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Showing posts from March, 2014

4 days out, last session before the Meet

Only 4 days out from my session on Wednesday so today was just some volume work to stay fresh.  I worked quickly through 6 sets of 3 with 70% in the squat, 5 sets of 3 with 77% in the bench press, and 3 sets of 2 in the close grip dead bench press with 83% of my 1 RM in the competition bench press. Everything was done in 40 minutes so it wasn't taxing in the slightest but just enough to keep things from getting cob webby.

After the quick, final session, had another whirlpool and steam room sweat session.  I think it was a good idea to start these a couple weeks out because now it's routine and very easy to tolerate.  I don't think I'll need to do much on meet day because my weight is in a good place but I'll probably get in a session anyway to help relax the nerves prior to weigh-ins.  There will be plenty of time to get nervous, excited, and ready to lift once I'm weighed in so I don't want to burn extra energy early.

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, low bar, 295x3…

1 week out, day 3 squats

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Tonight was the last heavy day before next Wednesday's meet.  Plan was to work up to three singles in the squat and then hit the whirlpool and steam room for more sweat adaptation.

The squat singles went very well.  The squat groove felt solid and speed was pretty good.  I hit the safety bar on the right side on my last single that caused the rep to slow down while I regained control of the bar but the weight itself felt very manageable.  Since the gym was deserted on a Friday night, I was able to flaunt the "no video" rules and get some video of my squat singles.  It's too late to actually adjust anything but I figured I might as well see what they look like now rather than take the chance of being surprised by something on meet day.


435x1, easy but a little high because it reversed faster than I expected


455x1, smooth and deep enough


475x1, hit the safety on the right so it stalled but it wasn't a grind at all
Squats:  135x10, 225x5, low bar 295x3, add belt, 34…

1 week out, day 2, bench press

Exactly a week out from the meet today.  Worked up to a single somewhere between my opener and my second attempt and finished up with a couple triples with 83% of my 1 RM.  After bench presses, spent some time in the steam room again.  Since I don't use the steam room regularly, I'm using it the last couple weeks to get used to it.  That way, when it comes time to use it to drop a few pounds on meet day, it won't tire me out or otherwise upset the normal rhythm of things.

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x10, 225x5, add wrist wraps, 275x2, 315x1, 325x1, 275x3, 275x3


1 week out, day 1, deadlift and squat

Just a few more sessions before the meet now, just trying to stay sharp while allowing for full recovery.  Last deadlifts before the meet in 8 days, worked up to an easy single at just under opener level.

Light squats and then some recovery work in the whirlpool and steam room to get used to the process since I'll need to cut a few pounds the day of weigh-ins.

Deadlifts:  315x3, 405x3, add belt, 495x3, 545x1

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, low bar, 295x3, add belt 335x3, add wrist wraps, 365x3x3 sets


2 weeks out, day 4, squats and bench press

Finally getting down to the home stretch.  This last week, I'm basically just trying to keep the intensity high while keeping the volume low.  So far the plan to go into the meet feeling really good is working.  Weight is low enough that I should have a pretty easy water cut the last two days.

Squats:  135x10, 225x5, low bar, 275x3, add belt, 315x3, add wrist wraps, 365x3, 405x3x3 sets

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x10, 185x5, 225x5, add wrist wraps, 275x3, 315x1

Close grip dead bench press:  275x3, 275x3, 275x3


2 weeks out, day 3, squats and deadlift assistance

Tonight's plan was to work up to a heavy squat single and then three triples with 75% in the deadlift.  Felt pretty tired all day just cause it's the end of the week but squats felt pretty good despite some nagging sciatic pain.  I decided against taking any ibuprofen before the workout in order to keep my training conditions more adverse than what I'd face on meet day.

Since I weighed 235 lbs today, my top single of 475 marked the first time I've ever hit 2xBWT in training.  475-480 or 217.5 or 220 kgs will probably be second attempt territory.  Instead of stiff-legged deadlifts, I just did some 75% triples in the regular, conventional deadlift.  I worked on my competition stance, heels close, feet turned slightly out, and got some good speed off the ground.

