2017-06-23 training log

An excellent lifetime Press PR of 185×3 – but it’s much more than the paper number.

My previous best-ever press was 185×1 set back at the end of December during my big 1RM testing week. So today’s 3-reps of the same weight blows that PR away. So simply enough, that’s a great lifetime PR. But really, there’s more to it than that.

First, that 1RM testing day was geared towards maximizing my 1RM effort. That is, I did a light warm-up, then just took singles at semi-large intervals towards a 1RM. Basically aiming to have more than 3-4 1-rep sets towards setting that new 1RM. Everything to minimize fatigue and maximize energy conversation to ensure the best 1RM I could get.

But today? It was just another work day in the cycle. Just another 5/3/1+ week/day. My volume today was almost twice what I did back in December, so to have not just hit the same weight but for more reps, after doing a lot more work, after accumulating more fagitue? That makes it even better.

Also, the top-set went funky. I started the first rep, got half-way up, then stalled. fuckfuckfuckfuckfuckpresspresspress, but nothing. (more on this below). I reset (didn’t rack, just went back to the starting position), and started again. And hammered out 3 reps. Consequently I spent a bunch of energy and built some fatigue from that failed first rep. I know I could have gotten 4 today if not for that; 5 or more? unknown but doesn’t matter. Point is, there was more. Yet still, 3 reps today is quite in line with my progress.

Then, the down sets? Down sets are not a place for setting PRs, because of fatigue. But my 165 set? It went quite well. Looking at my numbers/sessions since December, 165×6 on a down set? That’s awesome! Part is being strong enough to do it, but the larger part was the mental push-through to do it. I dug deeper, made my whole body tight (crush-grip the bar, clench my ass like I’m making diamonds) and just push that bar up. I’m really happy about it.

So sure, on paper simply going from 185×1 to 185×3 looks good. But I care more about the greater context, and that makes it much better for me. Yes, building strength is a slow process, but you put in the work, and you get the results. It’s very satisfying.

That said, why did I stall on the first rep of the top set? Honestly, I don’t know. It all happened so fast and I was more concerned with getting the reps than figuring out why I had a problem. The best I can think? I rushed it.

See, the rack at my gym isn’t ideal. The pegs I have to use are a bit low; the next pegs up are just a hair too high. So it’s a little awkward to unrack the bar. Then given I have all the weird head-rush/dizzy issues while Pressing, I sometimes hurry through things. From what I can tell, I just rushed it too fast. I unracked, felt the weight in my hands, and wanted to get going. I was not in the best position, the bar was too far from the body, out of groove, out of mechanican advantage, and it just wasn’t going to go. But when I reset, the bar was back into me, close, better mechanical position, and up it went.

It’s hard to work on that at lower intensities, but hey… this is the sort of thing that makes me think about doing templates like “Boring But Big”, to get in a LOT of work and reps on the main movements.

But that will have to wait for another day.

I am taking next week off — totally off. I expect to do some cardio, but that’s all. Giving my body some much-needed rest. Then into the new “Prep & Fat Loss” program. I must say, as I see the numbers come together, oh lawdy lawdy… the next 6 weeks are going to be a bitch. But hey, the way to get better in life is to do the hard stuff, to do the things you suck at, the do the things you hate — because you know it’s what makes you better.

Remind me I said that around the end of week 2. πŸ˜‰

In other news… front plate raises all the way above the head with a 25# plate? I hate these things, but by gawd they are awesome. I think I’m falling in love with it.

Also, since I won’t be doing any direct arm work for the next 6 weeks (the bro in me dies a little), I did some drop sets at the end of my curls.

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 80 x 5
    • 100 x 5
    • 115 x 3
    • 145 x 5
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 3 (3 rep PR, lifetime best)
    • 165 x 6
    • 145 x 9
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 10
    • 130 x 7
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 29
    • 25 x 20
    • 25 x 13
  • Skullcrushers
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
  • Hammer Curl
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 7 (then a couple cheat reps, then drop sets to 35e, then 25e)

2017-06-22 training log

Some days you’re happy to just PR and move on.

