Not Enough Time in the Day

My morning didn’t go quite as I had planned or expected. I had a training session first thing in the morning, followed by taking my husband to a doctor’s appointment. Mentally, I allowed for 45 minutes at the doctor’s office, because I know that making people wait is what the office excels at. After the appointment, I expected to have roughly two hours to get stuff done before going to work. The stuff I had to do wasn’t super important, just writing this blog post and making preparations for tomorrow’s early start and busy day, because sometimes I am smart enough to plan ahead. Unfortunately instead of rushing off to bed now that I’m finished work, I am rushing around trying to get this blog post written and my preparations for tomorrow finished. My generous allowance for the doctor’s appointment wasn’t quite generous enough. We were there for just over an hour, and then we had to go get a prescription filled. By the time we did get back home, the two hours I had hoped to have was reduced to about half an hour. That only gave me enough time to eat and change my clothes.

1a. deadlifts-conventional

double overhand grip: 95 lbs x 8, 135 x 5, 165 x 5

mixed grip/with belt: 185 x 2, 205 x 1, 225 x 0, 225 x 1, 205 x 1, 205 x 1, 185 x 3

Deadlifts were a mixed bag today. Last week I only worked up to 205 pounds, and there was some discomfort in the back beginning with 165 pounds. Today those same weights felt much better and without any back discomfort. Unfortunately, 225 pounds didn’t feel so great. I gave up on the first attempt, because it seemed like my back was rounding and it felt uncomfortable. Apparently I was lacking in tightness. Tried again, managed to lift the weight, but it still seemed as if my back was rounding horribly and it felt uncomfortable, though maybe not quite as bad as the first attempt. The back down sets were better.

The missed rep was disappointing and frustrating. Michael said I was allowed to feel disappointed, but I couldn’t let it get to me. I’m trying not to let that happen. There is no way that I am going to squat more than I can deadlift at Provincials!

1b. rope face pulls

30 lbs x 15, x 15, x 15, x 15, x 12

orange band pull-aparts x 15, x 15

1c. bench press-competition grip, flat shoes

feet on bench: 43 lbs x 10, 63 x 5, 83 x 5, 103 x 3

with legs & arch: 115 x 3, 115 x 3, 115 x 3

My bench was generally all good, but the final set at 115 was the best.

I will be back at the gym early tomorrow morning, like 8:00 in the morning. My coach is leaving for holidays on Friday and I start work at 10 tomorrow, so early it is! I’m pretty much okay to train at any time of the day, but I’m a little less keen on an early start after a later night. I’m eyeing the clock, knowing I need to get to bed but also knowing that the night owl is awake and won’t be easily settled. That’s what happens when I work a close shift. Unfortunately, I worked until 9:30 pm. Being at the gym for 8:00 am means I need to wake up around 6:00 am, which means I am not getting enough sleep tonight! While I can function quite well on short sleep, I know the value of a good, proper night’s sleep. Guess I’ll sleep tomorrow night!

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Super-powered Singlet

Yesterday afternoon I pulled my singlet out of the drawer and put it on to make sure it still fit. It fit just as I expected it to. My little weight cut is going well. There is just nothing flattering about a singlet. Still, I chose to wear the singlet at the gym this morning. I knew I’d be doing some heavy squat singles, so the singlet would make it easier for my coach to judge my depth. Next week my coach will be away, so I will have my few pre-competition training sessions in a strange gym surrounded by strangers. Since I like to wear the singlet at the gym at least once before a competition in order to re-familiarize myself with it, I would much rather wear it at my coach’s private gym than out in public.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves, in a singlet, almost pausing

45 lbs x 6, 95 x 5

with belt: 135 x 3, 165 x 2, 185 x 1, 205 x 1, 215 x 1, 215 x 1

I don’t know what it was, but I felt strong today. I’m losing weight and feeling hungry fairly often, but the bar felt light this morning and moved fast and smoothly. And all to legal depth! Maybe it was the singlet! Maybe I’m finally getting my groove back. Maybe by the time I get to Provincials I will be close to where I was last competition…

1b. bench press-competition grip

with feet on bench: 43 lbs x 8, 63 x 6, 83 x 5, 103 x 5…paused last reps

with legs and arch: 110 lbs x 4, 110 x 3, 110 x 3…paused each rep for last two sets

2. hanging leg raises

x 12

I kept these quite strict with no back swing, so I couldn’t lift the legs too high, but that is also due in part to the back issues. Mostly this was about decompressing the spine a bit without aggravating the back problems.

