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!

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The Introvert Paradox

Despite looking forward to training, I have been feeling the urge to procrastinate my departure from the house to hit the gym. I’ve previously compared it to a similar phenomenon that occurred prior to going for a run back in my running days, but this gym procrastination had never occurred until I started training at a commercial gym by myself. In the short drive to the gym this morning, I gave more thought to the reasons for the shortage of “get up and go”. I still love training and lifting weights. I still want to see myself growing in strength and ability, to reach new PRs, and to compete at higher levels. So why is it suddenly harder to get out the door? Because that is where the challenge lies…getting myself out the front door.

Some might suggest that the loss of my previous coach could be a reason for my struggle to get out the door, but I think that is a very minor piece of the puzzle. I think he is a good coach, but he certainly isn’t the only good coach out there and coaching will only get you so far. After a great deal of thinking, because thinking is what I do, I believe there are three main reasons:

  • I’m training by myself. There is no one to give me feedback in the moment. No one to praise or critique or assist. I don’t have anyone from whom I can draw positive energy. I feel very alone despite the presence of many other people in the gym.
  • There are many other people in the gym! Yes, I know that is a complete turn from my previous point, but such is the mind of an introvert. I am a stranger to virtually everyone in the gym. That’s fine. However, I sometimes feel irritated or drained from the antics and energy of everyone else at the gym. This is a complicated thing to explain, so I’m not even going to try.
  • Even though I am committed to training 3x a week, my training times are no longer tied to someone else’s schedule. Before, my training was booked to work with my schedule and my coach’s, so it was important to show up and be on time. Now I have more flexibility, even though I still have a general timeline planned in my head.

This is a deload week and I am super stoked about it and excited to get to the gym, yet I still took my sweet time waking up, eating breakfast, and getting myself ready to leave the house. Despite my snail’s pace to get ready, I still managed to be at the gym by 9:05 this morning, which was really only 5 minutes later than I had wanted to be. Not too shabby for a procrastinator!

1. deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 3

main event, with belt: 190 lbs x 2, 190 x 2, 190 x 2

Deadlifts were feeling good and easy.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 6

main event: 65 lbs x 6, 65 x 6

Incline bench continues to feel tough. Today’s rep range was 6-8, and I obviously didn’t feel strong enough to go for more than six.

3. stiff-legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

115 lbs x 8, 115 x 8

4a. side plank

x 32 seconds each side

4b. barbell row

75 lbs x 12

4c. glute bridge

60 lbs x 15

 

 

 

Aches, Pains & Injury

It’s no secret that this year hasn’t gone as well as I might have planned or hoped in terms of my training and powerlifting. The “little” SI joint problem that began all the way back at the end of January has been an ongoing presence in my life. Although it has greatly improved, especially over the past couple of months, there remains an ache, a discomfort that is just there more than it is actually an issue. Midway through Monday’s training session, I began to feel little aches in other parts of my body. A bunching up sensation behind my right knee when I’d squat. An entirely different sensation behind the left knee as if I had hyper-extended it. There was a general sense that something was out of sorts in my pelvis. Some of my disc issue symptoms are subtly shifting into my perception again…a bit of tingling/numbness in the big toe of my right leg and a heavy, achy feeling at the bottom of my hip. Everything combined truly is not all that much to complain about…it is just there and I can feel it. Maybe I’m just acutely aware of what is going on with my body, and I suppose that makes sense considering the nature of my training over the past few years. But let me just say that coming back from an injury sucks! I hesitate to call my SI joint issue an injury, but I suppose there really is no other way to look at it.

With only two competitions this year and the first one being less than what I would have liked, I am hoping for a much better performance in November. Of course, I have a goal in mind for that competition. It isn’t out of line with my capabilities, at least my capabilities pre-SI joint problem! As much as I believe that I am still entirely capable of achieving this goal, I’m hesitant and cautious, knowing that this has not been my best year. Over the past few weeks of training with a new program written by a new coach, I’ve had moments where I felt as if I was so far removed from what I know I can do, moments when the weights felt so much heavier than they actually were and I wasn’t completely confident that I could regain my strength. Yet, there have also been moments when I have felt strong and confident and could envision being capable of more. The line between those opposing feelings is paper thin. Today’s deadlifts made me feel strong and confident and capable, but then my incline bench left me feeling weak and frustrated. The feedback from my coach was that my incline sets were looking perfect, that struggling is expected at this point. Hallelujah!

1. deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 45 lbs x 10, 95 x 8, 135 x 4, 165 x 4

main event, with belt: 190 x 6, 190 x 6, 190 x 6, 190 x 5

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 8

main event: 65 lbs x 8, 65 x 8, 65 x 5

These were definitely tougher today. The rep range was 8-15, but I stopped each set with maybe, maybe one rep left in the tank.

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

115 lbs x 15, 115 x 13

4a. side plank

x 25 seconds, x 25s, x 25s

4b. barbell row

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

4c. glute bridge

60 lbs x 15, 60 x 15, 60 x 15

The weight for the glute bridges is not a struggle at all; however, that weight is becoming uncomfortable and awkward when it comes to getting into position and having the weight across my abdomen.

 

 

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

Out the Door

Going to the gym and training by myself has presented me with a new obstacle to overcome. As I was driving to the gym this morning I realized that this “drag myself out the door” mentality was exactly the same thing I experienced back in my running days. Even though I looked forward to running and enjoyed the run itself, most days I would find myself struggling to get out the door; however, the moment I put on my shoes and shut the door behind me, my attitude flipped like a light switch and I was happy to be running. This is what I am currently experiencing whenever I need to go to the gym. I want to train. I am committed to training and won’t skip a session, but getting out of the house is a reluctant process. I’d like to think this will change in time as I grow more comfortable in my new gym surroundings and get to know the people there. And even if it doesn’t change, at least I know that I am focused, determined, and committed to doing what I need to do to reach my goals.

1. deficit deadlifts (2-2×1)

warm up: 95 lbs x 6, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event: 195 x 5, 195 x 5, 195 x 5

Oh boy! So, I put my belt on beginning with my second warm up set. I generally wait longer to use my belt, but since the back has been achy for the past week I figured I’d play it safe. I was in the midst of my second working set, when I suddenly realized why the deadlifts were feeling so easy today…I had forgotten all about the deficit and was doing regular deadlifts! Oops! I considered sticking with the conventional for the final set but ultimately chose to grab a plate and get at least one set of deficits in. Definitely a difference with the deficit! Yet, I think they still felt better than they did last week, and the back was less irritated during the sets.

2. incline bench (3-1×0)

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 15, 55 x 12, 55 x 10

These also felt better than last week!

3. stiff legged deadlifts (3-1×0)

105 lbs x 15, 105 x 8

Unlike last week, there was chalk in the box at the gym today, which meant I was able to maintain a solid grip for all of my deadlift reps. A solid grip helps make the reps feel easier…at least a little bit.

4a. side plank

x 30 seconds each, x 30, x 15

4b. barbell row

65 lbs x 12, 65 x 12, 65 x 10

4c. glute bridge

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

 

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