat with 210 kgs:
My third attempt squat with 215 kgs. From this angle it looks like I cut it right at the "no doubt" point.  Any higher and I think I'd be risking red lights from an ultra-strict judge.  As it was, it felt very strong so if I can train to that depth in the future, I think I should easily get at least 227.5 kgs in my next competition.

My opening attempt in the Deadlift was 260 kgs.  It's a weight that I can get with little to no stress.  The video shows a slight hesitation as it breaks free of the earth but from then on it's a quick ride to the top.

My second attempt with 280 kgs took lon…

bench press and deadlift assistance day

My fantasy football team is in the league finals this weekend so I'm more pre-occupied about that than my training at the moment. Any given week in a head to head league, there's a fair bit of luck involved since even the best players get shut down and marginal players go off and have career games.  I'm guaranteed $50 even if the team loses and comes in second but nobody like finishing as the first loser.  Unlike powerlifting, there's no consolation in fantasy football since the team owner has nothing to do with setting PR's.

Tonight's session was bench press and deadlift assistance work.  While I don't feel beat up or especially weak/slow, my overall work capacity for volume needs to be built back up.  Bench presses were simple sets of 5, "t-shirt press" style.  That is, they were done with a very light touch and a pause at the chest.  Five sets of five reps felt pretty good even though my pecs were still a little sore from the power fly work tw…

Back in the gym, squats and overhead presses

The great thing about competition is, even if you feel wrecked from the aftermath of limit attempts in the squat, bench press, and deadlift, usually your motivation to train is never higher.  Between the excitement of competition, the interaction with other lifters, and hopefully, some successes on the platform, competitions are a great way to top up the enthusiasm tank.  Usually, my enthusiasm to get right into the gym and start working on whatever it is that I need to work on is tempered by the physical reality that my body wants nothing to do with straining under the bar.

Tonight's workout was different than previous sessions immediately after a competition.  Instead of feeling slow and the bar feeling heavy, I felt pretty good.  I can't remember if I also felt pretty good after my meet from January 2011 when I also didn't cut any weight prior to competing but I suspect not having the added stress of cutting weight made a difference.

Since I plan to spend at least the n…

Post-meet form evaluations and plans for improvement

Two days after my competition and I'm sore but eager to get back in the gym and work on my opportunities.  Missing my third attempt bench press with 155 kgs took a bit of a toll as my lower back is very tender.  It's not nearly as bad as when I irritated it the first time back in May so I'm not worried about missing any time on the bench.  Other than my lower back being very tender in extension, my obliques and erectors are the only other areas that feel like they need some recovery time.

I had some time to upload the raw video of my squats from my phone to my computer and once I was able to see the full videos, I was able to better check my squat depth.  When I watched the videos on my phone and the relatively low quality upload on my youtube page, it appeared I was going very deep but after closer review at full-sized playback, my depth on my third attempt was not excessively deep at all.  Clearly legal depth but not low enough that I want to risk cutting them any higher…

2012 OPA Classic Provincials meet report

I started this "raw" period of my powerlifting training in August 2010 after I had finished the 2010 Niagara Open competing as an equipped lifter.  I switched to raw training for two reasons.  One, I had tweaked my shoulder pretty good from handling over-max weights in a bench shirt.  Two, I had grown disgusted with my gear because at the Niagara meet in 2010, I lifted as a 220 lb lifter.  The equipment I wore was my gear that I used when I competed as a 242 lb lifter at the Nationals earlier in the year.  One's bodyweight/body girths greatly affect how the gear works for a lifter.  The idea that I would need multiple sets of gear depending on my bodyweight was simply too much expense and complexity for me to want to manage so I decided back in August 2010 that I would train and compete raw from then on.

My first raw meet was the Ontario Powerlifting Association (OPA) Provincials in January 2011.  Since the CPU or any of its provincial affiliates had not yet adopted a ra…

meet week, some refresher squatting and benching

It's finally meet week and I can't say I've ever felt this ready to try some max attempts.  Since I've never felt this 'ready' I can't say that it'll mean good things on Sunday but as they say, if feeling this good is wrong, I don't want to be right.

Today's session was just some sets of 3's with enough weight to feel the competition groove and just enough work to knock the rust off but leave my body still chomping at the bit to hit some 100+% lifts on Sunday.  The squats felt fast and easy as they should and the bench presses, all reps paused, were nice and quick.  While I'm not cutting weight to make the lower weight class, I'm still cutting carbs this week until Friday so that I can get a bit of a bloat on for Sunday.  I want my attempts to reflect optimal conditions without the confounding factor of dealing with a cut and rehydration as happened to me last meet.

