2017-12-01 training log

Week 1 comes to a close.

My initial thoughts? This is pretty cool. I like the change, I like trying some new and different approaches that I’d probably not have done on my own. From the overall setup, to the ordering, to technique changes. It’s cool.

Of course, I still am not sure how this all will go. Like today, there’s just these 3 sets of curls and 3 sets of shrugs — does that really amount to anything? Maybe it does — I guess I’ll see.

But that is another thing about this structure. Being an upper/lower 4x/week split, you have 1 upper 1 lower that’s heavier, more intense. Then the other 2 days are lighter, easier, relatively speaking. A way to continue to stimulate growth, but manage the workload so you again can walk the line between just enough and too much training — for maximum effect.

What also changes now is the template’s feedback system kicks in. Next week brings more weight and more sets, based on my feedback. It’ll still be 3/fail for the reps, but that’s proper given the weight/sets change. Can’t wait to see how things will feel next Friday.

Some specific notes.

Lunges. I hate them, but they are good for me. Held a 10# DB in each hand, then the reps are per-leg (so 15e is 30 steps).

Back raise is different. They want you to keep your head up, back arched, and hip hinging — no back. Quite different, and really stretches my hamstrings — given how inflexible I am back there, only so much range of motion, while struggling to maintain the position. For weight, I just held a kettlebell at my chest (10kg, so really more like 22#, but whatever).

Front squats. Man haven’t done these in ages. I don’t really like them, but I have this growing feeling if I did more of these it’d be good for me. Maybe after I’m done with this RP stuff and I get back to my own programming, I’ll work them in on a more regular basis.

Hammers were different. I’ve been alternating them, but they want a slightly different technique. It’s good stuff. But again, is this enough? We’ll see.

Shrugs — I’m happy I started lighter on these, because that squeeze at the top, makes so much difference. This is a movement where it’s easy to do a lot of weight, but the lighter you go the better the quality of reps. Very easy to throw off that balance.

And stair calves. Man, calf work always makes me sore as heck. Even trying to take it easy still winds up with some hurt. These are the one thing that I will have to continue to slowly ramp up on.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 1, Week 1

  • Dumbell Walking Lunge
    • BW x 5e
    • 20 x 15e
    • 20 x 15e
    • 20 x 10e
  • 45º Back Raise
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 9
    • 20 x 8
  • Front Squat
    • 45 x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 7
  • Hammer Curl
    • 20e x 10
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 10
    • 35e x 8
  • Dumbbell Shrug
    • 45e x 10
    • 65e x 5
    • 85e x 17
    • 85e x 17
    • 85e x 15
  • Stair Calves
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 10

2017-11-30 training log

Upper body day 2 of this initial week of everything. Still at “3/fail”, so it’s still not very intensive; it’s still about acclimation.

I have to admit tho, I’m feeling a little more work (from the past 2 sessions) than I expected. Different movements, different ordering, different technique (e.g. pausing/squeezing at the peak of every rep), plus I’m probably not doing the best judgement of “3/fail” (maybe at times being more “2/fail”). It’s good! And here things are different too — starting with lat pulldowns, and then doing 2 variations. That’s something I’d likely never program on my own, but it sure puts an emphasis on the lats.

I will also say it’s been great to try different technique. For example, with pulldowns at my old gym I had to lean backwards some to deal with the range of motion on the machine. In the new gym, I can keep my torso truly upright — which is the way RP wants you to execute the pulldowns: torso upright, back arched, chest up, so the bar pulls down and touches the top of the chest. That makes a HUGE difference in the execution and the feel of the movement, and then the level of engagement of the lats is so much more. I love it.

That said tho, the Row to Chest was a little awkward for me. It’s rowing to “the nipple-line” instead of a normal BB row into the belly button. So I started with a wider grip, but that felt awkward. I then did a more normal row grip, but that too felt weird. I’m going to have to review the technique video again.

What’s going to start now with the template is the rating of the workout. The template is designed with a feedback system to help adjust workload to help maximize growth potential, walking the line of maximium growth vs. overtraining. I’m looking forward to seeing how this aspect of the templates works out.

So even tho it’s only been the first week (and it’s not even completed), I’m having positive first impressions of these Renaissance Periodization Physique templates. But really, I expected good things because of my past positive experiences with RP and their overall commitment to excellence.

