End of Week 9

I am glad that this training week is finished. It’s felt like a long, tough week, and I suppose I shouldn’t expect much to change over the next few weeks. There’s a competition to prep for, after all!

1. competition bench (2-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6 + 5, 85 x 5

main event: 100 lbs for 10 sets of 3 reps with 90 seconds of rest between

Although I felt fine enough when I arrived at the gym, my right shoulder felt a little funky from the very first warm up set. It still feels a bit off almost two hours later. I don’t think it is anything to get excited about yet, but I should make sure I’m doing some band pull-aparts on a daily basis and try to minimize how much I sleep on my right side. As I continued warming up, I made sure to do some stretching and also felt a few more reps at 65 pounds would be beneficial. I was able to perform all 10 working sets without too much difficulty, but I could foresee difficulty coming my way in a short while with close grip bench also on the agenda.

2. competition squat (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 7, 95 x 5, 135 x 3

main event: 155 lbs x 6, 155 x 5, 155 x 5

These squats felt decent. They even looked decent when I watched the videos I took, but they did feel a little tough. Not tough in a “that’s too heavy or difficult for me” kind of way, but rather in a “my body feels drained of it’s life force” kind of way.

3. close grip bench press (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

105 lbs x 6, 105 x 4, 105 x 4

Just as I predicted, the close grip bench sets were super tough and not at all fun. I managed to get the minimal number of reps on the first set but barely. The RPE for that set was 9.5 and stayed that way for the next two sets. I don’t like dropping reps, particularly when I’m not even achieving the lowest number in the rep range; however, I’d rather drop reps than put myself into a potentially bad situation, like complete and utterly catastrophic failure. Even though I always have safeties when I bench, I am not a fan of my gym’s benches and safeties. Quite frankly, they suck. There are times when it appears as if the safeties would be too short compared to my bar path. Since I could barely finish the fourth rep each of those final two sets, I figured I should stop there.

4a. back extensions

20 lbs x 12, 20 lbs x 12

4b. side planks

x 30 seconds each side, x 25 seconds each side

Now I am looking forward to a couple of rest days and hoping to feel fresh for Monday’s training session…whatever it may look like. I have a feeling it’s going to be another long, tough, sweat-filled session.

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17 290

As much as I love squats and going to the gym, I was kind of dreading today’s training session because of the addition of an extra set of squats. My training over the past six weeks has seen me do 2-4 working sets depending on the exercise and purpose. This week is the first time I’ve been told to do 5 working sets of squats on day 1 and of deadlifts on day 2. Although the weights used aren’t unreasonable, for some reason I still felt a measure of fear about the extra set of squats. Why is that?! I think, for me, squats can be as unpredictable as a wild beast, brutally savage yet equally beautiful. Squats can take a lot out of you, and, if everything isn’t firing properly, a squat can crush you. I approach the bar knowing that I have to be as strong mentally as I am physically, because there are so many tiny details that can go awry and cause my brain to throw out emergency flares. This morning was no different. I felt the fear, acknowledged it, and steeled myself mentally. It’s what I do.

1. squats (2-0x0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 6, 135 x 4

main event, with belt: 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6

The first working set was a little scary. The weight felt fine, but my depth felt out of control deep. The next few sets were a bit better, I think; however, the final set probably felt the best, the most controlled.

2. competition bench (2-1×0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 4, 100 x 3

main event: 110 x 6, 110 x 6, 110 x 4

3. front squats (3-1×0) 8-12 reps

75 lbs x 9, 75 x 8, 75 x 8

4. glute bridges

95 lbs x 15 x 3 sets

5. chest supported rows

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

And just because I sometimes like to amuse myself with random facts and numbers…

Today’s total weight moved was 17, 290 pounds! That’s almost 2000 pounds more than last week’s day 1. I am currently in need of food and coffee and a nap, yet I still feel the post-training high of a good work out.

10 Hours?!

It’s almost as if my body is gunning for new personal records when it comes to how many hours of sleep it can get while still being physically exhausted. I was yawning by 3pm yesterday. Last night I had 10 hours of sleep. Yes, I said TEN! While sleep is as precious to me as the ring is to Gollum, ten hours of sleep is excessive and not my normal. The trend of waking up reluctantly and still in need of sleep continues. It is now 11:00am, and I desperately want to close my eyes for a long winter’s nap, which would be quite easy to do since I am already practically horizontal. But I start work in two hours. I could be, should be productive with my time between now and then. Ha!

