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

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

2018-04-16 training log

Week 3, and it’s rolling pretty well.

I didn’t want to get out of bed this morning (melatonin, perhaps) but off I went. Brain didn’t wanna, but body felt really good.

Again, I’m trying to keep my volume conservative — that I only rate a 1 if things were off the charts good; but if it felt “as expected”, leave it be. Today did feel really awesome, but I still rated it a 1 because again, I am striving to see if I can do more with less.

The squat warm-ups were hard, even 135. But when I hit 290, things rolled quite well. I felt good. I noticed I wasn’t as tight as I could be, in my upper body. But I think it’s because I’m taking a different approach to the descent. It really solidified a few weeks ago watching Kevin Oak squat 832 @ 242 for a new ATWR. If you watch it, his descent is just like… I’m going down. He’s tight, then it’s like a controlled drop of the bar, not like a squat descent. It’s hard to describe, but just watch how that descent looks different from a lot of other squat descents. I’ve found myself taking this mental approach to the descent, and it’s been good. The bar path feels better, the body feels better. There’s really not a lot of movement, nor even extraneous muscle tension — just “control drop” the bar and manage that, then hit depth and come out. Again, hard to describe, but it is different and feels good.

But it’s still difficult for me to judge where I am. I mean, when starting this cycle I was to program it with 285 as a 5RM. But today here I am hitting 290 for 5 with at least a couple left in the tank. I would thimk that, if 285 was the 5RM that last week (when I did 285) I should have gotten 3-4 (if I stop 2/fail) but I got 5. Then today, 290 and hitting 5 for more sets and still some in the tank. Am I stronger? Did I start too light? Is my body just remembering how to squat and it’s neural adaptations? I really don’t know. But there’s never harm in starting light. I look forward to how the next cycle will be set and how it will go as I think that will be more indicative.

Fronts went well. Same weight and sets, but an additional rep per set, which is great especially after the main work went up too. And here I find that the same approach of “controlled drop” really helps at keeping the torso upright.

Triples on the deadlift. While all the squat work got 3 minutes between sets, the deadlifts and everything else got 1-2 minutes of rest. Just boom boom boom, no big deal.

Feeling good.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 3

  • Squat (low bar)
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 265 x 3
    • 290 x 5
    • 290 x 5
    • 290 x 5
    • 290 x 4
  • Front Squat
    • 170 x 8
    • 170 x 8
    • 170 x 8
  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 275 x 3
    • 275 x 3
    • 275 x 3
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
  • Reaching Situps
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12
    • 20 x 12

2018-04-13 training log

Not bad.

All in all, things proceeded about at the level I expected for this second week. On the templates, the second week creates a larger jump in intensities. I still am to go 2/fail. I also rated things so there’d be 1 more set per relevant exercise than last week’s session. And so, everything landed about where I would expect it to. Of course slight drop in reps, but relative to last week’s weight, at a level I’d expect (or just above). So all good there. Plus, with the added set it’s more volume than last week. All good.

That said, the biceps pain was there a bit. It didn’t affect the pressing that much, but more the ability to get things in position. For example, getting the DB’s in place for pressing was a little difficult because it needs the biceps for direct involvement to get them in place, then stability to keep them there. That wasn’t too happy, but things did go OK.

I’ve been spending a great deal of time working on things: tennis balls to muscle groups, foam roller, stretching, spending a lot of time to work the arms, delts, upper back. It just takes time. I also have realized my posture has gone into the can again, which I do believe contributes to this problem — the hunch, the rounded forward shoulders, etc.. I may be scheduling some time with a few gym folks to look into things a bit more. My goal isn’t to just manage the pain, but truly figure out where it’s coming from and why, so I can make the appropriate changes to avoid it. I’ve got a lot of data from before-times, and am collecting more now.

All in all tho, today rolled as well as I could expect. I won’t be rating things too high so I can keep volume about the same next week. What’s interesting about next week is the first 2 days go up, but the second two (deadlift day, bench day #2) actually go down — very light weights, and just triples. A small deload.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 2

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 175 x 3
    • 205 x 8
    • 205 x 7
    • 205 x 6
  • DB Bench Press
    • 60e x 10
    • 95e x 8
    • 95e x 6
    • 95e x 6
  • Neutral-grip Pulldowns
    • 100 x 10
    • 160 x 10
    • 160 x 9
  • DB Lateral Raises
    • 30e x 10
    • 30e x 10
  • DB Hammer Curls
    • 25e x 10
    • 45e x 8
    • 45e x 8

2018-04-12 training log

Ah deadlifting. How I did miss you.

It does feel good to (conventional) deadlift again. It’s funny tho. My strength here is less than it has been, and on the one token that frustrates me. But if I actually look back over time, I’ve overall progressed in some way. With deadlifts in specific, I think my form/technique is better now than it’s ever been. I’m using that 5-step deadlift setup (see Alan Thrall video), and it’s really worked wonders. If nothing else, it provides me with a consistent approach to setup and the pull, and the bar path feels so much better. So yeah, maybe a step backwards, but overall there’s some sort of forward progression — so I’ll take it.

Just a few notes.