Speaking of that…

The weight loss seems to be tracking well so far. It’s only the first week, only on the Base template, and I’m 99.9% sure this initial drop in weight is purely things like glycogen stores and not tissue. But so long as the weight is going down that’s good — indication of a caloric deficit. I can say I’m feeling a little better, not as “full”, so a fair indication at this point.

The meal-prep stuff has been working out well too. I’m still experimenting to find an approach that will work long-term, but right now just making a bunch of meat and carb-source at once, then each evening assembling the next day’s meals, it’s working ok.

Many weeks ahead, but so far, so good.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 1, Week 1

  • Wide-Grip Pulldown
    • 80 x 10
    • 100 x 5
    • 120 x 15
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 10
  • Underhand Pulldown
    • 100 x 10
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
  • Row To Chest
    • 115 x 10
    • 115 x 8
  • Barbell Upright Row
    • 70 x 13
    • 70 x 13
    • 70 x 11
  • Close-Grip Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 155 x 5
    • 175 x 12
    • 175 x 10
    • 175 x 7
  • Incline Dumbbell Press
    • 55e x 15
    • 55e x 12
    • 55e x 11
  • Reaching Sit-up
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 12

The Civilian Defender

Dr. Sherman House recently rebranded as Civilian Defender. (yes I’m a little late on this… been busy).

I’m very happy to see him embracing this mode, because it’s a great mindset and we need more people not just like Sherm, but doing what Sherm does. Promoting this mentality, this approach, it’s great stuff. If you haven’t read his essay on Becoming the Civilian Defender, you should. It’s a comprehensive look at a topic, and even if you don’t agree – well, that’s a great opportunity to continue the discussion! Because I guess the bottom line is simple: most people enter this “world” because guns, but alas most people never go beyond that thinking.

I think about some Caleb Causey of Lone Star Medics points out. He’ll ask his class how many people had been in a gunfight or seen a gunshot wound in the past year – typically no hands go up. Then he asks how many people had seen a car accident – and hands always go up. Medical skills are useful to everyone, and you’re far more likely to need medical skills in your lifetime than a gun.

And that’s a facet in the comprehensiveness of Civilian Defender.

Check it out. Again, even if you don’t agree, hopefully some thoughts are provoked and you can be spurred into action, into self-improvement in some manner.

We’re approaching that time for New Years Resolutions – so, how are you going to improve yourself in 2018?

(And as an aside, I’m with Sherm about the M&P family. Currently enjoying my M&P9 M2.0 Compact… which I’ll write more about eventually).

2017-11-28 training log

First lower body day of the new templates.

I needed to dial things in a bit more here, especially due to new equipment. But I think overall the session went ok.

Still aiming to stop “3 from failure” at this point. The weights are light, but it’s deceptive because this isn’t really about weight on the bar.

I will say that high-bar squats are SO different. Bar resting atop the traps. Feet/stance narrow (shoulder-width), pointing almost forward. Very different body mechanics and path.

Plus, everything is paused and/or squeezed at the peak of the movement. No momentum, all emphasis on using the particular muscle(s) to make things move. That really changes things. Not just how things get worked, but also a mental shift that I have to keep reminding myself to do. 🙂

As a note: when I put weight on the leg press sled, I notate it like it was weight on a bar. So if I put 1 45# plate on each side, I note it as 135 — but of course, that’s not really how much is being moved, because that depends upon the angle of the sled, the weight of the sled itself, etc. But it’s the easiest way to stay consistent with plate math. 🙂

Calves. Man, such tightness. Much stretch! I know from past experience to NOT overdo it here, else I’ll be unable to walk for the next week.

All in all, alright. I’m still excited about this new approach. Very curious to see where it goes.

For example, throwing in the pushdowns and the high-inclines at the end. It’s not a lot of work there, but this is all around frequency over the course of the week. It’s not exactly what I’m used to. How will my body respond? Hopefully positively. 🙂

RP Physique, Mesocycle 1, Week 1

  • High Bar Squat
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 165 x 5
    • 190 x 10
    • 190 x 8
    • 190 x 7
  • Leg Press
    • sled x 10
    • 135 x 10
    • 225 x 5
    • 310 x 14
    • 310 x 14
    • 310 x 12
  • Seated Leg Curl
    • 60 x 20 (WAY to0 easy)
    • 75 x 12
    • 75 x 12
  • Calves on Leg Press
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
    • 70 x 12
  • Cable Tricep Pushdown
    • 20 x 10
    • 40 x 5
    • 60 x 20 (too light, counting as another warm-up)
    • 80 x 20
    • 80 x 15
    • 80 x 15
  • High Incline Dumbbell Press
    • 45e x 16
    • 45e x 14
    • 45e x 14

