Just the Facts

warm-up:

overhead squats

with dowel x 12

35 lbs x 8, 55 lbs x 8

1a. skater squats

x 12 each leg to 2 mats, x 10 each leg to 1 mat, x 7 each leg to the floor, x 5 each leg to the floor

1b. standing single arm dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 8 each strict

29 lbs x 5 each with push

seated x 4 each @ 29 lbs

seated x 8 each @ 25 lbs

2a. front squats-flat shoes

93 lbs x 8, 118 lbs x 8, 128 lbs x 5, 113 lbs x 8

2b. chin ups with small green band, neutral grip

x 6, x 5, x 5, x 4

3. every minute on the minute x 6 rounds

10 kettlebell swings @ 20kg

3 push up walkouts

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Don’t Cry Out Loud…

Yesterday I set out the top and socks that I would wear for training this morning, and I had selected a Wonder Woman tank and my FIGHTER socks. As I was getting dressed this morning, I changed my mind and grabbed a different tank top, one that says, “If at first you don’t succeed, fix your ponytail and try again!” There was no rhyme or reason for the change. I just felt like it. Little did I realize just how appropriate the shirt slogan would be…or how frustrating my training session would be.

Most of the time the gym is my happy place, and even a difficult session can still be a rewarding and positive experience. While there were glimpses of smiles this morning, they were rare and weak and merely attempts to keep tears at bay. I suppose, in that regard, the smiles were effective. I did not shed a single tear at the gym today! At least I can claim that as a victory. My coach could tell that I was frustrated, although I’m sure it was rather obvious. He reminded me that one bad workout isn’t the end of the world…but it has been more than one. Over the past two months, there have been more bad training sessions than good ones in terms of being able to do what I need to do without pain or physical limitation and discomfort, and I am extremely frustrated by that. Frustrated doesn’t even accurately describe how I am currently feeling.

When it comes to personal pain and situations, it is easy to be myopic. For all my frustration and angst over this ongoing back issue, I do know that my struggle is actually quite small. There are so many people who struggle with issues and pain much greater than what I am dealing with, and the fact that I can’t train the way I want cannot compare to the true limitations many people experience on a daily basis just living life. I understand that. I really do. My husband is scheduled for hip replacement surgery at the end of April and has been in pain daily for years. I can complain about not being allowed to back squat for several weeks, but my husband literally cannot squat. I can complain about how uncomfortable it is to sit long enough to put my shoes on, but there are days when my husband cannot even put his own sock on. In the grand scheme of things, my current struggle is minor. I know it, but it is still frustrating and disappointing to feel as if you are stuck and going nowhere. The ‘one step forward, two or three steps back’ thing gets really old, really quick.

The back felt pretty good yesterday. Not 100% normal but really good. Then I woke up this morning. It seems that the back is stiff and achy almost every morning when I get up. Then add a little bit of necessary sitting, like using the toilet and driving to the gym, and the back just gets crankier. And then training doesn’t go as planned either.

1a. deadlifts-conventional

95 lbs x 8

After this warm-up set, Michael asked me how it was or if I just like to make faces on warm-ups. The weight itself was fine, but the back wasn’t exactly thrilled with deadlifting. The discomfort was just that…uncomfortable but not unbearable.

135 x 8

Same as above.

165 x 1 + 1 + 2

There was stronger pain on the first rep, which is why the reps were disjointed. Now I could get into position just fine, but the back started to hurt as soon as I created tension prior to initiating the lift and then as soon as I initiated lowering the bar.

with belt and straps: 165 x 0

I think it was about this point that Michael asked me what my body was telling me, and this was when frustration reared it’s ugly head. Michael pointed out that my response to his question was my mind talking and not my body. <grumble> So, then we tried a bunch of variations to see if one would feel better. Deficit deadlifts were a no-go. Block pulls were a no-go. Sumo block pulls were a no-go. Even kettlebell swings were a no-go. By that point, the fighter in me wanted to fix my ponytail and try again, but that inner fighter was also mentally sitting in a corner, sobbing her eyes out.

