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Showing posts from January, 2012

Squats and a big Overhead Press milestone for me

I had no idea tonight's workout was going to be noteworthy.  I had planned on going to the gym with Vivian but she texted me that she wasn't feeling well and to go without her.  This bummed me out a bit and I started the workout pre-occupied with how she was feeling.  Squat warm-ups went okay but I really didn't have that extra pop I'd need for my heavy singles.

Regardless, I pushed through my prescribed singles and finished with a top single at 445 lbs.  That'll probably be my second attempt in the meet on February 11.  I had some strength to spare and figure the meet psych will more than offset any effects of cutting to make weight for the night before.  Finished with three doubles at 405 that went very well.  I've really been feeling the positive effects of my form work on front squats.  While my back squat poundages aren't as high as they've ever been, I feel like my form is much better and will open the door to future gains.  I've been stuck at…

Bench Press training

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Remedial front squatting and bench pressing were on the schedule for today along with pre-workout Advil, 600 mgs.    The Advil was an experiment to see how much better, if any, my shoulder would feel during bench presses.  As on back squat day, my hips and knees felt awesome and front squats showed incremental progress.  I felt like was able to keep my upper back tighter and my arms up better and I was successful in increasing my workload.

I fully expected to complete my fifth set of 3 with 245 lbs but I ran into a minor form issue.  Apparently I had set the bar back on my shoulders a little farther than before and there was more pressure on the front of my neck than in previous sets.  Upon rising out of the hole on repetition 2, I felt that "right before the lights go out" feeling--tunnel vision, tingles, and a general feeling of weightlessness.  Luckily I didn't have too much pressure on blood flow because I was able to complete the rep and rack the bar before getting…

Deadlift repetition day

I don't want to call today's workout a de-load day because I had no intention of not putting in a good amount of work but it was a reduction in intensity.  Giving my system a slight break from 90+% singles should ramp me up right into February 11, the date of my next competition.

Since next week is heavy deadlift singles only and will be my last deadlift workout before February 11, today was going to be low intensity work but high volume (for me).  Work weight was 405 lbs for 5 sets of 5.  On my fifth set I set a goal of as many reps as possible--the dreaded AMRAP set.  I figured 10 reps would be a good number.  Turns out it was the right number as the 10th rep of my last set was pretty tough and my glutes were on fire.  Overall a very good, restorative deadlift workout.

Deadlift:  315x5, 405x5x4 sets, 405x10

Overhead presses were next and the core fatigue from the deadlift repetitions insured that I stuck with my "light day" template.

Overhead Presses:  45x10, 95x1…

Squats, overhead presses and ibuprofen

I can't quite say I was dependent on ibuprofen (Advil) but for about 18 months straight, I was taking anywhere from 400 to 800 milligrams of ibuprofen a day, every day.  It started about 6 months before I lifted in the 2010 Canadian Powerlifting Union National Championships.  One day while squatting, I tore a muscle or something in my hip or upper glute area and from that day on, it required daily ibuprofen so I could function and lift without pain.  Luckily, it never affected my stomach but ibuprofen can tear some people up.  Anyways, after about 18 months of it, the pain finally went away and I weaned myself off of it.  After that, I'd take it on training days as it always seemed to make training easier.

I continued that until my last competition in September.  I decided I'd train without any assistance from pain killers/anti-inflammatories.  I figured I should stop trying to ignore my random aches and pains.  Today, I decided I'd take advil before my training sessio…

I was wrong about yesterday

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Despite feeling like yesterday's workout didn't do anything, it did.  I'm sore everywhere today.  I've just got to trust that if I'm doing the work that my body will adapt and get stronger. You'd think I'd know this already, seeing as how I've been weight training for over 17 years spread out over the past 31 and competing in powerlifting for about 7 of those 31 years.   Better late than never.

This weekend I had looked forward to watching the live internet streams of two key powerlifting competitions:  Raw Unity 5 and the Ontario Provincials.  Raw Unity manages to attract an excellent roster of the top raw lifters in North America while the Ontario Provincials (Ontario Powerlifting Association) is my main competitive federation.  Two of my Toronto Rex Powerlifting Club teammates, Mark and Trish Boyle are lifting at Provincials with designs on competing at the Canadian Powerlifting Union Classic Nationals this March.