I'll take the time after the meet to finally do what I've be…

1 week out, squat and bench assistance

Tonight was my last real squat session before next Sunday's meet.  I will do some easy triples with 365-385 on Monday but tonight was the last session with any intensity.  I worked up to a comfortable single with 455 and finished with three worksets totalling 11 repetitions. All told there were 8 repetitions with 87% of my training max and 8 repetitions in the 78-83% range.  The single with 455 represented 98% of my training max.  I hit reasonable intensity levels with an easily recoverable amount of volume.

All the squats felt very solid and fast and touch wood, no aches or pains or other issues that would create doubt come meet time.  At the moment, my plan to open with 200 kgs (440 lbs) is on schedule.  Second attempt will be either 207.5 kgs or 210 kgs.  How that lift goes will dictate my plans for a third attempt.

For bench press assistance I continued Monday's work with long pause bench presses.  I cut down on the total number of repetitions I would normally do on "…

1 week out, last full bench press session

This is my last full week of training with the meet next Sunday (Dec 16th).  Cutting back on accessory work but keeping primary lift volumes at normal levels and I'll leave meet week for full recovery.  My warm ups felt slow so I decided to use exaggerated pauses on all the work sets.  With a long pause, there is no alternative but to try to push hard off the chest and force the speed.  Thinking back to my training for this meet, now that my shoulders apparently seem up to the constant volume, I'll start incorporating long pauses on a more regular basis.

Bench Press:  135x10, 185x10, 225x5, 255x3, add wrist wraps, 275x2, 295x2, 315x1, add belt, 315x1, 315x1, just wrist wraps, 285x2, 285x2, 285x2, no wraps, 255x3, 255x3

On a completely unrelated note, I still have my old sports card collection from when I was a kid and was reminded of it recently so I decided to take a picture of two of my favourite cards.

Yup, that's a Walter Payton rookie card (1976 Topps) on the left and…

2 weeks out, deadlift and bench accessory

The meet is now 15 days away and training has been going well.  Nothing hurts too much and it feels like I'll be in good shape to lift on December 16th.  This session was scheduled to be my last deadlift session with heavy singles.  Since my deadlift had felt slow and grindy on previous heavy single days, I was curious to see how it would feel today.  Fortunately the bar moved very well and my top singles with 545 moved as well as I can remember.  I originally planned to take a single with 585 but decided on a second single with 545 since the first one moved so fast.  That sounds counter-intuitive but after feeling slow the previous deadlift sessions, I didn't want to grind out a single with 585 this close to the meet  after finally regaining some speed off the floor.  I'll save it for the meet since I'll have no reason to grind out a heavy single afterwards.  The hook grip felt great for the warm up sets and the two singles with 545 as well.  I did strap up for the fi…

2 weeks out, squat and bench accessory

This was my last squat session with significant volume.  I felt a little slow and had to work around a small spasm in the piriformis/sciatic nerve area.  Got in some good work though and will be looking forward to the last week of training and meet week to get strong and fast.  Next week volume on my heavy squat day will be singles only and on meet week, I'll get in the gym early in the week to get in about 4-5 singles in the 90-95% range.

Hit some new volume numbers on bar dips, makes a big difference when I'm not pre-fatigued from bench pressing first.  The dips took their toll on the rolling dumbbell tricep extensions though. One more hard deadlift workout later this week.

Squats:  135x10, 225x10, 275x5, add belt, 315x3, add wrist wraps, 365x3, 405x2, 435x1, 405x3, 405x3, 405x2, 365x5

Bar Dips:  15, 15, 11

Rolling dumbbell tricep extensions:  52.5x 5, 52.5x5, 52.5x7
DB curls:  52.5x5, 52.5x5, 52.5x5

I've been told I resemble Grumpy Cat.  I'm not sure I se…

2 weeks out, bench press and squat accessory

Had the opportunity to get to the gym today instead of tomorow so I decided to start my "2 weeks out" training a day early.  Banking an extra day of recovery should help since the meet is coming up soon.  I lowered the intensity of my volume work a little bit to serve as a very slight un-load before the final push to the meet.

Squat assistance work was pretty tough since I had deadlifted pretty hard only two days before.  Speed and tightness in the hole was dramatically affected so I kept the weights light on the sumo deadlifts and really tried to concentrate on form.  Lower back is still highly pumped so even the 60% intensity level was more than enough.

