Sunday Metal – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden. Live from the 1983 Piece of Mind tour

 

2018-04-27 training log

It’s been a long time since I could say I set a PR. 🙂

It was a rep PR: incline bench, 7 reps at 215#. Nothing huge, but given all things to date, it’s a big deal for me. And it’s an all-time rep PR too, which is cool. I had some more in the tank too, but that’s fine — it’s the heaviest week of the cycle, but we’re still not supposed to go to failure. So I’m very happy about this.

For the record, I did have my elbow sleeves and also wrapped my wrists – not sure if they made any difference. And I continue to work on benching with my pinkies on the rings (slightly narrower than I have been).

Still, all of this did cause enough irritation of things in my arms/shoulders, so I played it conservative. Even more so when it came to the DB benching, because I was scheduled to use the 100’s — which would have been another all-time personal best. Never benched the 100’s, it’s 100, it’s 3-digits, all sorts of things because we like round neat numbers. But I opted against it because I was just too unsure. No reason to make things worse for me. So instead I dropped the weight down and tried doing what I’m planning for next cycle: paused. Keep the DB’s 45º to the body, let the weight sink down as far as I can, pause, really sink into it, then press out really emphasizing it by contraction of the pecs & anterior delts. That worked well. Part of me thinks I should have just gone through with the 100’s, but I can’t let ego talk right now.

Everything else was what it was, no big deal, just assistance work.

Still, I’m very happy with how this past week went. I feel that while I’ve lost some strength in the short term, overall I am stronger — I just have to remember how to be strong. 😉 To get comfortable again under heavier weights, to improve my technique under heavier weights — especially setup. I’m really looking forward to this next cycle.

Next week I’ll take the deload, then into cycle #2, which will will mostly the same structure as this past cycle.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 4

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 3
    • 215 x 7 (rep PR)
    • 215 x 6
    • 215 x 5
  • DB Bench Press (paused, sunk)
    • 70e x 10
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 9
    • 80e x 8
  • Neutral-grip Pulldowns
    • 105 x 10
    • 165 x 10
    • 165 x 10
    • 165 x 8
  • DB Lateral Raises
    • 35e x 8
    • 35e x 8
    • 35e x 8
  • DB Hammer Curls
    • 25e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 9
    • 45e x 8

2018-04-26 training log

Today was pretty cool. Deadlifts felt great. I really prefer this 5-step setup as it’s really helping me pull better.

I went double-overhead to start, which maybe I shouldn’t have done. I knew I was in the gray area of grip here, but I always prefer to go double-over if I can because that will build grip better. Well, first work set and on rep 5 I felt grip starting to go so I stopped. I certainly had more reps in me too. Sigh. On the 3rd work set I went ahead to mixed grip, which was fine. Really, I’m not unhappy with how things went, just that I know I could have done a little more if not for grip. But that’s all good, since it’s been ages since I’ve conventional deadlifted and really didn’t know where things would be — but now I do.

The back raises were funny because I was thinking about dumping them for good mornings, but I think I’ll keep them. Adding more weight and making sure to perform the movement as a “hip thrust” instead of a back raise makes a HUGE difference. While holding a 14 kg kettlebell under my chin wasn’t a huge amount of extra weight, that coupled with making the muscles work (vs. a big movement) does make a big difference — and yes, it all trashes my back pretty good. So I think I’m going to stick with hypers into the next cycle, just keep upping the weight.

By the time I got to pauses my lower back and glutes were on fire, so I wasn’t sure how they would go. But again, they came out pretty well. I stopped at 5 reps per set because of my knees, but I could have done more. Just happy and fine to be conservative here. No harm in that, better for the long term.

Calves and abs are just continuing to remind me that while I may not care to work them, just a few sets each time continues to be a good thing for me.

Anyways, very happy with today.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 4

  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 315 x 3
    • 365 x 1
    • 380 x 5
    • 380 x 5
    • 380 x 5
    • 380 x 5
  • 45º Back Raise
    • 30 x 10
    • 30 x 10
    • 30 x 10
  • Pause Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 235 x 5
    • 235 x 5
    • 235 x 5
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12
  • Slant Board Situps
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 9

A willingness

It quickly became clear it was something else. Bullets shattered the restaurant’s windows. A man collapsed onto the floor. Servers ran. A young man whom Mr. Shaw had seen minutes earlier, silhouetted in a pickup truck, was gripping an AR-15 rifle. He was squeezing the trigger, and squeezing it again as he moved toward the building.

Then the firing paused. Mr. Shaw could see the man reloading his weapon just after entering the restaurant.

He sensed a moment when he could fight back.

“I acted in a blink of a second,” Mr. Shaw said. “When he reloaded his clip, that felt like 30 minutes. I looked at him, and he wasn’t looking at me. He just had the barrel down. It was like, ‘Do it now. Go now.’ I just took off.”

