2017-09-21 training log

I haven’t been feeling it with my back sessions, so I opted to change it up. Today marks the first outing with the minor changes. So far, I like it. I’ll need at least another session to settle things in but so far so good.

Face pulls are kept light and minimal, just to get things warmed up. Then into some heavier rows, which I’ve really been enjoying getting back to doing. Shrugs continue to be amusing to me as I try to find the right weights to work with. I’m thinking I may adjust this where I do the 2 heavy sets, then drop to the light sets and let the light sets just crank to failure instead of straight-sets.

Cable rows. This is a new addition, and I just love cable rows. No back movement gives me as much feel in my lats and such as cable rows do. I did want to do them with a wide, neutral grip, but couldn’t find the bar — until after I had finished my rows, of course. So I just used the same old narrow neutral grip handle, which was fine. I should be able to get the weight dialed in by next session. Then curl-grip pulldowns I opted for for a little more variety/angles on the back, but curl grips also give me a lot more feel in my lats for whatever reason. So them, with some drop set work, great.

All in all, not bad. I still feel like I need a bit more volume, but I think I can get there with some continued small adjustments. Plus, this is fine to be a bit on the lower side as it gives me somewhere to go and lets me stretch out the training cycle longer.

  • Face Pulls
    • 65 x 25
    • 65 x 25
  • Barbell Rows
    • 135 x 8
    • 155 x 7
    • 175 x 6
    • 195 x 5
    • 205 x 4
    • 215 x 3
    • 175 x 10 (AMRAP)
    • 175 x 5 (50%)
  • BB Shrugs
    • 295 x 8
    • 295 x 8
    • 215 x 20
    • 210 x 20
  • Cable Row (low, wide neutral grip)
    • 120 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 150 x 14
  • Curl-Grip Pulldowns
    • 105 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 105 x 5 (drop)
    • 90 x 5 (drop)

2017-09-18 training log

It got better.

I’ve been having trouble sleeping the past few weeks, and it’s evident in many areas of life right now. I’m working on it, but it’s complicated. Anyways, I just felt poopy going into the gym this morning. The 125 set on inclines felt like a ton, and didn’t set the stage well for me. I thought about going easier, dropping some top sets off, or maybe taking an impromptu deload. But then I said nah… just do it and let things happen as they do.

The top 235 set was a little sloppy, but it happened. Overall inclines are in a good place, progressing.

DB benches continue to be fun for me. Small warm-up sets, then it was fun taking the 95’s for a ride. What’s hard isn’t so much moving the weight but not dropping it! These are big rubber hex DB’s with THICK handles, so it’s a lot to hold onto, and adds a nice extra challenge to things. But what’s even more fun is as I drop the weight, I work to move more by pure muscular contraction. So that final set with the 40’s, maybe the first 2/3rds of the reps were me trying to just contract my pecs to move the weight, then as they started to burn letting it become more of a full-pressing motion (letting triceps work, etc.). It really cranks things out hard, as I strive to go to muscular failure.

Flies then were kinda the same thing. First set, so exhausted so I didn’t hit many reps, but a little rest and the reps came. Work each set to (almost) failure, then drop set. Good stuff.

Pressing is just fun these days. I don’t know why, but I’m really enjoying it.

Then the raises. Oof. Continues to be a killer, and adding in burns and other things to really push the delts to failure. For sure I am seeing results here. Even if the weight/reps aren’t necessarily going up, that doesn’t matter — it’s about the work and knocking the crap out of my delts. It is paying off.

So it started crappy, but ended pretty well. Hopefully it’s an indicator for the rest of the week.

  • Incline Press
    • bar x 10
    • 125 x 5
    • 145 x 4
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 2
    • 205 x 1
    • 225 x 1
    • 235 x 1
    • 195 x 8 (AMRAP)
    • 195 x 4 (50%)
  • DB Bench Press (pause at bottom, get the stretch)
    • 40e x 10 (warm)
    • 60e x 8 (warm)
    • 95e x 6
    • 70e x 12
    • 40e x 25
  • DB Flat Flies
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 15
    • 25e x 17
    • 20e x 6 (drop)
    • 15e x 10 (drop)
  • Press
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
  • Front Plate Raise (tri set)
    • 45 x 13
    • 45 x 10
    • 45 x 9
  • DB Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 6 (then burns)
  • Rear Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 12e x 12
    • 12e x 12
    • 12e x 8 (then burns)

2017-09-15 training log

Geez… it must have been International Arm Day at the gym today. Everybody was kung foo curling.