I’m really happy with the change in deadlift form. It doesn’t feel as strange to me any more (i.e. not as much “leg pressing” going on — but more on that shortly). I am really liking how that “step 3” where I push the chest out really gets my whole body tight and pre-loaded for the pull. I don’t think I’d be pulling as much — or as safely — if I didn’t have this. It really makes things solid.

That said, I did find as the weights went up today that I would think and cue myself hard with “pushing the floor away from myself”. While I may not move as much leg, there’s still a drive there, there’s still a push there.

That was especially helpful because yes, the 430# was pushing. πŸ™‚ I’m happy with that rep PR. It’s a good PR in and of itself, and it’s solid and continual progress. Yes progress is slowing, but the graphed trend line continues upwards.

I opted to drop hypers and just superset the leg curls and crunches to get out of the gym. I felt good with the work done, so just a little polish and off I went.

As I think ahead to the next programming routine, I found something interesting. The spreadsheet I use to keep track of everything? A few of the sheets are based around some spreadsheets I found ages ago. One sheet has a nice matrix for figuring out the 5/3/1 sessions. I’ve used this for all my 5/3/1 work since I started. Well, with what I’m about to go into, instead of taking 90% of the 1RM for a training max, I am to take 85%. So I went to modify the spreadsheet to facilitate that calculation and I noticed — it was calculating 1RM differently. It was different than how RepCount does it; it’s even different from the 1RM esimator formula that Wendler himself gives. I forget the names, but there are a few diffent formulas for 1RM calculation. Here’s the thing. The one used by the spreadsheet? It calculated low. In general, that’s actually fine. One of Wendler’s principles is to “start too light” and this certainly worked out that way. However, with all the approaches in “Forever 5/3/1”, I think it’s more important to have things calculated closer to the way Wendler is drawing up numbers and percentages. Especially since it’s not a long road, but now with Wendler’s notions of “leader and anchor” templates and how it may just be 3-ish cycles before you’d recalc for another program well, I think it’s more important to have “more correct” calculations — whereas if it was just picking a template and going until you had to reset, then continuing to go again, being “too light” really wouldn’t matter so much.

I could be wrong, but I changed the formulas and I’ll see how it goes. Besides, in the future nothing stops me from using 85% and being “too light” to start with anyways.

  • Deadlift
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 270 x 3
    • 340 x 5
    • 385 x 3
    • 430 x 4 (4 rep PR)
    • 385 x 4
    • 340 x 4
  • Leg Curls
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 12
  • Crunches (superset with the curls)
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 12

2017-06-20 training log

Pretty good day.

I find it interesting how a few weeks ago when I opted to switch to incline pressing, I hit 225 as a 1RM. But today? 195 for 10 (calculated 1RM of 260). I can’t recall why I set it so low. Was it the arm pain flaring up? For sure it’s not as bad a problem now, and I am hoping that after the coming program change it’ll be better. I really want to get back to flat bench pressing, but for the next program it’s going to stay with inclines.

That said, a nice rep PR today. All in all things are ok.

I am doing a lot of thought towards the next program for aforementioned reasons. One thing was starting to lay out the spreadsheet to track my progress, filling in the numbers to use. Good grief, this is going to suck. πŸ™‚ But it will be good for me.

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 80 x 5
    • 105 x 5
    • 125 x 3
    • 155 x 5
    • 175 x 3
    • 195 x 10 (10 rep PR)
    • 175 x 9
    • 155 x 9
  • Flies
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
    • 25e x 12
  • Cable Rows
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
  • DB Upright Row
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 9
    • 45e x 8
  • Seated French Press
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 13
  • EZ Bar Curl
    • 35 x 100

2017-06-19 training log

Well, whether it’s a PR or not, I reckon there’s progress in here.

I’m feeling better about my descent, keeping tight, keeping the groove, reversing out of the hole, all of that. I also felt more confident regarding depth and just dealing with this weight. I wasn’t sure about going for 3, but doing 2 better than I did last cycle? I’ll take it.

