2018-08-21 training log

My squat might be suffering, but my bench press is doing great!

Good work up today and hammered out 7 @ 245, which is a rep PR. Looking at the trends of things, it’s also continual strong progression — my bench is moving. I’m happy about this.

It did make me rethink that no, I shouldn’t change. My squat is having problems but everything else is doing well. Stay the course. I don’t think it’s time to change squat, but at least if I did change anything I should only change squat not the entire program since everything else is moving well.

Enjoying doing regular DB Rows vs. Kroc Rows. Just getting a bit heavier, but still fatiguing.

The narrow-grip pulldowns are kinda nice too – I’m really cutting rest time short and working on moving the elbows. Getting a big ROM and ensuring the elbows pull through and swing back past my torso — oof, good work.

One semi-related change. I’m stopping creatine supplementation – at least for a little while. There’s no question creatine is a proven supplement, but over the course of a lot of blood work I keep seeing slightly elevated creatinine levels, and some other markers as of late are making me think I want to lay off just to see what difference is makes both in my blood tests, my body, and my performance. We’ll see what comes of it, but basically I want to see how dropping it affects me.

Anyways, pretty good day. Makes up for yesterday’s suck fest. 🙂

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 110 x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 160 x 3
    • 190 x 3
    • 215 x 3
    • 245 x 7 (rep PR)
    • 155 x 10
    • 155 x 10
    • 155 x 9
    • 155 x 8
    • 155 x 7
  • Bent-over Lateral Raises (superset with bench warm-up sets)
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
  • DB Rows (superset with bench work sets)
    • 85 x 12e
    • 85 x 12e
    • 85 x 12e
  • Narrow-Grip Pulldowns
    • 90 x 10
    • 120 x 15
    • 120 x 13
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 10
  • Rope-Handle Pushdowns (superset with curls)
    • 100 x 20
    • 100 x 20
    • 100 x 19
    • 100 x 11
  • Cross-Body Alternating DB Curls
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 11
    • 35e x 7

2018-08-20 training log

Well… today was disappointing.

I’m guessing this is a confidence issue. I know I wasn’t hitting depth. I felt like I wouldn’t get out of the hole. But also all the warm-up sets felt horrible. My problem knee has been feeling a little stiff. I feel like in the new racks that I don’t have the same cues so I’m second guessing myself. Grr. It’s all in my head.

So the top set didn’t get what it deserved. I felt I could have done a 5th, but honestly wasn’t confident and racked it. Afterwards I realized I should have done it.

During pause squats I videoed myself. I was not hitting depth so I fixed it. I have to remember that hitting depth will FEEL like depth — if I don’t feel like my ass is touching the ground, then I’m not. Granted I’m not that deep (not ATG), but it’s a mental cue.

Ugh.

Everything just felt off and horrible. I’m contemplating repeating this cycle to give myself more time to get my shit together. Not sure, because I still got more than the required reps, but we’ll see.

Cut a few things short today too. Got a late start, then spent some time talking with gym owner’s fiancé towards some improvements on the equipment. Good talk. But it still ate time, so I had to drop front plate raises and the bike time.

Whee.

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Squat (superset with band pullaparts)
    • bar x 5
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 205 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 275 x 3
    • 310 x 4 (ugh)
  • Pause Squats
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
  • 1-Leg Leg Press
    • sled x 20e
    • sled x 20e
    • sled x 20e
  • Reverse Curls
    • 20 x 10
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 11
    • 70 x 9

Sunday Metal – High on Fire

High on Fire with “The Black Plot”

 

Thoughts on the CoolFire

A couple weeks ago I was at KR Training assisting in the running of a demo/evaluation event involving Walther Arms & the CoolFire Trainer. The goal was to beta-test a possible new research study on the benefit of the CoolFire Trainer vs. live fire, for shooter skill development.

Karl Rehn was host, and has posted his write-up of the event. To understand the event – see the preliminary results – and to understand the context of my comments, you do need to first read Karl’s write-up.

Background

I was working the event as an assistant and Range Safety Officer. Given the nature of the event, there was no teaching/instruction provided to students – it was a beta-test for a study, and we needed the live-fire vs. CoolFire to be the only variable. I was paid by KR Training for my time, but I’m always paid by KR Training for my time teaching and assisting (I’m Assistant Lead Instructor @ KR Training). I have no direct relationship with CoolFire, Walther, Al Dvorak, Dr. David Paulus. I’m not getting anything out of this (e.g. there’s no free PPQ or CoolFire here). My opinions are my own.

