Continuing On

successladder

I think my brain is still in the process of gathering up the pieces, but I have to believe that I will get there eventually. Even if my heart and my brain aren’t there yet, I am too stubborn to stop trying.

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal; it is the courage to continue that counts.” ~ Winston Churchill

1a. bottoms up kettlebell presses

10kg x 10 each, 10kg x 8 each

It’s highly satisfying to hit little PRs in the gym considering, or despite, the limitations I’ve been experiencing for the past couple of months.

2a. split squats-with safety bar and flat shoes

75 lbs x 12 each, 95 x 8 each, 115 x 7 each, 125 x 8 each, 125 x 8 each

2b. floor presses-moderate grip, no legs

45 lbs x 10

I didn’t have to do that many reps for the first set, but I had to fiddle with my leg positioning in order to find what would be the least bothersome to my back. Michael didn’t want any arching, but having my feet in the air and bracing is too painful on the back. Although I’ve been find with my knees bent and feet flat on the floor, today wasn’t super comfortable. What actually felt the best was to have my left leg bent and my right leg out straight on the floor. There was still a small arch in order to have some sort of good shoulder positioning, but I think it was small enough to not be a bother.

65 x 8, 90 x 8, 105 x 8, 105 x 6

I think these were all reasonably solid reps with decent speed.

3a. glute ham raises

x 10 just bodyweight

10kg kettlebell x 10

3b. single arm kb press while kneeling on a bench

10kg x 10 each x 2 sets

These felt a little tough, especially as each set wore on. I’m also not convinced the back liked these a whole lot, but it wasn’t too bad.

3c. single arm kettlebell row

16kg x 12 each x 2 sets

While the weight wasn’t overly challenging and I could have gone up on the second set, I think the better decision was to stay at the same weight rather than risk aggravating the back. There wasn’t significant pain during these, yet I could feel a bit of pressure in the back.

3d. ab wheel x 0

Despite having no troubles using the ab wheel earlier in this injured season, I just couldn’t do it this morning. I started to roll out but didn’t get too far.

hanging knee raises x 12, x 0

These were generally okay, except for the last rep. I’m not sure what I did…maybe lifted my knees too high or too fast or flexed my back a bit…I don’t know, but that last rep hurt. A fair bit. Tried for a second set and the very first attempted rep hurt, so I just hung out until my grip began to fail.

And just like that I had a decent training session, maybe one of the better ones I’ve had in the last week or two. Still so far from where I want to be, but focusing on what I can do is more productive than moping over what I can’t do.

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!

 

 

Push Up PR

It’s been a week now since my lower back presented with significant pain and discomfort. While there has definitely been improvement since last Monday, I am a bit bothered by the lingering discomfort. I do not like it when pain or injury disrupts my training plan, but I think I have managed to maintain a reasonable level of positive attitude, at least more recently. Pain is frustrating. Altering training to accommodate the pain is necessary but still frustrating. Staying positive can sometimes be harder than the training but just as important. I’m trying to remember that. I see my chiropractor this afternoon, so I’m eager to hear what he has to say about my back. At least I hope he can give me positive feedback. I don’t want to think about the alternative.

My first training session of the week is usually squat day, but I knew before I arrived that normal squats were unlikely to happen. Still, a squat is a squat, no matter what it looks like, right?

1a. belt squats

body weight x 12, 45 lbs x 12, 90 lbs x 10, 100 x 8

Following the 100 x 8 set, there was some discomfort in the lower back. Not really an increase in pain but a general ache, so we dropped the weight and that eliminated the strain on the back.

45 lbs x 15, 45 lbs x 20

1b. bench press, competition grip, no legs

45 lbs x 10, 65 x 10, 85 x 8, 95 x 8, 100 x 8

These were good, solid, dependable…even without an arch and the use of my legs.

1c. ab wheel

x 8, x 10, x 10, x 5

Michael wanted some kind of ab work. I didn’t even want to consider GHD sit-ups, knowing that the back would be most angry with that movement. He had me try some hanging knee raises. I quit after the third rep, because the back was feeling cranky. The ab wheel wasn’t too bothersome last week, so that’s what I did today. I cut the final set short, because…

2a. I was supposed to do some single leg squats. The first attempt hurt the back, so we lowered the height; however, the second attempt was a bust due to quads being completely done.

