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Showing posts from August, 2012

Accessory day, squats, bench, romanians

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I made it to the gym this morning.  I really didn't want to but I won't have time tonight.  It's amazing how bad I feel in the mornings because once the session is over, I really like how I feel the rest of the day.  I'm committed to making this schedule work so I'm going to have to really focus on getting through the morning haze, stiffness and pain so I can enjoy the payoff later.

I'm starting to get a feel for how I need to load my accessory day sessions so they enhance my main sessions without impacting my ability to recover for them.  I was a little pressed for time due to my morning procrastination but the subsequent emphasis on training economy ended up working out very well.

I switched out front squats for high bar back squats to reduce some extra stress on my elbows and kept the weight on my work sets to 275 lbs (60% of my 1 RM).  This weight is heavy enough to require my attention but light enough that I can concentrate on form and speed.  I've be…

12 weeks out, breaking out the Rehbands

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The other day a guy the Toronto Blue Jays drafted and spent about a million dollars on got suspended for 50 games because he tested positive for a banned stimulant, DMAA.  He claimed he unknowingly ingested the banned substance because it was an ingredient in an over the counter product.  I can't begin to know the motivations of a professional athlete so I can't really judge his actions other than to conclude he's a bit of a moron when it comes to protecting his ability to earn a living playing baseball.
I do wonder why pre-workout stimulants are so popular.  Actually I don't, it's obvious they sell to those who want the instant gratification.  The only question I have is, if one really needs to get hopped up on the latest designer stimulant just to train now, how are they possibly going to still be training in 10 or 20 years or for the rest of their life?  
I hope they manage to find a way because there are alot of broken down, out of shape middle aged adults tha…

AM bench session and more Titan Ram experimentation

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Vivian treated me to an awesome birthday weekend!  First we drove to Simcoe, Ontario, parked the car and unloaded our bikes for a 10K ride into Port Dover.  While in Port Dover, we had foot-long hotdogs at The Arbor and then some french pastries at The Urban Parisian.  After our meal and snack, we rode back to Simcoe, loaded up the car and drove to a great little Bed and Breakfast called the St Johns Bed and Breakfast.    We had a short nap and then drove back into Port Dover to meet our friends, Marnie and Randy at the famous Erie Beach Hotel for some Lake Erie perch.

While I've had perch a couple of times at other places, none compared to the famous Lake Erie perch served at the Erie Beach Hotel.  Very tasty.  Even though they were out of coconut cream pie (my favourite), the meal was still excellent.  The next morning, we were served a delicious breakfast by the St John BnB owners Lucy and Steve and then made our way to the beach at Long Point.  After soaking up some vitamin D,…

Accessory day, in the morning again

I achieved my goal of making it to the gym this morning but the rest of the session was a whole lot of "meh".

Seemed like my lower back didn't want to loosen up and for some reason, I couldn't keep the bar from slipping off my shoulders during my front squats.  Trying to keep the bar on my shoulders tweaked my right elbow enough that I wasn't able to complete my normal schedule of overhead presses.

I think I'll take the front squats out of the rotation for now and substitute beltless, high-bar pause squats instead.  Finished up with light supersets of barbell hack squats and snatch-grip romanian deadlifts.  I reset the weights to beginner levels to really work on my barbell hack squat technique.  The light weight also worked well as a recovery weight on those romanians.  Overall the intensity and volume for this accessory day was lower than usual but due to the change in routine, it still felt like a valuable session.

Next week, I'm 12 weeks out from my m…

Trying out training in the morning

I'm not a morning person. I love sleeping in on weekends and I don't like to go to bed early. I understand that many people get old and can't sleep much so they wake up super early and go to Tim Horton's to hang out or walk their dog or build ships in a bottle and stuff.  I always thought that if I ever got to retire from working, I'd love to sleep in every day like when I was a kid and summer vacations were spent staying up late and waking up some time after lunch time.

Just about the only thing I'll wake up early for that doesn't include earning a paycheque is a tee time. For some reason, that never bothers me, I guess because I love to play golf.  It's not just the idea of being outside because when I worked at a golf course one summer, waking up at 0'dark thirty to open the club was just as tortuous as waking up early to do anything else other than planting a tee on hole #1.

With all that history and baggage, I decided that I was going to give…

first workout with a Titan Ram

This past weekend I attended the Niagara Open, an Ontario Powerlifting Association powerlifting meet hosted by the Niagara Powerlifting Club.  A couple of my Toronto Rex Powerlifting club teammates were lifting and I was there to support them.   While I was there I had the opportunity to pick up a Titan Ram from the Canadian Titan Support Systems rep, Louis Levesque.  The Ram is similar to the Slingshot or the Metal Catapult.