As a result of my participation and role in the event, I was able to watch a number of people, of varying skill levels and abilities. I also got to spend some time talking with Al Dvorak (inventor of the CoolFire) and he showed me a lot about the system.

I have to say that before the event I was skeptical. After the event, I’m genuinely curious.

Thoughts

There are a lot of training tools out there. Like there’s a dummy magazine that has a mechanism that provides a basic trigger reset – so now every trigger press feels more like a real press, and there’s some sort of tactile and auditory (click) feedback. There’s the popular SIRT Training Pistol. I think the SIRT is an indispensable classroom teaching aid (I use one almost every time I teach to help show and explain concepts to students), but I personally do not find it useful in my own training (I get too laser/dot focused; and if I’m not looking to the dots for feedback, what does this tool offer me in my own training?). YMMV.

Here’s the kicker.

We promote the value of dry fire. It’s well established that dry fire is the true secret to success – just ask folks like Steve Anderson or Ben Stoeger. While we can do most everything in dry fire that we can in live fire, we agree there’s one thing we cannot do – recoil management.

Well, the CoolFire looks to be a way to close that gap. Maybe not a complete closure, but it’s a step.

The first time I fired a fully-charged CoolFire, I was surprised at how much kick it had! Sure, it’s not the same as a pistol firing real ammo, but it was quite ample. A little bit of noise, a little bit of blowback, hey – this is something!

It’s easy in dry fire to forget to focus on your grip. Now, not so easy to forget.

You also have the opportunity to reacquire your sights, since the CoolFire’s recoil will disturb your sight picture.

I think that’s pretty cool.

I also liked how the laser attachment only fired as a result of the air pulse – more like an actual shot. It lets you know where your shot actually went, vs. a continuous-on laser where when you finally perceive the laser it may be where you moved to to after the fact.

I do think there are some downsides.

If you don’t have a lot of hand strength, it may be difficult to operate. Look at the size of the CO2 bottles we used. They’re a bit heavy, especially when you consider you have to hold them upside down, by the nozzle end — it can be difficult to balance. Furthermore, you have to push the tank nozzle into the CoolFire’s port — that takes some oomph to do. Most of the event participants had no problem with any of this. However, as luck had it, a participant on the end of the line next to where I was stationed just didn’t have the hand strength to hold and depress/insert the canister, so I had to refill her CoolFire throughout the event.

There are only so many shots, and each subsequent shot is a little weaker than the prior shot. This is just the nature of the beast. The dropoff isn’t huge – you can get through “a magazine’s worth of shots” before things start to feel too weak to continue. But it’s still there. And if you want to use the laser? You have to unscrew it, recharge, then reattach the laser – cumbersome. CoolFire does sell an adapter that has not only a built-in laser but then a side fill-port AND extra capacity for like 50 more shots. That’s great, but adds to cost (tho you can always buy the attachment later) and will make the gun longer and a little more front-heavy. I didn’t get a chance to try out that attachment so I don’t know how it affects handling (tho I’m sure it affects holstering and drawing due to the increased length and bulk).

The up-front cost. It’s a lot of money to dish out up front. But Karl’s write-up provides a break-down of how that cost actually pans out vs. live fire. When you look at the cost over the long-term, there’s net savings – but it still doesn’t take away the up front sticker shock that many people initially feel.

Aside: PPQ

I didn’t get to spend a LOT of time working with a PPQ. They have shown up in classes, they’ve always worked fine. After the event was over, I spent a little time shooting one. I’ve dry fired the trigger before and found it quite nice for a factory trigger, and live firing was consistent with prior experience. I personally find the gun’s profile a little large for my tastes, but it was comfortable in the hand (I know a lot of people find this an important quality…), easy to get to and work the controls, nice factory trigger, and shot well. Didn’t like the 3-dot sights, but if it were my own gun I’d be changing them to Dawson Precision sights anyways. We also had to disassemble and reassemble the guns to work with the CoolFire; that was very easy to handle (tho the require pressing the trigger) and I was surprised at the plastic guide rod. Still, seemed a decent pistol in the short period I spent with it.

