Showing posts from April, 2012

Remembering the L.A. Riots and how they changed my life's direction

I was reminded yesterday and today that this was the 20 yr anniversary of the L.A. Riots.  While I didn't remember these were the dates of the beginnings of the riots, the L.A. Riots did serve as motivation that would soon change the direction of my life.

I was born in Northern California but from my earliest memory was raised in Southern California.  I went to college at UCLA and after (regretfully) expending minimal effort to graduate with the most mediocre of grade point averages, I remained in West Los Angeles sharing a small 1 bedroom apartment with two other roommates.    My first 'real' job, meaning one with career aspirations, was with Enterprise Rent A Car.  Back in 1991, Enterprise Rent A Car was still a relatively unknown car rental company despite having just passed the 100,000 cars in fleet mark.  Those were still the days of O.J. Simpson hurdling through airports and most people, if asked to name a car rental company,would've named either Hertz or Avis.  …

Yesterday's front squat and bench press workout

Yesterday was squat assistance and heavy bench press day but on account of plans to finally go see "The Hunger Games" with Vivian, I didn't have time to document it right away.   Turns out the movie was very entertaining and despite what I'd heard about many 'shaky cam' scenes, it didn't induce motion sickness like that movie, "Battle Los Angeles".  I actually had to walk out of that one since it was filmed almost entirely with handheld cameras.  I also can't play most first person shooter video games for the same reason.  That's probably good for me since the last thing I need is another excuse to sit on my ass for hours on end.

My back was still pretty tired after heavy deficit deadlifts two days prior so despite my intention of training at a higher intensity level, it was not to be.  I dropped my front squat weight back down to 225 (74% of 1 RM) and  finished out with sets of 5.  The last repetition of my last set was a grinder but it…

Deficit deadlift PR and the end of an era

Yesterday was a sad day in Powerlifting with the announcement that Powerlifting USA magazine is ceasing publication.  For those of us that started powerlifting back in the 80's, PL USA was the only real source for powerlifting news.   The ADFPA used to send out quarterly newsletters to its members but if you wanted to see meet results from every federation across the country plus the major international competitions, PL USA was the only source.  In addition, there were very few powerlifting books available.  Terry Todd's, "Inside Powerlifting" and Fred Hatfield's book, "Powerlifting, A Scientific Approach" were basically it.  To get any other insights into training routines, you had to mail order Mike Bridges' or Rickey Dale Crain's training manuals.  Powerlifting USA was filled with training routines from the greats of the day and for many of us, it was the first exposure to how the elites built their totals.

Mark Bell of Supertraining Gym post…

Big improvement over the last volume squat day

Pre-workout supplement:  600 mg ibuprofen.

My last volume squat day was on April 10 and it didn't go that great.  The plan on that day was to do three sets with 425 and then three sets with 385.  I didn't feel any speed so I ended up doing fewer total repetitions with those loads and even had to throw in a couple extra sets to get the speed I wanted.

Today, aided by the pre-workout ibuprofen and generally feeling alot more explosive, my workout went much, much better.  I hit my prescribed sets and reps with 425 and all the reps felt fast and in control.  I also hit all my prescribed sets and reps with 385.  Repetition quality at both intensity levels was excellent in that they were both fast and my form felt as good as it's ever felt.

Squat:  135x10, 225x10, 315x5, 385x3, 425x2x3 sets, 385x4x3 sets.  15 total reps at 82% of my 1 RM and 6 total reps at 90% of my 1 RM.

Overhead presses were next and after last week's OHP PR and my 'from out of nowhere' bench wor…

My bench is back, hope it stays for a while

Yesterday Vivian and I played 18 holes of golf.  As usual I walked and carried my bag.  Out of curiousity, I decided to weigh it to see how heavy it was.  Turns out it's 30 lbs on the dot.  Part of that is due to my putter, a putter by a company called "Heavy Putter".  By itself it weighs almost 4 lbs, over double the weight of a 'normal' putter.  I guess that's why walking 18 holes right now leaves me with sore back and legs the next day.  Still, it was better today than after the first round of the year a couple weeks ago.  I think I'll have to start taking some walks with my weighted vest during the week to build some conditioning.  My body can tolerate static loading as in a squat or deadlift but long-duration, low-intensity work while moving is still more difficult than it should be.

Since my back and legs were not as fresh as they should be, I decided that my front squat workout would be 5 sets of 5 reps with 74% of my 1 RM.  I chose 74% only becaus…

Light deadlift day, quickie workout

"Light" deficit deadlifts and light, 'pump-weight' shoulder presses for today, I was short on time at the gym so I got done about 90% of what I would normally do.  Felt fast and strong though.  A nice change from how I normally feel 6 weeks out from a competition.

I was reminded of an old article that had a method based on Prilepin's chart to measure the relative volume and intensity of a workout.  The article found here: creates a formula for totalling up work sets and assigning a value that reflects volume and intensity.  In the past I had tried to structure my workouts based on the guidelines in the article but over the past couple of years, I had moved away from pre-writing my workloads.  After re-reading the article, I decided I will start monitoring my volumes and intensities based on the article's guidelines to see how the values correlate to the actual movement of my PRs.  Intuitively I believe I h…

Performance enhancing drug enhanced workout

On account of a toothache in a wisdom tooth that is long overdue for extraction, I've been taking 600 mg of Ibuprofen twice a day.  The toothache is also a convenient excuse to train under the influence of the vaunted Vitamin I.  Normally I prefer to train un-enhanced so as to better hear my body's stop signs but today, there was no avoiding it.

