Week 8, day 1, squat and bench press

It's a good summer week for me when I end up playing golf as much as I get to the gym.  I managed to play twice since my last training session, once playing pretty well and once playing not so well.  Either way it was great fun and didn't irritate my back much at all.

However, since I do have a meet on the 21st, I did need to get in some heavy work just to see where things were.  This meet is a chance for the Toronto Rex Powerlifting Team to compete together since not everyone was able to lift at Nationals this year.  Last year we won the team competition so we're hoping to repeat this year.  As near as I can tell, there is only one other person in my weight class (120 kgs) so I'm guaranteed 2nd place team points as long as I don't bomb out.

Since I've been training for goals other than putting up a total, I was curious to see where my gym singles would test at tonight.  I also haven't been training in knee sleeves since Nationals but will be wearing them in the meet.  I've been squatting without knee sleeves mostly because it's getting warmer in the gym and wearing sleeves makes me warmer.  Also, they're one more thing to put on in the locker room and one more smelly piece of gym gear after the workout.  I don't need them since my knees never hurt; they're a nice thing to have but also optional for me.

I ended up working up to a single with 455 which is actually only a few pounds shy of my best knee sleeveless competition single. Back in September 2011, I lifted in a 100% Raw Powerlifting Federation meet and squatted 207.5 kgs (457 lbs) weighing 107 kgs.  So, all in all, hitting a relaxed gym single with a weight that used to be a competition maximum for me a few years ago is pretty good, especially since I haven't trained with weights higher than 365 lbs since Nats (my triple with 385 last week excepted).

I moved on to bench press and really surprised myself.  Since Nationals, I've been working on bench pressing with a grip right at the 81 cm mark.  All my benching prior to that was with a grip about 5 cm's narrower.  I decided to go to max width in order to reduce my range of motion.  So far the experiment has been turning out very good.  Last week I worked up to an easy single with 315 and tonight I worked up to a smooth, paused single with 330.  Prior to Nationals with my previous grip width, I had failed at 335 in the last couple weeks before the meet and got 330 in competition.  I'm quite surprised that I've already gotten my bench press with the new grip width to my previous competition levels.  I'm optimistic that this means I've got more mileage in the tank.  I also weigh about 5 kgs more than I did prior to Nationals so I'm sure the weight gain does have something to do with it.  Either way, my bench is moving well and my shoulders still feel fine so onward and upward!

Squats:  135x5, 225x5, 275x5, low bar, add belt, 315x3, add wrist wraps, 365x3, 405x3, 430x1, 455x1

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x5, 185x5, 225x5, 250x5, add wrist wraps, 275x2, 300x1, 320x1, 330x1, 285x3

Earlier this evening I had read an article on the Starting Strength website that recommended 8-10 minutes rest between work sets of 5 reps.  While I can understand the strategy behind full recovery between difficult work sets or increasing rest intervals to mimic meet conditions, since I train alone, I just can't bring myself to sit around for 8-10 minutes between sets.  My 17 set workout took me 55 minutes from when I stepped foot on the gym floor to when I left it.  I might be rushing the heavier sets more than I should but even taking 3 min between sets felt like I was lollygagging it.  To me, this is another big advantage to training with others.  If I was part of a 4-lifter rotation, the time between sets would end up closer to 5-6 minutes and no doubt, the poundages and bar speeds would be higher and faster with the added rest.

Finally, I read this great interview with M2 105kg Classic World Champion Mark Robb today.  He's 54 and says in the article that he and his training partner, Chad Rexrode, are still getting stronger and setting lifetime PR's.  This is great news for me.  I will gladly utilize another 6+ years of progress!  My goal is to someday lift enough to make a World Team and maybe when I turn 50 and the talent pool shrinks a little more, continued progress in my lifts might be enough to win myself on the team.  It would definitely be awesome to share the platform with Mark Robb.  I've been fortunate to share the platform with some legendary lifters and adding him to the list would be another highlight of a process that started 6+ years ago because I needed motivation to stop being so fat.

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