Conclusion

I can’t say the CoolFire will make you a better shooter. I can’t say that CoolFire is a worthwhile and cost-effective training aid for you. I think the results of the beta-test event are encouraging, and I think Karl provides a good and reasonable analysis of the event and the product. I do hope a more full-blown study happens.

Me? Most of the other dry fire training aids have been curious, but not motivated me enough to plunk down my own money for. But after this event, I’m giving serious thought to the CoolFire. I’d at least like an opportunity to spend more time with it.

2018-08-17 training log

This was a good day. Set another rep PR.

I opted to lift again in the powerlifting area. I figure I might as well get used to the visual distractions and other differences. And today wasn’t as bad. A slight change in my setup to mind the visual distractions — I prep looking out and up insetad of down, and I fixate on something that’s not a problem — like the vertical bar of another rack that’s basically in front of me. But still, some weirdness I have to get over, like constantly worrying my right elbow was going to strike the uprights. 🙂 It never did, but it’s in my head for whatever reason.

But still, the work up went well, especially with the renewed focus on setup.

Then the top set went awesome. Last night I knew I had to get 9 reps to stay on track, and 9 I hit. This wasn’t like deadlifting yesterday tho, where it was amazingly easy and I could have gone for more. No, here on rep 7 I could feel things dying out, and rep 8 felt like I should stop there. But it was weird – it felt like I should stop, that rep 9 would be a grinder or a fail. But something else said “no, go for it, you’ll get it”. And I did, and it wasn’t much of a grinder at all; a little slower bar path, but still good.

Quite happy!

On other things:

BBB sets of pressing was where it should be. I am finding that doing 60%-ish on my BBB sets for upper body work is better (whereas 50%-ish on lower body works).

Bent-over raises are staying stable on weights/reps, but I’m working every session on more of the movement — it’s moved purely by contractions. Really trying to work the muscles well, hard, squeeze, and get everything I can out of the movement itself. Every session I find myself a little better than the last time, and the reps are harder. So no need to up anything.

Wide-grip pulldowns – oh, my lats 🙂

JM Press. Happy to do this. I need to stay at this weight for a bit to continue to dial in the bar path, and get more punchy on the concentric. But this is happy and fun.

and the 100 rep curls? I’m starting to hate them LOL. But I’m committed.

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Press
    • bar x 5
    • 75 x 5
    • 95 x 5
    • 115 x 3
    • 125 x 5
    • 140 x 5
    • 160 x 9 (rep PR)
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 7
    • 115 x 7
  • Bent-over Lateral Raises (superset with press warm-up sets)
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
  • Barbell Rows (superset with press work sets)
    • 175 x 8
    • 175 x 8
    • 175 x 8
  • Wide-grip Pulldowns
    • 105 x 10
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 8
    • 145 x 8
  • JM Press
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
  • BB Curl (100 rep protocol)
    • 45 x 100

2018-08-16 training log

500 lb deadlift? Soon.

This is 5+ week, and the top set is 385 for 5+. Looking at the data, I needed at least 9 reps to keep on my upward trajectory. I figured it would be do-able. And it was. In fact, I was really surprised how easy it came. I just kept repping and it went so fast, so quick. Every rep of the workup was fast and felt light, and I knew the 385 would come easy — but didn’t think it would be this easy. Could the deadlift bar have something to do with it? Maybe, don’t know. What’s also interesting is at 9 reps I could have kept going! But my brain was so focused on “hit 9” that once I hit it I stopped. I’m ok with that, but it was interesting that I had LOT more in me.

But what really got me? When I entered the data into RepCount and looked at history, the history screen puts an estimated 1RM.

It said 501.

That’s a first for me. And it kinda blew my mind. 🙂

Now, I don’t expect that to actually mean I could pull 500 off the floor right now. Every 1RM formula is just an estimate, and the more reps into the equation the further from the truth it becomes. However, it’s still useful as a measure of progress and comparison.

And I am closer to pulling 500 than I’ve ever been. It really excites me, and makes me feel like I could do this before the end of the year.

In other news…

Using the 2.5kg collars for deadlifting, which is great for keeping the plates tight and secure. But I do have to remember to factor them into the plate math. While it’s roughly 11 lb, I just figure it as 2 5 lb plates — it’s 10 lb for all intents and purposes.

