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.


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!”


One Step Closer

It feels like I’ve hardly done anything these past few days, yet somehow I feel exhausted. A good portion of my time has been spent at the hospital, which isn’t exactly the most energizing place to be. I sat far too much Monday and Tuesday, which may be why my back feels slightly achy today, but the achiness is within reasonable limits. I think. My husband was released from the hospital this afternoon, so hopefully my extended sitting periods are over.

One thing that I did do today was my Wednesday morning training session. It was an interesting session, mostly good. Internally, the session was good enough for me to let loose a sigh of pent-up hope. Thanks to the disc/SI joint issues, many aspects of my training have been put on hold, because I couldn’t do certain things. With Provincials less than 5 weeks away, I am acutely aware of how long it has been since I’ve deadlifted or even been able to hinge my hip with any kind of load. We tested a little this morning, and I was able to do kettlebell swings, a set of super light deadlifts, and some barbell rows. The back was achy before I even started at the gym, so I think I’m safe in saying that my back is no worse for having done these things.

warm-up with 3 sets of:

16kg kettlebell swings x 10

5 medicine ball passes

5 medicine ball slams

Tested my ability to deadlift with 65 pounds for roughly 6-8 reps. There was a slight sensation of tightness/pulling similar to what I have felt at the bottom of the squat, but this was minor. Of greater concern to me was whether I’d have any pain when I’d create tension throughout my body before lifting, but there was only slight discomfort. Now normally I would begin deadlifting with significantly more weight than 65 pounds, but I was happy with how it felt to go through the motions once again.

1a. barbell rows

65 lbs x 8?, 85 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10, 95 x 10

I generally don’t get too excited about rows, but being able to do these put a huge smile on my face.

1b. close grip bench press with feet on bench

45 lbs x 6, 65 x 8, 85 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

1c. banded monster walks with blue band

2a. seated side laterals, front raises, and clean & presses, 10 lb dumbbells

-2 sets of 10 for the side laterals

-2 sets of front raises with varying reps that I cannot remember

-2 sets of clean & presses, averaging 5 reps, because I could barely press by this point

2b. double kettlebell curls

8kg x 4 + 6kg x 8; 6kg x 7?

2c. kettlebell triceps extension

12kg x 12 x 2 sets

A Snowy Start to Spring

Hello March! Good-bye winter! Wait. What? It is snowing?! Good grief. If it were December or even January, a glance out the window would make me feel peaceful. The snowflakes are fat and fluffy. The sky is so heavy and grey that I can barely make out the mountain roughly 500 metres from my house. But it isn’t December. This is March 1st and I want spring now. I wore flipflops to the gym this morning, because it wasn’t snowing at that time. Now I will need to brush off my car before I leave for work and likely again once I’m done work later tonight. <sigh>

1. single arm dumbbell clean & press

20 lbs x 3 each, 25 x 3 each, 29 x 3 each, 34 x 3 each with push last rep

with push: 39 x 1 left + 3 right + 3/4 left

That left side! Almost always that left side!

2a. goblet squats, flat shoes

16kg x 8, 24kg x 8, 28kg x 4.5, 24kg x 10, 24kg x 10

We experimented a bit with the goblet squats. The first set was done as I usually squat, while the following sets were done with less forward knee angle. Having my knees far forward generally works for me, but I do tend to get some discomfort at the back of my right knee at the bottom of the squat. Since these goblet squats weren’t super heavy, why not experiment! It wasn’t too bad making the change, although it made me feel uncertain as to my depth. Michael assured me that I was still hitting competition depth, but it didn’t feel like it to me. The set at 28kg wasn’t too heavy, but the lower back felt uncomfortable enough to cause me to drop the kettlebell instead of rising out of the squat. I was given the option of staying at that weight or dropping it and doing more reps. As much as I don’t like dropping the weight, I figured that would be the smartest choice.

2b. chin-ups, using a barbell and inclined bench

overhand competition width grp: x 8, x 9, x 8

underhand close grip: x 6, x 6

3a. rows, underhand close grip

bent over barbell: 75 lbs x 12

This set was actually good, but Michael changed his mind on type of row in order to not make my back cranky.

seal rows: 75 lbs x 15, 75 x 15

3b. standing double kettlebell presses, with eyes closed

10kg x 10, x 10, 12kg x 6

kneeling on a bench, feet unsupported: 25 lb dumbbells x 4, 20 lbs x 4

That was challenging and the left arm/shoulder just wouldn’t cooperate anymore.

