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



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

14 000+ Pounds Pulled

It has been about an hour since I finished my early morning training session. I start work in an hour and a half, and I sincerely hope that my muscles will have stopped quivering by then, although I highly doubt it. While it may only be 10:00 AM, I feel completely wiped out, but I have eaten enough to satisfy a small hippopotamus. For now.

1. deadlifts, conventional, touch and go, maximum of 2 minutes rest between sets

75 lbs x 10, 125 x 8, 165 x 10

175 lbs x 10 x 5 sets

This was slightly more weight and volume than last week, and it was still all about pushing with my legs and bringing my hips to the bar instead of pulling with my back. For the most part, I think my form was pretty good today, but the short rest between sets had me breathing hard.

2. stiff-legged deadlifts

95 lbs x 10, 95 x 10

Michael seemed to think that I was using too much back and not enough hamstrings and glutes. After the second set, when he asked me if I felt the difference and I said a little, he changed things up a bit. For some reason Michael interprets my “a little” response as meaning “not really”. I suppose he knows me well enough to be able to read me that easily, but sometimes I actually do feel what he wants me to feel a little. This was one of those times. I did feel my glutes and hamstrings working, although I can admit that my brain doesn’t always easily grasp the concept of the movement. So, he had me do the stiff-legged deadlifts with a kettlebell.

24kg x 20 x 4 sets

3a. barbell rows, underhand grip

75 lbs x 12

75 x 10  Michael put a plate on my lower back again. My body so wants to cheat. The last few reps were tough, because my upper body was creeping up and the plate was beginning to slide.

75 x 10

3b. glute-ham raises

x 10, x 11, x 12

Normally I love glute-ham raises, but these weren’t so easy today. Guess I was working those glutes and hamstrings!

3c. ab wheel

3 sets of 10

While these were not as brutal as the last time I did them, I did experience some discomfort in my abdominals. About midway through each set, my abs began to feel as if they were going to rip apart. Not literally, of course, but I’m not used to that feeling while using the ab wheel. It didn’t seem to matter how far out I rolled, but maybe it was just fatigue since the feeling began midway through each set.

I don’t usually drink a lot of coffee when I am at work, but I think I just might need to have a cup before I start today. Could I survive without it? Absolutely! But I think it is going to be a long day and I could use a boost. A hot tub would also be nice, but I don’t have one of those.

Volume Isn’t Just For Hair

I think I have a long day ahead of me. Tonight is my first solo “in charge” closing shift at work, and that stresses me out more than my first open shift did and I had a sleepless night before my open! Generally I slept well enough last night, although I did have some horrible dreams. They weren’t work-related, but dreaming of witnessing murders is never a fun way to be woken up at 4:00. Since I am closing tonight, I had to do my training this morning, early this morning at 8:00. It wasn’t too much of a stretch for me, but the high volume has me feeling a little wiped out and it isn’t even 10:00 yet.

1a. deadlifts, conventional

75 lbs x 10, 115 x 10, 135 x 10, 155 x 10, 155 x 10, 165 x 10, 165 x 10

I used straps beginning with 135 pounds, because Michael wanted me to focus on perfect technique without grip ever being an issue.

1b. overhead press…not sure what the proper name is but I had to slide the bar up against the rack as I pressed, with a split stance

43 x 10, 48 x 9, 43 x 10, 43 x 10, 43 x 8, 43 x 7

I don’t really know why these felt tough. I was supposed to do sets of 10, but Michael didn’t want any grinding reps which is why I dropped reps the last two sets. The right shoulder may not be feeling perfect yet, but it is significantly improved compared to Monday; however, my right trap is rather sore and I couldn’t figure it why until I was at the gym. It is due to the homework given to me by my chiropractor, I think!

2a. stiff legged deadlifts, with straps

115 lbs x 10 x 4 sets

The weight wasn’t super challenging, but it really wasn’t supposed to be. It’s all about putting in the work and practicing the technique.