1b. military press

43 lbs x 7, 53 x 6, 63 x 5, 63 x 5, 63 x 5, 63 x 5

The last two sets were a bit tougher and likely sloppier, but the previous sets were decent and the bar moved well. The military press has long been a trouble lift for me, but I feel as if I am finally feeling more comfortable with it and struggling less. It used to be that my shoulders would burn with fatigue just holding the bar in the rack position between reps, but I didn’t feel any of that today. And that is one thing I have going for me…that no matter how frustrated, upset or defeated I feel, I can still manage to find a positive somewhere!

2a. reverse hypers

x 20, with 10 lbs x 20, 10 lbs x 20

I’m capable of doing these with more weight than this, but I’m also used to doing reverse hypers without discomfort in my lower back! It didn’t take many reps for me to appreciate the fact that my coach was keeping the weight light.

2b. back extensions

x 25, with 10kg x 25

3. single leg deadlifts

2-10kg kettlebells x 12 each leg

2-12kg kettlebells x 10 each

The first set was pure ugliness. My balance was horrid. The second set was a bit better with slightly less balance issues, especially with the right leg planted.

 

 

Non-Military Personnel

I made the mistake of sleeping on the living room floor on Wednesday night. I did this because I didn’t want to lie awake growing more frustrated with every passing minute as I listened to my husband snore. Since I knew that I didn’t have to work Thursday morning, I figured that it wouldn’t matter too much if I didn’t sleep overly well. Sleeping on the floor is never a good idea! I slept fitfully and felt like a zombie all the next day; however, it wasn’t until late afternoon that I realized that my extreme feeling of fatigue might actually be due to fighting a cold. While I don’t feel quite as bad as yesterday, my throat is a little sore and scratchy and a cough is trying to take up residence in my chest, but I am throwing as many natural remedies at it as I can. I rarely get sick and any symptoms usually don’t last long, but I still might have felt a bit fatigued in training today.

1a. deadlifts, conventional

warm up: 95 x 8, 135 x 6, 165 x 6 plus 1 more rep using mixed grip

The warm ups were done with a double overhand grip. It seems like my grip limit tends to be around 165 pounds. I can get my reps at that weight with the overhand grip, but I do need to reset at least once or twice in order to keep my grip intact. Naturally when the grip begins to slip, the weight feels heavier than it should, so Michael had me pull one extra rep with a mixed grip in order to feel confident with the weight.

main event with straps: 190 x 10, 190 x 10, 190 x 8

The first set was kind of slow, at least my hips were slow to pull through to the bar. The second set was better, but the bar just felt heavy. Since I wasn’t feeling the greatest, Michael dropped the planned fourth set and said I could drop a couple of reps if they slowed.

with belt: 215 x 1 I especially liked how Michael told me to walk up to the bar like I was serious!

235 x 1 This was not a good rep. I’m not sure how it happened, but I wasn’t tight when I started to pull. I managed to finish the lift, but I knew it wasn’t good from the get-go.

235 x 1 better

1b. military press

Without a doubt, when it comes to the military press, I have a mental block. I think I managed to suppress a groan when Michael said I’d be doing these today, but I don’t think that I managed to stop myself from thinking they would be difficult.

43 x 8…not so bad

53 x 5…the bar flew up fairly well

63 x 2.5…well that just sucked

63 x 2…still sucked

53 x 5…the bar flew up fairly well

58 x 5…still decent

63 x 5…decent! The first two crappy sets at 63 pounds were with bumper plates. For this set I used the little 5 pound metal plates. Maybe the big plates are intimidating. I don’t know. I definitely need to nail the technique.

2a. bent over rows using body English

95 x 10, 105 x 10, 105 x 10

2b. kettle bell swings

24 kg x 10, 28 kg x 10, 32 kg x 10

2c. toes to bar

x 5…really could have completed the requested 8 reps but there was a bar in the rack behind me that disrupted my rhythm

x 8, x 8

 

 

The Walking Dead

Despite being in bed for nearly 12 hours last night, I didn’t quite get the quality or quantity of sleep that I was hoping for. I haven’t felt this tired for a very long time, like I can’t even remember how long it has been! My life generally moves along at a fairly consistent pace, and my habits are rather routine, so I’m having difficulty pinning down the cause of this current sleep deprivation trend. Whatever is going on right now, I am not used to feeling this exhausted. I am used to being able to function quite well on little sleep. I am used to not looking like I am exhausted even when I am. My functionality¬† right now is likely more impaired than I would like to believe it is, and I know that I actually look tired. So training started out a bit different this morning.