2/fail. Generally 3 minutes rest on deadlifts and squats, 1-2 minutes on everything else.

Back raise. I’m trying to not raise/hinge at my hips and “raise” my back, but rather work as if I’m pushing my hips through the pad. That’s more applicable here.

Pauses felt great. I actually felt like I could crank out more, but it’s 2/fail — reign it in.

Remembered to do calves! 🙂

And as I rate this workout, it’s zeros across the board. Even tho I wouldn’t feel horrible about rating it higher, I want to be more conservative this cycle and not raise the volume too much more.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 2

  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 315 x 3
    • 360 x 5
    • 360 x 5
    • 360 x 5
  • 45º Back Raise
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 10
  • Pause Squat
    • bar x 5
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 3
    • 225 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 225 x 5
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
  • Slant Board Situps
    • 15 x 10
    • 15 x 10

2018-04-10 training log

That biceps pain is returning. Sigh.

It’s been teasing me the past couple weeks, and today it finally kicked in. It wasn’t crippling and didn’t cause me to stop, but it did interfere. First reps might have hurt, and some things – like the upright rows – got cut a little short as a result.

I’m still not 100% sure what causes it, but I am starting to lean towards my arms being in a flexed position for extended periods. Not that I’m flexing my biceps, but rather the elbow joint is in a closed position — like if I’m lying on the bed and looking at my phone for extended periods. I notice sometimes when I do that, it’s the same pain sensation — not actually painful, but the sensation. And then say when I’m squatting how my arms are, bottom position of dumbbell bench pressing, and I feel it. So not 100% sure, but it’s enough to give me pause.

Still, did what I could during the session. Then spent a bunch of time “rolling” the biceps, my front and side delts, and then my usual rolling and stretching.

I’ll see how things pan out.

As for the lifting itself. Still 2/fail. 3 minutes rest on benching, else everything was 2 minutes (or less).

The benching itself feels good, esp. on technique. Of course today felt a little off due to the arm pain, but in general I’m growing happier with my setup and technique here.

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 2

  • Competition Grip Bench (with pause)
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 3
    • 230 x 6
    • 230 x 6
    • 230 x 6
    • 230 x 5
  • Incline DB Press
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 10
    • 80e x 8
  • Barbell Bent Rows
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 185 x 8
    • 185 x 8
  • Barbell Upright Row
    • bar x 10
    • 110 x 8
    • 110 x 8
  • Reverse Curls
    • 20 x 10
    • 65 x 8
    • 65 x 8

2018-04-09 training log

Starting week 2.

A similar pattern of progression: a larger jump in weight/intensity, and maybe a jump in sets; stay at 2/fail. To jump in sets is based upon how things went rating the “prior” session, and so far it felt ok so I did go up. But will I go up from here? Sorta. That is, ratings from today will affect Thursday’s deadlifting. I do want that to go up and feel that will be fine. But then rating that deadlift session? Unless there’s something compelling to rate it a +1 or -1, I’ll rate it a 0 so sets of squats are the same next week. I think this workload is good, and I want to try to stick more to the “do as little as possible that still gets you the desired results” approach. Why do more work if it doesn’t help me gain or only risks causing decline (or stagnation)?

I also am looking at this cycle as just priming the pump a bit. I’ve been away from such work that some numbers are a guess. But also, my body isn’t quite primed to do this sort of work. So how much is the gain here truly getting stronger vs. my body just remembering how to lift this way. Take that the way the template is set up, you provide the template with your 5RM in squats then it figures out of the 5 weeks. Today, week 2, should be lifting that 5RM – but then stopping 2/fail. So in theory I should be hitting 3 reps for however many sets. But I hit 5. Did I undershoot? Am I stronger? is my body simply remembering?

This is why my plan is to run the cycle once, then run the cycle again. I reckon at least 2 runs should be a better indicator, with run 2 hopefully being truly more productive. What to do after that second run? Don’t know. I want to see how things go. Might do it a third time, might do a peaking, might a powerlifting-hypertrophy. Don’t know, too soon to tell.

Anyways, things today felt generally good. Squat itself felt good. Tight is the cue.

Front squats felt a little funky for me, because with the belt on it causes something in my glutes to twinge a bit. But I’m working on stretching and rolling that area more, and also just “working through it” so that my body can improve vs. always avoiding it and the body never does. So the first rep might be a little annoying, maybe shaves depth by an inch, but then things feel better and the subsequent reps hit depth and things just fine. Just something to continue to work through.

I did remember to do calves this week! Again, not trying to do anything massive here, just something to keep my feet and calves happy for overall health improvement.

Anyways, a nice start to week 2!

RP Powerlifting, Strength Cycle, week 2

  • Squat (low bar)
    • bar x 10
    • 135 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 255 x 3
    • 285 x 5
    • 285 x 5
    • 285 x 4
    • 285 x 4
  • Front Squat
    • 170 x 7
    • 170 x 7
    • 170 x 7
  • Competition Deadlift
    • 135 x 3
    • 225 x 3
    • 270 x 3
    • 270 x 3
    • 270 x 3
  • Stair Calves
    • 65 x 10
    • 65 x 10
  • Reaching Situps
    • 20 x 10
    • 20 x 10