My Military is Moving

Countdown season has begun. Six days until Christmas. Four work days left in my week. Casey’s birthday is in four days. The countdown to the end of 2016. My birthday is coming shortly after the start of the new year. So much to do. So little time, or so it seems. Despite having my weekend cut short, I woke up feeling refreshed this morning. That’s a good thing, because I’ve got a very busy week ahead and I likely won’t feel refreshed by the end of it.

As I warmed up with body weight squats this morning, there was some discomfort at the back of my right knee. Some stretching and lacrosse ball rolling seemed to help it quite a bit.

1a. front squats

43 lbs x 10, 93 x 8, 123 x 8, 153 x 6

I cut that last set after the sixth rep, as I felt that attempting another rep or two could put me in some difficulty. The problem was with keeping the upper back tight, even from the third rep on.

203 lbs for a hold of maybe 15 seconds. I didn’t even step out with it, just lifted it off the rack and held it. Can’t believe how heavy that felt! And choky! My Darth Vader impression is on point.

1b. back squats, high bar

133 lbs x 8, 153 x 8, 173 x 8

For the most part, I think I was doing a better job at not letting my hips shoot up faster than my upper body. The last set was tougher and felt heavy, probably cut depth on the final rep. I have to say that doing back squats after the front squats doesn’t feel very good, but I’ve only got one more week of this left.

1c. pause squats

155 lbs x 5 x 2 sets

The pauses felt short on the first set, probably about 2 seconds as Michael called out when to rise. The second set’s pauses felt longer. Michael said after that he might have extended the pause to 2.24 seconds. Ha! As much as I love pause squats, my legs were rubbery by this time and every rep felt like torture.

2a. military press

45 lbs x 10, 55 x 8, 65 x 6PR, 65 x 4, 65 x 5

The second set at 65 pounds found me battling a bit of bad positioning at the end, and I might have pushed it a little too far the set before. Still, my military press is improving significantly! A year and a half ago in competition, I did a single rep at 66.1 pounds, and the military press has been my nemesis pretty much ever since. At one point this past spring, I did get 2 reps at 75 pounds, but I basically saw little progress for months and months. My technique is finally becoming better and more consistent, mostly, although I do still tend to waste strength and energy at the bottom of each rep. But I am seeing progress and improvement!

2b. incline dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 10, 29 lbs x 10, 29 x 7, 29 x 10

I’m not really sure what happened with the second set at 29 pounds. The set before felt good and easy enough. Maybe I didn’t give myself enough rest. Maybe my positioning wasn’t as good that set. Maybe I was just fatigued from the pause squats. Whatever the case may be, my final set was much better.

 

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Short & Sweet

We didn’t really cover as much ground as usual during this morning’s training session, even though we took a bit longer than usual. That’s probably due to a lot of talking. Too much talking and not enough lifting isn’t always the best way to train, but I think there are times and situations when talking is just as important as the actual workout. With whatever is going on inside of my head for the past few days, my coach has been talking with me about possible causes and such. Yesterday I raised the question of blood sugar being at least part of the problem, although I honestly don’t think it is the root cause. Over the weekend I noticed that if I got too hungry that my symptoms felt worse. The symptoms are still present even when I’m not hungry, which is why I don’t think food is the culprit. However, Michael and I talked a fair bit today about my eating habits and ways that I can minimize drops in blood sugars. It won’t hurt to make sure that I’m eating often enough and having more healthy fats and protein to even out the carbs. Since I began training I have learned a lot about healthy eating and I’ve made many good changes to my eating habits. That said, it is still very easy to let those good habits slide from time to time, and I have a tendency to forget to eat often enough. I need to get back in the habit of having healthy, balanced snacks in-between my meals.

1a. front squats

43 lbs x 8, 93 x 7, 125 x 8, 145 x 8, 155 x 5

back squats, high bar

133 lbs x 8, 153 x 8, 170 x 8

1b. military press

45 lbs x 8, 55 lbs x 8, 60 lbs x 8PR, 60 x 8, 60 x 8

incline dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 10, 25 lbs x 12, 29 lbs x 8

That’s the extent of my training today! Doesn’t look like much does it? Maybe not, but I’m okay with it. The military press was amazing for me. Not only did I do a personal best of 8 reps at 60 pounds, but I did it three times! Me! Military press! This lift has been a thorn in my side for a long time. Even the incline presses are improving. Provincials are 6 months away, which seems like forever, but I really want to see my bench press go up and we’re laying solid groundwork that is going to help me get there. That’s exciting!

