Showing posts from December, 2013

13 weeks out, day 1, bench press and rowing

Yesterday wasn't the last session of the year after all.  Since I won't be back  into the gym until Thursday, I felt it was too long to go in between bench press sessions so I went back to the gym to bench press and row on International Bench Press Day (also known as Steak and Cheese day or Monday).

I guess all the regular bros were taking this week off to prep for tomorrow's New Year's Eve festivities because the gym was pretty empty.  I figured they'd all be in to get that final pump for all of tomorrow's selfies (bottle service yo!) but maybe they're waiting until tomorrow afternoon.

Since this would be my last bench press session until Thursday, I decided to go heavier and take advantage of not being pre-fatigued from squatting as I normally do on squat/bench press days.  I worked up to a paused single with 320 and a miss at 325.  That's exactly what I was able to do back in November a few days before the meet where I pressed 330 so I guess I'm…

14 weeks out, day 3, low bar squats and deficit deadlifts and 2013 recap

Last session of 2013 and the end to a year that started off with much promise and ended with a bit of a fizzle.

Training consistency:

2011:  138 training sessions and 3 competitions.
2012:  124 training sessions and 3 competitions.
2013:  111 training sessions and 2 competitions.

Health issues, a cruise, and a death in the family all impacted my training consistency over the last 7 months of 2013.  I hit a raw PR total and raw Wilks PR in June and after that the only high points were a squat PR in November.  I was able to get back to a regular schedule in December so I'm optimistic that training will go well leading into Nationals the first week of April.

I maintained a bodyweight of between 250 and 255 lbs from January to September and then lost weight due to gallbladder issues.  The first drop from 253 to 241 was fast but I've slowly dropped down to 238 just prior to the holidays.  The weight loss wasn't problematic since I plan to compete at 231 in April but it took so…

14 weeks out, day 2, high bar squats and bench presses

The Y wasn't very busy tonight but there were enough globo gym goers that it made me wonder about something.  I read a lot of stuff on the internet that makes me shake my head, not because it's stupid (although a fair bit of it is) but because many of the ideas shared would've died a natural death in the pre-internet days.  In the old days before the internet, some of the weird ideas that permeate today's internet would've never been spread.   They would've started and ended with the guy that percolated the thought.

One thing I read, mostly by beginners, is that they don't want to use weightlifting shoes or belts or wraps or straps or anything that is used to assist the strength building process.  This despite the fact that they insist on using barbells and power racks.  At least the guys that lift rocks and tree trunks and odd shaped implements got that part consistent.  While I get what they're trying to do, philosophically, it doesn't make much s…

14 weeks out, Day 1, double pause deadlifts and pressing

Missed my normal training session yesterday because the gym was closed on account of the ice storm that savaged most of southern Ontario.  We were lucky in that we never lost power nor suffered any damage at the hands of ice-laden trees falling.  Neighborhoods just a few blocks south of us in older parts of the city were not so lucky.  Old trees fell left and right causing power outages and blocked roads.  So, no gym yesterday and an extra day of rest.

The other day, an article by Greg Nuckols ran on the T-Nation website.  The article was about a deadlift variation called double paused deadlifts.  Since Greg is a lifter and a coach whose recommendations I trust, I decided to implement them for my warm up sets.  My deadlift has historically been my best lift but I still feel like it could use a boost since it's been feeling heavier and heavier lately.

Because I was doing deficit deadlifts with about a 2" deficit, I tried to make the first pause right about 2" off the gro…

15 weeks out, day 2, low bar squat and bench press and Halifax donairs

It all started earlier this week when one of my facebook friends posted a link to the following onion-like news satire article:  Even though I'm not a native Torontonian, apparently I've lived here long enough that I've picked up on the idea that Toronto is the centre of the Canadian universe.  Acting like an ignorant American infused with Torontonian superiority (guilty of both charges), I commented that you can get donairs anywhere in Toronto.  It was then that I asked another friend from Truro, Nova Scotia what was with maritimers and donairs.  He explained that the "Halifax donair" was different than the donairs served pretty much anywhere else.  He pointed me to this Globe and Mail article that explained it well enough to get my mouth watering for a try.

Luckily I work near the Milton location of Halifax Donair and Pizza so I planned to go there today for lunch. I b…

15 weeks out, day 1, squat drop sets, rest pause bench press

I weighed 238 this morning.  That was a bit of a surprise since I weighed 239.5 on Thursday morning.  I guess I was in one of those 'whooshes' in the normal ebb and flow of weight loss.   Ideally I'd like to lose weight slower so as to not end up in the mid 220's by Nationals but I really don't have too much control over it at the moment. I'm eating as much as I can while avoiding eating in quantities that bring on gallstone attacks and apparently that means I'm losing weight at about a pound a week.  It's been 10 weeks since the first bad gallstone attack that I originally thought was the flu and my weight has gone from 253 to 238 (12 pounds came off the week of the first attack and never went back on).  I didn't put 2 and 2 together and figure out what was happening until after the second attack on November 6th.  Since November 6th, I've been free of any issues but I'm also eating less and I've lost 3 pounds since my last meet on Novem…

16 weeks out, day 3, squats and bench presses

We got our first big winter dump yesterday and I had to shovel the driveway and sidewalk three and a half times.  Too add to that, our new adopted rescue dachshund, Laverne, had some kind of PTSD reaction to the snow and would shriek and run around about every 5-10 minutes. She was originally a puppy mill rescue from Ohio so maybe the snow brought back bad memories.  This started in the morning and went on all night.  I slept on the couch to keep her company while Vivian tried to sleep upstairs.  She's a light sleeper so she didn't sleep through any of Laverne's panic attacks while I was able to fall asleep pretty quickly after each interruption. Needless to say, after a poor night's sleep and all the shoveling, I was pretty stiff this morning.