Bench Press:  135x10, 185x10, 225x5, 255x3, add wrist wraps, 275x2, 295x2, add belt, 315x2, just wrist wraps, 275x6, 275x5, 275x4

High Bar Squats:  135x10, 225x10, 225x10

Sumo deadlifts:  315x5, 315x5, 315x5

3 weeks out, deadlift and bench accessory

It was a good idea to go easier on the deadlift volume and intensity the past couple of weeks because I felt fresh and the pulls were fast.  This session was the last "easy" session, next week will be the last "heavy" session and then just maintenance pulls until the meet.

I was scheduled for 3 sets of 3 with 495, roughly 85% of my gym max.  The first two triples felt excellent so I decided to do an AMRAP set for the last.  Nearest that I can remember my rep max for 495 was 6 so my goal was at least 5 and giv'r for 7 if I was feeling it.  I was able to make it to 6 but was too shaky to try for a new all-time rep PR.  Still, considering I rarely do more than 5 reps with work weights, it was a good set and a good sign that things are shaping up nicely for December 16th.

Bench accessory was three work sets with 225.  The first two sets I did "hypertrophy" style, short ROM pump reps from the chest to about 4" above the chest.  Every 5th rep, I presse…

3 weeks out, Squat day and new lifting shoes

The Adidas Canada site had a nice sale on some older models of weightlifting shoes and with free shipping and $15 off for signing up for their newsletter, it was too good a deal to turn down on a new pair of Adidas Power Perfect 2 weightlifting shoes. My current pair of lifting shoes, Kanama weightlifting shoes, had been in use for over 3 years and had gotten a little loose.  I originally bought them to use with some orthotic insoles but I stopped using them because the insoles didn't meet the IPF equipment requirements for removeable insoles.  From the IPF technical rule book section on shoes:

  "Loose inner soles that are not part of the manufactured shoe shall be limited to one centimeter thickness"

My orthotic inserts were more than a centimeter thick at the heel.  After taking them out of my lifting shoes, because they had already broken in to fit my foot with the orthotics inside,  my shoes always felt a little too loose.  It was a very minor issue but when the opp…

3 weeks out, bench press and squat accessory

Felt a little creaky in the shoulders so decided to skip the negative reps today.  Worked up to a top, paused single with 330 and it felt good.  Based on my single with 315 and 330 done paused and without a lift-off, I should be good for a 142.5 kg opener and a 150 kg second attempt on the 16th.  If I were planning on cutting weight I'd probably have to be a little more conservative but since I'm not, I'm confident that the meet attempts with a lift-off, on a competition bench, and with an IPF-spec bar will be easier than my gym lifts.  Depending on how the 150 kg attempt goes, my third will be either 152.5 kg or 155 kgs.  155 kgs would be an all-time PR so naturally I'm focused on that number unless I'm feeling terrible on meet day.

Squat accessory work today included more sumo deadlift reps.  I was tempted again to go heavier but that would defeat the purpose of doing them for squat accessory work.  I'm definitely going to spend some quality time with the sum…

4 weeks out, squats and bench assistance

Squat workout, pre-flu least it feels like I'm trying to fight off the flu that's had Vivian in bed the last two days.  I don't feel sick, just super tired.  At least I didn't feel weak too, that might've led to me skipping the workout altogether.  The goal was to hit some reps in the 90%+ range and then do my bench assistance work that I normally would've done tomorrow.

Squats felt pretty good but I ate too much today at lunch/afternoon snack/afternoon snack and my belly was still super full tonight at the gym.  Since I refuse to adjust my lever belt buckle any looser--just because I'm not going to make 105's doesn't mean I'm bloating up to the top of the next class--the combination of a too full belly and a too tight belt actually made me short of breath during my multi-rep sets.

I had hoped to double 455 if I felt good but it ended up being a tough single.  At least I bracketed it with some triples with 405 that moved very well. …

4 weeks out Bench press and leg accessory

Knowing this is my last competition for about 9 months has changed how I'm looking at it.  Back in January of 2011, after a year and a half of competing in gear (with the goal of making it to Nationals achieved), I decided to simplify things and compete raw.  I was also nursing an injured shoulder so it was a pretty easy decision to train without the overloads required of equipped lifting.

In that first meet back as a raw lifter, I weighed in at 113.6 kgs and squat/bench press/deadlifted 205 kg/140kg/272.5 kg for a 617.5 kg total.  The weight class limits back then were 110 kgs and 125 kgs but because there was no raw or "classic" divisions, I didn't try to cut weight to make the 110 kg class.  There was no point in jockeying for a placing when in all likelihood, I would be lifting against a lifter in equipment.  Lifting raw and without cutting weight was about as stress-free as one will ever find in competition and I liked it.  That was the last time I simply "…

5 weeks out, sore-backed deadlifts

I finally got a chance to make it out to the T-Rex garage to join the team for a workout.  While it was awesome catching up and training with a group, my plans on deadlifting with some volume and intensity were scuttled as soon as a decently heavy weight revealed my sore back was also a slow back.

