Yokes & Blocks

Generally if you were to ask me which day in my training week is my favourite, I would hesitate with uncertainty. Upper body work is not really a favourite, because my upper body is basically weak; however, I do enjoy most aspects of my training. Picking a favourite day isn’t an easy thing to do. Since my last competition, my training has looked vastly different than it has for a long time. This is not a bad thing, but it has been tougher than training for a competition in some ways. As I was driving to the gym this afternoon, I thought about what I’d be doing today and felt almost a sense of relief that I’d most likely be doing block pulls. My training lately has been a lot of single leg work. I’m not complaining…not really! I know there is tremendous value in switching up the training, and I am more than willing to put in the work. Somehow block pulls just feel less challenging than the single leg stuff. In fact, I was given the option today to do block pulls or trap bar deadlifts. I chose block pulls, which was probably the better choice anyway, since the blocks are about the height where I tend to run into trouble when deadlifting.

1a. single arm landmine presses

45 lbs x 6 each, 55 lbs x 8 each, 65 lbs x 7 each, 65 x 6 each, 65 x 7 each, 55 x 20 each

1b. block pulls, with a pause hovering just off the blocks

75 or 95 lbs (not sure what was on the bar) x 6, 135 lbs x 8, 165 x 8, 185 x 8, 185 x 8

These were really good. Lowering the bar to barely skim the blocks and pause there helped with keeping the bar close to my legs. Back positioning was good. I was using my legs. All good.

1c. V sits

x 6, x 8, x 6, x 5 or 6

2a. walking lunges with kettlebell in opposite hand, one side at a time, with knee raise

12kg x 8 each, 16kg x 10 each

These were actually rather easy. The hardest part was resisting the natural inclination to step forward with the opposite leg after each rep.

2b. supine rows on the rings, with legs straight + with knees bent

x 5 + 6, x 5 + 8

2c. hanging leg raises

2 sets of 10

2d. standing kettlebell triceps extensions

12kg x 10 x 2 sets

3a. yoke walk

185 lbs x 4 lengths (about 60 feet), 205 lbs x 4 lengths, 205 lbs x 5 lengths (about 75 feet), 205 lbs x 5 lengths

I haven’t done yoke walks very often and not for a long time, but they’re super fun.

3b. close grip floor presses with a pause at the bottom

75 lbs x 12, 75 lbs x 9

 

 

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Seeking Serenity

I don’t know exactly why I look to the sky on my way to work in the early hours after our opening time, but I do just that every morning when the sky is clear blue and cloudless. I am looking for a hot air balloon, which is perhaps an odd thing to be looking for so frequently, since hot air balloons are not an everyday sighting. Yesterday, as I drove to work at 5:15 AM, I finally became aware of the fact that I was looking towards a specific portion of the sky in hopes of seeing a hot air balloon. Of course, there wasn’t one to be seen yesterday morning, but I found it somewhat amusing to realize what I had been subconsciously doing for many months now.

I didn’t open this morning, but I was still headed for work around 7:30 AM. As I turned the corner, I looked up to the sky as I always do and there it was…a hot air balloon! Although my emotions are not nearly as heavy and gloomy as they were last week, I am still rather a mess of eating poorly, sleeping even more poorly, a hurricane of thoughts inside my head, and emotions still tender to the touch. The sight of the hot air balloon this morning, especially after yesterday’s realization of what I am looking for, almost reduced me to tears. But why? What is it about a hot air balloon that had me unconsciously looking for one? Between work, training, and all the stuff raging inside me, I realized that I find the sight of a hot air balloon in the sky to be simply serene. Peaceful. Calm. Soothing. As much as I am the kind of girl who prefers her feet on the ground, a hot air balloon is free to just flow with the breeze. You don’t see hot air balloons out in high winds or storms. I know what it is like to stand in the midst of strong winds and storms. I know I am capable of standing, but sometimes I just want to float in quiet peace above this crazy, hectic insane world and the storms that rage inside my heart and head, at least for a while. And I am choosing to believe that this morning’s hot air balloon was a little reminder from my God that I am not alone or forgotten or unloved, that He sees deep inside of my heart and He has known from the beginning why I keep looking to the sky.

1a. single leg box step downs + single leg glute bridges, with the box on top of a block

x 10 + 10, x 12 + 10

1b. standing single arm kettle bell presses

10kg x 8 each, 12kg x 8 each

2a. tempo squats, high bar with flat shoes

45 lbs x 6, 95 x 8, 105 x 7, 105 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

These were done with a 4 second eccentric, a 1 second pause, and a controlled rise. While the weight itself wasn’t taxing, I did find these challenging as I was essentially holding my breath for the roughly 6 seconds of each rep.

2b. flat dumbbell presses

25 lbs x 15, 34 lbs x 10, 34 x 10, 34 x 9

The right hip threatened to cramp on me during the second set at 34 pounds, while the left hip threatened to cramp as I set up for the final set.

3a. TRX T’s

3 sets of 8

3b. seated cable rows

90 lbs x 10, 90 x 6 + 80 lbs x 4, 80 x 9

3c. floor kettlebell triceps extensions

6kg x 11, x 9, x 9

A Nap or Coffee?

