Squat Box and PRs

In my rush to go straight from work to the gym this afternoon, I forgot to plug in my IPhone to play the power songs that I like to use to get my head into training mode. That’s one way that I visualize. (The CD player in my car won’t function for some reason that I haven’t bothered to investigate, so music has to come from the radio or my phone.) Instead of singing along to music, I tried to focus my thoughts on what I’d do in the gym, except that I really didn’t know what I would be doing today. This is the third and final day of the first week of my new program. While Michael had told me that I’d get to squat today, he didn’t tell me anything else. He didn’t even tell me what kind of squats I’d get to do…and he definitely didn’t tell me that they’d be the sucky kind.

1. overhead squats

63 lbs x 8, 70 lbs x 8, 70 lbs x 5

The first set of overhead squats usually feels a little tougher with each successive set feeling easier and more stable. This was just as true today, but I think there was a little more effort required to maintain stability. Michael had forgotten about the overhead squats and had told me to put on my flat shoes. Normally I wear weightlifting shoes for squats which have a bit of a heel. There have been instances where I have squatted with flat shoes before, so I am more than capable of doing so; it just requires a bit of adjustment.

2a. safety bar box squats, with a deadlift focus

75 lbs x 6ish, 125 lbs x 8, 155 x 8, 185 x 3ish

no box, just safety bar squats: 125 lbs x 8, 145 x 8, 145 x 8

The first few sets of box squats weren’t too bad. I was supposed to try to maintain a deadlift-like position with my shins and torso. I think my shins were mostly fine, but I had some issues with torso angle and began to feel an incredible amount of pressure in my lower back, particularly at 185 pounds. So Michael removed the box and had me do regular squats, although squats with the safety bar are not my idea of a good time. And I was wearing flat shoes for the deadlift focus. Despite the flat shoes and the fact I was using the safety bar which likes to pitch me forward, I think I did a pretty good job at keeping the bar properly positioned mid-foot most of the time. I honestly can’t recall there being much, if any, pitching forward. Assuming that my recollection is accurate, I am then pleased with today’s squats, because that safety bar usually does challenge my ability to stay in position.

2b. flat dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 11, 29 lbs x 10, 34 lbs x 8, 39 lbs x 8 PR, 39 x 8

Two months ago I did 39 lbs for one set of 6 reps. I bettered that today by two reps and a second set! Then my coach pointed out that 40 pounds in each hand is really just pressing 80 pounds, which I can do quite easily for 8 reps with a barbell. Just burst my bubble! Just kidding. He’s right, but he’s also gently teasing me. It’s okay; he can do that. It’s not like I can’t dish it out myself. But I’m still going to be happy about the little PR! When the dumbbells tend to intimidate you, any victory over them is worth celebrating.

3a. hip thrusts

115 lbs x 10, 165 x 10, 195 x 12PR with a 5 second hold on the last rep

I haven’t really done hip thrusts for a while. There might have been one time randomly thrown in a few months ago, but I think it’s been roughly a year since I’ve done these with consistency. In fact, it wasn’t until I got home and looked in my little PR notebook that I realized that I actually set a new PR today. My previous one was 185 pounds for 12 reps a little more than a year ago.

3b. back extensions, with hands behind head

x 20, x 11

The second set was cut short, because my lower back was feeling extremely fatigued. My glutes were obviously fatigued and the back was taking over.

3c. inverted rows

competition bench grip x 5 with legs extended + 5 legs bent

underhand grip x 4 + 6

Inverted rows…the best part is being finished and laying flat on the floor.

3d. hammer curls

20 lbs x 10, 20 lbs x 8

The second set was tougher, although the first set wasn’t exactly what I’d call easy, but Michael told me that he wasn’t going to let me drop down to the 15 pound dumbbells. :/

4. neutral grip pulldowns

100 lbs x 2 + 80 lbs x 7

Michael thought that 100 pounds was doable; I’m glad he dropped the weight.

Parts of today’s training session felt really good, like the dumbbell presses, while other parts felt much tougher than I think they should have, like the box squats and back extensions. What I need to remember is that I haven’t done either of those exercises for a while, so there will be an adjustment period. The movements should begin to feel better with more practice, even if the work isn’t always easy. Not only did I train back-to-back days, which is not my normal routine, but I did deadlifts yesterday. Most of the time deadlifts have been a Friday thing, giving me the weekend to rest and recover; however, now they are a Wednesday thing, so typically there will be a shorter rest. This week there was no rest day, and deadlifts are physically taxing, even though I don’t always feel it.

So now I know what the new training program looks like. I was expecting minimal changes, but it looks like there are quite a few. That’s okay. It is definitely not an easy program, but I don’t mind that either.



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