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Showing posts from October, 2014

4 weeks out, Day 5 bench press and monthly review

October was another good month of training.  I got into the gym for 32 training sessions and increased total volume and average intensity in both the squat and bench press.  Total volume for the deadlift was lower but the average intensity was higher.   The main reason for that was eliminating the sumo deadlifts in order to concentrate on conventional deadlifts for the upcoming meet.

Squats:

Sept:  264 lifts, 91015 lbs, avg intensity 344.8/69.5%
Oct:   279 lifts, 100935 lbs, avg intensity 361.8/72.9%

Bench Press:

Sept:  398 lifts, 101740 lbs, avg intensity 255.6/74.1%
Oct:   435 lifts, 116070 lbs, avg intensity 266.8/77.3%

Deadlifts:

Sept:  212 lifts, 81400 lbs, avg intensity 384/62.2%
Oct:   171 lifts, 68185 lbs, avg intensity 398.7/64.6%

In addition to increasing training volumes and intensities, I was also able to continue to reduce my bodyweight from 231 at the beginning of the month to a new low of 226.5 as of this morning.  I haven't been 226.5 lbs or lighter in a non-weigh…

4 weeks out, Day 3 bench press and Day 4 squats

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Wednesday morning's heavy bench presses went exactly like last Wednesday's heavy bench presses.  That is to say, I felt under-recovered from Monday's bench presses and Tuesday night's heavy squats.  I will probably switch up the order of bench press workouts next week or the week after we get back from Vegas in order to put more 'fresh time' under heavy weights in an attempt to peak for the meet.  For now, I'm okay with it since the slight fatigue isn't spilling over to my joints.

This morning's light squats felt rough as they have been the past few weeks but the bar moved well and there was no lingering soreness.  I almost went to the gym tonight for heavy deadlifts before I remembered that I had moved heavy deadlifts to their own day on Saturdays.  I will gladly go to bed an hour earlier and take advantage of extra recovery time.

So, one weekend, Vivian needed to shop for some hair products so we went to one of those stores that sells beauty suppl…

4 weeks out, Day 2, AM deadlifts, PM squats and a rep PR

In the morning, snatch grip deadlifts and conventional grip deadlifts felt hard.  It wasn't that the weight felt heavy, just that the sets felt like they were more tiring than usual.  Because the morning session was more difficult than I expected it to be, I was not sure how the evening's heavy squat workout would go.  I had two plans when I got to the gym tonight, if things felt good, work up to a top set with 455 and try to set a new rep PR (455x3).  If things felt tired, I would just do sets of 5 with 405.

While there were a few random aches that went away during warm ups, things did feel good enough that I decided to stick with my original plan.  I got my new rep PR with a set of 455x3, backed it up with another double with 455, and feel pretty good about being able to set a new competition PR in a month.

AM:

Snatch grip deadlifts:  225x5, 225x5, 315x5, 365x5, 365x5, 365x5

Deadlifts:  415x3, 415x3, 415x3

Barbell shrugs:  315x6, 315x6, 315x5

PM:

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x…

4 weeks out, Day 1, bench press rep PR

My bodyweight seems to have plateau'd at 229 the past two weeks but training has been going well and I feel strong.  It also feels like I'm getting leaner while remaining the same weight so I'm not too concerned that the weight isn't coming off too slowly.  I tightened my lever belt one setting two weeks ago and it's significantly looser now despite the same scale weight so something good is definitely going on even if it's wildly unrealistic to think I'm losing fat and gaining muscle at the same time.

After last week that felt like a recovery week, I decided that I'd see if I could set a new rep PR in the paused bench press with my work weight of 295.  Fortunately, things felt great on my warm up sets so I gave it a shot.  Last Monday, I did 6 sets of 3 with 295 and all of the sets moved fast and in a tight groove so I decided this week would set the stage for a new progression.  I felt like I was good for a set of 5 so that was my goal this morning. …

5 weeks out, Day 7, squats

8 workouts in 7 days felt like a much easier workload than 8 workouts over 5 days which isn't really surprising.  If I knew I had the schedule flexibility to get to the gym every day, I think spreading everything out over 7 days is a very doable loading scheme. I didn't even remember than I had deadlifted yesterday until I was halfway through my squat work sets this afternoon.

