The Mental Game

While I always look forward to my training sessions, I don’t always feel as excited for my Wednesday morning upper body sessions as I do for my other training days. Upper body work is tough. It makes me feel incredibly weak, and progress is often deceptive. Following last week’s upper body day, I was an emotional mess. Most of that training session was actually quite good, but the perceived lack of progress with the chin-ups blind-sided me and cut the legs out from under me. Michael had me attempt some unassisted chins last Friday in an effort to show me what I am actually capable of, and I surprised myself by doing 2 chin-ups. And with that little success came a new outflowing of confidence. Last week I was ready to throw up a white flag and admit defeat. Today I believe that I will be able to do 5 chin-ups at some point this year. Maybe that is why I actually found myself feeling excited about upper body work today.

1a. handstand push-up practice

x 4, x 5, x 5, x 4, x 4

These were okay today, although the earlier sets definitely felt a little more challenging. My morning cup of coffee was rather weak tasting, so maybe I was firing a little more slowly at the start of the session. The last set was likely the best, but Michael had said to do 3…4 if it was going well. He didn’t want me to fail on a rep like I did the set before. Knowing it was my last set and that I had an easy out at 3 reps, of course I would have the best set of the bunch!

1b. chin-ups, neutral grip and from a dead hang

x 1, x 1, x 1, x 1, x 1, x 0

These singles were alternated with the handstand push-ups. The fifth rep was a little tougher at the top, but I have never ever done so many single, unassisted reps before! The last attempt started well and fast off the bottom, but it stalled about midway up. I might have been able to really grind my way up, but I know that Michael doesn’t always like those types of reps.

2a. chin-ups, with small green band

x 5, x 5, x 4

2b. single arm dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 10 each, 25 lbs x 7 each, 25 x 5, 25 x 6

As is often the case, the left arm was weaker and had more difficulty with these than the right arm. I don’t know if all the handstand push-ups and chin-ups were to blame, but these felt tougher overall today.

3a. dips

with small green band x 8

with blue band x 10

with red band x 8, x 5

3b. chest-supported rows, with 1 second pause at top

45 x 12, 60 x 12, 60 x 12, 60 x 8

4a. rope climb practice, up & down with straight legs

x 2, x 2

These were so much tougher than last week! My grip was an issue. It was a challenge to squeeze the rope hard enough to not slip and then pull my body towards the rope. My hands were reluctant to let go to move up the rope.

4b. ab wheel

x 8, x 8, x 9

The left elbow felt some discomfort with these today, and I think that made the movement feel harder than usual.

4c. spider curls

15 lbs x 15, x 12

4d. kettle bell swings

20 kg x 20, x 20

Attitude is such a funny thing. Last week’s upper body day was actually quite good, except for tweaking a muscle in my back and struggling with the chin-ups. Today’s session wasn’t bad, but it was more challenging, harder than I might have thought it should be. Yet, I am perfectly happy with what I did in the gym this morning. Maybe not exactly content, because I’ll always want to get better, stronger, faster, but my head is in a good place.

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