The only thing that did get me out of bed this morning was the fact that I had to go to the gym. At this point, I don’t think I am sick enough to skip going to the gym; however, I feel sick enough to recognize that my performance might be impacted.

1. competition bench (2-2×0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 7

main event: 90 lbs x 7, 90 x 7, 90 x 7

These felt solid today and easier than Thursday’s bench at the same weight. Of course, Thursday’s sets had a different tempo (3-1×0), which could possibly explain the tougher feeling; however, the pause was longer today. I don’t know! Today was a good bench day, I guess.

2. competition squat (3-0x0) 5-7 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 7

main event: 125 lbs x 7, 125 x 7, 125 x 7

The working sets today were 20 pounds heavier than the previous weeks, so I was anticipating a more difficult experience than what I had. The warm up sets felt okay, but the first working set actually felt better than the warm ups. Of course, the weight wasn’t really all that heavy. Sometimes I have to remind myself of what I can actually do.

3. close grip bench (3-1×0) 6-8 reps

90 lbs x 8, 90 x 8, 90 x 8

These were also decent today, although probably an RPE of 8/9 by the final rep each set.

4a. back extensions

x 13, x 12

4b. leg raises

x 15, x 12

Whatever battle is going on inside of my body, I sure hope it resolves itself before Day 1 of next week’s training week. Day 1 tends to be the day that takes the longest amount of time to complete and takes the most out of me physically. Actually, I’m thinking of pushing Monday’s training to Tuesday again next week, because Monday is a holiday. I start work earlier than usual that day and the gym’s hours are reduced, which would mean I’d be rushed and stressed trying to get my training done before work. Right now, I think I can squeeze in a short nap before work…I need it.

Big S, Little S

I love Doctor Seuss. For whatever unexplainable reason, I shall never forgot this:

Big S, little S, what begins with S? Silly Sammy Slick sipped six sodas and got sick, sick, sick!

I rarely get sick. Occasionally I will get mild symptoms of a cold that linger for a few days before fading silently into oblivion. The last time I was actually knocked out by a flu was at the very end of December 2010, which I only remember because I was registered to run in The Running Room’s 5K Resolution Run on January 1st and I was worried that I might not be well enough to take part. While I may not have been fully recovered by New Year’s Day, I did run and did okay. My previous bout with a flu was several years earlier. While I cannot remember the year, I do know that I missed some of my son’s hockey tournament because I was too sick to get off the couch. Before that I don’t remember being sick aside from repeated gallbladder attacks while pregnant in 1995. I might get a stuffy nose or a sore throat, maybe a slight cough, but I seldom miss a beat in terms of energy or ability to perform.

The back of my throat began to feel sore and scratchy Sunday afternoon while I was at work. It wasn’t super bad, more of an annoyance than a problem; however, the throat was the same, possibly even slightly worse the next day and the next. The nasal congestion arrived on Monday. A dry, sore throat and a stuffed up nose are not conducive for a good night’s sleep, so I haven’t been sleeping well for a few nights now. My ability to function hasn’t been hampered, although I have had to resort to the occasional throat lozenge at work to keep my throat moist enough to allow me to talk without coughing. Yesterday at the gym I squatted, pressed, glute bridged, and rowed more than 15 000 pounds, which left me feeling a little exhausted but otherwise okay. I guess I had thought that I might struggle more since I was tired and “under the weather”, but I reasoned that I don’t get truly sick.

Today and tomorrow are my days off. Since I trained yesterday, I knew that I wouldn’t be going to the gym today like usual but on Thursday instead, allowing me the luxury of foregoing an alarm and sleeping as long as my body would let me. I wasn’t expecting to sleep much past 8 at the latest, because, after years of starting work around 5:00 AM, my body has become conditioned to waking up around 4AM and staying awake around 7AM. It has taken almost a year to re-train my body to simply roll over and resume sleeping when it wakes up at 4, but the ability to sleep past 7 has been much harder to achieve. Except for today.

Last night I had 9 hours of sleep! It is quite normal for me to get at least 8 hours of sleep a night. (My average is actually 8 hours and 25 minutes, which I know from my Sleep Cycle app.) Although I finally dragged myself out of bed at 8:46, the temptation to stay in bed, roll over, and go back to sleep was intense. Considering the sore throat and stuffy nose, my quality of sleep last night was actually decent…it just didn’t seem like enough. For the first time in longer than I can remember, I probably could have slept the morning away. But I didn’t. I got up, made coffee, and had a bath. I started on the laundry, including my bedding which the cat had thrown up on the night before that I didn’t discover until I was about to crawl into bed and couldn’t be bothered to deal with in the moment, except to wipe it up and throw a towel over the wet spot. Yes, I did.

