Showing posts from February, 2014

5 weeks out, day 3, squat overload and deadlift assistance

Deloaded squat a bit going into the final four weeks but kept up with the eccentric only work.  My top single with 475 hit the safety rail on one side.  Usually that would throw me off balance enough that I wouldn't be able to recover and finish the squat with this weight but this time, I was able to control the weight and finish the rep.  Despite being more in control of 475 than ever, my next single with 495 remained an eccentric only rep.  I'm not too concerned this far out from the meet but I'll definitely expect to hit it in training in 4 weeks.

The eccentric only singles went pretty well although I did have to drop the weight a little for singles 3 and 4.  After the eccentric only singles, I did not do my normal back off sets in order to give myself some time to recover for the peaking weeks.  Finished up with stiff legged deadlifts that weren't very hard at all.  I'll bump up the reps in the coming weeks.

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, 295x3, add belt, 345x3, add w…

5 weeks out, day 2, bench press

Deloaded bench press today to set myself up for the final 4 weeks.  I'm looking forward to changing my training from pushing volume to training singles.  My SI joints were really barking at me tonight so it's definitely time to give them a chance to heal up.  The lower half isn't strongly recruited in the bench press but my back pain is extension related and the bench press set-up tends to encourage whatever pain my squatting and deadlifting have caused.

To deload my bench press, I cut out the eccentric only bench presses and the back off volume work.  Instead I did 5 singles with 315 and then slightly increased my volume of close grip bench presses.  To lower the intensity somewhat, I did the close grips to a 2-board instead of doing them as dead bench presses.

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 255x3, 285x2, 315x1x5 sets  20 total work reps, avg intensity 75.1%

Close grip 2-board bench press:  all reps paused, 255x4x5 sets

5 weeks out, day 1, deadlifts and squat assistance

I guess it was fortunate timing that this week is my lower volume/intensity deadlift session since my finger isn't healed enough to keep from bleeding on everything if I don't have it wrapped up.  To lower the intensity, I did my initial deadlifts from the top down.  I picked them off the rack at above knee height, backed up half a step and did my reps.  It definitely made them easier.  After working up to an easy single with 545, I did 595 for an eccentric only rep.  I would've reversed and done the concentric as well but my left hand was slipping due to not being able to grip with my index finger (even with straps).

After doing the eccentric only rep, I did two speed sets of 3 with 455 before the tape and bandage on my finger gave up the ghost.  It ended up cutting my planned session a set short but since this was supposed to be a recovery week, it was probably for the better.

Deadlifts:  top down, 315x3, 405x3, 495x3, 545x1

Eccentric only deadlift:  595x1

Deadlifts:  gr…

6 weeks out, day 4, high bar squats and bench press volume

I cut myself with a kitchen knife again.  Last time it happened while I was cleaning one, the time before that I cut my thumb slicing celery.  This time I cut my index finger while slicing up chicken breasts.  I need to do two things:  stop using knives when close to a competition and learn how to chop up stuff using correct technique.

If I had taken the time to learn how to chop this way, I would've avoided the picture below:
Luckily the cut hasn't affected my ability to squat or bench press so I was able to stay on schedule.  I deloaded the intensity for my high bar squats this week but upped the volume a bit.  I also squatted without my knee sleeves.  I did that because I wanted to make sure I had no temptations to go heavier and also because it would be hard to put them on without use of my index finger on one hand.

The close grip dead bench presses are starting to kick in and my bench press volume work was much better.  I was able to get 4 sets of 5 with 265.  The last ti…

6 weeks out, day 3, squat overloads

My back was a bit under recovered so I took an extra day and moved my squat overload day to Friday this week.  I think it helped some but my back was still a bit tired.  This session really kicked my butt and I'm glad I'm just about done with this phase and will be moving into the competition prep taper.  Normally I try to get everything done in under 75 minutes but this session ended up taking about 95 minutes. I'm okay with that since the average intensity of my squat work reps was the highest it's been this training cycle.

Once the competition prep taper begins, I'll still try to get done in 75-90 minutes but will be doing about 30% less total volume so I'll have extra rest between sets built in.

After taking last week off, I added the eccentric only squats back in and used the heaviest weight I've used so far.  The control was good and I'll probably stay with that load for at least another week or two.  So far the eccentric only squats seem to be wo…

6 weeks out, day 2 bench press overloads

Shoulders and elbows still feel good so no deload on bench press overload day yet.  Worked up to a top single with 335 before the eccentric only singles.  The 335 exceeds my most recent competition best and I'm pretty sure it's the most I've lifted at this particular bodyweight.  So far things still look good for meeting or possibly exceeding my all-time best raw bench press at the next competition. Since I hit 155 kgs (341 lbs) while weighing 111.3 kgs, if I can hit it while weighing in at under 105 kgs, I'll consider that decent progress.