So far with almost 8 weeks into a higher frequency training schedule, my joints feel good and I have only needed to use ibuprofen once.  At least this early in the process, I'll take that as a good sign that the workload isn't too much, too soon.  Of course the real test will be if my Wilks score goes up at my next meet.

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x3, 345x3, add wrist wraps, 385x5, 385x5, 385x5, 385x5

Seated cable row:  140x10, 150x10, 150x8

Hoist crunch machine:  90x10, 90x8, 90x6


5 weeks out, Day 6, deadlifts and bench press

So, when I recapped my bench press volume after yesterday's workout, I guess I jumped the gun because I ended up bench pressing today after I got my deadlifts in.  I would normally deadlift Thursday evening but I had to move them till today because I had an online fantasy basketball draft Thursday night (priorities yo!).

Turns out, I might stick with this schedule instead because deadlifts were much better without the having any residual fatigue from squatting in the morning.  Now that golf season is basically over, our weekends have much more available gym time.

Last week, I did 6 singles with 515 and the last single was just slightly out of form.  Today, I did 6 singles with 525 and all 6 were good.  I stopped at 6 instead of doing a 7th or 8th because I could tell subsequent singles were going to be sloppy and I didn't want to end on a bad note.  The work with singles is definitely getting my deadlift back in shape, my start is already much better after only two weeks.

Afte…

5 weeks out, Day 5 bench press (yesterday)

Forgot to diary yesterday's AM training session but it was actually a pretty good one.  The previous weeks' high frequency bench press training had left me with some hints of shoulder joint over use but by yesterday it was pretty much back to normal.  I think 6 sessions in 5 days is too much for me with the volumes I was using but 3 sessions in 5 days is apparently a good recuperative schedule.  I'll try to see how a 4 session week goes next week.

The previous 'high frequency/high volume' week was 120 lifts, 31445 lbs, avg lift 262 lbs/76% of 1 RM.
This week was 85 lifts, 23045 lbs, avg lift 271 lbs/78.5% of 1 RM.

At this point, they're all just numbers since I don't have a read yet on how any of this frequency/volume/intensity will carryover to competition PR's.  I am very happy that my work set strength levels haven't dropped during my drop in bodyweight from 245 to 229 over the past 80 days.  Since strength levels have usually dropped in the p…

5 weeks out, Day 4, squats

My back was very stiff this morning and it took forever to loosen up so I basically did the bare minimum for my squat workout.  I won't be deadlifting until Friday evening or Saturday so hopefully the extra recover time will allow everything to get back on track.  I think this week is a pretty good sign that squatting 4 days in a row probably isn't a workable plan while I'm still on a calorie deficit.  I think I could do it farther out from a meet when I can keep the intensity lower but being only 5 weeks out, I've got to push the intensity up from here on in.  On the plus side, I was 229 lbs this morning so I'm still on pace to be comfortably below 231 by the end of November (provided I can keep things under reasonable control while in Las Vegas for 6 days two weeks out from the meet).

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x5, 295x5, 345x8, 345x8

Leg raises:  20, 15

5 weeks out, Day 3 bench press

Last week's experiment with higher frequency and volume is showing its effects this week.  Since I'm on a slight calorie restriction and I can't eat my way out of the workload, I skipped this evening's squats.

AM:

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x5, 135x5, 225x5, 265x3, add wrist wraps, 295x3, 320x2, 320x1, 320x1, 295x3, 295x3, 295x3

Weighted dips:  bwt x 10, 45x8, 45x8, 45x8

Parallel grip chins:  6, 6, 5

5 weeks out, Day 2, AM deadlifts, PM squats

My morning deadlift session started out slowly but I was able to get into a groove and got in some good technique work.  I find snatch grip deadlifts extremely challenging even with weights that are only about 60% of my conventional deadlift 1 RM.  After snatch grip deadlifts, finishing up with some conventional grip deadlifts feels like doing a rack pull because my torso is much more upright.  So far it's been a good combination for 'light day' deadlifts.