3a. rope face pulls

20 lbs x 15, 30 lbs x 15

3b. dumbbell curls

20 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

3c. TRX rows

2 sets of 20

SI Sighs

Today felt a little rough, or I felt rough. A headache settled in fairly early and stuck around all day. As my work day wore on, I deteriorated. I’m not sure if I was feeling a lack of caffeine, mere fatigue, a tight neck, or finally succumbing to something. I’ve woken up with a touch of a sore throat the past couple of days. While the throat hasn’t been too bad, it’s enough of a bother to make me desperately hope that I am not getting sick. The sore throat, the headache, and a sense of being overly warm made my work day feel long. I almost never get sick, and I don’t have time for getting sick. I am not sick. I refuse to get sick!

I arrived at the gym this afternoon feeling okay…of course, I arrived sipping a quad tall Americano (my second one of the day). I wasn’t feeling super amazing, but I was at my happy place. As is often the case, a training session has a practically magical ability to make me feel better, no matter what the issue may be. So, I left the gym feeling better than when I arrived. See, I refuse to get sick! 😉

1a. front squats

43 lbs x 8, 73 x 6, 93 x 6

with belt: 123 x 6, 143 x 5, 143 x 5, 143 x 5

I might have had some minor difficulties with the front squats today. I had to re-rack the bar at the start of a couple of sets, because I realized upon un-racking that I wasn’t properly centred. The sets at 143 pounds were a little challenging but still not maximal. I suppose it makes sense that they were more of a struggle considering how I felt today. Michael wanted me to use my belt today for every set over 100 pounds. The first set felt a little weird merely due to re-familiarizing myself with my belt. The lower back felt fine though, and that’s really my main concern.

1b. incline close grip bench press

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 6, 73 x 8, 83 x 5, 83 x 7PR, 83 x 7

For incline, I think these were pretty good. The range of motion was ginormous, but I am generally happy with how these moved. And I just looked in my little book of PRs…to discover that I set a new PR!

1c. rope face pulls

30 lbs x 15 x 6 sets

These felt easier today, almost too easy really.

2a. hip thrusts

95 lbs x 7

This first set was with a barbell and really should have been easy-peasy. I’m capable of using significantly more weight for hip thrusts, but the lower back was not happy with the barbell hip thrusts today.

bodyweight with hip circle x 20, x 20

For reasons unknown, the lower back was completely fine with bodyweight hip thrusts! I did these with a sandbag a few weeks ago without any bother to the back, so we thought we’d try a set with the sandbag. Or at least a rep or two…

70ish lb sandbag with hip circle x 20

And no bother to the lower back at all! I really don’t understand why the barbell caused such a bother to the back. Actually, there’s a lot that I don’t understand about the ongoing issues with my SI joints. I’ve tried to be patient. I’ve done everything that I need to be doing to help the issue. I’ve not been sitting anymore than absolutely necessary, like for driving. Heck, I don’t even sit while on my break at work! I have a competition in 3 months…kind of need to start lifting heavy things soon.

2b. hanging knee raises

overhand grip x 12, x 12

neutral grip x 12

Despite my angst with the SI joints and lower back, I am happy to say that the back didn’t bother me doing the hanging knee raises today, which has not been the case since the back issue started. The back actually felt okay with these today. I guess that’s improvement! The right shoulder felt a bit sore after each of the first two sets, so I thought I’d try a neutral grip on the final set. I think the neutral grip helped, although it is really difficult to say that with certainty. In all honesty, I’m just relieved that I was able to do an exercise that I haven’t been able to do since the SI joint issue first presented.

And you, despite how I felt for most of the day, I left the gym feeling better than when I arrived. I’m one more day away from a long weekend. I am not going to get sick!

 

 

One Step Closer

Yesterday I learned that my road to Nationals 2018 in Calgary was shorter than I had thought it would be. Since I’ve never competed at that high of a level before, I have more steps to take in order to qualify for Nationals: compete at Provincials and qualify for Westerns, compete at Westerns and achieve a National qualifying total. As I was preparing for Provincials and Westerns last year, I was under the impression that I would need to do both again this year in order to qualify for Nationals next year. Clear as mud? Basically, I thought I’d have to do Westerns in the months immediately prior to Nationals, and since I am not competing at Nationals this year, I thought that would erase my attendance at Westerns last August. But not so! My Westerns qualifying total holds for 24 months, which means that the only step I need to complete is Provincials this year, and I am super stoked about that. I love competing, and I’d love to do Westerns again. However, there is something freeing about knowing that I have more options available to me. At this point, I don’t even know where or when Westerns will be…could be in Saskatchewan! Not needing to travel so far opens things up for me closer to home without sacrificing my long term goals.