Interestingly, after the last meet, I anticipated this training period would lead to a new deadlift PR and I looked forward to lots of heavy pulling.  What I didn't plan for was improving my squat groove and being able to train without any shoulder pain.  I've always been a terrible bench presser and a bad squatter and the relative improvements I've been seeing in the past few months have greatly increased my enthusiasm for those training sessions.  Since I've never liked the deadlift anyways, it's been easy to push it to the background while I make up ground with my two, much poorer, lifts.

As it stands now, I'm looking forward to meeting or exceeding my old squat n…

squat deload, 5 weeks out

I've been feeling pretty good about my squat form improvements and have been chomping at the bit to test it.    The only reason I've been holding back is because I felt like I peaked too early for previous meets and I wanted to leave the real testing for the meet.  That being said, I still decided to work up to a heavy-ish single today.  I also decided to shift my deadlift session to later in the week so I could spend some time on it without being pre-exhausted from squatting.

Since I split up my session, I figured this was a good opportunity to deload some volume and get things rested for the final 4 weeks of pushing to the meet.  My plan was to work up to a single with 455 and then hit a single work set at 385.  My warmups felt very good and my last warm up single with 405 felt like I could've done it for 5.  The single at 455 was very smooth, probably could've doubled it if I had put it in my mind to do it for two instead of one.  The squat form improvements I'v…

5 weeks out, bench press session

Good bench press session tonight.  Nothing fancy, just straight weight and a couple fatigue stops after my top work sets.  Elbows and my lower back didn't appreciate the light, high-bar squats done afterwards though.  As my bench press has come back, my shoulders have tightened up some and my elbows are the focus point of the strain when I back squat.

Belting up during my heavy bench press sets to provide some lower back support during hard leg drive seems to help but my lower back still fires up pretty good afterwards.  I think I'll have to do some leg presses after bench pressing in the coming weeks.  While I'd like to get in a second day of squatting each week, until I get my shoulders loosened up again, it's not worth irritating the elbows and forfeiting the bench press gains that I've recovered.  Feels good to be able to handle 315 for doubles, if I can progress that to triples in the next 4 weeks, I should be in good shape to attempt an all-time PR in the ben…

6 weeks out, Squats and Deadlifts

For some reason this has been a tiring week.  Didn't feel like training today but skipping the session wasn't an  option.  I'm not hurt or beat up so getting a session was all about getting my body to react and adapt.  I was scheduled for 'easy' squats and hard deadlifts but I felt like I needed some extra work with heavier weights to speed up the learning curve for my squat groove.

I decided to do my work sets at 405 for doubles instead of speed triples with 365.  I think this was a good plan as I was able to get in 8 good repetitions with 89% of my previous 1 RM.

Hitting the extra intensity with the squats took some of the steam out of my deadlifts but my single with 545 moved fast enough even if it felt like I didn't have any fight in me. The big muscles felt good enough but I could tell there was enough fatigue in the supporting muscle groups that I decided to shut it down.  I did some leg pressing instead and found that it actually fatigued my lower back i…

6 weeks out, bench press and accessory squat work

An article I wrote for the Ontario Powerlifting Association's newsletter was published.  There's a small typesetting error but the rest of the article reads the way I wrote it.  Hopefully too many jimmies aren't rustled.  I really do believe there's far too much infighting between 'raw dogs' and equipped powerlifters.  Ideally one feeds the other with a small portion of each remaining loyal only to their discipline.  What's starting to happen instead is a non-communicative split between the two.  The last thing powerlifting needs is more division.  Hopefully people will see the light and work together to continue to grow the sport for the mutual benefit of both powerlifting disciplines.

At this point, I'm now 6 weeks out from the meet.  Finally.  Time to start fine tuning my bodyweight and getting used to handling heavier weights without breaking form.  After the previous two weeks of overload work via the negative only activation reps and the weeks bef…

7 weeks out, hard squats, easy deadlifts, fire alarm

Pushed my squat/deadlift workout to the end of the week to get in some extra rest and to start timing it out for the upcoming meet.  Back felt very stiff today but it didn't hold me back during the workout.  Worked up to a training max single today and finished up with 4 sets of 3 with 85% of my 1 RM.

I feel pretty good that my training max today was only 12 pounds off my top lift at my last meet.  Since I've changed my squat groove in the interim, I'm happy that I'm just about back to where I was with the previous squat-morning style that had plateau'd.  I've got 6 more weeks of training to try to advance past what I was able to do with a less efficient technique.  If I don't, I won't be too upset since I'll have plenty of time afterwards to continue to improve.

