I am not really sure how to begin this blog post. Before I left the gym, Michael asked what I was thinking about. I made a comment about having a lot of thoughts in my head, but I don’t think I ever did give him an answer. As I sit here a couple of hours later, there are still a thousand thoughts swirling around inside my brain, but most are irrelevant, unimportant, and benign. Michael was smart enough to know that a little muscle tweak was high on the list. I left the gym feeling okay, but, as I was driving home, I realized that I was feeling dejected, blah, and mopey. It is a rare occurrence for me to leave the gym feeling that way, so I ran through a mental checklist of what I had done to determine why.
1a. handstand push-up practice
x 4, x 5, x 6, x 5, x 3.5
I am really pleased with how these are progressing. It was mid-November when I gave Michael my list of goals. To be honest, out of everything on my list, the handstand push-up was one that I had virtually no confidence in. Even as we began practicing simple progressions, I was certain that I had bitten off more than I could possibly chew. I don’t feel that way anymore!
With each rep of these over the past week, I have touched the top of my head on the mat. It’s only a light touch but a touch nonetheless. Today, however, there were several reps in at least two sets where my head fully touched the mat. In other words, I am getting more depth, and that is progress and progress is exciting!
1b. one set of 15 TRX rows
rope climb practice, laying supine with legs straight
x 3 reps for 5 sets
For the last set I also lowered myself down the rope. This is only my second time doing these, but this was an improvement already. Last week I did them with my knees bent. However, during one rep I felt a muscle tweak in that same area of my upper left back. It’s not really very painful, but it definitely doesn’t feel right.
2a. chin-ups, neutral grip
small green band x 6
small green and orange band x 5
Michael really wanted a higher number of reps. I really wanted to give him a higher number of reps. Really, I just want to see progress with chin-ups. And this would be the other thing high on the list of thoughts in my head…that chins will never get easier and I am so incredibly frustrated with how difficult they seem to remain even though I’ve been working on them for more than two years. I think it felt like a piece of me died when Michael said to add the orange band for that second set. I understand that I wasn’t fresh by the time I got to the chins, that the handstand push-ups and rope climbs had already taken a physical and neurological toll on my body. I get it, but that doesn’t soften the sting of always struggling with chins. There have been plenty of days where chins have been the first thing I’ve done, and my ability was only marginally better. I don’t like to quit or give up, but I honestly feel like this is one goal that will never be achieved.
wide grip lat pulldowns (instead of continuing with the chins)
80 lbs x 4, x 7
2b. one arm dumbbell presses
20 lbs x 12 each, 25 lbs x 7.5 on the left, 8 on the right, 25 x 7 on the left, 8 on the right
The left arm was back to being the weaker one today. I wonder if the muscle thing has anything to do with that. Michael smirked at one point, I think it was during my last set, because the left arm was struggling on that last rep. He finds it amusing how I will turn my head and glare at my arm when I need to grind out a rep. It is amusing, I guess. Sometimes you just need to tell your body what to do.
2c. chest-supported rows with a 1 second pause at top
45 lbs x 12, 70 x 9, 60 x 9
The first set was super light and easy. The second set was just heavy enough to make it difficult to lift the bar as high as Michael wanted it, so he dropped the weight for the last set. That weight was easier to lift higher…just really fatigued.
3a. spider curls
15 lbs x 12, x 11
These were a new one for me. It is amazing how many different exercises and variations there are that I have never heard of yet. Every once in a while, Michael tosses something new my way and I either like it, love it or hate it. This one wasn’t too bad.
3b. bodyweight barbell skull crushers
x 12 for 2 sets
3c. kettle bell swings
16kg x 20, 20 kg x 20
3d. ab wheel
x 12, x 10
The ab wheel isn’t exactly a favourite, but I don’t dread it quite as much as I used to. The first set of these today actually surprised me with how “easy” they felt. I am not sure that I get more than ten reps very often, so I’m impressed. The second set was a little more challenging, because I was still breathing a little heavy from the kettle bell swings. I am so not used to cardio!
And that was my training session. All in all, it was a decent day. The muscle thing isn’t major, but I am realizing that I don’t particularly react well to little potholes like that. I’ll get over it soon enough though. The frustration and sense of defeat with the chins is more pervasive. Ultimately, if I can never do unassisted chin-ups, what does it really matter? It doesn’t! I have Provincial and National powerlifting records…so what if I can’t do more than one chin-up? (Actually, I don’t even know if I could do a single chin-up! The only time I ever did one unassisted chin-up was more than a year ago.) It’s only for personal pride and accomplishment really, but today I feel defeated. It’s not an enjoyable feeling. It too shall pass, at least until the next chin-up day.