My evening 'heavy' squat session felt really good.  The bar moved fast and the work sets this week were easier than they were two weeks ago when I first started with this loading progression.

AM:

Snatch grip deadlifts:  225x5, 225x5, 315x5, 365x5, 365x5, 365x5

Deadlifts:  415x3, 415x3, 415x3

Barbell shrugs:  275x8x3 sets

PM:

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x3, 345x3, add wrist wraps, 385x3, 425x3, 425x3, 425x3, 405x3, 405x3, 405x3

Weighted back extensions:  65x10, 65x10

Hoist crunch m…

5 weeks out, Day 1, bench press

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After 8 sessions in 5 days, it felt good to take 2 full days to recover for this week's lifting.  The only 'exercise' type stuff I did all weekend was yesterday when Vivian and I took a 5 km hike on the Red Hill Trail in Hamilton, Ontario.  It was a good walk and although my back doesn't like walking much, it felt good in the legs.


This morning's workout was bench press only so I didn't worry about having a stiff back.  I was curious to see how things felt after last week's 6 bench press sessions.  Fortunately, everything felt good and I was able to do everything I had planned to do and maybe a little more.

My work sets with 295 all moved well and I was able to increase the weight on weighted dips without any extra strain in the shoulders.  The only change I made was substituting parallel grip chins for hammer curls in order to take some direct stress off my elbow flexors.  Overall it was a good session and I'm looking forward to heavy bench press day W…

6 weeks out, Day 5, bench press and squats

I wasn't sure I was going to be able to get my squatting done this morning because my back was pretty stiff from last night's deadlifts.  To give it some extra time, I did my touch and go bench presses first.  Because it was a good 24 hrs since my last bench press session, the fatigue from the previous morning was gone but I started to notice just a hint of strain in the shoulders.  That doesn't completely shock me since I had 6 bench press sessions over 5 days but I'm definitely not going to repeat that next week.  Next week, I'll switch to 4 sessions over 5 days and see how things feel.  My muscles can manage the volume but I need to be mindful that my joints are recovering as well.

After bench pressing, my back felt better so I ended up getting my squats done.  After two weeks in a row of 4 days in a row squatting, I was pretty happy with how everything felt.  My back held up pretty well, in fact it seemed to be less achy during the last two weeks than previous …

6 weeks out, Day 4, AM squats and bench press, PM deadlifts

Today was pretty tough.  Really felt some fatigue for the first time this morning when I squatted and bench pressed.  I think part of that was because my last bench press and squat session was just 10 hrs earlier.  And since I also bench pressed in the morning yesterday, I ended up bench pressing three times in a 24 hr period.  That was pushing it but I wanted to see how I would react.

In my evening session, instead of doing three sets of three with 505, I did singles with it instead.  The start of my deadlift needs work and I figured doing a bunch of "first reps" would be more helpful.  However, I wasn't able to do 9 singles, the 6th one grinded up so I stopped there.  6 singles is definitely harder for me than 3x3 with the same weight.

AM:

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x3, 345x3, add wrist wraps, 365x3, 365x3, 365x3, 365x3

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x5, 135x5, 225x5, add wrist wraps, 265x5, 265x5

PM:

Deadlifts:  225x5, 315x3, add b…

6 weeks out, Day 3, AM bench press, PM squats and bench press

This morning, heavy bench day went very well.  Even though it was my third day bench pressing in a row, the bar moved fast and I even increased my volume of work reps.  Just to push the "high frequency of shorter workouts" thing a little further, I also bench pressed this evening after my squat session.  Again the bar moved well and there was no apparent fatigue from previous sessions.  I have reduced my accessory work for both squats and bench presses since the increased frequency of the main lift sessions is acting as accessory work.

Tomorrow morning is 'light' squats and another 'light' bench press session.  In the evening, I'll hit deadlifts for the heavy session of the week.  So far the higher frequency is being tolerated well but it hasn't yet been two full weeks.

