Belts, Squats & One-armed Planks

My lower back has been bothering me since Monday. Well technically, there has been some discomfort there for more than two weeks, ever since I hung out in a body weight squat for 5 minutes. Perhaps that wasn’t my smartest move…but that was only a very mild ache. This Monday when I squatted, the lower back quickly became an intense pain affecting almost every aspect of my life. Sitting, putting on shoes, bending forward, bending forward and lifting an object, sneezing, getting into a reclining position…all inflicted varying degrees of pain and discomfort. After the gym on Monday, I spent the rest of the day flat on my back, because I was in too much pain to do anything else. Every day since then has seen improvement, slow and gradual. As of today, I can sit with only mild discomfort, although I still seldom sit. Bending forward and lifting is still kind of an issue, but I did notice that I can bend over to put my boots on without nearly as much pain and struggle as the task required even yesterday. The fact that there is progress reassures me and illuminates my mood more than it has been all week.

Still, I headed to today’s training session with doubts in my ability to deadlift with the way that my back has been feeling. I wasn’t surprised when Michael said that I wouldn’t be deadlifting today, but what was surprising was how that news didn’t make me cranky. I suppose I am just resigned, or accepting, to the fact that adaptations and changes are sometimes necessary to stay healthy and prolong my powerlifting life. Or maybe I just see a glimmer of light at the end of this tunnel!

1a. belt squats

I’m not even completely sure what all we used, except that we used almost all of the bumper plates to create two towers for me to stand on for these belt squats. This is something I have never done before. They weren’t horrible, but they are definitely challenging. It’s amazing the difference with the back taken out of the equation, along with the addition of the wobble from the hanging weight and the threat of a big fall if I didn’t maintain my balance.

24kg kettlebell x 15+

I did more than 15 reps, but I’m not really sure of the exact number. I did at least 3 or 4 to get the feel of the squat, and then I did a full set of 15 reps.

24kg kb + 35 lb plate: x 12, x 10, x 10

It feels slightly embarrassing to say that roughly 88 pounds felt a bit challenging. It almost felt like I was just learning how to squat, but I sure didn’t mind being able to squat without pain in my back!

1b. floor presses-no arching of the back allowed!

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 8, 83 x 8, 93 x 8, 103 x 6

After the set at 93 pounds, Michael said I could go up 5 or 10 pounds, my choice. I chose 10 pounds. I had to think about it. The weight on its own wasn’t super challenging, but keeping my back flat impeded my ability to put my shoulders into the proper position and keep them there. With my shoulders not in my usual tucked and tight position, the pressing was more difficult. But I can be stubborn and maybe part of me wanted to compensate for my inability to deadlift. I was likely overly optimistic, but that’s okay.

Drop the weight for as many reps as possible:

83 lbs x 15

The last rep was a real grinder, as in my left arm locked out well before the right, my head turned to the left, and I snarled at Michael to not touch the bar. I got the rep, and he didn’t touch the bar. The left shoulder didn’t feel very great for the entire set, and the funkiness continued well past it; however, I am reasonably confident that this was a result of the change in shoulder position with the flat back and maybe a little bit from the grind of the final rep.

1c. planks-one arm, one leg

4 sets of 10 seconds each side

These were a bit challenging, but I think the last set was the best.

2a. back extensions

x 20

with 20 lb dumbbell x 20, x 15

For some reason the first set, the body weight set, felt the hardest. I was a little tentative getting into position on that first set, because I could feel a measure of low back discomfort. Thankfully, there was no discomfort or pain once I was actually in position and going through the motion.

2b. decline single arm rows

10kg kettlebell x 12 each side, 12kg x 12 each, 12kg x 12 each

These were easy. Really, I am quite capabe of rowing more than a 12kg kettlebell, but that left shoulder was feeling a little funky after the floor presses.

2c. ab wheel

2 sets of 12

Michael wanted some kind of ab exercise without taxing the back. These were better than I expected, to be honest, but I also didn’t extend out as far as I usually do and that was intentional.

After a couple of pain-filled and frustrating training sessions, today was a pretty good day. I wasn’t upset about not being allowed to deadlift. I still felt like I challenged myself and did something. I could feel that my back was bothering me less. And my coach once again spoke words of wisdom into me. I got to do something new! I don’t know what next week’s training will look like…guess it all depends on my back!


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