Belt squats are finding a home. For sure I do need to do some warm-up/work-up to ensure things feel good. And seeing the reps I was hitting, I’m going to keep upping the weight. I don’t want it to be some max effort movement – it’ll still be about reps. But I can move more and I want to get all I can out of this movement.

The 1-leg reverse hypers are still an experiment. The hardest part is finding a good position. I was resting my “other” foot on a little rest, but that ends up taking on too much pressure and I don’t feel my working leg is getting the work it needs. So I tried more dangling it and just not being involved but stable, and that seemed to improve things but still felt a wee awkward. So I’ll continue to keep the weight kinda light and continue to work to find better positioning. BUT I can say, as I’m working on arching at the top and rounding at the bottom, I actually felt something “move” in my lower back. Something felt better! That was a nice thing.

Upright Rows felt fun to do 135. I do need a bit of warm-up, but otherwise that felt good.

And the cable curls are just a lot of fun.

Skipped the bike today — time constraints. But I am spending more time on the foam roller afterwards, doing my PT work as well as just more general rolling and stretching. It’s the stuff I used to do but kinda fell away from it for whatever reason. I feel better

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Deadlift (superset with band pullaparts)
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 275 x 3
    • 295 x 5
    • 340 x 5
    • 385 x 9 (rep PR)
  • Belt Squat
    • 90 x 15
    • 135 x 15
    • 180 x 15
    • 180 x 15
  • 1-Leg Reverse Hypers
    • 75 x 20e
    • 75 x 20e
    • 75 x 20e
    • 75 x 20e
  • Upright rows
    • bar x 8
    • 95 x 5
    • 135 x 8
    • 135 x 8
    • 135 x 8
    • 135 x 8
  • 1-Arm Cable Curls
    • 40 x 12e
    • 40 x 12e
    • 40 x 12e
    • 40 x 10e

2018-08-14 training log

Pretty decent day.

Benching went well. I’m enjoying the competition bench/rack, especially how the bench pad covering is so tacky — I can really get into AND STAY in position. I am finding myself making small changes to technique to work with this. It’s also really nice to have more fine adjustments in rack height — less disturbance to the shoulders and position when unracking the bar.

And so then more benching. Moar. More volume right now, that will decrease as the cycles wear on. I picked a weight that’s a little more than 50% in an effort to not get a clean 5×10.

I’m also not supersetting as much. In part it’s driven by equipment realities at the gym, but also I’m wanting to move away from it. It’s a fine technique at times, but I get more out of things when I can focus on the thing vs. the 2nd exercise getting less out of it because fatigued and not from that exercise. Not totally abandoning because of time limits, but some.

Dropped Krocs in favor of regular DB rows. I need to up the weight, but it’s a nice variation.

I was to do curl-grip pulldowns, but my arms/shoulders weren’t feeling it – so narrow grip it was. I’m also adding a little more warm-up work to help me ease into things – happier joints and tendons.

I’m also trying to drop the rest time between sets. Bigger movements like benching, same 2-3 minutes. But the assistance work? Trying to move to 60-90 seconds.

I gotta admit, feeling a wee beat up. I want to push as much as I can and see about making at least 3 cycles here. After that, I’ll adjust. I’m starting to think a good idea might be knowing 1RM-ish, taking 85% for an EDM, then doing 3 cycles in a more hypertrophy orientation such as 5’s PRO and a lot of assistance work. And also, taking a bit of a cut diet. I would expect this should not set me back too much in terms of long-term progress, and help me overall wave through a good long-term approach.

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Bench Press
    • bar x 5
    • 110 x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 160 x 3
    • 175 x 5
    • 200 x 5
    • 230 x 8
    • 155 x 10
    • 155 x 10
    • 155 x 8
    • 155 x 6
    • 155 x 6
  • Bent-over Lateral Raises (superset with bench warm-up sets)
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
    • 20e x 15
  • DB Rows (superset with bench work sets)
    • 75 x 12e
    • 75 x 12e
    • 75 x 12e
  • Narrow-Grip Pulldowns
    • 90 x 10
    • 120 x 15
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 8
  • Rope-Handle Pushdowns (superset with curls)
    • 100 x 20
    • 100 x 20
    • 100 x 13
    • 100 x 10
  • Cross-Body Alternating DB Curls
    • 35e x 12e
    • 35e x 12e
    • 35e x 10e
    • 35e x 8e
  • Stationary Bike
    • 10 min

2018-08-13 training log

It wasn’t the day I wanted, but it was the day I got.