Mid-morning I began to feel the stirrings of a headache, but it was low grade and nothing I thought I’d need to get worked up about. On a 1-10 scale, it was only a one. A couple of hours later, that headache went from 1 to 100 in about 10 minutes. Now I don’t like to pop pills unnecessarily and will avoid taking anything if possible, but the headache was screaming and only getting louder. I took an Ibuprofen and began to feel some relief within 20-30 minutes. Even now at the end of the night, I can still feel the headache lingering just below the surface, simmering away at a 1 again. The throat isn’t sore like it had been the previous days, but it feels swollen when I swallow. The nose is still mostly stuffy. Do I feel sick? Not really. Yes, I’ve got a couple of minor symptoms. I feel wiped out today, but I wouldn’t define myself as being sick.

I should have another 8+ hours of sleep tonight with no alarm in the morning. Hopefully my sleep quality will be decent. At some point tomorrow morning I will go to the gym for some deadlifts and bench press. Oh, and overhead pressing…which is not a favourite and I’m not excited about at all. I have grand illusions to plan dinners for the next several days, including some of my upcoming closing shifts when I won’t be home to make dinner. It’s time to get my eating habits under control again, which is both exciting and desirable but also slightly overwhelming when I look at how many nights I close each week. But that’s a blog post for another day.

Start of Week 4

I think the only thing I don’t like about Mondays is the accessory work in my training program. There is just something about this day’s accessory work that fills me with a sense of dread as I walk into the gym. This is not how I feel about the accessory work on my other training days. Today was my fourth week with this program, and I still feel the same. By the time I finish my high bar squats, close grip bench, and front squats, I’m exhausted and muscles are quivering. This morning was no exception. I didn’t mind the main lifts, but I had to dig deep to find perseverance to complete the accessories.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 6, 135 x 4

main event: 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6, 160 x 6

The first working set felt off. I realized that I hadn’t put my belt on, and it felt as if my stance was a touch wider than normal. The second set felt somewhat better with the belt and better stance but still a bit tough. The final two sets felt the best; however, I did get a random discomfort/ache in my left leg below the knee.

2. close grip bench press (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 6, 100 x 3

main event: 110 x 4, 110 x 4, 110 x 4, 110 x 4

This felt tougher than last week even though I did the same weight for the same number of reps and sets.

3. front squats (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 12, 75 x 10, 75 x 8, 75 x 8

4a. walking lunges

70 lbs x 12, 70 x 10, 70 x 10

4b. dumbbell rows

35 lbs x 10, 35 x 10, 35 x 7

4c. plank

x 40 seconds, x 30 seconds, x 27 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

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

Monday Morning Blues

It’s Monday and I feel a bit discombobulated. After a lengthy period of usually having Mondays off work, I am now working them. Not the end of the world but I do tend to prefer having two days off in a row rather than one day at a time, and I also prefer some semblance of consistency. I am able to be flexible and spontaneous when necessary, but there is a mental toll to the adjustment. Also, my husband is currently at the hospital getting his heart shocked. It should be fine, but he’s there and I am here. There are a million thoughts racing inside my head. My neck hurts. A lot. I am wiped out and wishing for a nap, but I work in a couple of hours and napping doesn’t come easily to me.

warm-up:

windmills: body weight x 5 each side; 10kg kettlebell x 8 each side

Turkish get-ups: body weight x 1 each side; 10kg kettlebell x 2 each side

1a. single leg box step downs

x 8 each

with box on block: x 10 each, x 12 each, x 12 each

1b. single arm kettlebell press

10kg x 8 each

with carry: 12kg x 8 each + 5 lengths; 12kg x 7 each + 4 lengths; 12kg x 5 each + 4 lengths

2a. trap bar deadlifts

115 lbs x 8, 135 x 8, 135 x 10

2b. Pendlay rows

75 lbs x 8, 85 x 8, 85 x 8 + 4

2c. push ups on barbell with feet on box

3 sets of 6

2d. hanging leg raises with posterior pelvic tilt

x 10, x 10, x 8

3a. double kettlebell curls bottoms up

6kg x 10 x 2 sets

3b. skipping

10 double unders; 1 minute

 

Numb

I don’t know where to begin this blog post, or if I even want to write it now or at all. Okay, so I do want to write it, but I’m not sure I am ready. Yet, I feel like I can’t wait too much longer lest I lose thoughts and emotions along the way. My current state of mind is exhausted, frustrated, disappointed, angry, a blink from dissolving into tears, pained and numb. The numbness is comforting in a way, because it helps keep the tears from pouring down my face and softens the sting of the negative emotions, at least for a time.

