Fatigue Week

This morning’s training session was a good one, I think. Even though my coach is wanting to incur fatigue this week, I felt pretty good throughout my session. The only instances where I didn’t feel so fine were my final deadlift set and during the glute bridges. The back felt achy and uncomfortable during that final deadlift set, and it also felt uncomfortable the moment I settled the weight across my abdomen for the glute bridges. Still, the back is feeling better every session, every week, so I just hope to continue to increase my weights without further set-backs.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 4, 195 x 2

main event: 205 x 5, 205 x 5, 205 x 4, 205 x 2

As I mentioned already, the back felt fine until the final set here, which is why I only managed 2 reps. Although I most likely could have pushed through to complete another rep or two, I do not want to inflict further harm. Know your limit, play within it!

2. incline bench press (3-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10

main event: 60 lbs x 12, 60 x 10, 60 x 8

My incline bench is definitely weaker than my regular bench. My shoulders were burning with fatigue by the third set.

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

110 lbs x 15, 110 x 10

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds, x 22 seconds, x 25 seconds

4b. barbell rows

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 12, 70 x 12

4c. glute bridge

40 lbs x 15, 40 x 15, 40 x 15

End of Week 2

I have now completed week 2 of my new training program, and I’m happy to say that this week was better than the first in several ways. I felt stronger. My reps felt and looked better, and there has been less muscle soreness.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 5

main event: 95 lbs x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 6, 95 x 5

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 10, 90 x 10

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 9

I kept my feet on the bench for the second set, because the back was feeling achy with the arching.

4a. 45-degree back extensions

x 12, x 10, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12, x 8, x 6

The leg raises were very uncomfortable on the back, which is why the reps dropped so drastically. But I think it was a good session overall.

Week One Done

The low back has been quite achy since Thursday’s deadlift session. ¬†While still not as bad as it has been previously, I am frustrated by this reappearance and doing what I can to attack it. As I was warming up at the gym this morning, the ache and discomfort persisted and made me wonder how I’d be able to do my squat sets when I could barely do a body weight squat.

1. wide grip bench press (2-2×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 6, 65 x 5, 85 x 4, 95 x 4

main event: 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 3, 110 x 2

The back discomfort made arching uncomfortable, so I minimized my arch during the warm up sets by having my feet on the bench…barely since the benches are not very long. I don’t like to do heavy sets without the use of my legs though, so I put my feet down and had a small arch for the working sets. Even then, I was a little slow getting up after each set.

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 x 8, 65 x 10

main event: 90 x 10, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

The weight was light, but the slower eccentric and higher reps made these sets anything but easy. The back was less bothered than it was doing body weight squats earlier, but it still wasn’t completely normal.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0)

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12

These were done with my feet on the bench again because of the back.

4a. back extensions

x 12, x 12, x 8

4b. leg raises

x 12 , x 10, x 8

The back extensions actually felt good on the low back, but my hamstrings were screaming in agony. The leg raises, however, were like torture on the back.

Week one of the new program is complete.

Familiarizing

Day 2 of the new program took place this morning. It wasn’t horrible. It wasn’t amazing. I am still familiarizing myself with the new gym, where the various pieces of equipment are located, and the quirks of worn flooring, loud grunting, and the details of my program. Becoming familiar and comfortable in my new gym will take some time, but I know it will eventually happen. The quirks of the building and equipment aren’t likely to change anytime soon, but I will at least grow accustomed to them or figure out ways to work around them.

1. deficit deadlifts

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 6, 165 x 4, 195 x 2

main event: 195 x 4, 195 x 3, 195 x 3

My working sets were programmed for 220 pounds, but my warm up at 195 felt tough and uncomfortable on my lower back. I put my belt on and opted to stay at the same weight for the working sets. The target was 4-6 reps. The ache in the back continued and remains even now…nothing too severe but I’d rather be cautious than risk further back troubles. I’ve had quite enough of that already this year.

2. incline bench press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 10, 55 x 8, 55 x 8

I am definitely weaker benching on an incline, and I am definitely not a fan of my gym’s incline bench set up.

3. stiff leg deadlifts

95 lbs x 12, 95 x 12

Grip was definitely an issue with these. I did locate the chalk box at the gym, but it was empty. Also, that ache in the lower back was an issue doing these.

4a. side plank

x 33 seconds each side, x 25 each, x 25 each

4b. barbell row

60 lbs x 10, 60 x 12, 60 x 12

The weights for some of these accessory exercises were left blank for me to fill in. The leeway is welcome, but it also makes me feel a measure of uncertainty. I’m probably playing it safe and easy, at least for now.

4c. glute bridge

25 lbs x 15, 25 x 15, 25 x 15

Aches, Blocks, Core

1a. snatch grip block pulls

73 lbs x 8, 113 x 8, 143 x 8, 153 x 8, 163 x 8, 163 x 5

I cut the last set short, because I was beginning to feel my lower back. Although my back is generally improved and close to being 100%, I am still experiencing some achiness, particularly at night and first thing in the morning. Last night was an uncomfortable and achy night. The back was still achy when I arrived at the gym but fine enough. Even what I felt in that last set wasn’t anything significant, but I’d rather stop at the right time.