The switch away from supersets to just alternating is good. My session is taking longer, but I am getting more out of it. Pushing most sets to failure, trying to get out of it as much as I can. Apart from the first two heavy exercises, everything else I really try to work by pure muscular contraction – especially the cable exercises, which lend quite well.

Feeling good about the adjustments. Will stick with this for a bit.

I’m starting to wonder if this may be my general programming approach: more bodybuilding-like, but still with some strength-building elements. It’s certainly proving to be more friendly to my body, and while I’m not building strength as quickly as I’d like, there’s still progress and it feels like solid progress. I need more weeks of this under my belt to make a better evaluation, but so far so good.

  • BB Curls (elbows in, wider grip)
    • 55 x 8
    • 65 x 7
    • 75 x 6
    • 85 x 5
    • 95 x 4
    • 105 x 3
    • 85 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 85 x 6 (50%)
  • Close-Grip Bench
    • bar x 10
    • 105 x 8
    • 125 x 7
    • 145 x 6
    • 185 x 5
    • 205 x 4
    • 225 x 3
    • 195 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 195 x 6 (50%)
  • Incline Hammer Curls (3 second eccentric, go to failure, then stand and do AMRAP alternating supinated curls)
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 9
  • Standing French Press
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 15
  • Cable Curl (hold/sqeeze at top)
    • 50 x 35
    • 50 x 24
    • 50 x 21
    • 40 x 5 (drop)
    • 30 x 5 (drop)
  • Rope Pressdowns (First 20, twist out hands at bottom; remainder straight hands pushed to failure)
    • 60 x 40
    • 60 x 40
    • 60 x 31
    • 50 x 6 (drop)
    • 40 x 5 (drop)

2017-09-14 training log

I still don’t feel like I have this day dialed in.

It’s generally ok, but it feels like my back could take a little more work to maximize results, especially as I’m trying to up perceived intensity.

My thinking:

  • Drop the face pulls, not entirely, but lower the weight and maybe just 2 sets. I shouldn’t get any work from these, just some blood pumping.
  • Drop pull-ups. I want to continue doing some sort of “up”, but they all seem to be the biggest thing aggravating my arm pain. So, they gotta go.
  • Keep the BB rows as-is, for something heavy-ish.
  • Keep shrugs, but let the higer-rep sets go to true failure instead of straight-setting it.
  • Add in cable rows, moderate reps (8-12). I need to see if the gym has such a bar, but hopefully a wide, neutral-grip. The seated cable row machines there have the pulleys slightly high (i.e. not pulling at belly-button level, more like mid-chest), and I think a wide, neutral-grip would be good here. Straight sets, like 3-4×8-12. MIGHT add drop-set at the end.
  • Then keep pulldowns but I might change to underhand grip — have to see how my biceps handle it. Same straight sets, with a drop-set at the end.

I think this will provide a little more volume, a little more intensity.

As for today, not bad. I do think it’s too much with the face pulls – tiring out the small upper-back muscles and so things like pull-ups suffer. Still, pull-ups mostly suffer because I’m fat and weak. 😉 But yeah, they continue to cause me more problems than anything else, so they get shelved for now.

BB rows are fine. I like going a little heavy, a hint of english (not doing Pendlay Rows), but ensuring the back is pulling, full scapular retraction and then extension, etc..

Shrugs are always amusing. I want to get more out of them tho, hence the push to failure.

And the pulldowns were kinda fun because yeah… drop sets are somehow more magical for me now than ever before. I really put “just contract the muscle” into them (vs. trying to move the weight, trying to get another rep), and gah… it’s good.

  • Face Pulls
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 29
  • Pull-Ups
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 2
  • Barbell Rows
    • 115 x 8
    • 135 x 7
    • 155 x 6
    • 175 x 5
    • 195 x 4
    • 205 x 3
    • 165 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 165 x 6 (50%)
  • BB Shrugs
    • 285 x 8
    • 285 x 8
    • 205 x 20
    • 205 x 20
  • Close-grip Pulldowns
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 10
    • 115 x 3 (drop)
    • 110 x 3 (drop)

2017-09-12 training log

Felt stiff this morning. Feeling better overall due to the stretching and body work I’m doing — twisting the spine is huge. I mean, most of the movements and work I do has no twisting, and even much of my life has no twisting. It stands to reason I’d get stiff and inflexible along those lines. So working in more of those movements as I stretch and roll? It’s been wonderful.