Since today was supposed to be squats, 5 sets of 3 with 405, I wasn't sure how the prior day's shoveling and lack of sleep would play out but things ended up going pretty well.  The first set was pretty awful but they g…

16 weeks out, day 2, deadlift and presses

I weighed 239.5 this morning.  First time since the fall of 2012 that I've been south of 240.  That's about 1.7 lbs less than I weighed for the meet 25 days ago.  So, even if I only maintain that pace, it puts me at 233 by Nationals, well within an easy water cut if necessary to make 231.

The other piece of good news (good in that it wasn't bad) was my ultrasound today confirmed there is something going on with my gallbladder.  I won't know until next week or so what my doctor thinks but at least it's been narrowed down to what I suspected.  Keeping my fingers crossed that it's something simple rather than sinister and that it can be managed with diet until after Nationals.

Tonight's session was overhead presses, deficit deadlifts, and bench presses.  Everything felt pretty good and I was able to increase volume with the deadlifts.  My back almost feels fully recovered from the last meet although my speed off the floor is still slower than I would like.  …

16 weeks out, day 1, squats and bench press

It feels really good to be getting in regular sessions the past two weeks.  So far I'm recovering well from the sessions and have been increasing session volume and intensity.  The Christmas break will come at a good time because I'll probably be due for some extra recovery days.  In the meantime, I've got 5 more training days to continue accumulating time under the bar.

Tonight was squat session number three in my current, 3 squat, 1 deadlift, session rotation.  My deadlift session on Thursday will fall 9 days after the last deadlift session, so right about on an every 10 day schedule. Since I'm alternating high bar and low bar sessions, tonight's session was high bar squats.  Rather than hit them with the drop sets, I just did straight sets of 5.  I did a total of 30 repetitions with weights 50% or higher of my 1 RM in the low-bar back squat.  The total number of repetitions over the three squat sessions starting on December 5th was 96.  Total poundage lifted was…

17 weeks out, day 3, squat and bench press

It feels good to get some decent training days in the same week.  I hope to be able to have some better consistency over the next 16 weeks because I've got a lot of ground to make up by Nationals.  Today's low-bar squats felt better than last week, I definitely recovered better from the three one-drop drop sets than the single four-drop drop set.  The triples with 405 moved much better and I was able to add a fourth work set. I'll add a fifth work set next week provided the bar is moving fast and then I'll back down to 3x3 with 415 the week after.

Bench presses didn't go as smoothly but I knew I needed to step up my overall weekly volume to off set the drop in bodyweight.  I'll start implementing more work sets next week.  Missing what should've been a fairly comfortable single with 315 was not expected.   My lats and triceps were just not gassed up enough to move the lift.  I'll probably drop the incline dumbbell presses and do more closer grip bench …

17 weeks out, day 2, squats and stuff

Instead of doing one 4-drop dropset of high bar squats, I decided to do 3 one-drop drop sets instead.  The goal was to extend the sets but also increase total volume.  This was a much better plan even though the three drop sets still kicked my butt.   I also had to deal with a killer lower back pump for the next 20 minutes.

After squats, I had enough gas in the tank to do some chins/lat shrugs, incline dumbbell presses, and dips. The dips felt really good, another exercise that I got away from doing that I really need to keep in the rotation.

High bar squats:  135x10, 225x5, 275x5, add belt, 315x5, drop set 1, 365x6 315x6, drop set 2, 365x5 315x5, drop set 3, 365x4 315x5

Chins:  7, 5, 4  plus three lat shrugs after each set

Incline dumbbell presses:  65x10, 80x10, 90x10, 100x6

Dips:  bwt x 9, 8, 8

17 weeks out, deadlifts and presses

Time is going to fly by so I figured I better start keeping track of it now.  17 weeks until Nationals meet week.  I'm actually a pound lighter than I was for Provincials two weeks ago so the cut down to 231 is going well.  I would like to be 228-230 the week of the meet so I don't have to mess with any water loading/cutting.  As of this morning I was 240 so my target isn't too far off.

Started tonight's session with overhead presses and worked up to an uncomfortable single with 225.  The weight wasn't in doubt but my stability was so I ended up pressing it slower than I wanted.  After a couple back off sets with 185, I moved to deficit deadlifts.

This was the first time deadlifting since the meet.  I need to get my deadlift back and since my speed off the floor was even worse than usual, I did the sets standing on a 45lb plate for an approx 2" deficit.  My top triple with 505 was not that tough but I could feel my back straining more than it should.  Basical…

Squats, bench press overloads, trying a new barbell row groove

I planned on getting in some decent volume with 405 in squat with my competition low bar groove but I wasn't fully recovered from Thursday's high bar squat drop set.  Weights that should feel light and move quickly didn't and my triples with 405 were not fast enough for my liking.  Although the session didn't go as planned, it was confirmation that the squat drop set from the session before was an unusual level of stress.

To jump start my bench press, I added sets with the Titan Ram.  I've felt like I've lost some lockout power as well as speed off the chest and the Titan Ram addresses both of those issues.   The Ram combines having to generate as much speed off the chest when the Ram is assisting the movement and having to lockout heavy weights.  I like it better than using bands because the Ram doesn't unload weight as in reverse bands nor does it steer you into a specific groove like a traditional band set up.

I finished up with barbell rows but used a s…