Squats:  135x10. 225x5, lowbar, 295x3, add belt, 345x3, add wrist wraps, 385x2, 435x1, 455x1, 475x1

Deadlifts:  315x3, 405x3, add belt, 465x3x3 sets

2 weeks out, day 2, bench press

I felt pretty good as I was progressing up the weights and after my single with 315 moved fast, I had no doubt I could press 335 until it failed at lockout.  That was disappointing but I did back off singles with 325 and 315 before triples with 285 and close grip dead bench press sets of 4 with 255.

Before my last two meets, I failed with 325 in the gym prior the meets so I'm still ahead of where I was at a lighter weight class.  Still, moral victories don't mean sh*t.  I need to hit a 670 kg total to reach a 400 wilks coefficient.  That number by itself means nothing other than being a nice, round number but it's something I want to hit nonetheless.  A 670 kg total still might not be enough to be the third best 105 kg M1 lifter but it'll be a small consolation prize for me if I end up SOL in terms of the podium.  To have a chance at being able to attempt a deadlift that will get me to 670 kgs, I'll need to bench 152.5 or 155 kgs.  Based on my performances in train…

2 weeks out, day 1 deadlifts and squat assistance

I took the weekend off while I was fighting off the remnants of the cold that I started on Friday.  This week starts my pre-competition taper.  This week is lower volume but still working up to a decent heavy single.  Although my back felt a little tired, the bar moved pretty well on deadlifts tonight.  I managed to miss my attempt at 605 again although I did get it off the ground.  I probably could've finished the rep if it mattered for anything but grinding up a heavy single in the gym wouldn't do me any good for my meet in two weeks.  The 585x1 that came before it moved as well as it's moved in the past 6 years so I'm still optimistic I'll be able to take 280 kgs as a second attempt.  A meet psyche, solid platform, and deadlift slippers add many pounds to my limit attempt deadlifts, or at least they have in every meet in the past.

Finished up with some squat triples at 78%.  Tomorrow I'll bench press, pretty much normal volume and intensity since I tend to …

3 weeks out, day 3, squats and deadlift assistance

Tonight was one of those, "feel terrible, lift pretty good" days.  I pushed this training day back an extra day because I'm fighting a cold and haven't had much sleep but I couldn't push it any further back.  This week is the last week of significant volume and intensity so I should be feeling a little beat up anyways.

The way I felt on the way to the gym was similar to the fatigue I would feel from cutting weight before the re-hydration.  I figured whatever I got done today would be a baseline for what I could expect under close to worst case possible conditions.

Luckily, earlier today I watched a video of Ed Coan coaching a guy through some squats.  In the video, Coan cues the guy out of the hole with a single command, "jump!"  I have no idea how I hadn't heard that before or figured it out for myself but when I tried it today, it made a big difference for me.



Anyways, despite feeling like roadkill on the way into the gym, my squats felt pretty g…

3 weeks out, day 2, bench press

This cruel joke of a winter continued and I was not overjoyed to have to shovel 8" of wet snow when I got home from work.  Since my shovel is a combination pusher and scoop, I end up doing a lot of pushing the snow into a long pile before I can shovel it over the snowbank bordering the driveway.  I guess all the pushing and snow throwing tired out my bench press muscles because I missed my top over warm-up single of 335 for the first time in almost a month.  Since I could tell I was not 100%, I didn't do any eccentric only bench presses and instead did triples with 285 until I missed a rep.  I had expected to get 6 or 7 triples but only got 4 before I doubled on the 5th set.