He scuffled with the man, whom the police later identified as [I refuse to reprint his name], a 29-year-old construction worker with a history of brushes with authorities. Mr. Shaw managed to seize the rifle and hurled it over a countertop.

Full article.

If there’s a name worth remembering here, it’s that of James Shaw, Jr.

He saw a moment. He acted – decisively, swiftly.

I’ve been seeing some things going around about this incident countering the “what stops a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun” trope by crossing out the “good guy with a gun” and replacing it with “good guy with bare hands”.

I get it.

It’s worth understanding a few things.

Mr. Shaw was lucky. Not every event receives such a pause, nor has a willing person in such a position to act when that pause occurs. This isn’t to say I’m not thankful for what Mr. Shaw did; just we must realize that this was a tactic from opportunity, not from planning.

This is also not a tactic suitable for all people. Mr. Shaw is a young strong man. I think about one of the students I had in class this past weekend: she was elderly, small, frail, and not strong. Are you suggesting she should go hands-on? I’m sure you’re not, but then what would you suggest she do as a means of personal protection (since I reckon you’re unable and/or unwilling to be her round-the-clock bodyguard)?

Do you know what this act demonstrates?

That sometimes violence is exactly the answer.

Violence in and of itself is neither good nor bad. It’s how that violence is applied, in what context, towards what end, that determines if it is good or bad.

Mr. Shaw made the decision to respond with violence – and thank God he did.

When a woman gouges out the eyes of someone attempting to rape her, when she kicks and punches and bites and claws her attacker – she is responding with violence. Preventing rape is quite the good reason to hit someone.

People who choose to carry a gun or simply choose to own a gun for personal protection have come to accept there are evil people in this world. They have come to understand that sometimes the right and only response is a violent one.

This doesn’t mean that a gun is the answer, always the answer. Nor does it mean that violence is always the answer.

But sometimes it is.

And it’s necessary to have the willingness to apply it.

2018-04-24 training log

Today was great!

Going into today I was a little nervous. There’s the arm pain – which is diminishing, but still present. It’s heaviest weight I’ve benched in a long time, and the crazy thing is that any time I’ve been working with this weight, there’s always been arm pain present and it’s always gotten in the way. So I really wasn’t sure how things would go. In fact, I was so unsure how this would go that I asked for a spot for all 5 of my working sets; normally I go without a spotter, but I just wasn’t sure how today would go and didn’t want to kill myself.

And I didn’t kill myself; in fact, I exceeded my expectations!

I told myself that if things got so bad that all I could do was a single, then so be it. I wanted to do well, but I am not out to kill myself or make things worse. I was just going to get under the bar and take each rep as it came. I added a single at 225 as a warm-up so it wasn’t as huge a jump from 185 to 240.

But then I started on my work sets, and the reps just kept coming.

I think part of it is setup. I focused more on setup on these sets than I probably ever have. To get really tight, really place myself. To “slide” the bar out of the hooks to minimize disturbance to the shoulders. Take a moment to reset the shoulders, and even take another deep breath. Everything I could think of to really ensure I was tight tight tight. I also did my new thing of pinkies on the rings (instead of ring finger). I shouldn’t be surprised, but it did influence my bar path — my body wanted the bar to touch higher, but that slight adjustment made things want to touch a bit lower. It was an interesting “fight” but I just went with it as best I could.

I will say, the first rep descent on each work set was the most worrisome as that’s where I felt more instability; but once that hit, every subsequent rep was great. I want to work more on my descent, having that tight “controlled drop”, like I’ve been doing with squat. And I’m going to need to find that new groove and bar path with the new hand position. But all in all, not a bad deal. That will come.

I only stopped at 7 on the first set because I was playing it conservative! Even on the later sets, my spotter was like “you had more in you”, and I did but again I was trying to play it conservative. So I’m really really happy with how things went.

And the arm pain was present, but not bad. Very manageable.

Oh, I should note that I do have my elbow sleeves and also added wrist wraps on the work sets. Is that helping? Probably. If that’s what I need, then so be it.

Anyways, very very happy with how things went.

Then on inclines, I was to do straight sets with 85’s, but I opted to drop down to not beat myself up too much. It gave me an idea tho. For next cycle I was contemplating dropping DB pressing but I think I’ll keep it — just change it. I’ll keep the DB’s at 45º to my body, then lower the weights and go paused on every rep. Sink the weight deep, get the stretch, pause, and only allow pec/delt contraction to move out of the hole. I think that will be good for me in a number of ways. The pausing (just like why pause squats are good), and it should be a little more friendly and productive for my shoulders.

