Attack of the Back and Other Sad Tales

Now is the time to begin a season of high volume training. As we get closer to competition, then the weight will continue to climb while the volume will drop. High volume generally sucks, but I’m still excited for the hard work ahead. I do reserve the right to whine a little now and then, because high volume does suck. Competition thrills me, and I’ve been restlessly waiting for the chance to get back to competition mode; however, I am also feeling something else, which is quite different from anything I’ve felt heading into competition before.

A bit of fear and uncertainty? I’m trying to think of the most accurate word to describe this feeling, and I’m drawing blanks. Tentative? Pessimism? Insecurity? Perhaps if you take all of those feelings…fear, uncertainty, unsettled, doubtful, doom & gloom…and swirl them all together, then that might reflect what I’m feeling. There is usually some measure of fear and uncertainty leading up to any competition, but this goes beyond the normal and revolves around my lower back. As much as the back is improving, I worry and fret and stew that it won’t improve enough or quickly enough or ever. It can feel okay in so many ways, and yet, the simplest things can also feel uncomfortable and tough. Sitting on the toilet or in the car hurts. Bending forward, lifting my right leg to put on pants is not always easy…often feels like my back just won’t bend enough that way. I can stand and walk without any issue. The back can feel generally¬†fine, but then, like this morning, I can wake up with a cranky back from whatever position I managed to sleep in. The back felt decent yesterday, but I woke up with it feeling stiff and sore, which meant that it bothered me more in training. And that only fuels this mad swirl of emotions, because how am I going to be ready for competition when the back continues to be an issue…

I can literally feel my mood descending into the pit of despair. I want to cry. I want to have a little, or big, pity party, yet I don’t. I want to pull myself up and shake off the negative thoughts, but after the pity party. Maybe I’ll finish this blog post and go for a walk.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

warm-up: 45 x 8, 95 x 7, 125 x 7 with belt

The lower back didn’t feel so great during the first two sets.

with belt: 145 x 7, 155 x 7, 155 x 7, 155 x 7

total volume: 6170 pounds

I have no idea what my depth was like, and Michael wasn’t always watching that. But I think the bar path was generally good. The weight definitely wasn’t maximal, but there’s no need to increase it too quickly, especially with the ongoing back issue.

1b. bench press-competition grip

warm-up: 43 lbs x 10, 63 x 7, 83 x 7 with belt

I do not bench with a belt, but Michael suggested trying it. The back wasn’t too happy with getting into my bench position for the first two sets (and pretty much every set after), but this first set with a belt didn’t feel too bad.

103 x 7, 105 x 7, 105 x 7, 105 x 7

total volume: 4378 pounds

I wore a belt for the first three working sets but opted to go beltless for the final set. I’m not certain if the belt truly helped at all, but I could feel a weird sensation in my abdominal muscles while benching with the belt. Maybe that is due to the fact that I’m used to pushing out against the belt for squatting and deadlifts. In benching without a belt, I think I just tighten or lock down my abs rather than pushing outward with them.

Bench was decent today, despite the back discomfort. Michael would smirk as I’d finish each set, because my last rep would be faster than the previous ones.

3c. band pull-aparts

5 sets of 15, 1 set of 10-orange band and these were actually done before my bench press

2a. pause squats-high bar, 2 second pause

115 lbs x 5 x 3 sets

In a way, these felt easier and more comfortable than the previous squats, even though it felt strange to do high bar. I love pause squats, although I think I am currently a little afraid of them since it was a super-extended (and stupid) pause squat that caused my back issue. These felt good. They felt super easy. They were easy.

2b. dumbbell bench press

25 lbs x 12, 34 lbs x 9, 34 x 8

Unlike the barbell bench presses, my final rep was not faster than the previous ones!

Now I’m off to enjoy my pity party…



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