Bulgarian split squats

body weight x 10 each

26kg kettlebell x 7 each

26kg x 10 with left leg back + only 4 with right leg back

2b. These were supposed to be leg curls, but guess what! That darn lower back!

push ups x 14PR, x 10, x 7

My previous best for push ups was 12. Michael said I could do as many as I could for the first set or two, maybe leaving a rep in the tank. I think I might have been able to grind out a fifteenth rep, possibly even another, but I stopped at fourteen. In hindsight, that was silly. I should have gone for more, but I wanted to have something left for the remaining sets. Obviously my plan didn’t quite work anyway! The last set was made a tad tougher by having a slightly narrower hand placement. That wasn’t intentional. Still, it feels good to finish my session feeling reasonably strong and capable with push ups.

Now I just need the back to feel better, so I can pick up a 26kg kettle bell, bend over to put on my pants or shoes, and sit for 5 minutes without pain.

 

A PR, A Knee & An Ab

A different Angela walked into the gym today, or hobbled in thanks to the pesky right knee. The right knee has given me trouble off and on for some time and in two different ways. The back of the knee bothers me when squatting or with full flexion, while the front of the knee randomly hurts when I am walking or standing. Both are annoying and uncomfortable in the moment, and both issues seem to come and go at random. The front knee problem hasn’t been an issue for a while, which means that it must be feeling left out. It bothered me at work yesterday and all day today. Normally this front knee problem doesn’t affect my performance in the gym, except for walking from one piece of equipment to another. Mostly…

1. front squats-in flat shoes

75 lbs x 5, 105 x 6, 135 x 5, 145 x 5

2a. bench press, close grip

43 lbs x 6, 63 x 6, 83 x 8, 98 x 8, 105 x 8 PR

with slingshot: 125 x 5, 135 x 5

Sometimes the close grip makes the presses feel a bit harder due to the longer range of motion, but these felt solid today. Even the sets with the slingshot were rather solid. Michael and I were both expecting some wild reps, but I managed to keep them controlled. Well, except for the potential sixth rep on the final set. That missed rep was a combination of losing a shoulder, the slingshot slipping off an elbow, and a bit of a misgrooved position.

2b. deadlifts-conventional

Prior to each deadlift set, I had to do an isometric deadlift hold for 5 seconds, not too far off the floor, using absolute effort and maintaining proper form. Then, after about 10 seconds, I would do my proper deadlift set.

135 lbs x 5, 165 x 5, 195 x 6, 215 x 5, 215 x 5

Last week’s deadlift session was a rough one, but these felt so much better, faster, lighter. The isometric holds likely helped with making the sets feel lighter and faster, but I also like to think that I don’t often have consecutive bad training sessions  very often. 😉

3a. sumo block pulls

185 lbs x 10, 235 x 2?

As far as the weight goes, I definitely had the strength and ability to do more than the two reps I managed on that final set. The problem was the right knee. The sumo stance was fine in the first set, but the knee wasn’t very happy during the second set. Stopping seemed like the best thing to do, even though I wanted to continue.

3b. I was also supposed to do ab work, but that didn’t work out as planned thanks to a super sore spot right beneath my ribcage. I am fairly certain that is from the ab wheel on Monday. The spot isn’t as all-over sore the way that my abs have felt after other ab work. At least I’m not moaning and groaning with every move of my abdomen! However, this soreness is strongest in particular movements and situations. A sneeze. Laying back on the bench. Toes to bar. Overhead pressing. So Michael had me try some sit-ups on the GHD. One painful rep. Two painful reps. Nope. He had me try to do little circles on the Swiss ball. Just assuming the plank position on the ball and maintaining some stability was painfully uncomfortable. Then he asked about doing some hanging knee raises using straps to support my arms. Yeah…not! So much for the ab work today.

