Showing posts from October, 2012

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 …

Powerlifting USA memories, April 1989 issue

I found a stack of old Powerlifting USA magazines that I saved from when I first started powerlifting.  It's fun to look at them now, 20+ years later to see what has changed and what hasn't.  This issue was always one of my favorites because O.D. Wilson was on the cover.   He was not only super-humanly strong but ridiculously huge.  I never had the privilege of seeing him lift in person but I remember seeing him in the crowd at the 1988 USPF Senior Nationals and he made Mike Hall look normal sized.   Mike Hall was probably 6'3" and at least 365 lbs.  Their true weights were unknown because the scale at that Sr. Nats didn't go high enough to weigh them.
Yes, that's a regulation 7' powerlifting bar in those two pics of O.D. Wilson.  He's collar to collar in that squat picture--that's how us normal sized folk look with a 5' bar.  Using a 32" wide bench press grip, it's still barely wider than the mid-width grips endorsed by many top raw …

Accessory work and some conditioning work

We've been having busy weekends lately so I've been able to take advantage of the extra recovery time.  However, I have started feeling like I need that third session of the week just to keep the blood flowing so I was glad that we had no weekend obligations this weekend.

I wanted to hit the Concept2 rower to start off the session for two reasons:  One, I haven't been on one in a long, long time and I felt like the movement would be a good warm up.  Two, I need to add some conditioning work to my routine and with the weather changing and weekends being busy, Viv and I haven't had the opportunity for a long bike ride for a few weeks now.  I decided I'd start off easy and just do 2000 metres.  It felt pretty good and I tried to push the last 500 meters with a bit of a sprint.  That gassed me pretty quickly but I held on and finished the 2000 metres in 8:15.  According to Concept2's online logbook, that ranks me 20th out of 30 Canadian males between the ages of 4…

Squat doubles and speed deadlifts, 9 weeks out

If I were 6 weeks out from the meet, this week would've been the first session of squat doubles.  Now that I'm 9 weeks out due to an apparently very controversial decision to reschedule the provincial classic championships, I decided to stay on my former schedule for this week and use the sessions as an opportunity to evaluate my progress so far.  Even though the new date of the meet is far less than ideal, the extra three weeks is a nice buffer to throw in a 'do over' week or two if I've managed to mess something up (like my diet, thanks to far too much Thanksgiving eating).

My plan for today was to work up to five sets of two in the squat.  I ended up going up to a top set of 425x2.  This represents about 93% of my 1 RM from the last meet.  I decided not to push any higher because I wanted to get acclimated to handling heavier reps with my revised squat form.  After my fifth set of two, I did three sets of three with 84% to work on speed and technique.  These wen…

Is the cost of powerlifting equipment really an issue?

One of the criticisms of equipped powerlifting nowadays is that it's too expensive.  I thought that too.  However, I just happened to have an copy of Powerlifting USA from May 1993 handy so I reviewed all of the ads for squat suits and bench shirts (there was only one, the Inzer Blast shirt) to see what it really cost to compete back in the day.

Notice the discounts based on quantity purchases?  That's because those darn suits and shirts blew out all the time.  You needed one to train in and an unused suit for the competition.  Training suits were usually competition suits that survived the competition intact.  You almost never wore a training suit in a competition because they had a very finite number of repetitions in them before they blew out.  Not only were they fragile, you didn't get much out of them.  So, at least you didn't need to take very many training reps in them because they didn't require much in the way of a learning curve.  Nobody, I mean nobody ev…

9 weeks out again, Bench press testing

Due to an apparent need to accommodate more lifters than expected, the powers that be decided to re-schedule the date of the Ontario Powerlifting Association's Classic Provincial Championships to December 15 and 16th instead of the originally scheduled November 24th.  Nothing like having to re-jig a training schedule right when the lifting is starting to get heavier.  On the plus side, I have three more weeks to get better at the lifts.  On the minus side, the meet is now very close to Christmas and alot of sub-junior and junior lifters are now finding the meet conflicts with exam schedules.  I'll be curious if the date change results in fewer lifters being available to lift.  That would be a shame since this is the first standalone Classic Provincial Championships.

With all that being said, I had an exceptionally good bench press session tonight.  If I were prone to the hand-wringing over good workouts and bad workouts that tends to trouble some newer lifters, I'd scour m…

7 weeks out, hard deadlifts, easy squats

I decided to adjust my poundages for tonight's workout.  Instead of using 75% of my 1 RM for 5 sets of 3 in the squat, I upped the weight to 78% or 355 lbs.  Since I had moved my heavy triples in the squat so well last week, I decided that on easy squat week, that I'd increase the intensity a little bit, knowing that I wouldn't likely be sacrificing any bar speed.

Another factor in my decision was that I'm starting to feel more and more comfortable with my improved squat technique and I wanted to increase the loading a bit in order to take advantage of better mechanical efficiency.  My  5 sets of 3 with 355 lbs were all fast and very comfortable.  I felt like there was just a bit of residual fatigue going into my scheduled heavy doubles in the deadlift but the eventual carryover from better hip involvement will pay off in time.

Deadlifts were originally scheduled to be 4 sets of 2, ramped but I could tell after my second set that I didn't have enough in the tank fo…

Bench press, 7 weeks out, still loving newbie gains

Training is going really, really well right now.  There are a few things that are different in the past 3 months that may be having an effect.  One, my shoulders no longer hurt.  This is obviously a huge factor.  Two, I found my old training log from 1992 and decided to implement that training schedule that worked for me back in the day.  Three, I've started eating a decent quantity of nuts and pumpkin seeds in the form of various trail mix formulations.

Whatever the relative contributions of the various changes to my training context are, I'm pretty happy that I've been experiencing 'newbie gains' virtually every workout.  I may not be increasing the weight lifted every workout but so far, I've been able to add repetition volume and I look forward to every session without any accompanying aches or pains.

Bench Press:  135x10, 185x10, 225x3, 250x3, 275x3, 295x3, 295x3, 295x3, 295x2, 285x2

add Titan Ram:  315x4, 315x2, failed on third rep attempt

Dips:  10, 8, 8