Remember the Deadlift

When I walked into the gym this morning, my coach said that we’d do some deadlifts if my back was feeling okay. I’m sure he was hoping that my back was feeling okay, because, aside from wanting me to be healthy again, being able to deadlift is kind of important heading into a competition! Last week I was allowed to do one super light set of deadlifts at 65 pounds, and those felt good. I did have a couple of deadlift sessions in March, but the second one was cut short because of the back. Really, I have hardly deadlifted at all since the beginning of my back problems at the end of January. As excited as I was to be allowed to deadlift this morning, I was also tentative and nervous. What if the back screamed in pain? What if deadlifting set me back again? Only one way to find out…

1a. deadlifts!

but first a set of Romanian deadlifts 45 lbs x 10

95 lbs x 5, 135 x 5, 165 x 3

with belt: 185 x 2, 205 x 1, 205 x 1, 205 x 1

Although I haven’t deadlifted for a while, we kept my reps low, because why run the risk of aggravating the back for the sake of more reps! The first couple of sets felt pretty good. I think I first “felt” my back during the set at 165 pounds. It was fine as I set up and even as I created tension, but I could feel some discomfort and pressure in the low back as I lifted. I think that first “heavy” set was the worst in terms of how the back felt, but there was a measure of discomfort, maybe even pain for the rest of the sets. As a result, I was probably more tentative than I should be. The second rep at 185 was too far from my body from the start, but I was using a double overhand grip beyond what I would normally be able to manage. An alternated mixed grip for the heavy singles worked well, and each single improved on the previous. The deadlifts weren’t all perfect, but I was able to deadlift. The best part is that there was no pain or discomfort in the back beyond each rep. After my training I went to work and still felt no change or increase in back pain or discomfort! Hopefully the back will still feel as good tomorrow!

1b. bench press-close grip

feet on bench, small arch: 43 lbs x 10, 63 x 5, 93 x 5

with legs and arch: 103 x 3, 115 x 3, 115 x 3, 115 x 3, 120 x 3

With how much benching I’ve done over the past five months, I am beginning to dislike the close grip. The range of motion is just so huge, and I always seem to have more issues with bringing the bar down to the same place on my chest consistently. My last set at 115 was the best and fastest. The set at 120 was kind of slow, and I’m pretty sure the second rep’s bar path was a mess.

2a. reverse hypers with long strap

60 lbs x 20

2b. single arm kettlebell rows

16kg x 15 each

 

Angela Descending

It’s probably a good thing that I’ll be going to work in a little more than two hours, because it will be easier to plaster my face with a fake smile and pretend that everything is okay. At least until I move the wrong way and the jolt of pain scrunches my face up momentarily, but most people don’t even notice anyway.

I think I stepped on some loose rock, and the landslide is bringing me down. So many thoughts and no words to say.

1a. floor presses-competition grip, with knees bent, slight arch

43 lbs x 10, 73 x 8, 93 x 5, 113 x 5

with slingshot: 123 x 5, 123 x 5, 133 x 3

Hey! I just realized how much weight was actually on the bar for that last set. Yes, it was with the slingshot, so a wee bit of assistance but not as much as there would be if I was on a bench, but I’m not used to seeing that much weight on the bar when I press. At least I can bench press.

1b. chest supported rows

35 lbs x 14, 60 lbs x 10, 60 x 10, 60 x 10, 60 x 10

These had to be fairly strict, so that I wasn’t extending my back and irritating my already irritated SI joint. The first set was fine. The additional weight was basically fine, but I did have to experiment with my foot positioning to minimize the pressure on my low back.

1c. alternating reverse lunges

with a 10kg kettlebell x 20

with a 12kg kettlebell x 22

with a 16kg kettlebell x 20

switch to split squats with two 16kg kettlebells x 12 each leg

2a. hip thrusts with hip circle and sandbag (I think 70 lbs)

x 16, x 20

 

Discs & Disappointment

Normally I prefer to blog about my training session as soon after training as possible, because I don’t want my impressions and thoughts to fade from memory before I am able to put them into writing. Even though I trained at 8 this morning, I was rather intentional about not blogging as soon as I got home. It is now 1:30 in the afternoon, and I think I have delayed long enough. My training session was not what I had hoped it would be. In fact, it was mostly an exercise in frustration and pain. The back wasn’t too bad yesterday, but today is an entirely different story.

Yesterday I left my chiropractor’s clinic feeling more optimistic than I have felt for several weeks. There was a measure of relief in knowing that the SI is fine and that this is all disc-related. I’ve been through the disc thing before, although there was no pain in my back then and it didn’t really affect my training. This round of disc issue is different from the pain in my back to the way it affects my training and daily life. I like to think I am fairly independent and self-sufficient. I don’t always like to ask for help, especially not for something I feel should be easy enough for me to do on my own, but even the most simple of tasks presents significant challenge and pain lately. I’m weary of it all.

1a. front squats

43 lbs x 8, 93 x 5, with belt 113 x 5

The front squats didn’t feel very good from the start, although the later reps in each set were somewhat easier than the first couple. Just not good enough to continue.

