2017-03-20 training log

Back to the gym, starting off with a nice PR.

A couple weeks ago I spoke with my doctor about my knee pain. Firste step was to take a steroid anti-inflammatory and rest to see how things went. I took all of last week off — no gym, no nothing — and I must say my knees have never been happier. Thing is, I am not 100% sure what to attribute it to.

First there was the anti-inflammatory, which I’m sure was a huge help. Second, I rested. But it wasn’t just not going to the gym, but continued focus on more sleep at night and naps during the day. Third, I’m drinking a LOT more water than before. I am pretty good about my water consumption, but it was evident I could up it more so I did. Did that help? Sure doesn’t hurt, but I am not sure if it has any correlation here.

The one consideration I had on this new program was going 3x/week instead of 4. Right now, I’ve decided to stick with 4 because I’ve alread changed enough things. Plus I want to see how this new approach will go, because I’m trying to manage volume and workload so that I get the work I need, but not more.

So with that, into today.

The primary change with this new approach is not following a template, but principles of what I need. 5/3/1 remains the base, but I do what I need.

First, squats worked up to a rep-PR. In fact, it was truly a rep PR, setting an 8RM PR. Unexpected, but happy. Crazy thing is that while the week off did not reduce my strength, it sure reduced my work capacity. I was surprised how much I was sucking wind. Not a huge setback, but more than normal. I am always amazed at how long it takes to build work capacity, but how easy it is to lose it.

Pause squats are just what I needed. It allows me to continue to get squat work in, but less intensity. So it beats me up less, but I can still work on technique and volume. I found myself feeling good in my lower half after the pause squats: worked but not killed.

On the technique front, someone mentioned to me that I break with my knees. I played with this some, working to emphasize breaking with my hips first. So at the top, break hips then go down, and in the hole make sure the hips raise first. When I did this I didn’t feel as much stress on my knees; but when I forgot, I did feel more stress on my knees. Interesting. I’m going to break out my copy of Starting Strength again and re-read Rip’s writing on squatting since he’s a “hips” guy. If this helps my knees, great. And this is another good reason for the pause squats, since I can get more technique work.

As for the rest of the work, it was a “depends”. I know that unilateral work is good for my knees, but I’m not sure how much I can take right now — I don’t want to have healed up and then go right back to trashing them. So I opted to try just a couple sets of lunges then a couple sets of leg extensions. The lunges were ok, and I think I will work up to 4 sets of “many reps” at bodyweight before I bother with adding weight. I also think I will continue with leg extensions, but really drop the weight down. My technique here was to purely contract the quads, fast concentric, hold/squeeze for a moment, then slow lowering. Nothing huge (e.g. 10 second eccentric), just a focus like that. I want to lower the weight even more, get a lot more reps in — go for a pump, get a lot of blood in the area.

So I’ll continue to refine, but so far so good. Nice start to the new program.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 135 x 5
    • 170 x 5
    • 205 x 3
    • 220 x 5
    • 255 x 5
    • 290 x 8 (8RM PR)
  • Pause Squat
    • 220 x 5
    • 220 x 5
    • 220 x 5
  • Lunges
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 10e
  • Leg Extensions
    • 60 x 10
    • 50 x 10
  • Twisting Crunches
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 16
    • BW x 12