Yesterday was my Provincials powerlifting competition. Even though I wasn’t expecting to have my best performance, I was hoping to go 9 for 9 and break my Provincial bench press record. I didn’t achieve either goal yesterday.

My first squat was 92.5kg and moved well. Michael opted to be conservative with my second attempt, and that turned out to be a wise decision. My second squat was 100kg, which should have still been an easy 220 pounds. I did more than that last week in training. It felt fine when I unracked the bar. I believe that I did everything that I usually do. The eccentric felt fine. I began to rise out of the squat and felt a kind of pop and something giving in my lower back, which then caused my back to round in a way that is not typical for me. It hurt. I managed to finish the squat, barely remembering to hold until the command to rack. I walked off the platform feeling pain, fear, and crushing sadness. Michael instantly decided that we’d pass on my third attempt, then we headed to the warm-up area for some chiropractic treatment. As the chiropractor poked, prodded, bent and told me to push here and there, I fought to maintain some composure. By the time I got up from the table, the pain had dropped a couple of notches, but it was still there.

As we waited for my flight and the next to finish squats, I did the things the chiropractor told me to do and I gingerly tested my ability to set up for the bench press. Arching wasn’t too bothersome on the back, so we felt okay to stick with our plan there. My first two bench attempts, 55kg and 57.5kg, were decent. I am the current Provincial record holder with 60kg, which is the weight I have been stuck at since October 2015. Although I had some options, I chose to make a third attempt at 60.5kg in an effort to break my Provincial record. I was so close but failed. Words cannot express how I felt and still feel. Even as I lay on that bench, desperately trying to finish pressing the bar and realizing that it wasn’t going to happen, I felt so utterly crushed by disappointment and frustration. I know I am strong enough. I know I can do it. I have lifted that weight in the gym, including just last week, and it was easy. I came into this competition knowing that my squats and deadlifts would be sub-par, but the bench press record was something I knew was within my ability and I wanted, WANTED it!

My deadlifts weren’t going to be super heavy, but, with the fresh back injury, we opted to drop my opening attempt even more. An opening deadlift of 85kg wasn’t anything I could fake pride in, but I just needed to get a number on the board. It was embarrassingly easy. My next attempt was 102.5…again easy. My final attempt was 112.5kg or 248 pounds. Still easy. That final deadlift was 60 pounds less than my best deadlift. I think it would have been easier to feel some peace about low deadlift numbers if the rest of my competition had turned out differently. If I hadn’t hurt my back. If I had broken the bench record. If only. But, the last thing we wanted to do was inflict more harm to my back. Thankfully, I was able to deadlift without any added discomfort or pain to the back, which is something I wasn’t sure would happen after that squat.

At some point in the competition, Michael pointed out that there was another woman in my age/weight class after all. She hadn’t made her weight class and was bumped up into mine. Being the competitive person that I am, as soon as I realized that I could potentially lose, I wanted to win! However, I was no longer operating in a position where we could give any thought to making sure my attempts put me in a position to win. I still kept an eye on her numbers, chafing inside with the desire to win and re-familiarizing myself with a positive mindset in the event that I lost. Both my squat and deadlift were far from my actual ability and potential, but I still managed to come away with the win.

This was my 8th competition, and, in my opinion, my worst one. I had my third lowest total. The two lower totals came from my first two competitions. My Wilks score was my second lowest. The only one lower was my first competition. This was my second 7 for 9 meet. Not a single personal best. The first time I’ve ever passed on an attempt. The first time I’ve hurt myself in competition. The only goal I achieved yesterday was checking off the final requirement for competing at Nationals next year.

As much as words cannot express how I am feeling, there is so much more yet to say, but it will have to wait for another day. I left my house at 7:50 yesterday morning, and I didn’t get home until 12:30 this morning. I was in bed by 1:00 this morning but woke up before 6:30. My back is sore and achy, and I am exhausted. I need to decompress and process. I need to go hang out with some friends in a couple of hours, feel loved and celebrated, even though I don’t feel worth celebrating. Then I need sleep. Precious sleep. Tomorrow I will walk into my gym and begin the process of rehabbing (again) and rebuilding.