After the eccentric only singles, I increased the intensity on my full ROM paused bench press work sets but there were a few grindy reps in there. I'm getting a lot better at the eccentric singles so that even though the number of reps is the same, I'm increasing my time under tension by quite a bit.  I think that took some extra steam out of me because the finishing close grip dead bench presses were very depleted.

Bench Pr…

6 weeks out, day 1, deadlifts and squat assistance

I used tonight's deadlift session to get some hook grip work done.  I usually deadlift with straps to save wear and tear on my hands but 6 weeks out is a good time to get some hook grip work done because there's plenty of time for a callus to heal should one tear free.  I worked up to a single with 585 with the hook grip and strapped up for the back off sets.

Overall the session was pretty good.  The single with 585 wasn't super fast but it wasn't a grinder either.  My back felt strong and the grip was very secure.  The back off sets of 3 with 505 moved well although I was pretty tired when I was done with them.  It was a good tired though, I'm starting to like deadlifting again.

Instead of leg presses, I did wide stance squats to stretch out my legs and get a little more hip extension work done.  The back extensions to finish always kick my butt pretty good but I feel like the stretch at the bottom is beneficial for loosening things up.

Deadlifts:  315x3, 405x3, a…

7 weeks out, day 3, high bar squats and bench press

I thought about cutting back on some of the volume today to give myself some extra recovery time but once I started lifting, I kept thinking that none of the other guys in my weight class are taking it easy.  I mean, they might be, we're all over 40 years old, but I doubt it.  The first time I lifted at Nationals in 2010 as a 43 yr old in the 40-49 age group lifter, I was just happy to be there and had no expectations about finishing in the top 3.  This time, I definitely have a chance to place in the top 3 without having to rely on a fluke (as in 2010) so the competitive motivation is much different.  Even though lifting for PR's is admirable and motivating, I want to lift at my best for two more reasons.  One, if I lift well, I improve my chances at placing in the top 3. Two, if I lift well I might push the other lifters to have great meets.  Hitting PR's at meets is fun but battling it out down to the final deadlift with one or more other lifters is the ultimate in fun.…

7 weeks out, day 2, squats and deadlift assistance

Didn't get the usual amount of sleep last night because our dog Laverne didn't want to settle down and I had to wake up early to catch the train into downtown for all-day meetings.  When we first fostered Laverne, she insisted on sleeping in our bed.  Since she's a miniature dachshund, she can't get up or down from the bed on her own.  So, now I usually stay up with her until she's ready to sleep and then put her in the bed.  It sounds pretty ridiculous and probably is but it is what it is.

Luckily I managed to catch a couple short naps on the train into and out of town so I didn't feel too terrible by the time I made it to the gym.  I had already planned on cutting the intensity while keeping the volume up to give my back a chance to recover but I wasn't sure what I would have in the tank.  Instead of working up to a heavy single and then doing 3-4 eccentric only reps, I did sets of 5 with 405.  I ended up doing 4 sets, something that I'm not sure I…

7 weeks out, day 1 bench press overloads

My lower back was feeling rough so I skipped deadlift day yesterday.  I had thought I'd dial back the overload bench press work tonight but I felt pretty good so I did it anyways.  I'll have to deload the intensity at some point but my shoulders and elbows are handling the workload for the time being.  One change I made was to eliminate the titan ram presses and just go straight to the eccentric only bench presses.  At this stage, I'm getting better carryover from the eccentric only and close grip dead bench presses so they're going to stay in the rotation for the rest of this meet prep.

Rather than work up to another attempted single with 335, I decided to do 330 instead and guarantee a successful single.  This plan worked out well since the 330 went up with no doubts but was slow enough that I'm not sure 335 would've gone.  Speed off the chest was great but it still slowed down at lockout so I'll need to keep up the tricep work to balance out the benefits…

8 weeks out, day 4, high bar squats and bench press

High bar squat volume work went pretty well. I'm still recovering well from my training sessions and able to add volume so that's a good sign since I'm still about 3 weeks out from the pre-competition taper.  I added a work rep to my high bar sets with 385 and the reps themselves are getting better.  I'm slowly but surely bending over and squat-morning my reps less and less.  Getting my glutes and quads into the squat will really help my low-bar competition squat.