With having meals planned for the week, hitting my fruit/vegetable goals every day, and knowing that I can go to Nationals next year, I feel energized and excited and re-focused. Now I just need the SI joints to hurry up and stop being a bother, so I can get back to the big lifts.

1a. rope face pulls

20 lbs x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12, 30 x 12

1b. military press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 6, 65 x 5, 65 x 5, 65 x 5

With the exception of an odd rep here and there, these were actually pretty good…for me! The very first set was, according to Michael, the best he’s ever seen me do.

1c. TRX supine rows with legs straight and elevated + a few more reps with knees bent

x 8, x 8 + 3, x 8 + 3, x 5 + 6, x 5 + 6

2a. flat dumbbell presses with a pause at the bottom

25 lbs x 12, 34 x 12, 34 x 12 without legs

2b. single arm kettlebell rows, controlled motion

10kg x 12 each, 12kg x 12 each, 16kg x 12 each

2c. ab wheel

2 sets of 12

I was pleased to notice that I could roll out a bit further today than the last time I did these. The SI joints are not always playing nicely with my training, so I do tend to notice when a previously painful or uncomfortable task feels easier or without the discomfort. Sitting in the car on the way to the gym this morning was brutal. Sitting at the gym to put on my shoes, to try a stretch, to take off my shoes was all brutal. Getting up after the TRX rows was a slow process, and I was hesitant to roll myself up off the bench following my dumbbell presses. The back is getting better, but anything remotely resembling sitting is extremely uncomfortable lately.

The Lats Have It

My body currently feels cranky. Generally I don’t think it is too bad, but there are several body parts which are uncomfortable or mildly achy. My right wrist. Right knee. Right hip. Left lower back. Neck. Mostly right shoulder but a little of the left, too. And I’m not even talking about muscle soreness! Some of the discomforts are connected. Because the shoulders are cranky, I cannot sleep on my side for more than 5 minutes (and I am a side sleeper), which means I’m either on my back or on my side with my head propped up enough to somewhat ease the discomfort in my shoulders. The head elevation likely is the cause of the neck and back complaints. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, but it didn’t impact my performance in the gym today.

1. front squats-flat shoes

43 lbs x 10, 93 x 5, 123 x 5, 133 x 5, 133 x 5

Sometimes I wear my squat shoes for front squats, and other times I wear my flat shoes. It really depends on what else is on the agenda for the training session. With today being deadlift day, flat shoes were what I put on my feet. Squatting typically feels better with the slight heel elevation from the squat shoes, but I don’t have much of a problem adapting to the flats for the front squats. Still, the front squats weren’t the best feeling today, but they weren’t truly horrible. The bar was especially chokey today, which likely made the weight feel heavier. The right hip flexor felt a bit tight during the first couple of sets. The back of the right knee, sometimes bothered with a deep squat, held up okay in the gym, but it is feeling a bit sore now.

2a. bench press-close grip

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 8, 88 x 8, 100 x 6, 100 x 6, 105 x 7

with slingshot 125 x 6

When the time is right, I am greatly looking forward to seeing what I can do for a max attempt, because my bench press feels solid, smooth and strong…more often than it doesn’t lately.

2b. deadlifts-conventional

135 lbs x 5+

I’m not sure how many reps I did at this weight. I had already done a few, when Michael stopped me in order to give me a new cue to engage my lats. Then I did some more reps to practice the cue…engaging my lats by rotating my arms to show my biceps.

165 x 5, 195 x 5, 215 x 5

The cue seemed to help, and these looked good. Maybe even really good. Michael made a comment about me only having something like 50% tightness previously, but today was about 80%. <laugh> My coach usually knows what he is talking about. Sometimes I just need to be told what to do repeatedly before I actually get it.

2c. some sort of rope face pull thing

20 lbs x 12 x 4 sets

3a. Romanian deadlifts

165 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

The first set was okay, but the second was both more challenging and better.

3b. toes to bar

x 7, x 8

I haven’t done serious toes to bar for quite some time. As I was going on the first set, Michael commented that I should be able to do 6. Of course, I had to do 7. Finding the right rhythm is key for me when doing toes to bar. While not perfect, my body seemed to remember what toes to bar rhythm felt like on the second set and I was able to get an extra rep.

3c. single arm kettlebell row

16kg x 10 each x 2 sets

These rows were slightly different than the norm in terms of arm motion and angle. Now I cannot recall exactly what Michael said about it, but I’m fairly certain he said it would target the lats more. Have you noticed a common thread with my training lately? Lats, lats and more lats!

Now my biggest, most difficult decision is whether to sleep on my back (which I hate) or sleep on my side with head elevated, flipping sides all night (which my neck will hate). Sigh.

