Showing posts from July, 2013

Week 5, Day 3, foundation phase

Felt good about squatting tonight but when I got to my work weight, it was clear I wasn't fully recovered for whatever reason.  Rather than reinforce a bad pattern, not too mention it was causing pain, I shut down squats.  Moved to bench presses where I began to incorporate the advice I received on Wednesday.  I did 5 sets of 3 with 225 (approx 65% of my 1 RM) and then did 5 sets of 2-board presses with 275.  I had planned to go heavier but it turns out I'm fairly weak from that position so I stayed at 275 to build a feel for the movement.

I'll hit the 2 board presses again next week and hopefully I'll start seeing some improvement.  It's interesting how reducing the ROM made the movement harder.  I guess I've been getting a fair bit of speed from the chest.   Anyways, if the shorter ROM saves wear and tear on the shoulders and also builds some extra speed in the lift, it'll be a win/win.

Finished up with some arm work, hopefully that benefits the bench pre…

Week 5, Day 2, foundation phase

Got to the gym today for bench press and barbell rows and saw that the one experienced lifter at the gym was there.  I had heard he was training during the day to beat the summer crowds so I was surprised to see him this evening.  I said hello and we spent a few minutes catching up.  He was working on some rack pulls to train his hip lockout (he eventually worked up to a set of 10 with 945!).  I set up for bench press and two sets into my work sets he mentioned that my rep tempo was too slow.  I was using a tempo of 2-1-x or 2 seconds down, 1 sec pause, as fast as possible on the way up.  The only problem was, the weight I was using was slowing down the concentric phase enough that the total repetition time was taking in excess of 5 seconds.

He recommended a total repetition time of 4 seconds or less and suggested that I lower the bar quicker so I'd be able to lift it faster after the pause.  Sure enough, changing up the tempo dramatically sped up the bar speed on subsequent sets …

Week 5, Day 1, foundation phase

I felt fully recovered from last week's work so everything was a go for this week's leg session.  I had thought I might need to dial it back a little after being sore all week but things felt great so I bumped up the weights.  I also decided to ditch the pause squats and instead do regular reps with an emphasis on speed through the transition in the hole.  I've got 4 weeks left, including this one, so it's time to start learning to apply my improved core strength to a powerful squat motion.  When I get back to my 12 week meet prep schedule, I'll add the pause squats back in on my lighter squat day.

For the pre-exhaust leg presses, I worked up to a new top load for a 5 rep set.  These are finally starting to improve and I'm starting to notice some carryover to my squats as well.  I may have to find a way to keep some leg pressing in my schedule for my meet prep weeks as well.

After leg presses, I moved to beltless squats.  I needed an extra warm-up set with 135 …

Week 4, Day 4, foundation phase

I was still a little sore from the previous sessions this week but I was looking forward to this training session to see how some higher intensity efforts would feel.  I planned to work up to a beltless squat triple with 405 and then work up to a gym max in the bench.

As I arrived at the gym, I noticed a van in the parking lot wrapped with the KBell Academy logo.  When I got back into personal training in late 2008, one of the first certifications I got after my personal trainer certification was a kettlebell trainer class.  The certification was through the KBell Academy via a company discount for Goodlife Fitness employees.  Ajamu Bernard was the trainer and I was curious if he was at the Oakville YMCA to train some of their employees.

Although I haven't been involved in the fitness industry for a couple of years now, I consider the kettlebell certification the most useful training class I took while I was there.  Not only was it very useful with my personal training clients, bu…

Week 4, Day 3, Foundation phase

My legs were pretty sore but I figured they'd get through my deadlift work fine since my exercise order is designed to keep the weights on the lower end of my 'max effort' scale.  Started with some overhead presses to keep up the pressing volume while not over-working the same angles.
I didn't push the overhead presses too hard because there was some tightness from yesterday's bench presses.  Got in some decent work though and it was a good warm up for the deadlift work to follow.
Started with snatch-grip stiff legged deadlifts.  Worked up to a max of 365x5 and my speed was better than my last session with this weight eleven days ago.  After my three work sets of snatch grip SLDL's, I went directly into three sets of three snatch grip deadlifts.  I started with 405 and finished with a triple at 455.  That final triple was pretty tough but I was pretty happy to increase both the weight and volume over my last deadlift session.
I think I'll keep the 'ever…

Week 4, Day 2, Foundation phase

My legs were pretty DOMS'd up from yesterday's leg workout so I thought I'd do a little front squatting after my bench presses and barbell rows to get the blood flowing and loosen them up.  What I failed to consider was my lack of skill with the front squat movement.  While the weight felt light from the waist down, it took way too much concentration to perform the reps in proper form.  Rather than doing three sets of five with 225, I ended up only doing one set.  I'll have to progress that accessory movement over the next 4 weeks.