1a. explosive incline push-ups from my knees

5 sets of 5

1b. broad jumps

5 sets of 5

Broad jumps are not my favourite. Today they were especially not my favourite.

1c. TRX supine rows with knees bent

5 sets of 5

1d. medicine ball slams, 20 lbs I think

5 sets of 5

2a. single arm dumbbell push presses, leaving 2-3 in the tank and no grindy reps

25 lbs x 8 each x 4 sets

The left arm struggled more than the right. No surprise there. I probably could have managed at least 12-15 reps with the right arm, maybe even 20, but we’ve got to keep things balanced.

2b. chin-ups

I did one unassisted chin to see how it would feel today. I did it, but it was definitely tough. So, Michael let me use the large green band to get some reps this morning. The large green band is strong enough that I could not get myself into it without Michael’s help, and it felt as if I had to fight the band to reach full extension at the bottom range. But it sure made it easier to get the reps!

4 sets of 8 reps

3a. single arm kettle bell rows

16 kg x 8 each x 4 sets

3b. dips

with blue band x 8 …was a little tough today

with blue and red bands x 10, x 11, x 12

4a. lying leg raises

x 15, x 15

4b. kettle bell swings

20 kg x 20, x 20

I suppose it is normal to have off days in the gym and to have days when being tired affects your performance, but I am not used to having training days like that. It really rather sucks. The fact that I felt like crying while doing broad jumps tells me that I am not myself; I like to save the tears for the really disliked and frustrating things! ūüėČ

Law of Dreams

The weird dreams go ever on in my world. As often seems to happen, I woke up about 20 minutes before my alarm, looked at the clock and tried to squeeze out as much sleep as I could in the time left to me. Boy, did I take advantage of it! The next thing I knew I was looking at the clock again, except that there was no glowing red numbers to see, so I figured the power had gone out and got up to get ready for work. As I was in the bathroom, I heard my youngest son call my name in a panic. I went into his room to see what was wrong, and he was 7 years old instead of almost 20. I dealt with his problem and returned to the bathroom to finish getting ready for work, but then my aunt and a cousin were needing help. They live in Calgary. Then my alarm buzzed, for real, and I was confused for a moment, wondering why it was buzzing when the power had been out and I was already awake. That’s how real the dream felt, even though it was most definitely not normal by any stretch of an awake imagination!

1a. front squats with knee sleeves

45 x 8, 95 x 5, 115 x 3, 135 x 3, 155 x 3, 175 x 1, 185 x 1 PR, 195 x 0

135 x 8 x 2 sets

I was a little excited when Michael said that we’d possibly try for a PR today, depending on how my quad felt and whether or not I babied it while squatting. Monday’s rack split squats didn’t feel very good for my right quad. The muscle has been feeling a lot better since then, but I can still feel some discomfort if I do some bodyweight lunges. Bodyweight squats didn’t seem to be a problem, so I was confident that I’d have no problem with the front squats. Michael just needed to make sure, and everything was good. I didn’t have any slight twisting of my body and the quad didn’t hurt.

My previous PR was 175 pounds for a single, and that was set quite some months ago. The rep at 185 today felt slower than the rep at 175 but stronger, smoother. My sense of time is deceptive though, because we took video of both and the actual time was quite similar. I tried for 195, but the bar tipped forward a bit and I lost my back. Normally I don’t like missing a rep, but I’m okay with this one. Well, I would have preferred to have made it, but I can’t be upset about the failure. You can’t be perfect all the time! I will get it next time.

1b. supine dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 10, 29 x 10, 29 x 10, 34 x 8, 34 x 10 with a 2 second pause on the last rep

Do you remember how often I whimper over the 25 pound dumbbells? Well, I didn’t whimper today! These presses felt so easy. Michael had me focus on making a slight rotation of the shoulders before I began, as if I was trying to break the bar if I was using the bar.