Look Ma, No Bands!

I generally don’t think about my job while I am training at the gym, but my thoughts turned there briefly today between sets of dips. A co-worker’s recent blog post talked about pain and physical discomfort while training. As I performed a new personal record for unassisted dips, I began to feel discomfort with my right shoulder. While I was able to perform the dips without too much bother, the shoulder definitely presented significant frustration between sets and as my session progressed. Even now that I am home, my shoulder is most unhappy. This is why I thought about work, or more specifically, about my co-worker’s blog post and pushing through pain or not.

1a. dips

x 5, x 6 PR, x 5, x 5, x 1 and done!

For the first time ever, I completed every rep of my dips without the assistance of a band. Not only was the set of 6 reps a personal record, so was the fact that I completed 4 whole sets. The shoulder started becoming a problem after the second set. By the time I got to the final set, I did one rep and realized that the shoulder was enough of an issue that I no longer felt comfortable pushing through.

1b. Anderson squats, high bar, with squat shoes

45 lbs x 6 or 8, 65 lbs x 8 Michael pointed out that I was staying a little too upright at the bottom, more so than I would during a regular squat.

85 lbs x 8 Leaning forward more made such a difference! Last Friday I could only manage 5 reps at this weight.

105 x 4 + 4 Last week I got one rep at 105 pounds, but, now that I was leaning forward more, this weight felt so much easier. I did run into trouble after the fourth rep though, when I hit a timing issue with reclaiming my body tension and beginning to push. The timing was off and I felt like I couldn’t push.

115 x 8, 115 x 3 or 4

I ran into that same timing issue on the final set, but I’m happy with the improvement since Friday.

1c. rope face pulls

20 lbs x 15 x 2 sets

2a. barbell split squats

65 lbs x 10 each, 85 lbs x 10 each

2b. pushups with slingshot

3 sets of 10

I was skeptical when Michael said he wanted me to do some pushups late in my session, especially when he said that it would deload my shoulder. When he said it would be easy, I laughed. When are pushups ever easy for me?! But, as usual, my coach was right. The first set wasn’t nearly as tough as I expected it to be, and the final set was really quite easy. Can I do pushups with the slingshot all the time? Somehow I doubt it.

 

Dreaming of Donuts

Mondays are typically long days for me, but today was especially long. Thanks to a customer ordering 14 dozen donuts to be picked up at 5:30 this morning, I had to start work at 4:00 instead of my usual 5AM, and that meant I was awake at 3:00. It is truly astounding how much one hour can affect the day. I managed to wake up just fine, but I had 2 large cups of dark roast in less than an hour. That is so not typical for me! I only have one small cup first thing in the morning and usually just one grande in the afternoon. Needless to say, my heart was pounding and my brain was racing for almost the rest of my work shift. Unfortunately, while the inside of me felt like a squirrel, the outside of me felt like a zombie, but I got all the donuts done in 50 minutes. The fatigue was the worst between 12 and 2PM, even with my afternoon cup of coffee. I did try to take a 20 minute nap, but naps are mostly a futile endeavor. I quickly fell to the very brink of sleep, that point where you know that you’re still awake but the pull of sleep is strong and you almost start to dream, but then alertness came crashing into my brain and would not go away. I guess that was the afternoon cup of coffee calling. Thankfully, the worst of the fatigue had dissipated by the time I got to the gym. Michael said I could do some box jumps or squat jumps to wake me up, but I assured him that I was fine. Really not a big fan of jumping. 😉

1a. squats, with sleeves, not quite high bar and not quite low bar

45 x 8, 95 x 6, 125 x 5, 155 x 5

with belt: 185 x 3, 205 x 1, 225 x 1, 205 x 3, 205 x 3, 210 x 3

Squats weren’t too bad today…mostly. Michael thought my single at 225 was faster than last week’s. I honestly don’t remember, but last week was not the greatest training session or day for me. I’ll take the improvement and keep plugging away at improving my technique.

1b. bench press, competition grip

43 x 10, 65 x 8, 85 x 5, 100 x 5, 110 x 3, 120 x 2, 125 x 1, 125 x 1

113 x 3, 113 x 3

I think the presses were good today, even if I’m a long way from my goal of 15, 000 pounds.

2a. rope face pulls

20 lbs x 15 x 3 sets

2b. pause squats, with belt and sleeves, about a 2 second pause

185 x 1, 195 x 1, 205 x 1

I love pause squats and was happy to be told I’d be doing some today. Am I the only one who enjoys doing pause squats? My form is much better when doing paused squats. Of course, that illuminates a weakness or problem with my regular squats. There’s always something to work on.