I asked expert bench presser Curd Hos of Hostyle Conditioning how he used this type of equipment in his bench press training and he said they used it as an assistance exercise or on speed day.  This sounded good to me so I took it to the gym today to see how it worked.

My regular bench press sets went very well and I was able to increase my volume at my top work weight for the third straight week.  After hitting three sets of 5 at my top weight of 265 lbs, I put the Ram on and tried it out.  I was able to do triples at 275 and 295 very easily.  Despite the bar m…

Your first time...on the platform

Your first time can be intimidating, scary, mind-blowing, over too fast, disappointing, invigorating, empowering, embarrassing, and/or discouraging.  After it's over you can't wait to do it again, you feel like you should've waited, you never want to go through that again, or some combination of all three.  Ideally you would like to have someone with experience to guide you through the process but sometimes circumstances dictate that you have to fumble towards the ecstasy of white lights and hopefully new PR's.

One of the hardest parts of the process can be deciding to actually sign up and enter your first meet.  In the old days (pre-Internet), you usually got involved because you trained with people that competed and got drawn in by their enthusiasm and goal-oriented training.  If you trained by yourself or weren't exposed to competitive lifters at your gym, it is entirely likely that you would have never even known how to get involved in powerlifting unless you h…

Squat, deadlift, and hook grip training

In the training schedule I've programmed for myself, I'm alternating hard weeks of squat and deadlift.  Today is hard squat work and easy deadlift work.  Next week, it switches to easy squat work and hard deadlift work.  The easy days are 5 sets of 3 with 340 (75% of my previous competition max in the squat) and 3 sets of 3 with 465 (75% of my previous deadlift competition max).  These loadings will stay the same throughout the next 14 weeks.  The goal is to train those loads for speed so they're easy only in the sense that bar speed should never be a grind.
For my squat workout I decided that I would add the belt back in for my work sets.  Since the meet prep officially starts this week, it's time to start loading up.  The goal today was 5 sets of 5 with the last set of 5 being an "AMRAP" or as many reps as possible.  Using the Doug Young method of progression, every rep past number 5 on the last set adds 5 lbs to the weight used for the next hard squat week…

14 weeks out, Bench Presses and Dips

Prior to my shoulder troubles of the past 18 months, I had always included bar dips, weighted and un-weighted, in my routine.  I've always gotten great carryover to my bench press from them and I've been missing them for a long time.  During the time spent letting my shoulders recover to the point where they can now tolerate a decent bench press workout, I've been hoping for the day when they'll also tolerate dips.

Today I tested out some bodyweight dips after my bench press workout and things went well.  There was no pain and I was able to work pretty hard.  My triceps and shoulders were pretty shot from the bench presses but it felt good to dip again.  If I can continue to increase my volume and intensity of my bench press sets and start to include some dipping volume, I am very confident that I'll be able to bench press my goal weight of 150 kgs on November 24.  It wouldn't be an all-time PR but after the shoulder issues I've had, it would mark a return …

Memorable Powerlifting books

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There are so many books and e-books available on strength training and powerlifting nowadays that it's hard to remember back to the days when there were very few resources available.  Here are some of the books (all out of print now, I think) that I used to read over and over hoping to find a nugget or two of knowledge that I might have missed before:

In addition to copies of Arnold Schwarzenegger's "Education of a Bodybuilder" and "Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding", my other cherished book on the subject is Bill Pearl's "Keys to the Inner Universe".  Unlike Arnold's encyclopedia, Pearl's book is decidedly low-tech, filled with illustrations of just about every exercise and its variations that existed in its day.  Bill Pearl was built like a brick house and since I had always wanted to be strong, his book provided an endless supply of exercise ideas for me to try when I was a kid.  While there are no barbell glute bridges, reverse h…

Supplemental day, 15 weeks out

Next week will be the 14th week out from the Ontario Powerlifting Association Classic Championships on November24th.  It seems like a long way out but time flies so I decided I should create a plan.  Since I still have alot of work to do building a base of strength, I'm going to use a fairly simple progression of 5's, 3's in the squat and 2's in the deadlift and 2's in the squat and 1's in the deadlift, spending about 4 weeks on each progression.  I'm not plugging in any percentages until the final week when I work up to my openers.  To determine weights to use, I'm going to use a version of the Doug Young methodology where he simply did as many reps as possible his final set and based on how many reps he exceeded his nominal rep goal, he added 5lbs for each rep.