3c. ab wheel

x 10, x 10

My lower back feels a bit better today, at least first thing in the morning. I could put my pants on with less discomfort. Yesterday’s chiropractic adjustment probably helped with that, but I’m also doing what I need to do to help it along. I am still not allowed to do back squats or deadlifts, but I’ve been told that goblet squats and front squats are okay and I can arch when benching. That’s good enough news for now!


Friday “Night” Deadlifts

It wasn’t all that long ago that two of my weekly training sessions would take place after I had put in a full day’s work that began at 5 or 5:30 in the morning. There haven’t been too many of those days since starting my new job, since my early work days have mostly been on non-training days. Not all of them though and today was one of those days. Thankfully today was a smoother, better work day than yesterday, although my early starts seldom seem to have a negative effect on my training. Maybe I just love training! Or, possibly the fact that I do train has resulted in increased stamina and energy.

1. overhead squats

43 lbs x 6

63 lbs x 6 This set was a little unstable feeling, and my hang snatch was not so great.

63 lbs x 8 This was much better overall. I got down deeper in the snatch than ever before, and my squats were much more stable, easier.

70 lbs x 6.5 I tried to snatch the bar up a couple of times and couldn’t do it, so Michael gave me some assistance to get the bar overhead. The squats themselves were decent. I was so close to finishing the seventh rep, too.

2a. deadlifts, conventional, touch and go

135 lbs x 10, 185 x 8, 205 x 8

Sometimes I mess up with knowing the weight or counting reps, and sometimes Michael is the one messing up. He added 50 pounds after my 135 pound set, then after I blasted through my reps, he said we could go up to 185. Um…pretty sure I just did 185! So, since it looked like I was feeling strong today, we bumped up to 205 pounds; Michael called it after 8 reps. That set was fairly fast and nearly effortless. Last week’s sets at 195 felt tough, but these were easy. Then Michael asked if we should maybe go up to 225. I felt confident.

225 x 3 + 205 x 3 So 225 pounds might have been a little ambitious, at least for touch and go reps. I feel confident that I could have completed 10 reps if they weren’t touch and go, but the weight was just a little too heavy for the light touches that I’m used to doing. Then Michael decided that we didn’t need to max out on the deadlifts and dropped back to 205. I didn’t get very far though. I guess the 225 pounds took more out of me than I expected, which was kind of ironic considering the conversation we had just a few minutes prior, talking about how long it can take to recover from maximal deadlifts and how I have yet to feel depleted by deadlifts, even after a competition. Of course, my coach is smart with my training, so I’m not allowed to do anything near maximal after a competition, but I felt like I had to eat my own words after only managing 3 reps at 205 after the 225 attempt.

2b. push presses

45 lbs x 8, 55 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 65 x 6, 65 x 6

It’s no secret that I am not a fan of the push press or military press or overhead pressing in general, but these were actually decent. It’s been a while since I’ve done them, but I’m always happy when an exercise I suck at feels a bit easier than normal.

3a. Romanian deadlifts

135 x 11, 135 x 8, 135 x 12

Three sets doesn’t seem to do justice here. Not only did I do the sets, but there was practice with a dowel, practice with Michael pulling my hips with a band, and just practice without a bar or dowel. I want to pull the bar instead of bringing my hips to the bar. It’s a mental block kind of thing, because even though I understand what I’m supposed to do, my brain just doesn’t think it will work that way. Just another thing to practice with my dowel at home…

3b. torture

Okay, so this wasn’t really called torture, but it may as well have been! Here’s what it was:

with dumbbells while sitting: side laterals, front laterals, then clean and presses

10 lb dumbbells (hahaha!) x 11 side laterals, x 8 front laterals, x 2 c+p plus 8 lbs x 4

There is nothing quite so humbling as pesky little isolation exercises, particularly when they involve my shoulders. Before I did my second set, Michael decided to show me that these weren’t much easier for him. He used 25 pound dumbbells and did 10 reps per exercise, but it wasn’t super easy.

8 lb dumbbells x 18 side laterals, x 10 front laterals, x 5? c+p

Good grief! I’m sure that I could have used 1 pound dumbbells and still struggled by the end. Sure I can squat or deadlift a decent amount of weight, but it is the little weights that make me feel weak.

But I did get some good news. Michael said that he will have a new training program for me on Monday, although he wouldn’t tell me what it will look like. I’m excited to see what the new program will bring, although I suspect that there will be things that aren’t so exciting, but I’ll do what needs doing.