2017-11-27 training log

I guess I’m excited for the next 15-ish weeks as I start on a very different program – because all weekend long my dreams were about the gym. ZMA makes for funky dreams. 🙂

I’m starting on 2 things today:

  1. Renaissance Periodization Diet Template
  2. Renaissance Periodization Physique Template

The diet goal is to shed 10-20 pounds (hopefully closer to 20) over the next 12-ish weeks. Following a fat-loss template from RP, and striving for a few things this time around:

  • More front-end meal-prep, to make it easier to get meals in.
  • Letting the earlier weeks be more tasty, saving the bland for the later weeks when it’ll be difficult anyways. Thinking here is if I’m eating chicken for 12 weeks, I’m going to quickly be miserable and then the later weeks will be really miserable. So up front, when I could have slightly fattier foods, have those now, like lean beef. That way when the templates basically force me to have to eat really lean and clean, then maybe I won’t be totally sick of the foods yet and there’ll be some novelty to get me through. We’ll see if this works.
  • Don’t worry about strength loss — focus on fat loss (and muscle retention).
  • Enjoy the process of becoming lighter and leaner (h/t to Shelby Starnes).

And so my gym work is going to be based on the RP Physique Templates. I picked the 4-day, full-body approach, on the novice/intermediate level. I debated if I should have done novice/intermediate vs. advanced, because their criteria was benching 225 for 10 reps — which I can do — so maybe I should have gone for the advanced template. But sometimes when doing something totally new it’s good to start from the beginning to see what you can learn. So here I am.

Of course, today was totally light and easy. It’s the first day of the cycle, where it’s about starting and getting acclimated. So the workload really wasn’t that tough, and it’s not supposed to be.

That said, there was some new stuff to get used to.

First, right now I have to stop about 3 reps from failure. That’s not something I’m used to. I really wanted to keep going, but I had to cut it off when I felt I got to that point. That was novel.

Second, they provide videos to show how you should execute the movements, and some of it was different enough. Like all the bench pressing was more bodybuilder style, with upper arms more perpendicular to the torso. The BB Rows came to the bellybutton, which I normally don’t do (more upper-abdomen), but wow what a difference in the lats engagement. And everything is with a pause to eliminate momentum. Really changes things, and was tough for me to focus on. So of course, this is why you gotta start really light and easy — you gotta get used to everything new. 🙂

I expect the coming weeks will adjust up to being rather difficult. Looking forward to seeing where this goes.

RP Physique, Mesocycle 1, Week 1

  • Incline Wide Grip Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 165 x 10
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 6
  • Incline Dumbbell Flye
    • 20e x 20 (too easy)
    • 25e x 20 (too easy)
    • 30e x 13
  • Flat Dumbbell Bench Press
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 8
  • Barbell Bent Over Row
    • bar x 10
    • 95 x 10
    • 115 x 5
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 10
    • 130 x 8
  • Normal Grip Pulldown
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 12
    • 100 x 10
  • Dumbbell Side Lateral Raise
    • 20e x 13
    • 20e x 10
    • 20e x 9
  • Slant Board Sit-up
    • BW x 10
    • BW x 10

Sunday Metal – Suicidal Tendencies

There are some songs that, when they come on, I have to turn the volume to 11.

Suicidal Tendencies – “You Can’t Bring Me Down”

 

Here I go again…

If you don’t care about my fitness and diet stuff, stop reading now. 🙂

The past year has been a mixture of frustrating and fun. Fun because I have made some reasonable gains in size and strength. Found a new gym that is much more suited to my needs. I’m generally happy with how some major aspects have moved.

But frustrating because I’ve had on-and-off injury issues, the worst being my arm pain. That forced me to take 6 months away from benching, and while I managed OK, if you look at “year over year” data, I look to be sitting still. That’s probably been the most frustrating thing for me is when I look at yearly snapshots, it seems like I’ve made no progress. One cool thing about the in-gym app I use, RepCount, is the data/statistics and graphic features it has, and if I look at that data, I have progressed because the lines are overall an upward trend. Just not the rate I wanted. I mean, last year my goal for the end of 2017 was to bench/squat/deadlift 315/405/495, and I’m no where near that due to all these problems. If I 1RM tested today, I’m guessing I could do 275-285 bench, 365 squat, and deadlift I have no idea but probably mid-400’s. That seems good, but relative to where I was a year ago? It’s not great at all.