Unfortunately for me, both competiti…

Training front squats and bench press

Some workouts leave you feeling like you got stronger, others confirm you got stronger because you broke a personal record.  Today's workout was one of those workouts that was neither.  The only good thing was it wasn't one of those workouts where you got weaker because you injured yourself.

Front squats continue to be a shartshow.  I'm still doing them no-hands style because I'm trying to work on my form but my upper back just doesn't want to stay in position.  I'm trying hard to fight the tendency to round over coming through the sticking point but it's still happening.  On one hand, it's something I need to fix because it will carry over to my back squat--it's clear that I've been covering up this form error by turning difficult back squat reps into squat mornings.  On the other hand, it's humbling to use such light weights and see such slow improvement.

Front Squats:  135x10, 185x5, 225x3, 245x3x3 sets, 225x3x3 sets.  All but the last se…

Deadlift training and another shirt story

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After looking forward to this week's deadlift training day and going to bed last night almost as excited as a kid on Christmas Eve (OK, maybe I'm over-selling it a little), I had so little energy when I left the office tonight that I was seriously trying to talk myself into scheduling a "light" week and going heavier next week. As I sat at home and waged a bit of an internal war, I decided that I had to lift something heavy tonight even if I felt tired.  It wasn't any sort of determination or decision to "suck it up", I just realized even my planned "heavy day" wasn't a ton of volume so I didn't have much I could cut from it.

Luckily the gym was nearly empty due to a light dusting of snow today so I didn't have to wait for a rack or for one of the two competition bars.  I did have to use a rack in front of a mirror.  That wouldn't pose a problem for deadlifts since I could block the lower part of  the mirrors with some mats bu…

Overhead Press PR and my favorite workout shirt

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Today I planned on trying to set a new overhead press PR so I made sure I was wearing my favorite workout shirt.  I usually don't make a point of wearing a particular shirt but I figured I'd take advantage of any 'favorite shirt' mojo available.  There's nothing really special about the shirt, it's not tight or ripped up or even from a competition that I lifted in.  It just happens to be the one I like to lift in the most.  Back when I was much, much younger, I had favorite shirts that showed off my little shoulder muscles or meager biceps but that's not in the cards these days.

I see lifters in the gym that do make a point of wearing the same outfit each day.  More power to them, anything that helps them do the work is fine by me as long as they don't stink.  While I don't wear the same shirt every workout, all my workout shirts are black.  Black shows sweat more than white but black shirts don't get that tell-tale brown mark across the back fr…

No shoulder pain today!

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Normally I wouldn't plan my light squat and bench press workout the day immediately after heavy deadlifts and light overhead presses but it's Vivian's birthday weekend and we've got a bunch of stuff planned.
Vivian is super awesome and I'm very lucky to share my life with her.  She's been a great supporter of my mid-life crisis powerlifting exploits and has even gotten into deadlifting and bench pressing.  We met via an online dating website so if you don't already know a couple that met that way, now you do.

She's glad I'm not competing with all of the gear because she thinks it looks foolish.  I try to explain the extreme challenge presented by using the squat suits, bench shirts and deadlift suits but it's really something you gotta try yourself in order to gain the proper appreciation and respect for the discipline.

All that being said, I'm glad I'm now training and competing raw too.  It's simpler, less expensive, and for me, …

Dialing in the deadlift

My next competition is in almost exactly four weeks.  I figured it was time to test the hook grip with some weight since there would be time to heal in the event I tore a callus.

My practice with lighter weights and better care of my hands (conscientiously filing down calluses) paid off as I was able to get through my planned hook grip sets without any damage.  It still feels very unusual to deadlift heavy with the hook grip.  It feels like the bar sets a good 1/2" lower in my fingers than when I used the mixed grip.  It's disconcerting because I'm not used to it but it's a huge advantage since any time you can start fractions of an inch higher, the more weight you're going to lift.