That all said, I’m thinking about how the next some cycles will be. I’m actually thinking about derailing for a bit and doing something I need — which isn’t something I want. I’ve put on more bodyweight than desired, and I need to get it back under control. I’m thinking that I finish this cycle, take a deload week off, then starting the “prep program” out of the new Wendler “5/3/1 Forever” book. I’ll take the numbers from this week, calculate out a theoretical 1RM then use 85% of that as a training max. Then into the program for 6 weeks. In conjunction, stripping a lot of carbs out of my diet, to get into caloric deficit. The goal? In the 6 weeks of the program to drop 10 pounds of bodyweight. It’s certainly do-able. What will I do after that? TBD. If I’m feeling good? I might go another 6 weeks. If I’m not, or am itching to get back to “normal” lifting, then I’ll do 3 weeks “anchor” (maybe like 5/3/1 FSL Jokers) to get back into that swing. Then 7th week to rep max test to ensure my training max is proper, then back into normal cycling.

Basically, it’s driven by my bodyweight. But I’m also at a point of “almost time to reset”; not quite — I debate if maybe I want to go 1 more cycle, especially since I’m so close to setting flat out new PR’s on squat and press. But my bodyweight isn’t where I want it to be, and I’d rather derail before it gets any worse.

We’ll see. I have time to think this through, but that’s where my mental process is going.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 145 x 5
    • 180 x 5
    • 215 x 3
    • 270 x 5
    • 305 x 3
    • 340 x 2
  • Pause Squat
    • 270 x 3
    • 270 x 3
    • 270 x 3
  • Bodyweight Squats (superset with crunches)
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
  • Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 12

2017-06-16 training log

Today went pretty well, all things considered. Not a +10% day, but a solid 80% day.

Pressing is progressing well. I was hoping for 6, but I knew that’d be a stretch — like it’d have to be a +10% day and everything dialed in just right. Still 5 is quite acceptable for my progression.

Everything else is just what it is.

One thing I got to thinking about during the session was my bench pressing and my arm pain. I am thinking that maybe… maybe next cycle, starting to use flat bench (again) as an assistance exercise. So incline press with the 5/3/1 progression, but then do 3-5 sets of 5-10 reps (25-30 reps total) of flat bench (instead of flies). It doesn’t even have to be all that heavy, just something to poke at it to see where my arm pain is in regards to bench pressing. If it goes well, I may keep at it as lighter, supplemental work for a while, then eventually back to making it a main movement. Just all depends how much pain there is.

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 80 x 5
    • 100 x 5
    • 115 x 3
    • 135 x 3
    • 155 x 3
    • 175 x 5 (5 rep PR)
    • 155 x 7
    • 135 x 10
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 8
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 31
    • 25 x 19
    • 25 x 12
  • Skullcrushers
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
  • Hammer Curl
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 8
    • 45e x 7

2017-06-15 training log

Good day. Good rep PR.

I continue to enjoy the refined deadlift technique. Still feels weird to me, still working on really dialing it in, but so far so good. Going in to today, 3 reps are prescribed, but from my records I knew I needed at least 5 to stay on track; 6 or more would be awesome.

The work-up felt a little heavy, but the first rep @ 405 felt light and went up well, so that set a good stage. Rep 5 was fine, starting to fatigue, but I knew 6 would go. I did 6, which was a little work but not a grinder. Held it at the top for a bit, then down. Happy with that.

Everything else is, whatever.

  • Deadlift
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 270 x 3
    • 315 x 3
    • 360 x 3
    • 405 x 6 (6 rep PR)
    • 360 x 5
    • 315 x 6
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
  • Leg Curls
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 9
  • Crunches
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 10

2017-06-13 training log

Good day, but ran out of gas.

Really that’s all there is to say. The day went generally well, but I was just out of gas. Hooray carbs. πŸ˜‰

One bit of note is the arm pain. While it’s nowhere near as bad as it was with flat bench pressing, there is still some irritation while pressing. Today I noticed it after the high-rep sets, and often that’s when it flares up the worst. It makes me wonder about exploring something like a 10×3 (10 sets, 3 reps each) approach. Just whatever’s needed so I can keep making progress and work through the issues.