Everything else was support work. While I do want to do this RP template one more time, I am looking forward to my own programming again because I want to address more of the things I need vs. what a template tells me. I want a little more pulling work, a little more shoulder and upper back work. Things to help me long-term manage and stay healthy.

But I’m happy for today. Very happy.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 4

  • Competition Grip Bench (with pause)
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 1
    • 240 x 7
    • 240 x 5
    • 240 x 5
    • 240 x 4
    • 240 x 3
  • Incline DB Press
    • 60e x 10
    • 70e x 10
    • 80e x 8
    • 80e x 8
  • Barbell Bent Rows
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 195 x 8
    • 195 x 7
    • 195 x 7
  • Barbell Upright Row
    • bar x 10
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 7
  • Reverse Curls
    • 20 x 10
    • 65 x 9
    • 65 x 9
    • 65 x 8

2018-04-23 training log

Week 4 – the big week. And it went well.

I had a wee bit of trepidation going into this morning. I knew I could hit the weights, but it was hitting the weights with things like my knee and my arms, and all those little nagging things. It’s really weird tho, that my knees feel so much better WHEN I’m lifting, because I’m lifting. So I just wasn’t sure how it would all go.

And it went well.

I was telling myself I wanted to hit 5 — if I could hit that, even tho it’s a 1/fail week — then I could stop. On that first set @ 295 I know I could have done at least 1 more (and still left one in the tank), and maybe even 2 because things were feeling good. But I opted against it for a couple reasons.

First, I wanted to play it conservative as I’d rather hit all 5 sets and reasonable reps, than go all out on the first set and have nothing for the later sets. Plus knee, etc.

Second, I know you shouldn’t change technique at a time like this, but it happened. First, per last week I went with the eagle claw grip, but I hate that grip because I just can’t actually grip/squeeze the bar. I started using it, but immediately stopped and instead just took my thumb off from around the bar — basically suicide grip. That works, still allows me to generally clench/squeeze the bar, but if my hands need to angle a bit then they can. That carried me through today. Also, I am really emphasizing being tight, especially on that descent. Upper back, upper body, gotta be tight. If I do that right, my neck then is neutral and so my eyes look downward — it’s all a neutral directon, but just due to angles its how it goes. This is all good of course, but well… the squat racks at the gym are in front of a mirrored wall, so I often watch myself to check technique, depth, etc.. This is OK, but I’ve noticed that lately my eyes want to keep watching (especially depth). So today? there was a fight between head position and eyes watching, and it was bad enough that on the second rep at 295 I started to lose my balance and actually had to take a step to avoid falling over. Not good, not good.

What it tells me is I do need to stop with the mirror — it’s good now and again, but it’s somehow gravitated to paying too much attention do it. What I may start doing, at least at first, is with lighter weights just closing my eyes and doing everything by feel. yes, that’s how things should normally be, but take it a step further and totally cut out visual feedback. We’ll see.

Anyways – the squats generally went well. I’m happy, and I’m going to use 295 as my starting point for the next cycle.

Everything else was what it was. Overall volume up, strength up, and feeling good. Again, I don’t know for sure if I’m actually any stronger or just more in the groove given how light things started out coming into this cycle. I’m planning on doing this same template for another cycle, changing just a few things — like I’ll probably dump 45º extensions for good mornings, because something told me today that as much as I hate good mornings, they are also something that will benefit me well (just like more front squats).

So there we go.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 4

  • Squat (low bar)
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 265 x 3
    • 295 x 5
    • 295 x 5
    • 295 x 5
    • 295 x 4
    • 295 x 3
  • Front Squat
    • 175 x 8
    • 175 x 8
    • 175 x 8
    • 175 x 6
  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 280 x 3
    • 280 x 3
    • 280 x 3
    • 280 x 3
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 12
    • 65 x 10
  • Reaching Situps
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12

Sunday Metal – Black Sabbath

Black Sabbath, on Don Kershner Rock Concerts, from 1975

A short, but cool set.

 

2018-04-20

Week 3 ends with a very light and minimal day. Very light triples on the larger movements, and just a single set on the assistance work. Almost felt pointless to go in today as I spent more time driving to the gym than actually in the gym. But it’s all part of the program so I do it.

I did try out the closer grip on the benching: putting my pinkies on the rings. It’s hard to say for sure because the weight was light and inclines are a different angle and engagement of the arms and shoulders. But it did feel somewhat good and seemed to have promise. I also did the DB benching with my hands at an angle (think the DB grips were like 45º to the body). All good.

So, nothing much for today, but really looking forward to next week. 🙂

That said, I did go ahead and rate today 1’s, which did up my benching sets for next week. I figure it’s good for me to shoot for that, but I am totally fine with cutting it back if pain prevents me. I might even just do singles if that’s all my body permits me to do.