2a. deadlifts using my squat stance

135 x 8

touch & go with straps: 165 x 8, 185 x 7

I’m glad I still had my knee sleeves on, because I definitely kept the bar closer to my legs for more reps than not. I could hear the rasp of the bar against my socks. The last set felt really heavy, which it shouldn’t have now that I am home and actually looking at the numbers; however, I did do a bunch of front squats so the legs were pretty much Jello by the time I started the deadlifts. If that wasn’t enough, the deadlifts were mixed in with hip thrusts and kettle bell swings.

2b. hip thrusts

135 x 12, 165 x 11, 165 x 10

2c. kettle bell swings

20 kg x 20, 20 kg x 20, 20 kg x 8

After the last set of hip thrusts, my lower back was incredibly sore. Not injury sore…just sore as in “you’ve worked those muscles very hard!” I had to take a moment to try to stretch it out. I tried to do that last set of swings, but I had to stop after 8.

(Law of Dreams by Peter Behrens)

Quad Only Knows

My quads have been really sore since yesterday. Walking has been a little uncomfortable, but the legs have been worse although not for a while. But a bit of soreness won’t keep me from training.

1a. safety bar squats

75 x 7, 125 x 5, 145 x 8, 155 x 8, 155 x 8, 160 x 8

The sore quads made these feel kind of tough, but my speed was still pretty good.

1b. incline bench press

45 x 8, 65 x 8, 65 x 8, 70 x 8, 70 x 8

2a. safety bar walking lunges

75 x 16 steps, 85 x 16, 85 x 6 steps then I had to hold the bar while Michael added another 10 pounds for the final 10 steps

2b. incline crunches

x 8, x 8, x 4 + 3 straightening my legs on the descent

2c. kettle bell swings

16kg x 15, 20kg x 20, 24kg x 20

These were done with a little more knee bend than normal, so that they became an assistance move for my deadlift. I don’t mind kettle bell swings, but I have to say that doing these swings gave me mental flashbacks to doing the 10, 000 swing challenge. That wasn’t exactly a pleasant feeling memory.

3. trap bar farmer’s walk

165 x 4 lengths of the gym x 3 sets

I had to “deadlift” the bar at the start of each length. No chalk. The first set wasn’t too bad. The second set was okay. My grip, especially the left hand, was really struggling during the last set. I was almost jogging for the final length in order to reach the finish line before I dropped the bar.

Run tomorrow after work? That’s the plan…

A Kettle Bell Butt Kicking

This kettle bell swing challenge is kicking my butt, and I mean that quite literally. I am doing 400 swings a day broken down like this: 10, 15, 25, and 50 and repeat 4 times. The sets of 10, 15, and 25 swings aren’t too difficult, not even on the fourth round; however, the set of 50 swings is absolute torture. It would be so much easier to work my way up to 400 just using 10, 15, 25, and 25, but I’m not too afraid of hard work.

Today was an eye-opener though, because this was the first time I’ve done 400 swings on a day that I worked. The first two days of the challenge, when I worked, I only did 200 swings per day. I moved up to the full 400 the next two days which were days off for me. So I worked my full shift, got a bit of stuff done at home and then went to my training session. Today’s training included deadlifts, block pulls, chin ups, dips, pull downs, triceps extensions and curls. By the time I got back home, the clock was ticking. Since I work early tomorrow, my bedtime is early and I had a lot to get done before going to bed…important things like swings, stretching, eating supper, blogging (it is NaBloPoMo after all!), and winding down for bed.

Part of me didn’t want to do the swings, but I started before I could talk myself out of it. The first 50 swings were okay. The next 50 was tough. The next 50 were okay. The second set of 50 swings was brutally tough. I wasn’t sure that I would be able to do 400 today, but I kept swinging. I figured the first 50 of each round was relatively easy, so I’d just have to grind out those tough 50 swing sets, and I did!

You know what my biggest motivation to keep going was? It was knowing that my trainer hasn’t been doing his swings! Ha ha! He was also supposed to be doing this challenge, but today I discovered that he hasn’t been doing them. I might have smirked a little when he explained to me why he hasn’t done them. (He tells me that he will begin soon.) Have I ever mentioned how competitive I can be?¬†Can Michael do the challenge? I¬†know he can, but the knowledge that he’s slacked off is highly motivating to me!