Despite the knee and abdominal issues, this was a good training session. I guess that’s just the way it goes…good days and bad ones and simply okay ones.

Out of Sorts

Today was a rough day. My day had barely begun when I started feeling little symptoms that something wasn’t quite right within me. It’s not easy to describe, to put into words. It’s kind of akin to vertigo yet not quite. I’ve gone through the vertigo thing, and this is not as extreme. The world isn’t spinning, but there is a sense of movement inside of my head that is disconcerting. Even something as simple as moving my eyes is enough to cause that feeling of internal motion. It’s an odd feeling, and I don’t like it much at all. And so, I have felt out of sorts all day long. The work day itself was essentially fine and normal, but I don’t think I have felt quite as flustered and uncoordinated as I did today. The day was fine; I was not. As I sat in the lobby during my lunch break, I felt like I was on the brink of tears. I can’t explain why. Out of sorts or not feeling like myself are probably the best descriptions I could use. In talking about it with my coach this afternoon, I still had difficulty putting it into words and I still had to fight back the tears. Same thing earlier tonight when I was talking to my husband about it. Same thing right now as I am typing. I feel like a bobble-head toy, and I want to cry.

Despite the way I feel, I was still looking forward to my training session, because the gym is a happy place for me, even when life isn’t all sunshine and roses. No matter how bad I might be feeling when I arrive at the gym, I always leave feeling better. Sometimes training completely erases the negative mood, while other times the post-gym high is rather short-lived, and such was the case today. I left the gym feeling better than I when I had arrived; however, I was back to fighting off tears as I drove home. Hoping tomorrow is a better day!

Since I wasn’t feeling like myself, today’s training didn’t look quite the same as the past couple of Fridays. That is something that I love about my coach…the fact that he adapts on the fly depending on how I feel, not only physically but in other ways, too. I suppose it helps that I don’t have a competition in the near future, so we have a lot of wiggle room with my training.

1a. front rack reverse lunges

45 lbs x 16, 75 x 16, 85 x 12

These weren’t too bad. The weight wasn’t heavy and the act of lunging wasn’t really difficult, but I did have some trouble with balance here and there throughout the sets.

1b. flat dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 10, 34 lbs x 10, 39 x 8, 39 x 10 PR

The fact that I used 25 pound dumbbells for my warm-up set of presses amazes me. The 25 pounders have often been my nemesis and likely still are depending on the exercise! The flat dumbbell presses seem to be decent for me lately, and I’m not so intimidated by the heavier weights.

2a. trap bar deadlifts

135 lbs x 8, 185 x 6, 185 x 5 + 135 x 9

I’m pretty sure that Michael said that I could do something for fun when he decided to throw these into the mix. I’m also pretty sure that I didn’t find them quite as fun as he might have thought they’d be. The first set was easy. The next two sets were full of frustrations. I used straps, because 185 pounds is a little above my grip threshold; however, using straps on the trap bar isn’t as easy as on a regular bar. Then I had issues with having the bar balanced. While the weight wasn’t truly heavy for me, I did find that it felt heavy off of the floor. Michael, of course, picked up on that and commented on how that was due to the fact that I tend to pull with my back instead of pushing with my legs. I could only smile when he said that, because I know that I do tend to pull more than I push with my deadlift and I could definitely feel the difficulty off the floor with the trap bar. Naturally, Michael said that it would be a good idea to incorporate more trap bar into my training, because it forces me to use my legs.

2b. chest supported rows

16kg kettlebells x 12, x 15 with a long 5 second hold on the last rep

2c. lying leg raises with 6 pound medicine ball

x 8 held between ankles plus a forgotten number of reps with ball held between knees

x 3 between ankles and maybe 2 between knees + 15 hanging knee raises

The right hip was making some clunky, grindy noise during the reps with the ball between the knees, so Michael had me do the hanging knee raises.

3. barbell curls

45 lbs x 8 x 2 sets

Michael asked if I wanted to use a 35 or 45 pound bar. I said that it really wouldn’t make a difference. He made a comment about the attitude in such a response, but I countered that my comment could be taken in different ways. I might have preferred the 35 pound bar, but he gave me the heavier one. Of course. To be honest, I’m impressed that I managed 8 reps each set.