That said, I’ve started talking with someone at the gym towards investigating my issue. We’ll see where it goes.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 3

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 5
    • 135 x 3
    • 135 x 3
    • 135 x 3
  • DB Bench Press
    • 65e x 3
    • 65e x 3
    • 65e x 3
  • Neutral-grip Pulldowns
    • 100 x 10
    • 160 x 11
  • DB Lateral Raises
    • 30e x 12
  • DB Hammer Curls
    • 25e x 10
    • 45e x 10

2018-04-19 training log

So this is an interesting day.

The templates have it that the last 2 days of week 3 are very light days. Light weights, very low intensity, and just triples across the board (tho assistance can get a little bit of normal work). It’s a mild deload ahead of next week’s hardest week of the cycle. We’ll see how it pans out.

So to that, nothing really to report. Just went in, did the work, got out. Took me maybe 40 minutes including my warmup.

That said, 2 things did come out of it.

First, as I mentioned on Tuesday, I want to play with my grip width during benching. Tons of veteran advice that a narrower grip is easier on the shoulders and will enable longevity benching, tho maybe not the highest numbers. That’s ok, as I’ll never set a world record, but should still be able to (someday) achieve my personal goals — and that someday can only happen if I can keep healthy shoulders and all this weird pain stuff under control. But what would be right? As it is now, my normal-width grip is ring-fingers on the rings, so I thought to try an increment and put my pinkies on the rings. I found some stuff out there giving some more measured guidelines: measuring distance between the outer-edges of my acromion process, mulitply by 1.5, and viola that’s the width then between the inside edges of the index fingers. I checked it out this morning and guess what? It basically puts my pinkies on the rings. So I’m going to try that tomorrow; it’s another very light triples day but still I can feel the mechanics. I intend to do it next week as well, just going forward. I’m sure there’ll be some effect on things given I’ve been working up so far with a different technique, but that’s ok — I want to see how it goes and what data I can collect.

Second, I do need to get back to working on flexibility so when squatting I can do so with straight wrists. The bent wrists is back to putting pressure on wrists, elbows, everything, at least until I’m warmed up. Today I did the simple “eagle claw” grip thing and put my pinkies under the bar and it felt much better. So while I don’t like the eagle claw grip, I may have to go with it for now as a management trade-off.

Anyways, good things can still come from light days.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 3

  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 3
    • 185 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
    • 240 x 3
  • 45º Back Raise
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 3
    • BW x 3
  • Pause Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 3
    • 150 x 3
    • 150 x 3
    • 150 x 3
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
  • Slant Board Situps
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 10

2018-04-17 training log

All things considered, a reasonable day.

I’ve been working on rehab things for the arm pain. There is improvement – slow, but improvement. I did have some pain today, but it wasn’t as bad as it has been, so that’s a good sign. It still got in the way a little bit, but all in all workable.

I opted to wear wrist wraps while benching, just to add some stability and give me a tactile cue to crush-grip the bar — that helps in a lot of ways. It’s possible it contributed to things moving well, don’t know for sure. But getting 6 at 235 with this week being 2/fail (and the arm pain), I can take that!

Here’s the interesting thing. As I benched, it felt like things were coming from the shoulder. That as my arms would flare as I approached lockout, I’d feel stuff. So when I did my DB incline work, I kept my elbows tucked, and despite the increased range of motion, less pain. Interesting.

This is why I know it frustrates people when they see me spending weeks in pain that I could probably alleviate. It’s not that I want to be in pain, but I want to understand the pain. I want to really figure out where and why it’s coming from, so I can work to ensure to not do that thing that brings it around. I think that some contributing factors are things like sitting at a desk all day, that winds up in poor posture, slouching, shoulders rolled forward, etc.. In some regard, it’s why I want to get back to my own programming, because I need to do things to serve my specific needs — like one-leg work, like shoulder stability work.

And I’m starting to think, I may want to bring my bench grip in. I mean, overhead pressing doesn’t bother me. If I remember correctly, close-grip bench doesn’t either — both have narrow grips. I currently flat-bench with my ring fingers on the bar rings. I might try going to pinky on the rings. I also just found this article, and I think it’s worth a quick measurement to see how that fares for me.

Anyways, all in all things went as groovy as I could expect.

What’s interesting about the next 2 sessions? They’re very light, almost a deload. Very light weights, just a few sets, and pretty much all triples. We’ll see how this works into things.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 3

  • Competition Grip Bench (with pause)
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 3
    • 235 x 6
    • 235 x 6
    • 235 x 4
    • 235 x 4
  • Incline DB Press
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 9
  • Barbell Bent Rows
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 190 x 7
    • 190 x 7
    • 190 x 7
  • Barbell Upright Row
    • bar x 10
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
    • 115 x 8
  • Reverse Curls
    • 20 x 10
    • 65 x 8
    • 65 x 8
    • 65 x 7