2b. seated lat pulldowns with neutral grip straight bar

70 lbs x 12, 80 lbs x 12, 80 x 12

I ran into some forward shoulder dumping late in the final set.

2c. GHD situps

2 sets of 12

The first set was easy. The second set was done with my hands at my head, so slightly more challenging. Not the most challenging situps I’ve ever done but enough for the end of a high volume session.

Now I need food!

Back Squat Withdrawal

Today is the first day of my new six week training program without back squats. That’s 42 days without back squats. The final day of this program is February 26. I have the beginning of each week marked in my training log, but I am not counting down the days until I can do back squats again at all! Nope, not me! I love front squats. I really, truly do. The other day Michael sent me a lengthy list of reasons why one should do front squats. I had to laugh, but they were all very good reasons that cannot be disputed.

1a. front squats, with sleeves but no belt

45 x 8, 75 x 6, 105 x 6, 125 x 6, 145 x 6, 155 x 6, 155 x 8

These felt pretty good. The bar didn’t feel heavy until I unracked it with 145 pounds, then it felt heavy and actually surprised me a little; however, it was much easier today than it was on Friday with a slow eccentric.

1b. incline bench press, competition grip

43 x 8, 63 x 8, 63 x 8, 65 x 8, 65 x 8, 65 x 8

The second set at 63 pounds was easier than the first at that weight. On the final set, Michael had me bring the bar down higher on my chest to keep my elbows in the right position under the bar. That seemed to help, I think, and the bar felt lighter for the first few reps.

2a. wide grip lat pulldowns

70 lbs x 15?, 80 x 12, 80 x 9, 70 x 15

I sort of lost track of my reps on the first set, but I think I did at least 15, maybe a rep or two more. The drop down set at the end was easier than any of the other sets. In fact, I had to check the weight, because I didn’t know what Michael had dropped it to and expected it to be lower than it was.

2b. stiff-leg deadlifts

115 x 10

with straps: 135 x 10

145 x 10

In a weird twist, this set felt the easiest of the bunch. What makes that weird is that right before I set myself up, I began to feel not so good at all. I wasn’t dizzy and I’m not sure that I was really nauseous, but my belly felt incredibly hollow to the point that I felt weak  and shaky. Despite how I was suddenly feeling, those reps were the best and felt the strongest. I felt like crap immediately after though.

155 x 10

Still feeling crappy but this set felt easy enough.

3a. flyes

10 lb dumbbells x 15

3b. incline dumbbell curls

15 lbs x 8

3c. Bulgarians while holding a 12 kg kettle bell goblet-style

x 9 each leg

Bulgarians are something that tends to get better the more frequently I do them, and it has been a while since I’ve done them. So, mix rust together with feeling shaky/weak/not right and these were not an example of my best work. Having the right leg forward was trickier, I think. I have discovered that I cannot remember which leg I had forward first! Whichever leg it was that was forward first, that was a crappy set. I lost balance on the seventh rep, although Michael insists that I just gave up and went with the way my body was leaning rather than hold my ground. Okay, so he didn’t quite word it that way, but that’s essentially what he was saying. 😉 He’s probably right. Can I blame it on feeling like crap?

Then I grabbed the dumbbells for the next round of flyes and paused on the bench waiting for the arms to feel less shaky. Of course, Michael asked how I was doing. If I am completely honest, I am not always completely honest when it comes to that question! If I am truly, seriously hurting or ill, then I would say so, but I don’t like to complain about every little minor ache or turn of the stomach. I was honest today and Michael said we were done. I was a little frustrated about that, but it was probably the right call. Even when I got to my car, I had to just sit there for about 5 minutes before heading for home. I inhaled a huge plateful of food in about 10 minutes and felt immensely better! How bizarre! Today was a normal, typical day for me, and I ate very much like I do every Monday. I guess I’m going to need to make sure that I have plenty to eat before training…or maybe it really is a case of back squat withdrawal?