A big reason for splitting bench presses and barbell rows from my leg day was to leave some time and energy to do some direct arm work.  It's something that I haven't spent much time on and I figure I'll need the work if I'm going to continue to build my bench press.  I started with just three sets of EZ bar curls and three sets of rope pushdowns.  I'll eventually add in dumbbell hammer curls and some dumbbell tricep exte…

Week 4, Day 1, foundation phase

There were no training sessions in week 3 due to some business travel and a lack of desire to train.  I spent Tuesday and Wednesday of last week up at the Westin Trillium House at Blue Mountain as a guest of Kia Canada (along with about 30 other fleet customers) as they rolled out their 2014 product line.

It was a very nice place, I can imagine it must be very busy in the winter when the ski hills are covered with snow and southwestern Ontarians hard up for some skiing flock to one of the few ski hills within comfortable driving distance.  In the summer, it seems pretty quiet.  I'm not much of a winter sports person but I've been skiing there many years ago.  It's a small hill if you're used to skiing in the Rockies but you take what you can get.
Since Kia Canada was gracious enough to pick up our rooms, parking and all food and beverages, naturally on the Tuesday night, people lost their minds.  There was an open bar at a couple establishments in the village and appar…

Patience and time lead to long term strength gains, an older lifter's perspective

Ever feel like it's taken years of doing something to finally get to the point where you feel like you're ready to start making progress?

I do.  When I started lifting weights again with a goal to compete after a 16 year layoff, I had no idea where I would end up, only that I would likely need to continue for the rest of my life.  Since this originally started as my version of obesity therapy, I knew that if I ever stopped, I'd probably regain the weight that I had lost.  Being obese at 41 was uncomfortable so I could only imagine the effects at 50 or 60 or older would be worse.

Since I had weight trained and competed when I was younger, I didn't know how much stronger I could become.  I wasn't a beginner and didn't expect to enjoy the honeymoon period of "newbie gains".  In addition, my blood tests indicated I had low testosterone and TV commercials and print advertising aimed at my cohort suggested "consulting my physician" for pharmaceuti…

Week 2, Day 2 Foundation phase

Met up with my teammates at the Toronto Rex powerlifting garage for my deadlift and bench day.   Felt good to get some work in a team environment.   I normally deadlift hard every other week but since I was doing snatch grip stiff legged deadlifts followed by snatch grip deadlifts I figured I could hit them every week since the poundages lifted were lower.

Turns out that was a wrong assumption.  Even thought the weights used were lower, the extra focus on the hamstrings and lower back still impacted my recovery ability.  I ended up cutting my deadlifts short by two sets because my lower back was already done.  Next week I'll give the lower back a rest.

Since I had workout partners, I had them video my first 365x5 set of snatch grip stiff legged deadlifts.  I wanted to make sure I was getting a good hinge at the hip.  This set was pretty hard so my form isn't super tight but good enough for what I want to accomplish.

365x5 snatch grip stiff-legged deadlifts
Bench Press:  all re…

Week 2, Day 1 Foundation phase

Today was a good, difficult session.  I increased the weight used on the leg press and was able to hit the prescribed set volumes for this phase of my training.  I got through the session in 80 minutes so I'm not too far off the pace I would like to maintain.

I noticed just a bit of SI joint irritation from the heavier leg presses so I may dial back the weight and increase the repetitions instead.  Either way, I was able to get through 6 sets of 3 beltless, pause squats.  My legs were pretty shaky by the time I left the gym and as I log this session, I'm already starting to get sore.  It was definitely tough to get through the entire thing but at least I didn't feel nauseous this time.

Leg Press:  450x10, 540x10, 630x10, 680x5

Pause Squats: beltless, 135x10, 225x5, 275x5, 315x3x6 sets

Barbell Rows:  135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 225x5

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 275x3x6 sets

26 sets, 80 minutes