Training for a powerlifting competition is vastly different than the training I am doing right now. The change is good, but it is also hard work. It is only mid-morning and I am desperately wishing for a nap, except I am seldom able to nap and I have to work in a couple of hours. A one hour training session has utterly wiped me out. I might need some coffee before work to make it through my closing shift.

warm up:

overhead squats with 35 lb bar-2 sets of 10

narrow stance windmills-bodyweight x 8 each, with 10kg kettlebell x 8 each

1a. skater squats with 5 lb dumbbells

to 3 folds of the mat x 12 each leg

to 2 folds of the mat x 10 each leg

1b. single arm dumbbell push press

20 lbs x 8 each, 25 lbs x 8 each

2a. front squats-flat shoes

43 lbs x 10, 93 x 8, 113 x 6, 113 x 6

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

x 7, x 6, x 6, x 3

3. a 12 minute circuit of:

-dumbbell curls with 15 lbs x 15, x 13, x 10

-kettlebell triceps extensions with 10kg x 15, x 10, x 6

-ab wheel x 15, x 11, x 10

-skipping 1 minute x 3 rounds

Maybe I can try closing my eyes for 15-20 minutes…

One Step Closer

It feels like I’ve hardly done anything these past few days, yet somehow I feel exhausted. A good portion of my time has been spent at the hospital, which isn’t exactly the most energizing place to be. I sat far too much Monday and Tuesday, which may be why my back feels slightly achy today, but the achiness is within reasonable limits. I think. My husband was released from the hospital this afternoon, so hopefully my extended sitting periods are over.

One thing that I did do today was my Wednesday morning training session. It was an interesting session, mostly good. Internally, the session was good enough for me to let loose a sigh of pent-up hope. Thanks to the disc/SI joint issues, many aspects of my training have been put on hold, because I couldn’t do certain things. With Provincials less than 5 weeks away, I am acutely aware of how long it has been since I’ve deadlifted or even been able to hinge my hip with any kind of load. We tested a little this morning, and I was able to do kettlebell swings, a set of super light deadlifts, and some barbell rows. The back was achy before I even started at the gym, so I think I’m safe in saying that my back is no worse for having done these things.

warm-up with 3 sets of:

16kg kettlebell swings x 10

5 medicine ball passes

5 medicine ball slams

Tested my ability to deadlift with 65 pounds for roughly 6-8 reps. There was a slight sensation of tightness/pulling similar to what I have felt at the bottom of the squat, but this was minor. Of greater concern to me was whether I’d have any pain when I’d create tension throughout my body before lifting, but there was only slight discomfort. Now normally I would begin deadlifting with significantly more weight than 65 pounds, but I was happy with how it felt to go through the motions once again.

1a. barbell rows

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

I generally don’t get too excited about rows, but being able to do these put a huge smile on my face.

1b. close grip bench press with feet on bench

45 lbs x 6, 65 x 8, 85 x 6, 105 x 6, 105 x 6

1c. banded monster walks with blue band

2a. seated side laterals, front raises, and clean & presses, 10 lb dumbbells

-2 sets of 10 for the side laterals

-2 sets of front raises with varying reps that I cannot remember

-2 sets of clean & presses, averaging 5 reps, because I could barely press by this point

2b. double kettlebell curls

8kg x 4 + 6kg x 8; 6kg x 7?

2c. kettlebell triceps extension

12kg x 12 x 2 sets

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.

Not Epic But Good

SI joint problem. No deadlifts. No problem! There are plenty of things that I can do, and my coach frequently reminds me that I am not going to lose strength. In fact, he’s pretty determined that I don’t get stuck in a negative mindset. Right now, I don’t think he has to worry about that, because I had my meltdown last week and my attitude has refocused once again.

1a. bottoms up kettlebell presses

8kg x 8 each, 10kg x 8 each

I think this might have been a PR today!

1b. skipping

two 1 minute rounds

I know it is only skipping, but I am impressed with my skipping this morning. Some days sees more tripping and welts. The lower back didn’t like skipping the last time I tried, but today was easy-peasy and smooth.

2a. military press

45 lbs x 8, 55 x 8, 65 x 4 + 4 with push, 65 x 3 + 55 x 5

I thought I’d try a thumbless grip on the second set, and that was probably a mistake. The right shoulder burned for the rest of the training session, likely because the thumbless grip resulted in less lat engagement and more shoulder effort. Lesson learned!

2b. Bulgarian split squats

bodyweight x 8 each, 54 lb vest x 8 each, vest + 20kg kettlebell x 8 each, vest + 10kg kettlebell x 8 each

3a. chest supported rows

35 lbs x 20, 50 x 15, 60 x 14

3b. flat pin presses-elbows at 90 degrees

75 lbs x 5, 95 x 6, 115 x 8

4a. laying double kettlebell triceps extensions

6kg x 10, 6kg x 9

4b. dumbbell curls

alternating supinated 20 lbs x 20

without supination x 7

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!