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!

Triceps & Abdominals

Upper body day has left my triceps, my lats, even my armpits sore. The abdominal muscles are also quite sore. I’m really not surprised, and I guess I should expect to have sore abs for a few days longer as the ab work will be a regular part of my training.

1a. kettlebell swings

24kg x 10, x 5, x 5, x 5

28kg x 8

These were easy, but they weren’t intended to be challenging, I think.

1b. deadlifts, conventional

95 lbs x 8, 135 x 7, 185 x 6, 215 x 5

with belt and straps: 230 x 2 + 4

The set at 230 pounds was supposed to be 5 reps, but I ran into a snag after the second rep. Michael had pointed out after the previous set that I had been dropping my hips too much. As I began the 230 set, I felt that I dropped my hips again on the first rep, tried to correct it on the second rep, but then I had a very quick break in my rhythm and that never bodes well for me on a heavy deadlift rep set. I lost the tension and couldn’t recover to pull the third rep. Took a moment to recover and reset, then pulled 4 reps. Honestly, I think that was a PR set.

Then Michael dropped the weight and wanted a speedy set of 5.

215 lbs x 0

Yes. Zero! I set myself at the bar, wholly prepared to grip it and rip it, but I just could not do it. I don’t think I could even create the necessary tension in my body. My brain simply said no.

Drop the weight some more for a set of 5 touch and go reps.

185 x 5

Hey! I do still know how to deadlift!

1c. GHD sit-ups

bodyweight x 10, 6kg kettlebell x 10, 6kg x 8, bodyweight x 8

The drop in reps was entirely due to the abdominal soreness.

1d. dips-unassisted

x 5, x 5, x 5, x 4

I honestly wasn’t sure that I’d be able to do any unassisted dips with how sore my triceps are, but I was pleasantly surprised. The reps weren’t necessarily easy though.

2a. TRX triceps extensions (because the triceps weren’t sore enough already)

x 12, x 5

2b. barbell curls

45 lbs x 9 x 2 sets


Pressing In

As I lay in bed last night I felt the weight of more than just the two quilts covering me. There was a weariness in my body that had nothing to do with the fact that I was trying to fall asleep and everything to do with frustration and despair. Once again part of my right foot was numb and tingly. Once again there was heavy, dull ache at the bottom of my right hip. And all at once I was hit by a wave of despair that this disc issue will never resolve completely. The foot that feels perfectly fine all day long becomes numb as soon as I lay down at night and irritates me enough to delay my slumber. I cannot even remember how long this has been going on, but it has definitely been at least a year. Then the knee will randomly hurt and feel out of sorts, like during the final couple of hours at work today. Oh yes, I cannot forget the left glute that I tweaked a few weeks ago that is taking its sweet time getting better.

I get it. I understand that I am old enough to feel various aches and pains, and I know that push my body harder than many people my age. Minor aches and pains I can live with, I think, and really what I’m dealing with are generally minor; however, is it too much to ask that some of those aches and pains will resolve eventually! After all, I take better care of myself now than I ever did before I began training. I eat fairly healthy. I get enough sleep most of the time. I train smartly…as in I work directly with my trainer and he ensures that I don’t do anything stupid and makes adaptations when something doesn’t work or feel right. I see my chiropractor extraordinaire regularly, and I faithfully do all of the homework that he gives me to work a problem area. On my chiropractor’s advice/orders, I (reluctantly) stopped running a year ago, and I sit as seldom as possible. I am doing all the right things, so why is there still numbness in the foot?! The cherry on top of the icing on my pity cake is the fact that I am fighting the beginnings of a cold. I seldom get sick, so I don’t think this will get too bad or last too long, but I’m frustrated.

Still, today was a training day. Upper body day. Like most every other upper body day, I arrived at the gym feeling like I was capable of rising to whatever challenges came my way.

1. single arm dumbbell clean and press

20 lbs x 3 each, 25 lbs x 3 each, 29 lbs x 2 each, 34 lbs x 2 each, 39 lbs x 2 each, 44 lbs x 1 with the right arm and 0 with the left

The plan here was to see how heavy I could go. There were a few issues with the left side at 44 pounds. My elbow probably flared sooner than it should have. My timing was off with the push, and the left arm just felt weaker.

2a. close grip bench press, touch and go, without legs

45 lbs x 10, 65 x 8, 85 x 8, 95 x 6, 95 x 6

with slingshot: 115 lbs x 6

These were definitely tougher with my legs in the air and no arch in the back, but my touch and go cadence is improving. It sometimes takes me a rep or two to get used to the slingshot, but I think I did okay this time. The lockout was tough though.

2b. supine rows, using wide grip on Swiss bar, hold last rep 2 seconds

x 4 with legs out + 6 with knees bent

x 5 + 6

x 4 + 6

x 4 + 7

x 3 + 8

Supine rows never fail to make me feel weak. It likely doesn’t help that my feet tend to slip on every rep.

3a. lat pulldowns with wide, underhand grip

90 lbs x 10, 100 x 6, 100 x 8, 100 x 5

3b. dips

x 3 + 4 with red band

x 1 + 5 with blue band

x 1 + 2 with blue band

These were most disappointing after last week’s two sets of five unassisted reps. The three unassisted reps in today’s first set were brutally tough. I told Michael that I’d be happy just to get one unassisted rep on the final set. I got it, but the happiness was greatly tempered. I suppose it makes sense that the dips were difficult after the close grip bench, but I’m not fond of backward steps.