What’s also been frustrating is my bodyweight. About 2 years ago I ended a big “defattening” phase, dropping 66 lb and landing at a bodyweight of 199. Today? I’m about 250 lb. Some gain I expected and allowed for given my goals, but I never should have gotten above 230. My trouble was my focus has been about building strength and lawdy you gotta eat to accomplish that goal. If I wanted to take some time to drop some fat, it would set back my strength goals, so I kept eating. I got stronger, I got fatter. Fuck.

What also is happening is I’m finding myself more beat up. I love powerlifting-style lifting, but it’s taking a toll on me. When I took a break the past few months and did a more bodybuilding style, that was so much nicer on my body despite being more intensive in other ways. And I must admit, I am appreciating the hypertrophy gains.

While I still want to get stronger, I have to change my greater goals.

Going back to my foundational goal for all of this: I do all of this because I don’t want to become decrepit. I don’t want to stay young and avoid death, because I cannot. I just want the ability to live whatever live I have (left) to the fullest. Seeing people my age struggle to pick things up off the floor or climb a flight of stairs, no thank you. I really don’t want a wheelchair nor a walker when I get older. I want to be like Sonny.

So I need to change my approach.

See, I’ve been chasing strength goals. For example, setting a goal of 3/4/5 in bench/squat/deadlift. So I start on 5/3/1, I see how in 12 months I can put X amount of pounds on my lifts, and I just chase that number. Trouble is, I can’t chase it the way I’m chasing it. Maybe if I was 20 years younger I could, but I’m not and I can’t. I need to look at this quite differently.

I’ve been starting to sow those seeds, but I haven’t taken the full-on plunge because I was still exploring and figuring things out. I won’t say I have things figured out, but I can say what I’m going to try.

I’m going back to my friends at Renaissance Periodization.  They just released version 3 of their Diet Templates, so I’m going to try the templates out (again) and see if I can drop 20-ish pounds in 12-ish weeks.

One difference? I’m going to strongly commit to the templates. So I’m going to do serious food prep. Like Sunday afternoon is 2-3 hours of just cooking and packing my meals for the whole week in plastic containers. The containers follow the template, and if it’s not on the template and not in the containers I don’t eat it (with minor exceptions, like whey). I’m expecting this should help me in a number of ways.

But then, I’ve been wondering how to contend with the gym work. I know I will lose strength, but I really want to work to maintain muscle. If I do that, getting the strength back is no biggie. And it’s not like I’m planning on a 16-month cut, just 12-ish weeks. So instead of trying to roll my own program, I’m trying RP’s Physique Templates, the 4-day, whole-body approach. Why this? especially why this vs. the RP Powerlifting Hypertrophy templates? Goal is to build/preserve muscle mass during the cut, so naturally some sort of hypertrophy work is what I want. And then, I want to try this out, as a change of pace from the powerlifting-style work that’s dominated my approaches for the past some years. And having a totally different style and approach to the gym should also give me some deeper insights into this approach.

I plan on starting this soon. I’m thinking right here after Thanksgiving, but I may not if I’m not fully prepared. Basically, things like ensuring I have enough containers for a week’s worth of food prep and so on. But I do want to start on this a.s.a.p. because there’s really no reason to wait.

Long term, my thinking is to take a longer-view and probably start to move away from strict percentage-structured templates. To look at mesocycles, like 6 weeks hypertrophy focus, 6 weeks strength focus, 6 weeks peaking. Repeat. This is vs. just pounding away on a 5/3/1 BBB template until it’s time to reset (which could be 6-9 months). I may go back to 5/3/1, because I love it, but I could see something like:

  • 6 weeks on a 5’s PRO, lots of assistance work, cut-style diet (aim to drop like 5 pounds or at most maintain).
  • 6 weeks on a 5/3/1 BBB or SST style approach, keeping it simple, building strength.
  • 6 weeks on 5/3/1 FSL type of thing to “peak”
  • Repeat

Something like that would allow me to cycle well, even taking some time to do “mini-cuts” to help keep fat gain in check.

