The Workout Before Work

After starting my training week on a Tuesday for the past couple of weeks, part of me really struggled with the decision to go to the gym this Monday morning. The struggle was even harder after a less than stellar night’s sleep, but I actually did set an alarm for this morning and forced myself to get up and moving. My goal was to get to the gym at least 15 minutes earlier than I tend to arrive. My ‘day one’ sessions typically require the most time to get through my program, and I have a limited amount of time available for training and such before going to work. It’s a small thing, but I’m proud of myself for getting to the gym by 8:45 this morning, especially since my alarm was set for 8:05. Although some weeks it makes sense to start my training week on a Tuesday, I am glad that I pushed myself to get it done today. I am glad that I pushed myself to start just a little bit earlier than usual. Even though some of the weights and/or sets increased, I am glad that I pushed through the fear and uncertainty and mild discomfort to do all that I was absolutely capable of doing. While I’m not afraid to work hard in the gym, sometimes I can forget just how much I can do.

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

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 6, 135 x 5, 155 x 4

main event, with belt: 170 lbs x 6, 170 x 6, 170 x 6, 170 x 6, 170 x 6

2. competition bench (2-1×0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 6, 100 x 3

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

3. front squats (3-1×0) 8-12 reps

75 lbs x 10, 75 x 10, 75 x 10

4. glute bridges

105 lbs x 15 x 3 sets

5. chest supported rows

55 lbs x 12, 55 x 10, 55 x 9

As best as I can tell, my gym has only one chest supported row device. As I walked up to it today, I saw that there were four 45 pound plates left on it and no one nearby. I wandered over to ask the one guy in the weight area who actually looked capable of using that much weight if he was using that piece of equipment. He wasn’t, but he was kind enough to help me remove the plates. I’m a little surprised by how happy it made me feel when I had to stop my helper from removing the last plate, and that happiness spiked just a little bit more as I grabbed a 10 pound plate to add to it. So in truth, my rows aren’t anything to get excited about, but I get a kick out of being stronger than expected by others.

I am super proud of myself for putting in the work and crushing it! Today’s total weight moved was 20, 205 pounds…almost 3000 pounds more than last week’s day one! And oddly enough, I don’t feel nearly as exhausted right now as I did last week.

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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.

Week 6, Day 1

Yesterday was Monday and I didn’t go to the gym. <gasp> My brain tends to look and think several steps ahead of the moment, and the decision to postpone Monday’s training until Tuesday flows from it. My work day on Friday is a full day, like a 9-5 shift, which would still make training possible in the evening, just not ideal. Since I am closing on Saturday, I can train that morning. By training today instead of yesterday, I can essentially maintain my routine of training and rest days.

When I received this week’s training program, I was excited to see some changes to my assistance exercises, especially for my Monday. However, I was not as excited to see barbell shoulder presses added to my Wednesday session. Oh well! The changes won’t mean I’m working any less though.

1. competition squats, aka low bar (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 6, 115 x 3, 135 x 4

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

I haven’t squatted with low bar since my Provincials competition in June. Still it felt mostly good. I think my belt was too tight during the first working set, so I loosened it a bit for the remaining sets. My third working set felt ugly, but the last set was much better, maybe even the best of the bunch.

All of the power racks were in use when I arrived, so I had to use the solitary free standing rack which meant no safeties. I wasn’t overly concerned about it, since I knew I wasn’t going to be using maximal weights and I could use the deadlift bumper plates.

2. competition bench (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 6, 85 x 4, 100 x 3

main event: 110 lbs x 6, 110 x 5, 110 x 4

A competition bench for me is a moderately wide grip. The markings on the bar I was using seemed different than other bars, so I had some trouble finding the right distance for my hands to be. The warm ups felt fine until I got to 100 pounds, and then the bar felt heavy. In fact, the first couple of warm up sets had me wondering if the bar was lighter than a standard bar. The working sets disabused me of that notion!

3. front squats (3-1×0)

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

I had the strength to do more, I think, but not the energy.

The back of my throat has been dry and sore for the past couple of days along with a bit of nasal congestion. I don’t get sick very often, but something is trying to hit me. And I haven’t been sleeping well the past few nights, most likely due to the throat and nose.

4. glute bridges

75 lbs x 15 x 3 sets

5. chest supported rows

45 lbs x 12, 55 lbs x 10, 55 x 8

The rep range was supposed to be 10-12 for these, but I wasn’t exactly sure where to start with weight. I haven’t done chest supported rows for quite a while, so I played it conservatively. Or so I thought. The first set actually wasn’t too bad. I completed all the reps and might have had one or two more left in me. I considered staying at the same weight or adding a bit more. In hindsight I probably should have kept the same weight and got a couple more reps.

But the good news is that the back wasn’t bothered at all by the chest supported rows. Part of the reason why I haven’t done them in so long was because of discomfort in the back. The back was also fine with everything else I did today, and I am feeling less discomfort with arching during my bench all the time. Yeah progress!

Although the knee is still giving me random fits of trouble, it did not bother me at all in the gym today, not even with all that squatting!

Now I just wish I had time for a nap before work, because I’m suddenly feeling tired. I also need some caffeine, because I haven’t had any yet today. And I need food!