AM:

Bench Press:  all reps paused, 135x5, 135x5, 225x5, 265x3, add wrist wraps, 295x3, 320x2, 320x2, 300x3, 300x2

Lateral Raise:  35x6x3 sets

Rear delt raise:  45x10x3 sets

Hammer curl…

6 weeks out, Day 2, AM deadlifts and bench press, PM squats

Whatever cold symptoms I had the previous three days seemed to have started to go away so instead of taking it easy today, I ended up pushing things pretty good.  Since I squatted four days in a row last week (80 total work reps), I decided I'd try to bench press every day this week to see how things felt.  The goal will be to increase my weekly volume of bench press work reps from about 80 to 100.  I also added a little volume to my morning light deadlift workout and added in some light bench presses.

For the evening heavy squat workout, I had intended on working up to a double with 455 but ended up singleing it instead.  Still managed some good work reps at higher intensities though.  Tomorrow morning is heavy bench press day so I'll be interested to see how it feels to bench press three days in a row.  In the evening, I plan to get in about 20-25 reps of medium intensity squats.

AM:

Snatch grip deadlifts:  225x5, 225x5, 315x5, 365x5, 365x5, 365x5

Deadlifts:  add belt, 415x…

6 weeks out, Day 1, bench press

We had our Thanksgiving dinner yesterday and I stopped logging food and drink items consumed at 4000+ calories and 500+ grams of carbs.  I probably ended up somewhere slightly north of 5000 calories for the day, most of them consumed after 5pm.  I did feel pretty awful with a +9lb bloat from my morning weight check.  Thanksgiving is no time to practice moderation but in hindsight, gorging myself that much probably wasn't the best idea. After weeks of eating between 2500-3000 calories and generally no more than 200 grams of carbs, yesterday's feasting sent my digestive system into emergency mode.

I have been fighting a minor cold for the past three days, probably a sign that my training volume and nutrition were not ideal so the caloric excess should help to right some of that.  I'll be mindful of my training volumes going fowards so as to avoid any more signs that I'm not recovering 100%.

To that end, I significantly limited my bench press work today and tried to place…

7 weeks out, Day 5, bench press and squats again

Although today was my 'light' bench press day, I figured that I had squatted three days in a row, I might as well make it four and see what happens.  Interestingly, things actually felt better tonight than they did yesterday.  My back felt good, my elbow felt good, and the bar moved fast and in a good groove.  Since I likely won't be going to the gym tomorrow, my week will end up with four squat sessions, 80 total work reps and an average work weight of 361 lbs.  That's about 20 lbs more than my average for last month and a significant increase in weekly repetitions.  I don't know if I would be able to sustain that for multiple weeks in a row but I'm tempted to try.  I'm definitely liking how the repeated squat sessions have made my squat groove feel very consistent.

For 'light' bench press day, I would usually do three sets of as many touch and go reps as possible with my work weight of 265.  I decided to change that to 5 sets of 5 in order to save…

7 weeks out, Day 4, AM squats, PM deadlifts

Squatted for the third day in a row today.  Since I was squatting in the morning, I was a little worried that the prior two days might leave my back too sore to squat but I actually felt okay.  The only thing that was sore was my adductors from the previous day.  I could feel things getting a little crispy so I don't think I could keep this up unless I modified the volume and intensity.  Still, it is easy to see how one could build a very consistent squat groove with a 'squat every day' program.

While I was able to cope with squatting three days in a row, I was curious to see how my evening heavy deadlift session would go.  Thankfully, everything worked pretty well and I was able to get in my expected workload.  The weights are still low relative to what I've lifted in the past but I'm getting the groove back and my back seems to be holding up well.

AM:

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x3, 345x5, 345x5, 345x5

Leg extensions:  140x10, 140x…

7 weeks out, Day 3, AM bench press, PM squats

I increased the weights for heavy bench press day this morning but the weights felt heavy and I tired quicker than usual.  It felt like I wasn't fully recovered from Monday's bench pressing and Tuesday's squats.  I've been keeping track of my nutrition on the myfitnesspal.com website and I think my carb intake the past 5 days has been a little low.  I had previously been eating between 150 and 300 grams a day with most days around 200 grams.  The last 5 days have been 147, 147, 114, 117, and 115.  It wasn't by plan, just where things ended up.  I guess I will try to bump up the carbs and see if that gets things back on track.