Anyways, the work-up was nothing of note. Keeping tight, slow descent, really working to keep the bar centered over mid-foot. I did up the top-weight 5# just because. And on the AMRAP I probably could have eeked out a 15th but I felt better to just leave it. This will make me repeat the whole thing next week, and next week I want overall performance to be better. THEN I can up the weight across the board. One interesting thing is I paused between each AMRAP rep just to breathe — pacing. Well, that actually stressed me differently, because I found my back tiring out much sooner because it just had more time under tension, vs. repping it out. Interesting observation.

Stiff-legs are fine; finally hitting a weight/rep that’s taxing me.

Lunges. I hate them. 🙂

  • Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 4
    • 195 x 3
    • 245 x 2
    • 275 x 1
    • 305 x 1
    • 325 x 1
    • 295 x 3
    • 245 x 14 (AMRAP)
  • 1″ Deficit Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    • 255 x 8
    • 255 x 8
    • 255 x 8
  • Walking Lunges
    • BW x 20e
    • BW x 15e
    • BW x 10e
    • BW x 5e

2017-09-11 training log

Today brought everyone out — gym was crazy busy. This is why I like being an early person — get the optimal racks and equipment. 😉

That said, sometimes I do wish for fixed benches. Having to set the hooks, bars, bench, etc. every time gets things slightly off. And today was no fun, because I hit the hooks a couple times and really threw myself off. My own fault, as I need to make sure to keep positioning and checking the position of things, like if the bench may have slid back a bit. It’s just more learning the new gym, the new equipment.

Incline work went quite well. I think I will up the weight 5-10# next session on the work-up, because that 225 goes up so fast, so easy. I also had the thought today about dropping the incline angle. I’m setting it at about a 45º angle, but I’ve wondered about going 30º or so. Mostly to start to see if I can get back to flat benching. I’m thinking that after this hypertrophy block I might do something like basebuilding for 6 weeks or so, and if I do that I want to flat bench. Anyways, if I do increase the weight, the AMRAP will stay where it is. I might have felt different, but I hit the hooks on this and it threw me off. I want to get a clean 12 and 6 before I up the weight there.

DB benching continues to be awesome. I love this scheme.

Flies were fine. I’m going to keep the weight here but move to a max of 15 reps before I up the weight again.

Pressing. Man, part of me wants to get back to a 5/3/1 style where I press heavy on the regular. I do miss that.

Then the raises. I really don’t care much about reps here, just making pain. And when I do those final burns, to make sure the movement is purely from muscular contraction. It hurts, it hurts. But I am seeing some nice results.

20 on the elliptical. Then all that rolling and stretching. It’s helping me so much. Heck, there was something in my lower lumbar vetebrae that popped the other day, because I could finally stretch/twist through enough. It was… amazing. The past some weeks (months?) I’ve been feeling all this low back pain/discomfort, that was starting to really worry me. But that’s all it was — a “stuck” vertebrae. One that popped, oh it was glorious. Now everything feels awesome. And this is how it often goes. Muscles are all tight, things get “locked” in weird ways, stretch and let things relax and release, and boy does everything release eventually. And then things are SO much better.

  • Incline Press
    • bar x 10
    • 115 x 5
    • 135 x 4
    • 155 x 3
    • 175 x 2
    • 195 x 1
    • 215 x 1
    • 225 x 1
    • 185 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 185 x 5 (50%)
  • DB Bench Press (pause at bottom, get the stretch)
    • 40e x 10 (warm up)
    • 55e x 8 (warm up)
    • 90e x 8
    • 65e x 14
    • 40e x 22
  • DB Flat Flies
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 15
    • 20e x 6 (drop)
    • 15e x 5 (drop)
  • Press
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 8
  • Front Plate Raise (tri set)
    • 45 x 12
    • 45 x 9
    • 45 x 7
  • DB Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 7
    • 15e x 5 (then burns)
  • Rear Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 12e x 10
    • 12e x 10
    • 12e x 8 (then burns)

2017-09-08 training log

The highlight of today wasn’t the workout, but all the after-work. I believe all the foam rolling, stretching, massage, and other bodywork I’m doing to myself is making a big and positive impact on my entire body, but especially my back and shoulder area. I’m still working on finding better ways to impact my shoulder/upper-back area, but it’s getting there. And overall, things are feeling MUCH looser, MUCH better. I’d like to hope this is going to improve my arm pain issues too, as I believe that is actually rooted in my shoulders.

