Week 10 Begins

I almost feel my age today. You’d think that having an extra rest day would make this morning’s training session feel easier, better, but no. That’s not how it felt at all. I felt random aches and pains in multiple spots, although none were of great concern. As I felt the life being sucked out of me while squatting, I reflected on my training over the past year or even two. Without a doubt, my training is significantly harder and heavier these past couple of months than it has been all year. Of course, I was also dealing with an injury for most of the year, and that had a huge impact on my training. Still, without looking back through old training logs, I think my current training is still tougher than what I have done before, even when healthy. That doesn’t mean I’ve never had heavy or tough training sessions before. I certainly have! Just not in the same way all the time. If I wasn’t feeling so drained it might be interesting to compare my current training with previous competition prep. This will be my first competition under a different coach, so I expect that there will be differences in programming and philosophy.

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

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 95 x 6, 135 x 5, 165 x 4

main event, with belt: 180 lbs x 4, 180 x 4, 180 x 4, 180 x 4, 180 x 4

The squats felt tough and ugly. My final warm up set felt brutal. The third and fourth working sets probably felt the best out of the bunch.

2. competition bench (2-1×0) 4-6 reps

warm up: 45 lbs x 8, 65 x 4, 85 x 4, 105 x 3

main event: 115 lbs x 4, 115 x 4, 115 x 4, 115 x 4, 115 x 4

Warm ups felt fine. The working sets felt tough. The ache in the right shoulder that started during last Friday’s bench session continued, although it was not as much of a factor today. At least I don’t think it was. But maybe. Even getting those fourth reps was a bit of a grind.

3. pause squats (3-2×0) 5-7 reps

135 lbs x 5, 135 x 5, 135 x 5

4. glute bridges

135 lbs x 10, 135 x 10, 135 x 10

These were the easiest thing I did this morning…and I could have done so much more!

5. chest supported rows

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

So glad it is my Friday. What are the odds of fitting in a nap before I go to work today?


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!

Wrestling Wifi

I’m blogging later than I had hoped to be tonight. Really, I’d much rather be procrastinating about getting myself ready for bed so I could get sufficient hours of sleep before my open shift in the morning; however, I’ve only been home for the past half hour and I spent all of that time trying to resolve a problem with my laptop’s ability to connect to most websites. I had no problem connecting to Facebook or Gmail or updating my training log on googledocs, but I could not connect to any other site. The problem started last night, but I didn’t want to spend all night messing around more than I did. I’m not a super techie person, but I’m not too afraid to poke around until I find something that works. I finally got everything working, I think, so now I can blog about tonight’s training before rushing myself into bed.

1. wide grip bench (2-2×0)

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

main event: 90 lbs x 5, 90 x 5, 90 x 5

2. high bar squats (3-0x0)

warm up: 45 lbs x 7, 95 x 7

main event: 105 lbs x 7, 105 x 7

3. close grip bench (3-1×0)

80 lbs x 8, 80 x 8

4a. back extensions x 15

4b. leg raises x 15

This is the end of my deload week, so there was less volume. Everything is generally feeling good. The left knee is still feeling wonky off and on, but I’ve got some exercises to do that should eventually work it out. The back still doesn’t feel perfect, but I’m able to arch with more ease as I’m setting up for my bench presses. I’ll take progress like that!

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!

The Cuboid Bone

Instead of being at work, not even halfway through my shift, I am at home with the intent to stay off my feet as much as possible. So far, I have surfed Facebook and a news forum, started and finished reading a book, and searched for information on the cuboid bone. This is not what I had expected for today, but then again I hadn’t expected to spend most of yesterday limping in pain.

In between yesterday’s training session and my work day, I had an appointment with my chiropractor. While I had no major complaints for this visit, I did have a lengthy list of rather minor aches and discomforts ranging from my knee to my neck. My chiropractor is great. I love him, even when he laughs at the discomfort he inflicts on that tender spot in my quad or the faces I make in anticipation of the discomfort he is about to inflict as he twists me like a pretzel. Even though I shouldn’t be taken off-guard by it anymore, every time he suddenly yanks on my foot, I am surprised. Especially yesterday. While that action feels violent in the moment, it is generally no worse than any other aspect of treatment. Except for yesterday. I don’t think I could have put into words why it felt different yesterday; I just knew that it did and not in a pleasant way. I thought nothing of it. I am used to my chiropractor poking, prodding, twisting, yanking, scraping, bruising, and inflicting a bit of pain on my body…all in the effort to keep me healthy and mobile and make me a supple leopard.