It was glorious.  Ibuprofen makes my body feel 10 years younger.  No minor aches, no creakiness in the joints, no distractions from exerting as much force as possible.  This is 'light' week which means lighter overall volume in the squats based on working up through heavy singles to a training max and then the customary three back off sets.  Also on the schedule was overhead presses worked on the same scheme.

There are sayings along the lines of, "if you're the strongest guy in the gym, find a new gym" but what about if you're the only guy in the gym?  While Monday may be International Bench Press day with the…

Front squats, blah, bench press, no pain!

Even though I deadlifted heavy two days ago, I have almost no DOMS in the back and traps.  This is not typical and makes me wonder if it'll show up tomorrow.  The only evidence of Friday's workout is some fairly persistent pain in the SI joint area.  Or, at least it feels like that area since the pain when standing or bending over radiates right from both sides of my sacrum.

Anyways, today was Front Squat and Bench Press day so SI joint pain or not, Vivian and I hit the gym.  I could tell from my first set of front squats that these were going to suck.  Not only did my SI joint area feel less than happy to carry a load, I had no pop at all.  I was only able to work up to two top sets at 255 lbs and even a back-off set with 225 felt like a ton.  Hopefully things are recovered for back squat day on Tueday.

Front Squats:  135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 255x3, 255x2, 225x5

After feeling like my back had no power at all, I was actually looking forward to lying down for the next exercise.  I…

Friday the 13th deadlifting

I felt good going into my heavy deadlift workout.  I never look forward to deadlifting but things felt fully recovered and I knew I'd be able to do some decent pulling.  My original plan called for a top set of 545x2 from a 2" deficit but I changed that because I wanted to pull 565 for 1 from a deficit.

Deficit Deadlifts (2" deficit):  315x5, 405x3, 495x3, 545x1, 565x1 (PR)

The 545x1 was as fast as I've ever pulled it from a deficit so I was full of confidence prior to my top set with 565.  The 565 was hard but not tunnel vision, time-slowing down hard.  I never needed to grind even though it also never seemed to get out of low gear.  I didn't have to kick it into "vision quest" mode so I know there are more pounds in the tank for my last heavy deficit deadlift workout in two weeks.

Next were barbell shrugs from the floor with 495 lbs.  I was still a bit gassed from the heavy singles so my first set didn't move that easily.  The shrugs were difficu…

Gym was closed for Easter

The gym was closed for Easter Sunday and Vivian and I had a tee time on Saturday so that meant I missed my front squat and bench press workout.  However, I walked the course and carried my bag and after sitting on my ass all Winter, what author John Feinstein once called, "A Good Walk Spoiled" absolutely, positively destroyed my legs and lower back.  Even if I had been able to lift on Sunday, I would've been good for nothing as even walking to the kitchen for food blew up my lower back with a killer low back pump.

Monday night was the night of a NHL Playoff fantasy league draft so I had a convenient excuse for skipping a workout on International Bench Press day.  The can of Guinness and the piece of pizza I ate while picking arguably the worst possible team (I know almost nothing about the hockey) did help rejuvenate my recuperative powers--that's the story I was sticking to at the time.

By tonight I was ready to squat.  I was but my body wasn't.  Everything felt…

Your mother doesn't work at the gym


So I get to the gym and right next to one of the power racks is someone's chalk mess.  Normally the Oakville YMCA is a pretty low intensity facility even with their recent free weight room upgrade to 6 half power racks.  The place is clean and with the exception of the power racks and a general lack of mirrors in the power rack room, pretty un-intimidating.  This is actually appropriate since the surrounding suburbia comprises some of the most valuable real estate in Southern Ontario.  The club doesn't cater to hardcore fitness enthusiasts, it caters to lululemon wearing soccer moms, C-level professionals, the children of these affluent members, and the rest of whatever riff-raff finds their way there (that's my demographic).

Suffice it to say, the operators of the facility try to run a clean ship since the Mercedes and BMW driving crowd doesn't like grunge.  That's why it pissed me off to see someone leaving behind their chalk mess--not because I drive a nice…

Missed a rep on "light day"

In my current training plan, I alternate heavy volume weeks with light volume weeks.  For squats, my "heavy days" include about 8-10 total repetitions at 90%+ weights and another 10-15 repetitions at 80%+ weights.  Usually this takes 6-7 sets.  On "light days,"  I plan for 3 repetitions (three sets of 1) at 90%+ weights and another 10-15 repetitions at 80%+ weights.

Today was a "light day" so the plan was to take my last warm-up set of 365 for 3 (technically this is my first work set since 365 is 81% of my current 1 RM) and then hit three heavy singles, as if in a meet.  After that, my 80%+ sets would be 385 for three sets--the same back-off weight used in my workout last week.

The singles went well, instead of increasing the weight each time, I did one single at 405 and two singles at 435.  The 435 was heavy but not a grind, a good practice weight that should eventually be a safety opener weight at my next meet if things aren't feeling excellent on …