Flies. It’s not about the weight, but about getting as far and deep a stretch as possible, then starting out of the hole purely by pec contraction — no momentum, no bounce, no bending the elbows, nothing to gain mechanical advantage. The stretch is important for me, because I need that stretch, I need that work to improve my range of motion and shoulder health.

Decided to do 100 rep curls again, because last week was so much fun. πŸ™‚ Hopefully I don’t get the wicked soreness this time around.

  • Incline Bench Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 80 x 5
    • 105 x 5
    • 125 x 3
    • 145 x 3
    • 165 x 3
    • 185 x 12 (12 rep PR)
    • 165 x 10
    • 145 x 10
  • Flies
    • 25e x 10
    • 25e x 10
    • 25e x 10
  • Cable Rows
    • 115 x 12
    • 125 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
    • 135 x 12
  • DB Upright Row
    • 45e x 12
    • 45e x 11
    • 45e x 7
  • Seated French Press
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 15
    • 60 x 12
  • Reverse EZ Bar Curl
    • 35 x 100

2017-06-12 training log

Mixed feelings about today.

I’m repeating this cycle to work on depth. But I’m failing at the mental game. I need to remind myself of the worst: that I have to dump the bar. Big deal. Yet, it still messes with my head. Sigh.

What’s interesting tho is I’m improving my hip flexibility, so the feeling of “in the hole” and “have hit depth” is changing. So what feels like I’ve just hit depth now is much deeper in the hole. So having to deal with my issue plus a new sensation of where depth is is just messing with me. Ugh.

I felt like I hit depth, but also didn’t. I need to bring a second iDevice with me so I can record every set.

Anyways.

Tried out the new STrong knee sleeves. The Slingshot sleeves are a “squishy” neoprene, but these are a denser material, same as the elbow sleeves. Could you get some pounds out of these? I guess so, if you got tight-enough ones. I just got the “comfort fit” and I doubt I got anything. πŸ™‚ But they are a little denser, a little stiffer, a little more prone to want to be straight than bent. I also found the fabric is a bit more abrasive against the skin, so whereas the other sleeves I’d be happy to wear throughout the session, I don’t really want to wear these longer than I have to. It’s not horrible, but against my skin it’s certainly not as comfortable. I did like how they were longer and had more coverage.

Oh, and on the squats, funny thing. I’m so used to pyriamiding down that that’s what I did. I hit the top set then set up weights for the prior set instead of first-set for pauses. I said screw it and given my performance on the top set opted to pyramid down for AMRAP, then 1 set of pauses. I dug that. Who knows, maybe I’ll do that next cycle.

Anyways, today was what it was.

  • Squats
    • bar x whatever
    • 145 x 5
    • 180 x 5
    • 215 x 3
    • 250 x 3
    • 290 x 3
    • 325 x 4
    • 290 x 5
    • 250 x 8
  • Pause Squat
    • 250 x 4
  • Bodyweight squat (superset with crunches)
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
    • BW x 15
  • Crunches
    • BW x 20
    • BW x 17
    • BW x 14

2017-06-09 training log

Today was fun.

First, my biceps/brachialis/brachioradialis are still quite sore from the 100-rep curls on Tuesday. Ha ha ha. It didn’t stop things today, but gah… it hurts. πŸ™‚

Second, to that one thing I have wondered is if my elbow sleeves are causing me some problems. The other day I was ordering a new set of knee sleeves, and while passing over the sizing charts I saw that my current elbow sleeves are actually a little small for my arm size now (whoo hoo! everyone loves bigger arms). So I opted to buy a new set of sleeves, the next size up. The sleeves are Slingshot STrong Elbow Sleeves. I had XL, I bought 2XL. First thing I noticed? They’re actually longer, maybe 1″-1.5″, so there’s more coverage. They still feel snug, but just a hair less constricting. I wore them today and things felt alright. Again, it’s still hard for me to say if the sleeves are helping or hurting, but I’ll give the new ones a ride for a bit and see.

