In With the New

I was excited last Friday when Michael said we’d be starting a new program this week. Sometimes it is hard to say good-bye to the current programming, because it is fun, familiar or filled with favourites, but I am always thrilled to change things up, even if the changes are small. It’s not very often that Michael only lets me do the things that I am good at or the things that I enjoy most. His value as a personal trainer would likely be greatly diminished if he never worked my weaknesses or challenged me. I will probably always groan every time he mentions laterals or chin ups, but I will do the work.

1a. overhead squats

First Michael had me use the 35 pound bar to practice some behind the neck push jerks. Not too much difficulty with those. Then 3 overhead squats.

Then I tried doing some of the push jerks with the 45 pound bar. Not so good. I had a tough time with these, so I switched to the hang snatch and then did 5 overhead squats.

63 lbs x 5

This set was done inside the squat rack, because we switched to a bar that was already loaded there. The set felt really tough, and, as I did each rep, I doubted myself. This weight shouldn’t have felt as tough as it did, and I never truly felt comfortable, which is why I cut the set short by at least a rep. I told Michael that it felt tough and heavy. He asked if I’d been sleeping well and such. I wondered if I wasn’t quite warm enough, so he had me do a minute of skipping. While I skipped, Michael tried a few overhead squats with the bar inside the rack. He also said it felt harder being inside the rack. Maybe that’s all it was, a mental block from being contained inside four posts and safety bars. As I had done that set I did worry about what could happen if I had to dump the bar; it’s not quite the same as failing a back squat in the rack and that likely weighed heavy on my mind. So, we moved the bar out of the rack to open space.

63 x 10

I did a hang snatch to get the bar up, and it was a good one. The set felt so much easier and more stable than the first one.

70 x 8

This hang snatch wasn’t quite as good, but it was still pretty decent, or legal, as Michael joked. In Olympic lifting, your arms need to be fully locked out when you catch the bar. Since I’ve not had much experience or practice with Olympic lifting, my hang snatch isn’t always “legal”, especially when I add a little more weight to the bar; however, I think I feel more comfortable trying to use a hang snatch to get the bar overhead rather than the push jerk.

And here begins the new program! So I don’t know the proper terminology for this, and if Michael mentioned it then I don’t remember what he said. I started with a few sets of front squats, then switched to high bar back squats. The squats were alternated with pressing sets which followed a similar pattern. First I did military presses, then incline presses, and finally regular bench presses.

2a. squats

front squats: 95 lbs x 8, 120 x 8, 140 x 6

I had the strength to do a few more in the final set, but the bar was slipping on my left side, making the reps tougher and leaving me uncertain of my ability to not collapse on further attempts.

high bar back squats: 123 x 8, 150 x 8, 150 x 8

We opted not to increase the weight on the third set, so that I could work on form. My hips were coming up a little faster than my chest, and I wasn’t bringing my hips forward fast enough. I’m not sure the final set was much better than the second. It’s been a while since I’ve done regular squats, so they felt weird, especially coming right after overhead and front squats. I’m able to get really good depth on both of those squats, but then it felt like I was maybe too deep for the back squats. It will get better.

2b. presses

military: 55 lbs x 8, 55 x 8, 60 x 5.5

I do not like the military press. The first set was easier than I expected. The second set wasn’t too bad. The last set wasn’t horrible, but I do tend to waste too much energy at the bottom position by holding the bar off of my chest. Also, further into each set as I fatigue, my elbows fall back behind the bar which puts them into a bad position for pressing.

incline bench: 60 lbs x 8, 65 lbs x 8, 65 x 7

The first set was kind of awkward, while the second set was much better. The third set was okay but tough at the end. Michael said that I was probably bringing the bar down too low on my chest, more like for a normal bench press.

bench press, competition grip: 65 lbs x 10, 85 x 10, 90 x 10

These felt so much smoother!

3. step ups with a 55 lb vest

x 20, x 24, x 24

I strongly feel like there was more weight in that vest than the last time I used it. Granted, I haven’t had to wear it for a while, but it felt so much heavier today.

So, all in all, I didn’t mind this first day of the new program. I’ve been told that there will be more pressing and deadlifts on Wednesday and more squats on Friday (although probably Thursday this week). I get to squat two days a week again! Nah, that doesn’t excite me at all!

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