Anyways, we’ll see.

First things first. Gotta get back in control of things.

2017-11-24 training log

Another day of empty gym. But January will be here soon enough…

And probably my last “arm day” for a while. Details forthcoming.

Arm day has been interesting. I think it actually played a part in helping my arm pain go away, because I think some dedicated biceps work played a part, especially making sure to initiate the movement with the biceps muscle ONLY, full range of motion, and letting those tendons feel some strain. But I also think the arm days, especially the triceps work, has contributed to my elbows being a little unhappy. So, some good things to take from it, but moving away from a dedicated day I think will be good for me.

We’ll see. 🙂

Opted to reduce my work-up on close-grips. Instead of 8-3, I did 5-1. And instead of skull crushers I did standing french presses, moderate weight.

Anyways, fine time. Looking forward to what’s next. Again, details forthcoming.

  • EZ-Bar BB Curls (elbows in, wider grip)
    • 25 x 10
    • 45 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
  • Close-Grip Bench
    • bar x 10
    • 145 x 5
    • 165 x 4
    • 185 x 3
    • 205 x 2
    • 235 x 1
    • 255 x 1
    • 225 x 10 (AMRAP)
    • 225 x 5 (50%)
  • Cross-Body Hammer Curls
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 12
    • 35e x 10
  • Standing French Press
    • 85 x 12
    • 85 x 12
    • 85 x 12
  • Cable Curl (hold/sqeeze at top)
    • 50 x 40
    • 50 x 30
    • 50 x 25
  • Rope Pressdowns (First 20, twist out hands at bottom; remainder straight hands pushed to failure)
    • 65 x 40
    • 65 x 28
    • 65 x 22

2017-11-23 training log

Happiness is a totally empty gym. Because Thanksgiving. But I betcha tomorrow morning, it’ll be packed as everyone pretends to work off their turkey bloat. 😉

Pretty solid day, with quality work done. That weird back pain I felt earlier this week is still around but almost gone. I figured to take today as it came — if there was pain, stop; else continue on because I reckon increasing blood flow to the area would be helpful. Things felt great.

I did not do any Farmer’s Walks today tho, but only because I had to get home to get the turkey on the smoker. 🙂 But when it comes to Farmer’s, I’m thinking about backing off a bit. That is, putting 25’s on the girders becomes heavy day and empty girders is light day. From there, work to increase — walking faster, longer distance (e.g. instead of 1 40 yard trip, make it 40 down, turn, then 40 back), more trips overall, etc.. I may have been too aggressive in how I started.

Anyways, good day.

Looking forward to the carb bloat from today. 😉

And yes, I’m thankful for my good health, the ability to afford a gym, to have a good gym, to be able to eat well, etc.. I know I’m blessed and fortunate.

  • Face Pulls
    • 65 x 25
    • 65 x 25
  • Barbell Rows
    • 95 x 8
    • 115 x 8
    • 135 x 8
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 8
    • 165 x 8
  • BB Shrugs
    • 185 x 20
    • 185 x 20
    • 185 x 15
    • 185 x 15
  • Cable Row (close, fat grips)
    • 165 x 12
    • 165 x 12
    • 165 x 10
  • Wide, Pronated-grip Pulldowns
    • 120 x 12
    • 120 x 10
    • 120 x 9

2017-11-21 training log

Did NOT go to the gym today. Why? Pain. Why? Farmer’s walks. 🙂

Yesterday afternoon I felt this crazy pain laterally across my mid-back. It didn’t happen normally, but say trying to get up from lying down, curling the torso up, and oh geez!! It’s not much better this morning. I opted to NOT go to the gym, because today is squats and deadlifts, and a back in pain does not go well.

The more I think about it tho? I am pretty sure I know what caused it.

The Farmer’s Walks. 🙂

My lats are feeling DOMS like I’ve never felt before. This is truly a new sensation, and I’m actually fascinated by it.

Now, I can’t say for 100% sure it’s simply DOMS and the Farmer’s Walks did it, but right now all signs point in that direction. And so, going to the gym and doing a light squat and deadlift session probably would have been good for me. However, I don’t know for certain and I’d rather not risk anything. I’ll see how today goes. Who knows, maybe I’ll go squat tomorrow morning.

But really, this just furthers my appreciation for Farmer’s Walks.