I knew I was going to be able to get in an evening workout so I left the shoulder accessory work until later.  Since I normally don't train on Wednesday evenings, I decided to throw in an extra squat session.  The only soreness from the previous evening's workout was from my adductor work.  There was some fatigue in the mid-back area …

7 weeks out, Day 2, AM deadlifts, PM squats

I had a good day of training today. I started with light deadlifts in the morning and finished with heavy squats in the evening.  Even though I could feel the effects of the morning deadlifts, I was still able to put in some good squat reps.  Down about 15 lbs in bodyweight and still no loss of strength in the squat or bench press so I'm pretty happy.

AM:

Snatch grip deadlifts:  225x5, 315x3, 365x3, 365x3, 365x3

Deadlifts:  405x3, 405x3, 405x3

Kirk shrugs:  245x10, 245x10, 245x10

PM:

Squats:  135x5, 135x5, 225x5, low bar, 225x5, add belt, 295x3, 345x3, add wrist wraps, 385x3, 425x3, 425x3, 425x3, 405x3, 405x3, 405x3

Adductor:  130x12x2 sets

Abductor:  130x12x2 sets

Leg extension:  140x10x2 sets


7 weeks out, Day 1, bench press

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I ended up taking three days off for the first time in over a month.  It was a good time for a reload since the intensity starts to go up from here on in.  On Sunday, Vivian and I played in a nine and dine fundraising tournament at Crosswinds Golf Club for Burlington Flood Relief.  It wasn't really exercise but at least I was out and moving around.  Despite using a golf cart, my back was still a little stiff this morning when I got to the gym for my bench press workout. One highlight of the tournament was seeing 3-time Canadian Women's Long Drive Champion, Fareen "Far" Samji hit tee shots on the second hole.  The weather was cold and the wind was blowing right into our face.  Despite not being very large at all, Far's smooth swing launched low, drawing bullets 280+ yards into the fairway.  It was truly amazing seeing such a smooth swing with effortless power.

She out drove me by at least 60 yards, maybe 80, whatever it was, you coulda built a Wal-Mart in the spac…

8 weeks out, Day 4, deadlifts

This week is turning into an unplanned deload.  It's probably a good time for it anyways.  I upgraded my phone yesterday from my old iphone 4S to a Samsung Galaxy S5.  I thought I had set the alarm to wake up this morning but realized that I needed to set a day as well as a time.  I got an extra couple hours of sleep so not all was lost.

Since I was only going to get my deadlifts in today, I decided to work up to a hard single, conventional style and then do back off sets.  Since I'll be competing with the conventional style, it's time to get it sorta back in shape.

Because I haven't pulled anything heavier than 495 since my last meet in June, I didn't have real high expectations.  So, I wasn't completely surprised that I was only able to muster two hard singles with 545.  I was going to do some back off singles with 495 but after the first one grinded up, I could tell my lower back was out of gas.  It will come back fast but I just need to make sure I don'…

8 weeks out, Day 3 bench press and September summary

September was the first full month of my new training schedule.  My original goals for changing my schedule were to increase my total hours of exercise each month and to increase the total volume lifted in the main competition lifts (or variations).  By increasing potential weekly training sessions from 3 to as many as 8 (high was 7 but there are 8 potential workout slots each week), I not only greatly increased my main lift volume but I was also able to do much more accessory work.

While I don't measure the volume of my accessory work, it basically went from nearly nothing to about 9-12 additional work sets each session.  Since I'm eating at a caloric deficit, this extra volume should be helping to retain as much muscle as possible while I'm losing bodyfat.

The difference between August and September is pretty dramatic:

August:  11 total training sessions, 7 squat, 11 bench press, 6 deadlift
September: 29 total training sessions, 10 squat, 11 bench press, 8 deadlift

Lift …