Week 5 Deload

I’m not gonna lie…I was excited to see “unloading week” in my coach’s message to me this morning. I was even more excited to see that I am only needing to do one round of the accessory work. With a left knee that is still acting funky, I’m not going to complain about an easier training week.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 8, 135 x 6

main event, with belt: 160 lbs x 3, 160 x 3, 160 x 3

2.  close grip bench (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 8, 85 x 4, 100 x 2

main event: 110 x 3, 110 x 3

3. front squats (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 8, 75 x 8

4a. walking lunges

70 lbs x 14

4b. dumbbell rows

35 lbs x 10

4c. plank

60 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

12 lbs x 12

Everything felt fairly good. There was some bother here and there with the knee during squats, but that was minor and annoying more than a hindrance. Despite only one round of accessories, they still managed to make me sweat more than the heavy lifting.

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

Week 3, Day 1

With today being a holiday and thus the changes in operating hours both at work and the gym, I knew that I had to begin my training session no later than 8:30 this morning if I was going to get it done at all today. I set my alarm for 7:30 and still found myself fighting the urge to shut it off without actually getting out of bed. I’m sleeping reasonably well these days, and I’m fairly good at ensuring I get enough hours of sleep…sometimes the body just wants more! But I got up and dressed and ready. By 8:30 I was at the gym and ready to begin.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 8, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event with belt: 175 x 5, 175 x 5, 175 x 4, 175 x 3

My coach added an extra working set this week but kept the weight the same. I’m trying to work on my breathing technique, and I have a feeling that will be an ongoing, lengthy process. Still, the squats felt better this week compared to last week, even with the extra set and reps. I felt stronger. The back was less of an issue. With the same weight last week, I only managed a total of 8 reps over 3 sets, so this is definitely an improvement.

2. close grip bench (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 65 x 6, 85 x 5, 105 x 3

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

The weight jumped a little this week and another set was added, but I think the bar was still moving well. The back felt achy as soon as I started arching on the very first warm up set, but by the time I got to the working sets the arch wasn’t really bothering my back at all. At least not during the pressing…getting out of the arch was a tad slow.

3. front squats (3-1×0)

75 lbs x 10, 75 x 8, 75 x 8, 75 x 7

4a. walking lunges

60 lbs x 16, 60 x 16

4b. dumbbell rows

30 lbs x 12, 30 x 10

4c. plank

x 47 seconds, x 30 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

10 lbs x 15, 10 x 13

There was supposed to be 3 sets of all of these exercises, but I called it quits after the second round. Actually, I wanted to pack it in during the first round but managed to push myself to complete two.

 

Procrastination Delayed

It feels like I half-dragged myself to the gym this morning. My intention was to go first thing in the morning, assuming my coach sent me week 2’s program before I was ready to head out. I got up this morning, had a bite to eat, and got ready for the gym. Looked for my car keys and could not find them. I am not the sort of person who misplaces or loses things very often, so it didn’t take long for me to realize that my husband likely had taken my car. A look out the window confirmed my suspicion. Since I work this afternoon and late into the evening, I had a small window of opportunity to hit the gym this morning. I determined that I’d have to train tomorrow morning if my husband didn’t bring my car back by a certain time. Thankfully, he brought it back and I was able to go today. I’m glad I didn’t have to push it off until tomorrow.

1. high bar squats (2-0x0)

warm up: 95 lbs x 5, 135 x 4, 165 x 3

main event, with belt: 175 x 3, 175 x 2, 175 x 3

My coach gave me a couple of new cues to use for my squats, so I was trying to incorporate those today. I’m not sure how successful I was, but I tried. The new cues made the heavier sets feel a bit tougher; however, I think these still felt better than last week’s sets at 165 pounds.

One of the things my coach wanted me to do was to face out of the squat rack rather than facing the mirror. Mirrors are a new thing for me in the gym, because my old gym simply didn’t have any. There I would squat facing the wall or facing the open gym…neither bothered me very much, even when there were other people training in front of me. While I am not fond of seeing my reflection while I squat, I found facing the gym today to be rather disconcerting. In competition I am used to focusing on one spot, having tunnel vision and blocking out everything around me. In the gym during my set, I am still quite capable of focusing my attention and ignoring my surroundings, so I don’t know why I was bothered so much today. Maybe it was the fact that there was someone using the rack directly beside the one I was using…close enough that I had to wait for her to finish her set before I could change my weights.

2. close grip bench (2-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 5, 85 x 5, 95 x 3

main event: 105 x 5, 105 x 5, 105 x 5

These definitely felt stronger and easier than last week’s sets at 100 pounds. I was nervous about these this morning, because I didn’t have my husband to give me a hand-off for the heavy sets. Somehow I figured out a way to get the bar off the rack by myself without putting my shoulders into a bad position or sapping my strength. The back is still achy and cranky, so the arch wasn’t super comfortable.

3. front squats (3-1×0)

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

Even though the weight increased from last week, I’m so glad that it is still relatively light, because the legs turned into gelatin in the midst of the second set.

4a. walking lunges

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

4b. dumbbell rows

30 lbs x 10, 30 x 10, 30 x 8

4c. plank

x 40 seconds, x 30 seconds, x 25 seconds

4d. dumbbell rear delts

8 lbs x 13, 8 x 12, 8 x 10