To finish burning out my triceps, I did 4 sets of 5 reps in the close grip dead bench press.  I didn't take those to failure but the 4th rep of the 5th set was definitely a 10 RPE effort.  To help recover from this session, I came home and scrambled 9 eggs mixed with a bunch of sliced mushrooms and th…

3 weeks out, day 1, deadlifts and squat assistance

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To honour the March 8th passing of Larry Scott , the first Mr. Olympia, I did a set of preacher curls.  Anyone my age or older almost assuredly tried out a "Larry Scott bicep and shoulder" routine found in a muscle magazine.  He had incredible shoulders and arms and was a constant presence in the magazines when I was growing up.  I never built big arms or wide shoulders but I sure tried to when I was much younger.  There is a nice tribute to his place in history here.

Slowly but surely the icons of my youth are fading away...
As for my own competition preparations, today was deadlift day.  Since I went 'heavier' last week, this week was designed to be lower in intensity.  I did the first four sets top down and then did 5 sets of 3 from the ground with approx 76% of my 1 RM.  Speed and groove were both good.

I cut my sets of wide stance squats one set short because things were starting to feel off.  I think it was just residual fatigue from the deadlifts.  I'm d…

4 weeks out, day 4, squats and bench press

I switched out the high bar squats for low bar squats to start prepping for the meet.  The form improvements that started to kick in on Thursday were reinforced today.  The bar moved well even though my SI joints were not feeling good.  
While getting ready to bench press at a different rack with a different bar, I noticed the bar had dried blood and what looked like the residue of someone's shin.  Although the gym has spray bottles of what is supposed to be disinfectant, since it neither smells like bleach or bubbles on contact like hydrogen peroxide, I'm pretty sure it's just water.  Either way, I cleaned up the bar before I started benching.  
To any internet gymbros that think bleeding on the bar is 'alpha', 'hardcore', 'beasting', or 'animal', it's not.  It's stupid and I hope you lose a limb to the ravages of a rampant staph infection before you manage to infect someone else.  If you are careless enough to bleed on the bar beca…

4 weeks out, day 3, squats and deadlift assistance

My squat groove felt the best it's ever been but it was so good the heavy singles felt strange.  Ever since I was cursed with a strong back for a local lifter but not a strong enough back for a national level lifter, I've had a terrible squat.  After many years of being stubborn and squatting with poor form but being bailed out by squat-morning everything, I finally figured out that the bar needs to travel pretty much in a straight line and that the hips need to stay as close to under the bar as possible.  This transition has taken a couple years and tonight it started to feel like it needs to feel.

It's taken me a while to keep my hips from shooting back out of the hole in the squat and the next form improvement I've been trying to make is keeping the bar from migrating towards my toes on the descent.  I know it's just my body's way of shifting the weight to what it thought was the strongest muscles but it's responding to the inefficient movement patterns …

4 weeks out, day 2, bench press overloads

It was a pretty good day on the bench.  Worked up to a top single of 335 and even though it was out of the groove slightly on the way up, I had enough in reserve to finish the press.  Did an extra eccentric only single tonight and increased workload on the close grip dead bench press to make up for not doing any back off sets in the full ROM bench press.  So far bench press training is going very well so I'm not going to change much over the next 3 weeks.

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x10, 185x5, 225x5, 255x3, add wrist wraps, 285x2, 315x1, 335x1

Eccentric only bench press:  365x1x5 sets

Close grip dead bench presss:  from 2-board height, 255x5, 255x5, 255x4, 245x4, 245x4

DB curls:  55x6, 55x6, 55x5

4 weeks out, day 1 deadlifts and squat assistance

My deadlift session was decent tonight.  Form seems to be getting dialed in and my top single with 585 felt pretty good.  Missed an attempt at 605 but I haven't hit 605 in the gym in the past 7 years so I'm not real concerned.  I would still like to hit it in two weeks since that would mean I should be good for more than 285 kgs come meet day.
Deadlifts:  315x3, 405x3, add belt 495x3, 545x1, 585x1, 605x0, 520x3, 495x3  17 total work reps, 74% avg intensity
Chins:  4, 4, 4
Wide stance squats:  135x10, 225x5, 275x5, add belt, 315x5x3 sets
Back extensions:  15, 15