1b. double flat kettlebell presses

10kg x 8, 12kg x 10, 16kg x 10, 16kg x 10, 16kg x 10

2a. single leg deadlifts with barbell, alternating legs each rep

63 lbs x 14 x 3 sets

2b. single arm kettlebell rows

16kg x 10 each

starting with a wide row and moving to narrow:

12kg x 15 each (10 wide), 12kg x 10 each (5 wide)

2c. GHD sit ups

x 15

with 6kg kettlebell x 10

Thought about doing another set and even got into position before deciding that the back might not appreciate it.

6 Minutes of Torture

It was so good to be back at the gym this morning, and I can still say that after a training session that left me dripping in sweat and gasping for breath. I knew my training would look different and would not focus on powerlifting, but I did not know exactly what to expect. By the time I finished my last rep, I could only collapse on the floor, breathing hard and muscles rubbery. My coach told me that he hadn’t intended to kill me, but I think he kind of did, at least subconsciously. Somehow I’m okay with it. The true intent is not to slaughter me but to make me better and stronger. Variation is good. Conditioning is good. Working weak spots is good. Moving is good.

warm-up:

Turkish get-ups with 8kg kettlebell x 2 each side

single leg box step downs x 10 each side

1a. single arm kettlebell presses + carry

10kg x 10 each + 4 lengths, 12kg x 8 each + 4 lengths, 12kg x 6 each + 4 lengths

1b. single leg box step downs with the box on top of 15 lb bumper plates

3 sets of 10 each leg

I was actually surprised with how “easy” these were. Single leg stuff can often be problematic for me. My balance isn’t always very good, and single leg stuff is just tougher. The warm up set with the box on the floor was rather easy, still I was skeptical when Michael increased the height with the bumper plates. Indeed it felt like I was lowering my leg a very long way, but I powered through my reps with much more balance and ease than I had expected.

2a. trap bar deadlifts-touch and go

75 lbs x 6, 115 x 8, 135 x 10

2b. barbell push-ups

x 12, x 12, x 8

2c. hanging leg raises, keeping a posterior pelvic tilt

2 sets of 8

Hanging leg raises and toes to bar have been more challenging for me since the problems with my SI joints began. Actually anything requiring a posterior pelvic tilt has been more challenging, because my back feels like it doesn’t want to move that way. It’s not so much pain, at least not anymore, so much as a sensation of the muscles being tight and not wanting to move that way. I’ve been working on making the back happier with that position, so there has been improvement…it’s just not completely¬†there yet. The hanging leg raises today were definitely tougher to do with maintaining that pelvic position, but I will get better.

For the last portion of my training session, Michael had me do some conditioning work. He gave me 3 exercises. 30 seconds for each one followed by a 30 second rest. Repeat 3 times. You can call it whatever you like…I think I’m going to call it ‘6 minutes of torture’.

a) double clean & presses with 10kg kettlebells

I didn’t get more than 4 or 5 reps the first round, because I’m not so great at the clean & press. I think I got at least 6 reps on the second round, but the final round dropped back to 4 or 5 from sheer fatigue. I also anticipate seeing some bruises on my upper arms/shoulders over the next couple of days!

b) bear crawl

I think I managed to crawl a little bit further and with better form each round.

c) ab wheel

My brain can no longer recall how many reps I got each round. As Michael noted, my roll-outs were not very far either. Seriously, by the time I got to the ab wheel, my body and brain was rebelling against me. Every muscle was shaking. I needed oxygen in the worst way, and, on the final round, I probably came the closest I have ever come to feeling as if I might puke while training. I am glad to report that I did not.

This conditioning torture is going to be a common occurrence for a while, I think. As much as I am not looking forward to it, I am also oddly saying, “Bring it on!”

Confidently Stubborn

Okay, so this week without training hasn’t been too bad, but I am definitely looking forward to walking into the gym in the morning. I have no idea what my coach is going to have in store for me, although I can be fairly confident that my training will be designed to make me stronger and work on weaknesses. I’m ready.

“You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through.” ~ Rosalynn Carter

It would be easy to let my experience at Provincials shake my self-confidence. Although I have grown quite confident in my abilities, I am still humanly prone to stumbling along in the darkness of doubt. Whatever it was that happened in my back on my second squat, it flooded me with fear, uncertainty, frustration, and doubt. I still knew what I was capable of when healthy, but I was suddenly afraid that I might have done more damage to my body. I knew that I have determination and toughness, but are those qualities enough when you’ve been thrown into the fire? In all honesty, as much as I knew that I wasn’t about to throw in the towel and quit, in the midst of the pain and volatile emotions I wasn’t giving much thought to being tough enough to follow through. I just wanted to survive the day as best I could. Earlier this week my coach complimented me on being a person with strong character by pushing through when it was emotionally and physically tough. It’s not always easy for me to accept a compliment, but I’m trying.

Perhaps the biggest knock against my confidence was my failed bench press attempt. My competition bench press has been stuck at 60 kilograms since October 2015, yet I have only attempted a heavier press while competing twice, at Westerns last August and at Provincials last week. Having pressed more than 60 kilos in the gym means that I know I am capable, but my string of failures also plays with that confidence like a cat toying with a mouse. I will keep striving though.

“Character consists of what you do on the third and fourth tries.” ~ James Michener

With my next competition not until November, I have lots of time to heal and train and focus. I definitely have goals for November’s competition, although I am not going to say too much about them for now, partly since a lot can happen between now and then but also because I don’t really have specific targets yet. So far my goals are general. I know I am capable. I just need to be tough enough to push through and to keep trying. Or maybe I am just that kind of stubborn.