 

Squats, Squats & Squats

Thanks to Remembrance Day last Friday, I was able to enjoy a couple of extra days of rest. To be perfectly honest, I don’t actually enjoy having extra rest days, but I know they are important. And sometimes the rest really does a body good!

1. overhead squats, with a 2 second pause at the bottom

43 lbs x 8, 63 x 6, 63 x 6, 70 x 6 PR

I was able to hang snatch the bar for each set. The first three sets were decent, while the last set’s hang snatch was a little rougher, but I’m improving. My biggest problem is usually over-thinking, particularly with movements that I’m not familiar with or are more intricate. I want to get it right, but I need my brain to process all the details before my body is comfortable doing what I want it to do. I am the sort of person who has a length of wooden dowel, which means that I am also the sort of person who will practice hang snatches in my living room.

2a. Anderson squats, high bar

95 lbs x 8, 115 x 3, 145 x 8, 145 x 8, 145 x 8, 145 x 8

Last week I did 145 pounds for my final set, so four sets at that weight is an improvement. The third working set was a little rough and tough, but the final set was much better.

2b. bench press with Swiss bar, touch and go, medium grip

33 lbs x 8, 53 x 7, 73 x 10, 83 x 10, 93 x 6 + 3 with wide grip

These were easier than I expected, I think. Mostly. Somehow I didn’t realize what weight was actually on the bar for the fourth set. My hands were slippery on the final set, so I got stuck on what should have been the seventh rep.

3a. chest supported rows

12kg kettlebells x 12, 12kg x 15, 12kg x 20

3b. incline dumbbell presses

29 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

3c. barbell split squats (wearing flat shoes)

95 lbs x 10 each leg x 2 sets

The first set felt tough, likely due to the overhead squats and the Anderson squats.

Wiped Out Wednesday

Today was a long day made just a little bit longer, but it was still generally a good day. My morning training session was upper body day, so naturally it was not the easiest or most fun of training days, and then I had to hurry home to clean myself up before scurrying off to work. My work day was extended by half an hour at the end of my shift…not a big deal but I feel rather drained.

I have eaten as much reheated dinner as I could swallow, and I’m actually kind of enjoying a glass of red wine. It’s not very often that I can say that I am drinking red wine, let alone enjoying it, but here I am! It’s Copper Moon Malbec, I believe, and I’m especially surprised that it is appealing since I opened the bottle a few weeks ago. Goes to show how seldom I drink red wine! Maybe that’s why I’m liking it? Maybe it is the stir-fry I had for dinner? Or possibly I am just that tired! I would have had a glass of white, but I didn’t have any chilling in the fridge. While I won’t be enjoying any white tonight, I made sure to put a bottle in the fridge for the day that I do.

1a. close grip bench press, touch and go, sets of 6-8 reps

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

I was excited when Michael said I’d be doing these this morning, but I haven’t done any real bench pressing since Westerns nearly a month ago. Of course, my excitement was tempered slightly with the “touch and go” instructions. I do not like touch and go bench presses! And then he threw in a couple of drop sets…

100 lbs x 4 or 5?, 75 lbs x 4, 55 lbs x 8

100 lbs x 6, 75 lbs x 8, 55 lbs x 8

Oh my word! The drop sets were brutal! Michael spotted me for the first weight of each set. He was busy with another of his clients when I got stuck after the fourth rep at 75 pounds on the first set. He rescued me and might have slightly mocked me for only getting 4 reps, but he said I’d have no trouble getting the full reps at the final weight. Ha! Yeah, I got all 8 reps, but my arms turned into noodles after the fourth rep. Not even joking! The second drop set was somewhat better. Really I just wanted to see some improvement on the first two weights of the set, and I did.

1b. chin-ups, neutral grip

with blue band x 6

with small green band x 7, x 5, x 4, x 3 + a few reps of what will be described below

My chin-up reps typically drop fairly quickly. It is frustrating, kind of demoralizing actually. For some unknown reason, my reps dropped very quickly today and Michael wanted more reps than I was getting. So, he had me finish off the last set above and do one more set like this:

using a barbell on the rack and with my legs resting on the top of an inclined bench x 8

2a. seal rows

75 lbs x 13, x 12, x 14

2b. incline dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 12, 20 x 12, 25 x 9

3a. single arm dumbbell triceps extension

10 lbs x 8 x 3 sets

My poor triceps! I could barely lift my arms into the proper position.