4a. triceps pulldowns with red band

x 25, x 15

These started off easy enough, but those triceps shut down quickly once they begin to fatigue!

4b. incline rear laterals, 45 degrees

5 lbs x 22, 8 lbs x 15 + 10 shoulder extensions

I’m not a big fan of laterals. I know exactly where my thoughts went when Michael said to do these next. He even said that these wouldn’t be easy, but they kind of were! I was actually surprised by the first set. I think I probably could have done 30 reps, but I don’t think Michael was even truly aware of how many I actually did in that moment. The rep with the 8 pound dumbbells was slightly more challenging, especially towards the end, but I didn’t mind these nearly as much as I often do.

Today’s training session was a bit of a change up, and Michael said that he’d be changing up my program again next week. I’m okay with that. Without a competition in the near future, I’m perfectly fine to do whatever he tells me to do. I know that my coach will always be looking to make me better, so I trust his judgement. Besides, I’m always up for a challenge or something different. Of course, I don’t know what next week will look like now and that leaves me curious and full of anticipation, but I fully expect to find trap bar deadlifts in the mix.

Guarded

I had intentions of blogging over the weekend, but time rather got away from me and then I just really didn’t know what I wanted to say, what I could say. There might be days like that, days where I am reluctant to share my thoughts and my heart. I think I’ve written more in my paper journal over the past few days than I have blogged; it’s easier and safer. So here is something that I know I can share…

1a. squats-high bar, with sleeves, hands closer in to keep my elbows down

45 x 10, 95 x 8, 125 x 6, 155 x 8, 170 x 8

with belt: 185 x 8, 185 x 8

Squats were decent today; better than last week’s work at a lower weight. So far I’m doing a better job at keeping the elbows down with the closer hand grip. I chose to wear my knee sleeves today, because I woke up with fairly sharp pain in my left knee that persisted for almost the entire morning. This was unexpected, because I haven’t had issues with that knee for quite some time. It was feeling mostly fine by the time I got to the gym, but I still wanted to wear the sleeves, even if just for peace of mind while squatting. For the record, both knees were fine while squatting. Still fine so far.

1b. Spoto presses

47 x 10, 67 x 8, 87 x 8, 97 x 8, 102 x 8, 102 x 8

2a. flyes, with feet elevated to eliminate my arch

10 lb dumbbells x 20ish, x 15

2b. rear laterals

10 lbs x 15, x 15

2c. hanging knee raises

x 10

 

Broken-hearted

Normally I would have blogged about the day’s training session hours ago, but I have been stalling. Today my heart is broken into a thousand little pieces for my friends who are hurting and trying to gather up the pieces of their own shattered hearts.

My training session was cut short unexpectedly, and I was given the opportunity to finish it later. I did make the effort to finish, but I can’t even begin to explain how difficult that was both physically and emotionally. I doubt that I was able to do as much work as my coach had planned for today, but the plan really wasn’t important compared to what else was going on.

1a. squats, high bar, a closer hand grip than usual, no knee sleeves

45 x 8, 95 x 8, 125 x 5, 155 x 5, 165 x 7…

Later on:

45 x 8, 95 x 5, 135 x 5, 165 x 5 which was supposed to be my working weight but this set was super tough, 165 x 1 nope, not a good idea, 135 x 8, 135 x 8

1b. Spoto presses, competition grip

47 x 10, 67 x 8, 82 x 8, 92 x 8…

Later on:

45 x 8, 65 x 8, 90 x 6, 90 x 6, 90 x 7

The presses also felt tougher coming back to the gym several hours later. I used a different bar in a different rack for the second round, because I didn’t feel comfortable benching without a spotter and safeties, especially when I realized how tough the reps were feeling.

I also did two sets of 15 reps of rope face pulls at 20 pounds and a set of 10 hanging knee raises, but that’s all I could do.

The right knee is bothering me a bit since I finished that second session, but that is still a minor complaint in the grand scheme of things. Hold your loved ones close.