When I got into my bench press work, a couple kids (by kids, they were probably college age) started working on the bench next to me.  Vivian was deadlifting on the platform on my other side.  When Vivian's lifting next to me I turn my earphones off so I can hear her but the chatter coming from the platform on the other side was brutal. It was a couple curlbros and a girl that one of them was trying to coach the bench press. It seemed pretty evident that the head curlbro was either trying to hook up with…

6 yrs of powerlifting competition, what I might've done differently

Since I started competing in powerlifting again in 2008, I've improved my raw total 115 lbs over the past 6 years.  Even though that improvement is less than some lifters make in 6 months of lifting, I'm still satisfied that it represents significant progress over that period.

I don't know how to weight each of the following constraints or conditions but my gut feeling is that some of them work against each other.

In 2008 I was not starting from a 'newbie' or inexperienced beginning.  I had competed for 4 years and lifted for 10 years in my teens and twenties.When I posted a 1340 lb total in March 2008, I weighed 285.  When I posted my best total to date, 1455 lbs,  in June 2013, I weighed 245 lbs.  In March 2008, I was 41 years old.  In June 2013, I was 46 years old. Throughout the period from 2008 to the present, I have either been losing weight or maintaining weight.  There hasn't been a period where I've consciously trained and slowly allowed weight gain…

8 weeks out, day 3, squat overload work

Tonight was the second session with eccentric only squats followed up with squat work sets.  The session went pretty well but I think I'm going to have to use this protocol on a 2-weeks on, 1-week off schedule.  Working up to a heavy single and then doing the 3 eccentric singles before work set doubles is a pretty tough workload for me right now so I'm going to need to moderate the loading a bit.

After the squats, I was able to increase the volume on my stiff legged deadlifts without any significant fatigue in the lower back so I think my deadlift assistance workload is still appropriate for this stage of the meet prep.  I'll likely start tapering about 5 weeks out or 4 weeks out if I end up setting up week 5 as a slight deload.

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, low bar, 295x3, add belt, 335x3, add wrist wraps, 385x3, 425x5, 455x1, 475x1

Eccentric only squats:  495x1, 515x1, 515x1

Squats:  425x2, 425x2, 425x2, 425x2  20 total work reps (not counting eccentric only reps), avg intensi…

8 weeks out, day 2, bench press

My bench press session did not go as well as previous heavy bench days have gone the previous 4 weeks.  I could try to pin the blame on having to shovel a lot of snow today or not having eaten anything in the 6 hours prior to the session but I decided not to waste much energy trying to figure out a reason.  I still got in some good work and there still isn't anything that hurts so the green light for gains is still on.

After missing some reps that I should've made along with a poor performance on my eccentric-only bench presses, I cut my full ROM work reps to 3 doubles with 300.  It was a slight increase in weight from the previous week even if the volume was less.  To make up for it, I did three sets of close grip dead bench presses from about 2 board height.  These were actually pretty tough.  I'm going to try to include them on my volume day to get extra work for my triceps.  My speed off my chest is very good but now I'm missing weights higher than I've missed …

8 weeks out, day 1, deadlifts

8 weeks out from the meet and we're pretty much into the home stretch now.  The next two months will go by very fast and there's no time left to make up for training mistakes or health issues.  I just have to make each session count and continue building my body so it's ready to perform in April.

Started deadlifting from the floor this week and I'll alternate heavier days from the floor with lighter days off the deficit.  After deadlifting on a weekly basis for about a month now, my deadlift groove is feeling pretty good and my deadlift work capacity is improving.  I didn't expect to deadlift that well tonight because my glutes had gotten pretty trashed from Sunday's high bar squat session but none of that mattered and speed off the floor was much better than expected.  I also had good energy for my back off triples with 74% of my 1 RM.  Coincidentally, I had been out of fish oil for about a week and just started back with it this morning.  Since I'm sure t…

9 weeks out, day 4, Super Bowl squat day and bench press, also I de-boned a chicken thanks to Jacques Pepin

There's a big football game on tv tonight but ever since the fantasy football season ended, I haven't had much interest in these bonus games the NFL puts on.  I was actually more excited to try out something that I've wanted to do ever since Adam Savage of Mythbusters tweeted this video:

Jacques Pepin makes de-boning a chicken look so easy anyone could do it
Pepin is a legend and legends have a habit of making everything look easy but the video really made it look simple. I had been plotting out when to try it and when a local supermarket had whole chickens on sale for $2/lb (that's cheap here!), I knew I had my chance.  For the stuffing, I followed a recipe I found on the internet.  Even though there are many entries by food bloggers saying it's easy to do, I still took those with a huge grain of salt.  After all, food bloggers like to make food like lifting bloggers like to lift weights.  I'm a total newb in the kitchen  and not at all guaranteed to leave wit…