Then there’s the Pressing itself.

I was so focused on just moving along? I skipped over things. I was supposed to go 80/100/115 for 5/5/3 warmup, then 125/145/165 for 5/5/5+. I flat out skipped over the 115 and did the 125 for 3, then 145 for 5, then realized I screwed up. Ha ha. I just kept going, and hit good PR with 165 for 7.

But after that, I was starting to feel out of gas, but I’m not sure. I’m being a little restrictive on my carb intake to keep my weight in check. As well, I’m adding about 20-ish minutes of easy cardio after my workouts. Sometimes I felt just out of gas. But then, some stuff I just kept plowing through and increased reps from last time. I don’t know. I’m chalking it up to being a little depleted. But then, since most the reductions came on pulling motions, it may simply be because my biceps are still so damn sore and worked from Tuesday, they’re not fully recovered, so I lost a bit of ground there. No biggie.

All in all a reasonable day.

  • Press
    • bar x whatever
    • 80 x 5
    • 100 x 5
    • 115 x 0 (brain fart and skipped this weight)
    • 125 x 3
    • 145 x 5
    • 165 x 7 (7 rep PR)
    • 145 x 8
    • 125 x 10
  • Lat Pulldowns (pronated grip, to chest)
    • 110 x 12
    • 120 x 12
    • 130 x 12
    • 130 x 10
    • 130 x 8
  • Front Plate Raises (all the way above head)
    • 25 x 30
    • 25 x 18
    • 25 x 14
  • Skullcrushers
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 10
    • 80 x 8
  • Hammer Curl
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 10
    • 45e x 8
    • 45e x 6

2017-06-08 training log

It may be slow progress, but it’s progress.

I use an app called RepCount to help me track my workouts (mostly gym stuff, as I keep a more detailed spreadsheet at home). I paid for the upgrade and get all the stats and graphs, and that’s been really helpful towards tracking progress. Yes there’s waver, yes things come and go on a daily basis, but looking over time it’s really great to see the trend line going upwards. It may not be the steepest slope, but it’s still an upwards trend. If I can keep myself relatively healthy, I expect if I don’t hit my goals by the end of 2017 that I should be close to it.

That is really helpful in terms of picking workout goals. For example, looking at the stats I knew if I made at least 7 reps today on the top set, that would be a good rep PR. So there’s my goal.

I did achieve that goal. What I liked about it was when I compared it to prior (recent) sets/sessions that I had to pass to make the PR, they were done with less volume. That’s something that you can’t see in just a simple set-rep-weight number: the context (another useful thing in using RepCount, even moreso than my spreadsheet). Much more volume and work done prior to the PR, so it makes the PR even better because I did better than before in a few measureable ways.

On top of that, I continue to use the new (improved) setup and technique. It is making a BIG difference. The cue where you expand the chest, not only does that get the whole torso in position, but I’m finding how much it loads the posterior chain and really gets me tight and set to pull. As well, today a refinement happened regarding my breathing, and the pulls were even stronger because everything was so tight. I am considering this a really good change in technique because I did it at this point in my greater cycle and it didn’t set me back; I’m still progressing quite well, and arguably better than if I had stayed at prior technique. Huzzah!

So, a good day.

BTW, one thing I’ll probably start next cycle is adding in one more warm-up set. Since my warm-up now starts at 185, I think I’ll add one in at 135, then next set will be the calculated starting value (40%). I may also switch to Wendler’s other suggested warm-up technique that he speaks about in “Beyond 5/3/1”. We’ll see.

  • Deadlift
    • 185 x 5
    • 225 x 5
    • 270 x 3
    • 295 x 5
    • 340 x 5
    • 385 x 7 (7 rep PR)
    • 340 x 6
    • 295 x 8
  • Hyperextensions
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
    • BW x 12
  • Leg Curls
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 12
    • 55 x 9
  • Crunches
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 15
    • 25 x 9