New cycle starts today. 5+ day. Looking at numbers, I was hoping for at least 7 maybe 8 reps. I got 6. Ugh.

It’s all me. Went out of town on Saturday, didn’t eat well. Then Sunday was a lot of sleeping and poor eating just the same. It all showed up today. On top of that, I’ve been trying to work on my cues, especially since there’s no more mirror for feedback. Alas, the cues have been throwing me off and today I told myself to “just squat like you do” but I can still implement the cues to some extent. So it was better, but still off.

Just shit for me to work on. Some days aren’t great, and today was one of them.

Pause squats were happy and fun tho. I’m glad I chose them because 1. they should help me, 2. for sure they can help me on the technique part — in fact, on the 5th set I was really feeling some better groove of technique. So yeah, I expect this will be helpful over time.

As well, I opted last night to change my approach to assistance work. Instead of ramping up over the weeks, I’m going to start high and ramp down. I’m nearing maxes and the need for a reset. So intensities are going up and nearing my threshold, so it stands to reason I should ramp down the assistance work to aid in recovery, etc.

And on some of the assistance work, I’m adding in a warm-up set because for some, just diving right in isn’t keeping my joints happy.

Anyways, we’ll see how this goes.

5/3/1 (4th cycle, leader-1, 5/3/1+PR sets)

  • Squat (superset with band pullaparts)
    • bar x 5
    • 140 x 5
    • 175 x 5
    • 205 x 3
    • 225 x 5
    • 250 x 5
    • 295 x 6
  • Pause Squats
    • 225 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 225 x 3
  • 1-Leg Leg Press
    • Sled x 20e
    • Sled x 20e
    • Sled x 16e
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way overhead)
    • 25 x 12
    • 45 x 20
    • 45 x 13
    • 45 x 12
  • Reverse Curls
    • 20 x 12
    • 70 x 10
    • 70 x 10
    • 70 x 7
  • Stationary Bike
    • 10 min

Sunday Metal – Toxic Holocaust

Toxic Holocaust with “Acid Fuzz”

2018-08-10 training log

Today ends both the deload AND this first mesocycle. It was productive, fun, and I’m looking forward to the next 3 months.

Since I’ve been using the “new” powerlifting equipment all week, I opted to finish out the week with the same for Press.

It was different.

First, I felt really naked. No rack, no catch/spotter/saver bars, no nothing — just out in space lifting. Then, because of where the racks are located relative to the group classes, I had a LOT of visual traffic to contend with. It wasn’t a big deal for squatting – there’s a half-wall, eyes are somewhat down, and I’m squtting down so the wall is most of what I see. But here? I’m standing up, eyes are forward, and all the traffic was literally in front of my face. I’m not mad at the people in the group class — they gotta do their stuff too! It’s just stuff, and there’s potential for people to get a little too close for comfort. So pressing may be something I continue to do in the main racks on the other side of the gym. But squat, bench, deadlift? Yeah, I’m going to continue in the powerlifting area for now.

Otherwise, today was today. Just some deload lifts, light accessory work. I did make one change at the end. Instead of the lying triceps extensions, I opted to do JM Presses. Why? Just for variety, and something a bit heavier — most of my other triceps work is higher rep, so this I’ll probably keep in the 8-ish range.

Anyways, next week is setting up to be fun!

5/3/1 (3rd cycle, anchor, 3/5/1, PR, Jokers, FSL; modified for knee rehab)

  • Press
    • bar x 5
    • 75 x 5
    • 95 x 5
    • 115 x 3
    • 135 x 3
    • 155 x 2
    • 175 x 1
    • 135 x 10
  • Bent-over Lateral Raises (superset with press warm-up sets)
    • 20e x 10
    • 20e x 10
    • 20e x 10
    • 20e x 10
  • Normal-grip Pulldowns (superset with press work sets)
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 10
    • 145 x 10
  • Barbell Rows (superset with press FSL sets)
    • 165 x 8
  • JM Press
    • 95 x 10
  • BB Curl
    • 45 x 20