The work sets at 385 felt very good but I definitely need some more time with 95%+ singles in order to practice staying in form when the weight feels heavy.  My top single wasn't a gut…

3000 calorie lunch for a little challenge

Like many other guys just starting out lifting weights, I wanted to be bigger.  Then the priorities changed to bigger and stronger, and finally now I'd just like to be stronger and less bigger.  Because I was a fat kid, I've always had an appetite so gaining weight was never a caloric intake challenge.  That part of the process came very easily.  In fact, eating has always been fun for me.  Emotionally comforting at times and just plain enjoyable all the time.  An article by Matt Foreman, called, "Screw Nutrition" nails my eating philosophy right between the eyes.  Relevant excerpt below:
"You can do whatever the hell you want, and that includes disagreeing with this post. Your life is yours, and mine is mine. I advise you to eat with willpower if you want to be a successful lifter. That’s my recommendation as an athlete and a coach. But I also don’t think you should eliminate happiness from your eating. That’s my recommendation as a human being. We only get one …

7 weeks out, bench press experiment pt 2

After last week's interesting experience with negatives as activation reps, I decided that I'd try it again this week to try to learn more about how to include them in my program moving forward.  In addition, I decided to wear my belt for all heavy reps to see if some added support would reduce the strain I've been feeling in my lower back after heavy bench sessions.  It's something that has lingered ever since I tweaked my back in May preparing for a competition last June.

My plan was to work up to a single at 325, do two negative reps with 375 and then give a go with 345. Everything went well up to the negative reps.  While only 10 lbs heavier than the weight I used last week, the 375 felt significantly heavier.  After two negative reps, I felt significant fatigue even though I wasn't trying to exaggerate the lowering process.  In reality, the weight was too heavy as I could only slow the bar on the descent.  I didn't have enough control to stop the weight a…

Accessory work and conditioning

Final session of the week is accessory work and lately, some conditioning.  Last week I got on a concept2 rower for the first time in about a year and did a 2000m test.  I was able to get through it in 8:15 but didn't push it too hard because I wanted to finish.

This time I decided to try to push a little and see if I could improve on that time while testing myself a bit.  I did the first 500m at a faster pace, cruised through the next 1000m at last week's pace, and attempted to finish the last 500m at my original starting pace.  When I finished I had improved my time to 7:50:02 and was pretty gassed.  My heart rate at the finish was 164 bpm and it didn't drop much after 3 minutes of rest--to only 136 bpm.  That's a sign I definitely need to continue some conditioning work to improve my cardiovascular efficiency.

After the 2000m test, I was pretty tired and my legs felt dead so I started with bench presses instead of squats.  3 sets of 5 with 235 was a good 'speed…

8 weeks out, easy squat, hard deadlift day

Last week was hard squats and easy deadlifts, this week, easy squats and hard deadlifts.  Since I bumped up the squat weights two weeks ago for my last easy squat/hard deadlift day, I decided to bump them again this week.  Whereas I was doing 5 sets of 3 with 75% of my prior 1 RM, now I'm up to 5 sets of 3 with 80%.  It feels good.  The technique improvements are really working and my speed with these 80% sets is better than ever.  Also did something different tonight, I tried grabbing the floor with my toes--or at least tried grabbing the insoles of my squat shoes with my toes.  I've never done that before but after concentrating on keeping my weight towards my heels, it felt like I needed to do something with my toes.

While I've read about grabbing the floor with my toes in various articles by Pavel and others, I never tried it before.  I guess I had other form/technique issues that were priorities.  Anyways, after cueing myself to do it, it did make a difference in how …

8 weeks out, successful bench press experiment and a change in plans

Big changes in my plans for next year's competitions!  I  had planned on training for the Canadian Powerlifting Union's Nationals next March in Vancouver but Vivian found us a great deal on a European cruise in May so, since I already fulfilled a life goal of lifting in a National Championship back in 2010, I get to cross a whole bunch of items off my bucket list with my first trip to Europe and first time on a cruise ship.  I am super stoked (if 46 yr old guys are allowed to be stoked) and looking forward to seeing the cities on our stops, Venice (where the cruise starts and finishes), Dubrovnik, Croatia, Athens, Greece, Ephesus, Turkey, and Split, Croatia.  I will still keep training, obviously, but competitions will have to wait until later in the summer after we get back from what should be an awesome trip of a lifetime.

As for today's bench press experiment, it went very well.  Last week, I tested my training max and made a 325 while missing 330.  For this week's …