Heck, just rolling a tennis ball under my foot (on the sole) for a few minutes is having a noticable impact and improvement. I used to use a lacrosse ball, but that didn’t work as well. The tennis ball works better because it squishes, so I get more contact and a spread-out force, instead of a pin-point force. Just push/stand “hard” and roll it everywhere on my sole. So much improvement.

I may skip cardio here and there, but I don’t want to skip this rehab work.

Anyways, arm day.

I made one big change: no more supersets. Instead, I alternate: all curl sets, then all close-grip, then all hammers, then all french press, etc.. I also changed to only have 1.5 minutes of intraset rest, trying to keep moving. I found that when I started a new exercise it went better because the muscle group was more rested. But as the sets went on, because of the drop in intraset rest, the sets actually got harder. I think this works better, if nothing else, it’s less of a logistical problem at the gym.

I did change my final biceps exercise to cable curls. Had to adjust the weight a bit to find the right spot (may drop it even a little bit more to hit even higher reps). But I dug it. What was especially cool was really feeling the isolation here – the curling felt like pure biceps contraction and nothing else, especially on the drop sets at the end.

So, I’ll probably go with this emotion for a bit.

  • BB Curls (elbows in, wider grip)
    • 55 x 8
    • 65 x 7
    • 75 x 6
    • 85 x 5
    • 95 x 4
    • 105 x 3
    • 85 x 10 (AMRAP)
    • 85 x 5 (50%)
  • Close-Grip Bench
    • bar x 5
    • 105 x 8
    • 125 x 7
    • 145 x 6
    • 185 x 5
    • 205 x 4
    • 225 x 3
    • 195 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 195 x 5 (50%)
  • Incline Hammer Curls (3 second eccentric, go to failure, then stand and do AMRAP alternating supinated curls)
    • 25e x 12 (8 more)
    • 25e x 12 (3 more)
    • 25e x 10 (3 more)
  • Standing French Press
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 15
    • 75 x 10
  • Cable Curl (hold/sqeeze at top)
    • 60 x 23
    • 50 x 27
    • 50 x 18
    • 40 x 5 (drop)
    • 30 x 5 (drop)
  • Rope Pressdowns (First 20, twist out hands at bottom; remainder straight hands pushed to failure)
    • 60 x 40
    • 60 x 33
    • 60 x 25
    • 50 x 8 (drop)
    • 40 x 8 (drop)

2017-09-07 training log

Today didn’t start out so great. My arm pain flared up yesterday pretty bad. I was hauling some 50 lb bags of corn and somehow that caused my biceps and forearms to hate life. My grip strength dropped as well. Not good. Felt a little residual this morning, and things didn’t start off so great. Pull-ups not only dropped in reps, but they were hurting – enough that I told myself if this gets worse I was going to pack it in and go home.

However, things actually got better as I went along. Yes I still felt weaker overall today due to the problems, but after rows things just felt better, and I’m still feeling better here a couple hours later at home. I’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

Anyways, not too much to say. Adding in some intensity techniques. I need to up the weight on shrugs. That’s about the only other comment I have right now.

  • Face Pulls
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 25
    • 75 x 20
  • Pull-Ups
    • BW x 4
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 2
  • Barbell Rows
    • 115 x 8
    • 135 x 7
    • 155 x 6
    • 175 x 5
    • 195 x 4
    • 205 x 3
    • 165 x 11 (AMRAP)
    • 165 x 6 (50%)
  • BB Shrugs
    • 275 x 8
    • 275 x 8
    • 185 x 20
    • 185 x 30
  • Close-grip Pulldowns
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 110 x 4 (drop set)
    • 95 x 3 (drop set)

2017-09-05 training log

This is working well, but some things are not so well.

Squats themselves are great. I’m enjoying the work up, the top set, then the pyramid down with the triple and the AMRAP. It feels good. I’m going to stick with this work-up for now, and when this AMRAP maxes out I’ll probably bump everything up 5-10 lbs.

The deficits work well, and the lunges — tho I hate them — are good for me.