I left my appointment feeling pretty good. Becoming a temporary pretzel hadn’t felt good, but my back and neck were already sighing with post-adjustment relief. I went home, made myself some lunch, spread out on the floor and blogged about my training session, still feeling fine. Until I got up to get ready to go to work. My right foot hurt when I walked. I was mildly perplexed, uncertain why my foot was hurting and thinking that it would go away shortly. At that point in time, the pain wasn’t very bad and I could walk with a relatively normal stride. Once at work though, the pain increased quite rapidly and my ability to walk deteriorated just as quickly. By the time I was finished work, I was limping quite heavily and could barely move my foot in certain directions. Of course, being the intelligent person that I am, I had managed to put 2 and 2 together to get 4, meaning that I now realized that whatever was going on with my foot was a result of that yank by my chiropractor earlier in the day.

Over the course of my training life, I have had little bumps in the road as far as aches and pains and injuries go. I needed stitches in a finger three weeks before my first powerlifting competition. I’ve had minor shoulder, knee, disc and hip issues. I dropped a box onto my neck three weeks before a competition last year. There have been many sore muscles and tender spots, but I really haven’t had any serious injury. Nothing that has absolutely prevented me from doing what I want to do for very long. Last night, being unable to put weight on my foot without pain and having my ankle mobility greatly limited, gave me reason to think about how this could impact my training. There would be no way I could squat, because a) my ankle wouldn’t bend enough and b) the pressure on my foot would be intensely painful. Then how would I be able to deadlift? How could I push my feet into the floor without crying? I was glad that my first competition of the year isn’t until June, because I had no clue how long it would be for my foot to be better. I had even determined that I would be okay with doing all upper body stuff, if necessary, until such time as I could do the real stuff again. Pain and injury have a funny way of projecting doom & gloom into your psyche.

My chiropractor was able to fit me in first thing this morning. Hallelujah! He was quickly able to determine that the problem was with the cuboid bone. Such a tiny little thing, such a major pain. He said that he gets patients presenting with cuboid syndrome but that he has never caused it before. There is a first time for everything, and I guess I am honoured that I was the lucky victim for his first infliction of cuboid syndrome. (He thought that there was a funny secondary clunk when he yanked on my foot yesterday!) Thankfully, he said that it is a relatively quick and easy thing to fix! He worked some Graston magic and had me step on a racquetball and roll my foot on a dowel. It wasn’t much really, but the difference in how I walked before and after was amazing. There is still discomfort and soreness and a feeling of stiffness, but my foot feels greatly improved compared to last night. It should continue to improve quickly. I can move my foot more than I could this morning. There is still some discomfort in walking, but I am not limping nearly as much. I still like my chiropractor. I will survive.

Happy Monday

I woke up this morning feeling as if all was right in my world again, or at least mostly. My car needs a new fuel pump, but at least I know what day of the week it is today. Yesterday I wasn’t so sure. With the exception of this most recent New Year’s Day, I worked a Sunday shift for the first time in years, and I wholly believed it was Saturday until 3/4 of the way through my night. I was supposed to have today and tomorrow off; however, tomorrow’s day off has been sacrificed by the need to help out another store in need of a key-holder. (insert internal freak out here) So, today is my only day off until Sunday. I can do it, but gosh darn it does it ever mess up my internal calendar. But Mondays are gym days. Mondays are for squats and bench press. I know Mondays! Yet, I had to borrow my son’s car to get to the gym, as mine is sitting in my driveway unable to go anywhere. My neighbour is a mechanic and will get it working soon, I hope. Driving my son’s car felt weird, like I’m dragging my butt along the road, but his car does have better sight lines than mine. But I couldn’t plug my iphone into his car to listen to my theme songs on the way to the gym. I tried the radio…so not the same. Still, I think my training session was a good one.

Michael started off by challenging me and my gym buddy to hang out in a bodyweight squat for a minute. I have no idea how long I was squatting, but it was easily well more than a minute. At home I can try to do 3 minutes each day. Pretty sure I could do 5, although I wonder if it would be more difficult without my knee sleeves on. I’ve been wearing them on squat days at the gym, because I can and it makes my problematic right knee feel a bit better. That knee isn’t too happy with deep squats without the sleeves, not even just kneeling, so my 5 minute goal might not be as easy as I thought.

1a. squats-low bar, with sleeves

45 lbs x 10, 95 x 8 with a pause on last rep

Michael changed the positioning of the safeties after that second set.

125 x 6

I hit the right safety on the first rep! Michael teased about squatting deeper as he returned the safeties back to the previous position, while I held the bar. With safeties no longer a peril, I finished the set.

155 x 6, 185 x 6, 195 x 5

195 felt a little tough, and there was a rep in the middle in which my right knee felt funky but not in the usual spot. The back of that knee is typically what bothers me while squatting, but this time I felt something in the front spot that only bothers me while standing or walking. Whatever was going on there during the set wasn’t severe, but it still bounced around like negative energy inside my head enough to make me fearful of being able to finish the set. The final two reps were tough but fine on the knee. There was some throbbing for about a minute after the set. Predictably, Michael dropped the weight for the next set.