I used the hook grip through a single with 495 and two singles with 545.  In workouts prior to my last competition in September, I was never able to handle more than one heavy single before I tore my hands so I was very happy with the progress I've made.  In addition to building c…

Overhead press PR and eliminating more excuses

When I was a kid I always wanted to be stronger.  I got picked on so naturally I identified with comic book superheroes and that wimpy guy on the beach that had sand kicked in his face.  I was so, so happy when my parents decided they were going to join a local gym and that I was old enough to join as well.  My dad thought that getting stronger would help me with basketball.  While I had plenty of desire, being short and slow worked against me when competing for a spot on the frosh-soph team at high school.  If I had any hope of making the team, I needed to be able to do things the other kids wouldn't do like box out and rebound or try to play tough defense.

Getting stronger would certainly help with that but deep down, I was finally happy that I had a chance to re-make myself.  From the age of 14 to the age of 27, I was single-mindedly passionate about working out.  At first my goals were to build muscle, eventually they changed to the pursuit of limit strength in the form of pow…

Four training weeks till the 100% Raw Toronto Open

This week's training did not go according to plan.  I didn't get to the gym Monday or Tuesday but there was a silver-lining as the extra recuperation time led to a great squat workout on Wednesday.  That was followed up by a minor stomach bug that kept me out of the gym on Friday and Saturday.  I was able to train today but my strength, energy levels, and will power were at epic lows so I bailed on my plans to hit a gym max deadlift and instead kept everything light and did a number of different movements at very low intensities.

I have four good training weeks until the 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation's 2012 Toronto Open and aside from my balky shoulders, everything else is feeling pretty good.  My main goals are to make weight in the 220 lb class and to improve on my 275kg deadlift.  I have a long-term goal of raw squatting 500 lbs (227.5 kgs) but that's a very long-term goal and not one that I will be hitting next month.  Based on the list of competitors, the 220&#…

It's hard not to be fat

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It's easy to say now that I should have never let myself become obese but as they say, I ate that elephant one bite at a time.  It's not that I dislike being active, I love to play golf, walking preferably, and I love the pursuit of strength.  Long, slow, low-intensity cardio and high-intensity resistance exercise.  Just what every trendy paleo blog prescribes for body recomposition.

The part I struggle with is the "eating less" of the "eat less, move more" obesity cure over-simplification.  The "eating less" part is where all the hucksters make tons of money from desperate obese people like myself.  I have parted with less money than most in pursuit of a "cure" that doesn't exist but I've still wasted money over my lifetime on supplements of dubious or no benefit as well as books on hokey nutritional programs (metabolic typing for one).  At least I can say I've never fallen for scams involving "cleanses" or "d…

And my squat groove is back.

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After having excellent squat workouts on November 28 and December 6 and despite doing lots of singles to practice form, I still managed to get out of the groove.  I finally traced it back to an effort to sit back into my squats more and break from the hips first rather than the knees.  I realized I was poorly implementing that strategy and turning squats into a good morning while also getting the weight out over my toes.

Two workouts ago I realized my mistake and started sitting down instead of back.  Immediately everything felt easier and more 'centered' if that makes any sense.  In a previous workout post, I likened it to feeling like all my levers were shorter--visualizing a rhino versus a giraffe.  In my 5' 9", 230lb body, squatting like a giraffe goes against all form and it's no wonder I was suddenly 10% less strong.

Today's workout was almost a repeat of my workout from December 6.  I again did cluster singles with 405 lbs but stepped up the pace a bit.…

2011 in the books, 2012 first workout

2011 was a tough year from a weight management standpoint.  Started the year at 250 lbs, managed to lose 20  lbs by June, gained 10 lbs back by September and finished the year at 230 lbs.  This recent article in the New York Times does an excellent job describing the challenges in keeping weight off if you've been obese.  I dislike having to be obsessive about caloric intake and exercise but it appears to be the only way to ensure long-term success.  For 2012, I want there to be less yo-yo'ing and a steady drop in bodyweight to 205 lbs.

2011 was a good year for workouts.  I got into the gym 138 times, a high of 20 workouts in April and a low of 8 in February (came down with shingles--not fun).  I experimented with significantly higher workout frequencies during a 6 week period bracketing the month of April and experienced excellent results.  While I preferred that training schedule, the realities of work/life/gym balance did not allow for that schedule to be held for the durat…