3b. barbell curls

45 lbs x 8, 45 x 5, 45 x 5 + 35 lbs x 8

And that’s it, that’s all. I am wiped out both physically and mentally. My husband wants to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, and then I think I’ll be crawling into bed.

 

Feeding the Beast

I am starving. It’s been over an hour since I finished my training session. My husband is making dinner (actually breakfast for dinner!), and I am in danger of being consumed from the inside out. Actually, I’ve been nothing but hungry for days. I thought powerlifter training resulted in a raging appetite, but this high volume stuff seems to have the same effect. I consumed so much food yesterday to the point that my son with the bottomless pit of a stomach questioned me when I declared I was once again hungry before bed. Apparently my appetite should settle down soon, or so I’ve been told.

1a. deadlifts, snatch grip with straps after the first set

95 lbs x 10, 135 x 8, 155 x 8, 165 x 8

As is frequently the case when I am deadlifting, I had some issues with thigh gap, as in too much of a gap between the bar and my thighs. Michael filmed the set at 155, so that he could show me just how far the bar was from my thighs. The following set was better. Michael pointed out that I was locking my knees too early, and that explanation seemed to click mentally for me.

175 x 8 with a blue band around my hips and Michael pulling on the band, so I had to pull my hips forward against the resistance

185 x 6 again with the band

With the cue about not locking my knees and the need to pull my hips against the resistance of the band, the last two sets were much better. While I could have done 8 reps on the last set, Michael wanted me to leave 2 reps in the tank.

1b. incline dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 10, 34 x 6, 29 x 9, 29 x 10, 29 x 9, 29 x 10

We went with 34 pounds for the second set, because I had written 34 pounds for my final set of these last week. After struggling through 6 reps, Michael questioned the accuracy of what I had written last week. I suppose it does seem odd that we would have jumped from 25 pounds to 34 pounds, so maybe I did make a mistake and it should have said 29 pounds. As for the remaining sets today, I’m not sure why my sets ended up alternating between 9 and 10 reps. It wasn’t intentional. I was going for 10 every set, but the arms didn’t always cooperate.

2a. hip thrusts with a 1 second pause at top of each rep

115 lbs x 13, 145 x 15, 165 x 15

2b. rack pulls, with straps

135 lbs x 9, 185 x 8, 205 x 4 + 185 x 3

The first two sets were easy, so easy, but not so at 205 pounds! While I’m sure I could have done quite a few more reps on the second set, I struggled to get four at 205. Michael dropped the weight, but I could only get another 3. My back was just done.

And speaking of done…my dinner was ready a while ago, and I scarfed it down between typing out paragraphs. How pathetic is it that I was already thinking about what I could eat after dinner while I was still eating dinner?

Training, Wine & Work

Instead of training this afternoon, I trained early yesterday morning, as in early enough that I would be finished in time to head out for some wine touring with some girlfriends for the day. Since I was out all day, not back home until past my ‘night before work’ bedtime and had to work at 5:00 this morning, I simply did not blog yesterday. So here I am today to talk about yesterday’s training session…hoping I can remember the details beyond the numbers in my notebook.

With this week being my first week of non-competition prep training, I had no idea what was in store for me. Being the end of my training week, I kind of expected some sort of deadlift variation, and I had basically been warned that arms would figure into every day. Really, I just knew that I was going to be worked hard and would feel the effects for days. My expectations were definitely met.

1a. skater squats

I’ve said this frequently this week, but it has been a long time since I’ve done this exercise! I guess that’s what happens when you have 3 consecutive competitions and can basically only focus on the main lifts and a tiny bit of accessory work. Skater squats can be challenging, but I think I actually don’t mind them. Balance always seems to be my biggest challenge though. We used a tri-fold mat for me to squat down to and started with the mat completely folded (or at its maximum thickness).

x 8 each leg with 3 layers of mat

x 10 with 2 layers of mat

x 8 with 1 layer

Leg strength wasn’t an issue! Balance was definitely shakier on the first set, better on the second, and, for the final set, the right leg seemed shakier. The balance also seems to become an issue near the top of the squat and not at the bottom. I was quite impressed with how decent the final set felt. In fact, as I was in the midst of that final set, I had the thought that I was going to add ‘doing a pistol squat’ to my little book of goals. Isn’t it funny how the taste of success in one thing can make you feel hopeful or confident about being successful with something else.