175 x 6

This was much better, and the knee was fine.

At one point I asked Michael if he could tell if my low bar position was even lower than normal for me, and he agreed that it was. I had been feeling as if that was the case for the past couple of weeks. It’s not a bad thing.

1b. bench press-competition grip

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 8, 83 x 6, 100 x 6, 100 x 6, 110 x 6, 110 x 6

Michael wanted me to keep the reps fast. Sometimes my first rep is a bit slower, as if I need to realize the need to put some effort into it. Can’t really deny that!

Just like I’ve been feeling the lower bar position in my squats, I’ve been feeling as if my arch is improving for the bench press. Michael agreed. My set up is feeling and looking good, and my pressing is feeling consistent and strong.

2a. pause squats-low bar, 2 second pause

135 lbs x 5, 160 x 5

These were good. I love pause squats…I say it all the time! When I do pause squats, my technique dials in almost perfectly, and I’m fairly certain this is due to the fact that I control my eccentric, slow and steady, knowing that I’m going to be stopping at the bottom. With my regular squat sets, I pretty much dive bomb, which gives me a bit of spring out of the hole but can also throw off my bar positioning and get me into all sorts of trouble. You know what that realization means? Some slower eccentric work is going to come my way…

2b. Spoto presses-2 second pause about 3″ off chest

95 lbs x 6 x 2 sets

And in appreciation of my son allowing me to use his car, I replaced the battery in his key fob today!

The Lats Have It

My body currently feels cranky. Generally I don’t think it is too bad, but there are several body parts which are uncomfortable or mildly achy. My right wrist. Right knee. Right hip. Left lower back. Neck. Mostly right shoulder but a little of the left, too. And I’m not even talking about muscle soreness! Some of the discomforts are connected. Because the shoulders are cranky, I cannot sleep on my side for more than 5 minutes (and I am a side sleeper), which means I’m either on my back or on my side with my head propped up enough to somewhat ease the discomfort in my shoulders. The head elevation likely is the cause of the neck and back complaints. That’s just the way it goes sometimes, but it didn’t impact my performance in the gym today.

1. front squats-flat shoes

43 lbs x 10, 93 x 5, 123 x 5, 133 x 5, 133 x 5

Sometimes I wear my squat shoes for front squats, and other times I wear my flat shoes. It really depends on what else is on the agenda for the training session. With today being deadlift day, flat shoes were what I put on my feet. Squatting typically feels better with the slight heel elevation from the squat shoes, but I don’t have much of a problem adapting to the flats for the front squats. Still, the front squats weren’t the best feeling today, but they weren’t truly horrible. The bar was especially chokey today, which likely made the weight feel heavier. The right hip flexor felt a bit tight during the first couple of sets. The back of the right knee, sometimes bothered with a deep squat, held up okay in the gym, but it is feeling a bit sore now.

2a. bench press-close grip

43 lbs x 10, 63 x 8, 88 x 8, 100 x 6, 100 x 6, 105 x 7

with slingshot 125 x 6

When the time is right, I am greatly looking forward to seeing what I can do for a max attempt, because my bench press feels solid, smooth and strong…more often than it doesn’t lately.

2b. deadlifts-conventional

135 lbs x 5+

I’m not sure how many reps I did at this weight. I had already done a few, when Michael stopped me in order to give me a new cue to engage my lats. Then I did some more reps to practice the cue…engaging my lats by rotating my arms to show my biceps.

165 x 5, 195 x 5, 215 x 5

The cue seemed to help, and these looked good. Maybe even really good. Michael made a comment about me only having something like 50% tightness previously, but today was about 80%. <laugh> My coach usually knows what he is talking about. Sometimes I just need to be told what to do repeatedly before I actually get it.

2c. some sort of rope face pull thing

20 lbs x 12 x 4 sets

3a. Romanian deadlifts

165 lbs x 10 x 2 sets

The first set was okay, but the second was both more challenging and better.

3b. toes to bar

x 7, x 8

I haven’t done serious toes to bar for quite some time. As I was going on the first set, Michael commented that I should be able to do 6. Of course, I had to do 7. Finding the right rhythm is key for me when doing toes to bar. While not perfect, my body seemed to remember what toes to bar rhythm felt like on the second set and I was able to get an extra rep.

3c. single arm kettlebell row

16kg x 10 each x 2 sets

These rows were slightly different than the norm in terms of arm motion and angle. Now I cannot recall exactly what Michael said about it, but I’m fairly certain he said it would target the lats more. Have you noticed a common thread with my training lately? Lats, lats and more lats!

Now my biggest, most difficult decision is whether to sleep on my back (which I hate) or sleep on my side with head elevated, flipping sides all night (which my neck will hate). Sigh.