1b. dips

with small green band x 8

unassisted: x 6, x 5, x 5

It’s been a while since I’ve done dips, so I wasn’t very confident in my ability to do any unassisted. I’m always glad to be wrong when it comes to self-doubts. These didn’t hurt the back really, but there was some mild unpleasant sensations in having my lower half hanging.

1c. seated cable rows

70 lbs x 12, 80 lbs x 12, 80 x 4, 80 x 12, 100 x 10

I’m not sure what happened during the second set at 80 pounds, except to say that the back hurt enough that I just stopped.

2a. front foot elevated split squats

x 12 each

with 10kg kettlebell x 12 each

These actually felt kind of good. No stress on my back which was already in a ton of pain.

2b. double kettlebell curls

8kg x 7, 8kg x 12

That’s quite a discrepancy between the first and second set, and I cannot explain why the second was so much better. Sometimes my second sets just are better, because I needed to prime the movement or simply remember how much effort I need to exert.

2c. standing triceps extensions

10kg kettlebell x 15, 12kg x 12

My chiropractor says it is important for me to continue training, and I would be miserable if I had to give it up. But I’m desperately looking forward to the day I can train without pain once again.

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, Sleep & Squats

Yesterday’s visit with my chiropractor wasn’t as gloomy as I dreaded. I think my disc is fine. The issue seems to be that the SI joints do not take kindly to hanging out in a squat for an extended length of time. They weren’t designed to do that. So, I learned my lesson, and now I have a couple of exercises to do at home and lots of single leg stuff to do at the gym. The home exercises are super easy…probably the easiest homework my chiropractor has ever given me! Still, I spent most of the rest of the day flat on my back and in pain, and I had yet another less than stellar sleep. Well, I slept okay from 10pm until 2am, but four hours is not nearly enough. I went to the gym this morning and did better than expected considering my morning cup of coffee failed to perk me up.

1a. single arm bottoms up kettlebell presses

8kg x 8 each, 10kg x 4 each, 10kg x 3 + 3 each

29 lb dumbbell x 3 each

The left shoulder sucketh. The right arm was completely capable of doing a few more reps, but the left arm just wouldn’t, not even if I tried to give some assistance with a push from the legs.

1b. decline single arm kettlebell rows

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

2a. incline barbell push ups

x 10, x 8

with 30 lb sandbag on back x 6 + 8 bodyweight

I think the sandbag is 30 pounds. Those six reps felt really tough, so I’m kind of amazed that I could finish off with eight more reps once Michael removed the sandbag.

2b. chin ups

with barbell + incline bench x 8

with red + small green band, neutral grip x 9

with both bands, wide pronated grip x 8, x 8 with a 6-8 second hold on last rep

2c. elevated split squats, both feet on 4″ boxes

x 16 each side, x 15 each

x 15 each with hands behind head and shoulders tight

Oh how the legs burned by the end of each set of split squats! Yesterday’s 20 rep belt squats and Bulgarians combined with these split squats means that my legs are going to be a little sore and rubbery. At this moment in time, I don’t know if my final training session of the week will be early tomorrow morning or later Friday afternoon. I could end up training three days in a row, which wouldn’t be the first time that’s happened and would not be the end of the world. I just need sleep.

 

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.

 

Solid Footing

My foot feels so much better than it did Wednesday, even though it still doesn’t feel quite right. There were times at work today when I did walk with a slight limp and the foot ached, but it is getting better. On Wednesday, I thought I wouldn’t be able to squat or deadlift for quite some time, but I headed to the gym today thinking that I should be able to do both. But an injury tends to make one feel doubt to some degree. Before leaving the house to go to the gym, I made sure to do my foot homework, rolling the outer edge of the bottom of my foot and then massaging the trouble spot. The rolling isn’t exactly super comfortable, yet my foot feels so much better for a while after.

1a. front squats-with squat shoes!

45 lbs x 8, 75 x 6, 105 x 6, 135 x 4, 140 x 4, 140 x 4

I didn’t feel anything in my foot during the squats! 🙂 But the back of the right knee took a few sets to warm up enough to not hurt at the bottom. As warm-up, I did a few overhead squats with a dowel, and that was when the knee hurt the most.

1b. flat dumbbell presses-nearly neutral grip

20 lbs x 10, 29 x 10, 39 x 8, 39 x 8, 39 x 8, 39 x 8

I am not afraid of the dumbbells anymore, at least as long as I am on my back. Overhead pressing with a dumbbell isn’t nearly as strong for me.

2a. deadlifts-deficit

115 lbs x 7, 165 x 5

with straps: 195 x 6, 205 x 8

We weren’t sure but thought the 165 pound set might have been a record for me using a double overhand grip; however, I did the same number of reps at the same weight without straps a couple of weeks ago. Still, this is usually the point where I need straps in order to pull the reps. A single isn’t an issue, but it is difficult to do reps when the grip is struggling. While today wasn’t exactly a first, I think today’s set was better than the one two weeks ago.

2b. kettlebell triceps extensions

12kg x 10, x 10, x 9

10kg x 11

3a. block pulls-with belt and straps

205 lbs x 8, 225 x 5

Block pulls are a funny beast. I kind of like them, but they are challenging as they begin right at my sticking point.

3b. toes to bar

x 6 + 6 knee raises with leg extensions

x 4 + 9 straight leg raises

The foot held up just fine. Thank goodness!