1b. incline dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 10, 25 lbs x 10, 34 lbs x 8

2a. snatch grip deadlifts with a slower eccentric, with straps after the first set

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 8, 155 x 8, 165 x 8, 165 x 8

Obviously I haven’t done snatch grip deadlifts very much lately either! I do like them, but they are most definitely taxing on the upper back, especially with the higher reps.

2b. hammer curls

20 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

Gotta admit that the dumbbells felt heavy when I first picked them up, but then most of the muscles in my upper body are so stiff and sore…

3a. Hmmm…not sure what to call this? dip bar leg raise hold?

Michael wanted me to do leg raises using the dip bar; I think I sort of managed two before jumping down. My arms and shoulders were so shaky and unstable. Have I mentioned how sore my arms are this week? So, he took pity on me and had me use the dip bar for a hold with my knees brought up as high as I could get them. I have no idea how long the holds were. I stayed up there, shaking like a leaf in a storm until Michael told me to stop, but I doubt that it was actually more than 30 seconds, even if it felt like forever. I did 2 holds.

3b. flat bench lying leg raises…sort of

x 8 with a foam roller held under my knees

That variation was actually rather easy. The hardest part was keeping the foam roller in place.

x 3 the same as the first set until Michael realized just how easy it was for me

x 3 without the foam roller, knees bent as I rolled up and legs extended on the eccentric…sooooo much harder, hence why I only managed 3 reps before quitting!

Yesterday was also the final day of my little competition vacation. It wasn’t intentionally planned, but spending the day wine-touring with friends was a wonderful way to wind up my vacation. It also wasn’t planned that I would work 2 days, have a day off, work 2 more days and then have another week off, and yet that is what my schedule looks like. Of course, these 4 days of work are my last days at my current job, and that week off will be my gap before starting my new job on September 6. Today was my last Friday shift. Tomorrow is my last Saturday shift, and I can say the same thing about my shifts on Monday and Tuesday next week! Each of those days/shifts is unique in the people I work with, the feel & flow of the shift, and my responsibilities & roles, which means that each of my remaining days of work is laced with landmines of emotion that threaten me with every step. Tomorrow is going to be a tough one, I think, because my Saturday shifts are my favourite. Unless I am mistaken, tomorrow will be my first final shift with several co-workers and just thinking about that is making me tear up. Monday will be my last bake shift. Tuesday will be the absolute final shift…how can I not get emotional that day?! I am extremely excited about my new job, but saying good-bye to my Tim Hortons family is going to be hard. Three days left…

 

 

Sweat Session

My coach wasn’t kidding when he said that he’d be working me hard for the next little while. I felt it today. All of it. Every rep. I was training all by myself this afternoon, so I cranked my music and got to work.

1a. block pulls, sumo, with straps

95 x 8, 135 x 8, 165 x 8

with belt: 185 x 8, 205 x 8, 205 x 8, 205 x 7, 205 x 7

The left knee had a couple of twinges during the second set at 205, while the left low back had a couple of twinges during the final two sets. With the exception of the various body twinges, the block pulls didn’t feel too bad.

1b. incline dumbbell presses, neutral grip

15 lbs x 10, 20 x 8, 25 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8, 29 x 8

I might have been able to go a little heavier for my working sets, but I wanted to play it safe since I didn’t have anyone there to spot me.

2a. deficit deadlifts, with belt and straps

185 x 4, 185 x 5, 185 x 4, 185 x 6

No joke…these were tough! My rep range was supposed to be 4-6, but I couldn’t hit the top of the range until the last set. However, I think the last set was the best. The first rep might have got a little away from my legs, but the rest of the reps skimmed up and down my legs. I’m not sure if the block pulls or the deficits were to blame, but I’ve got at least one new bruise on a knee.

2b. chin ups, small green band

x 5, x 5, x 3.5, x 3.75

The rep range here was supposed to be 5-8. Obviously I fell short on the final two sets, and I’m sure Michael would tease me about counting my partial reps.

3a. front squats

95 x 6, 115 x 6, 115 x 6, 115 x 6

By this point in my session my legs were feeling quite shaky, and I had to convince myself that I was capable of completing the required reps each set. Actually, I had to first convince myself that I could even begin each set, especially the final one.

3b. GHD sit-ups

x 15,  15, x 15, x 10

I don’t know that I have ever been so glad to have finished a training session! It was a lot of work, but I got it all done. I am so wiped out that I think I might finally get a good night’s sleep…if I can hurry up and get myself into bed. It’s already past my bedtime, and I’m back to work early tomorrow morning. That’s going to be tough after ten days off, mostly late nights and more reasonable waking times.