As an example, if I'm on a 5's week in the squat, if on my 5th set, I do 7 reps with the weight, I'll add 10 lbs to the weight used for the next workout.  Similar process if I'm…

goofing around with McKayla

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The "McKayla is not impressed" meme came out a few days ago and resulted in someone creating a tumblr website.  On that website you can download your own cut-out of McKayla to incorporate into your own pictures.
It seemed like fun so I downloaded it and tried to make a few of my own.  At first I just used Microsoft Paint and pasted her image on top of pictures.  After seeing other pictures on the "McKayla is not impressed" website, I decided I needed to learn how to put her into pictures, not just on top of them.
I don't have any image editing programs like Photoshop but the Chrome apps page has a program called "Pixlr Editor" that I've been trying to use.  It's been a challenge but at least I figured out how to kind of put her into pictures.  I don't have a real idea yet on how to try to match up colouring and shadowing to better match the original picture but it'll be fun to learn.  One thing I've discovered, my wireless MS mouse…

Beltless squat and deadlift day

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Ever since my workouts at the Lakeview Hills Golf Resort's time capsule of a gym, I've been doing my squat/deadlift workouts without a belt.  Since I'm working on squat technique and deadlift repetition work and the weights are relatively low compared to my competition 1 RM, it just seemed like a good time to go beltless.  I get quite a bit of carryover from a belt and doing this work without it is a good way to keep me from over-doing things.

Squat technique work is slowly improving and I'm starting to get some speed back in the movement now that I'm  starting to get used to the new sequencing.  My adductors on my right side were a little balky so I had to  re-ramp my weights mid-workout to let things warm-up better.

Deadlifts were supposed to be a reset week but I felt good so I pushed it a bit.  The top set was hard as the squats had taken a little starch out of my pulls.  I think it's about time to start alternating hard weeks so that one session I'm …

Bench Pressing and reviewing my squat training

Back on July 15, 2011, I wrote a training log entry called, "an old dog might be learning a new trick."  In that post, I wrote about how I had discovered the Rippetoe video on "fixing hip drive" and thought that this pattern was something I should incorporate.  Within that training log entry I wrote:

"My quads are sore. For some reason I had thought that cue would cause more hip extension recruitment--Rippetoe calls it 'fixing hip drive'--but when I think about it again, I realize that the cue, for me, is all about knee extension--the hip extension acts in coordination with the knee extension to keep from dumping the weight over one's head."

After a year of training that squat pattern, my competition results have been less than impressive. While my training has suggested there has been some improvement, my competitive results have shown no improvement.  In hindsight, I learned a new trick but maybe not the right trick.  I don't think the tim…

Box squats and barbell hack squats

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First off, I just read a new e-book by Jim Steel of Bas Barbell Club called the Book of Programs.  It's an excellent compendium of programs that will get you strong.  It doesn't have all the bells and whistles of the over-marketed programs one commonly sees but what it does have is a creator that has actually been in the trenches and gotten thousands of people stronger, not just internet strong but real-life strong.

Second, a fellow lifter whose training log I follow recently posted a video with his latest training session of some barbell hack squats that he has incorporated into his routine.  It's such an old-school exercise that I literally haven't done it in over 20 years but after seeing it again, a lightbulb went off in my head and I decided I needed to try them again.

Today is my supplemental training day so I added not only the barbell hack squats but also some box squats.  I added the box squats because I need to re-train my squat pattern and the box squat is a…

Squat and Deadlift technique work

Since I felt like I had hit a wall with respect to my squat poundages, it was opportune that a fellow lifter (much more experienced than I) had suggested that I wasn't fully utilizing my hips when he saw me in the gym 3 weeks ago.  Since then, I've lowered the weight I'm using in order to drill the correct form.

I saw him in the gym today and asked for his feedback.  His comment that my upper back was in a much better position but that I still wasn't getting the hip thrust in early enough in the squat.  As this is an action that I haven't used ever, I'm very weak at it but I can readily see how it will benefit my lifts once I've adapted to it.  In order to try to feel the movement better, I dropped the weight down quite a bit and practiced form.

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, 275x5, 275x5, 275x5, 275x3, 135x10

Enough load to require some effort but light enough that I could concentrate on trying to groove my technique.  It will probably take a number of weeks to f…