I’m still trying to find something with my lower back and hamstrings. Reverse hypers made things scream. So today I thought maybe I could try the glute-ham raise. Well, that didn’t last long. I’m not exactly sure what it was, but it was not fun. Either it was the same nerve pain, just flaring up in a different way, or it was just the load on my hams being something totally new and maybe too much for them. I really don’t know, but it was not a good pain.

At this point I’m actually getting a little concerned about what’s up with me. As for how to deal with it, don’t know yet. Still gathering data.

Anyways, if it means I just have to do things like leg curls and stiff-legs for my hams, then so be it. But still, I’d like to try to figure out what the deeper issue is and see if I can fix it.

  • Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 4
    • 195 x 3
    • 245 x 2
    • 275 x 1
    • 305 x 1
    • 320 x 1
    • 295 x 3
    • 245 x 12 (AMRAP)
  • 1″ Deficit Stiff-Leg Deadlift
    • 245 x 8
    • 245 x 8
    • 245 x 8
  • Walking Lunges
    • BW x 15e
    • BW x 15e
    • BW x 15e
    • BW x 5e

2017-09-04 training log

I thought I had things dialed in, but it looks like there’s still some room to adjust. Not a bad thing, as I’d rather start light and slow and have a longer road of progression.

Incline pressing adds a little to the work up. Taking a cue from the squatting, to work up to a heavier weight so I can keep that progressing. I’m getting more used to the equipment at the new gym, and it’s really forcing me to improve my technique, which is a good thing. Much more tightness throughout my body. One thing I realized today is I have not been keeping my midsection tight, so I focused hard on being tight from toes to top-of-head today. What was cool was that often caused the bar to just rise out of the j-hooks like magic. Tightness is so key, and there’s always room for improvement. It’s probably the #1 cue I tell myself.

I will stick with these weights on inclines until I hit 6 on the 50% set. Any “high rep sets” that I’m doing for upper body I’m setting a ceiling of 12 reps before I drop back down. Not everything will go to 12, but certainly that’s the ceiling for upper body work.

DB benches were really cool today. First, I still think I can up the top weight because I’m aiming for 6 reps; I got 8 and only stopped at 8 because I was not trying to rep-out here (I could have done more). So this will probably get a 5# bump. I’ll probably also bump the 2nd set to 65’s, but the last set is about where I want it. For sure these are really good. I go down, hold, stretch, sink in, and press up. Descent is a little slow, ascent is explosive. Push to true failure. I really like how these go. I am also finding they are giving me one hell of a grip workout, which is an unexpected but welcome side-effect.

Flies are whatever they are. I need to up that weight because I pushed the last set to failure and got a LOT of reps here. In fact, even tho I added the drop set, I didn’t quite go to failure on the sets. It was almost failure, so it just means I need to bump up a hair.

As a result of pushing a bit harder on the front end, the back-end shoulder work of course lost a little ground. This is to be expected. Main comment here is on the last set each of lat raises and bent raises I would do some partial burns. No idea how many, just until I couldn’t do any more.

Afterwards I did 20 minutes elliptical, then a good session of stretching and rolling. In fact, one thing I spent some time on was just “standing” on a tennis ball and rolling it under my foot to massage and loosen up the muscles in my sole. Wow, that hurt, but afterwards is feeling so good. Yes, overall things are feeling better, and I really do need to keep this work on the recovery and just maintaining my body. It’s making my gym sessions long, but so far my body is thankful.

  • Incline Press
    • bar x 10
    • 115 x 5
    • 135 x 4
    • 155 x 3
    • 175 x 2
    • 195 x 1
    • 215 x 1
    • 225 x 1
    • 185 x 12 (AMRAP)
    • 185 x 4 (50%)
  • DB Bench Press (pause at bottom, get the stretch)
    • 40e x 10 (light warmup)
    • 55e x 8 (light warmup)
    • 85e x 8
    • 60e x 15
    • 40e x 21
  • DB Flat Flies
    • 20e x 12
    • 20e x 12
    • 20e x 20, 15e x 11, 12e x 10 (drop set)
  • Press
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 6
  • Front Plate Raise (tri set)
    • 45 x 12
    • 45 x 9
    • 45 x 7
  • DB Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 15e x 10
    • 15e x 9
    • 15e x 7 (followed by partial burns)
  • Rear Lateral Raise (tri set)
    • 12e x 10
    • 12e x 10
    • 12e x 10 (followed by partial burns)