4. single arm lat pulldown

40 lbs x 6 each

5a. hammer curls

25 lbs x 8, 25 x 5 + 20lbs x 5

Whoever said that curls are for the girls has never met me! Curls suck.

5b. kettlebell triceps extensions

12kg x 12, 12kg x 9

I tried for a tenth rep on the final set, but I kind of got stuck with the kettlebell behind my head and my arms unable to do anything but hang out there. It’s a good thing my coach is always there, although I’m clever enough to have got myself out of trouble eventually.

Tomorrow looks to be a long day. I have an open shift, a chance to see how much I remember about opening and running a shift. I have a chiropractor appointment in the afternoon, and I get to do Friday’s training session tomorrow.


Rainy Day Squats

Today is Monday. It rained for a good chunk of the day. I started work fairly early, and I experienced my first huge rush while I was working the bar. Still, I think it was a good day. I love the rain. My body is still used to getting up early, and I had support to help me through the rush. There are still drinks that throw me out-of-sync or that I am not confident making, but I think I am remembering more than I am forgetting now. I hope. After work, I got to go to the gym. I knew that squats would be on the agenda, but I expected them to be safety bar box squats since that has been what I’ve been doing since Westerns. Hey! I just realized that it has been exactly a month since Westerns, but I digress. When Michael said I’d be doing normal squats, I got a little excited!

1a. high bar squats, no sleeves, flat shoes,

45 lbs x 8, 95 x 6, 135 x 6, 155 x 6, 170 x 5, 170 x 5, 170 x 4

After four weeks of squatting with the safety bar, I struggled a bit today with these high bar squats. My depth was definitely not in doubt, as I found myself getting quite low more often than not and unintentionally. I also had a lot of trouble with pitching forward, both my feet (usually the right but not solely…see what I did there?) and the bar. The weight shouldn’t have been too challenging, but the struggle was definitely with form.

Then Michael suggested a cardio set of 20 reps and I agreed, although I’m not sure that he was actually asking for my agreement.

115 lbs x 20

It’s been a very, very long time since I’ve done a 20 rep set of squats, so I expected this to be more difficult than it turned out to be. The weight was light, and that was perfectly fine by me.

1b. military press

43 lbs x 8, 53 x 6, 63 x 3 + 3 push presses

push press

63 lbs x 5, 73 x 3, 83 x 0, 83 x 1

1c. top half military press

73 lbs x 6, 73 x 8, 73 x 6

2a. pause squats

135 lbs x 4 reps with 4 second pauses

115 lbs pause squat for 10 breaths…had no problem holding form for the lengthy pause but I could not get up. Michael even tried helping me by lifting the bar slightly, but I still could not get my legs to unfold to push myself up.

3a. triceps extensions using rope handle with 20 lbs of chain

standing: x 12, 12, x 8? + 14 laying on bench

3b. lying rear laterals

8 lb dumbbells x 20, 10 lb dumbbells x 15, x 15

I may not be a fan of the rear laterals, but I am getting stronger at them, even if only a little.

3c. band pull-apart hold for 8 seconds with orange band

3 sets of 3 reps

The days where I leave the gym feeling like I didn’t do anything are so rare that I may as well say that they never happen. Today was SO NOT one of those days! I feel like I trained absolutely everything, and I pretty much did. I could barely lift my arms to put my hoodie on, and stiffness is already creeping into my legs. As much as I moaning and groaning right now, an hour and a half later, I love the hard work! Of course, that didn’t stop me from slipping into my winter pyjama pants as soon as I got home. This is the first time I’ve pulled my winter pyjamas out of the drawer since early spring, and I might regret my decision in the middle of the night. That’s okay. Right now I just want to feel comfy, cozy and warm. I love Fall!

Wiped Out Wednesday

Today was a long day made just a little bit longer, but it was still generally a good day. My morning training session was upper body day, so naturally it was not the easiest or most fun of training days, and then I had to hurry home to clean myself up before scurrying off to work. My work day was extended by half an hour at the end of my shift…not a big deal but I feel rather drained.

I have eaten as much reheated dinner as I could swallow, and I’m actually kind of enjoying a glass of red wine. It’s not very often that I can say that I am drinking red wine, let alone enjoying it, but here I am! It’s Copper Moon Malbec, I believe, and I’m especially surprised that it is appealing since I opened the bottle a few weeks ago. Goes to show how seldom I drink red wine! Maybe that’s why I’m liking it? Maybe it is the stir-fry I had for dinner? Or possibly I am just that tired! I would have had a glass of white, but I didn’t have any chilling in the fridge. While I won’t be enjoying any white tonight, I made sure to put a bottle in the fridge for the day that I do.

1a. close grip bench press, touch and go, sets of 6-8 reps

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

I was excited when Michael said I’d be doing these this morning, but I haven’t done any real bench pressing since Westerns nearly a month ago. Of course, my excitement was tempered slightly with the “touch and go” instructions. I do not like touch and go bench presses! And then he threw in a couple of drop sets…

100 lbs x 4 or 5?, 75 lbs x 4, 55 lbs x 8

100 lbs x 6, 75 lbs x 8, 55 lbs x 8

Oh my word! The drop sets were brutal! Michael spotted me for the first weight of each set. He was busy with another of his clients when I got stuck after the fourth rep at 75 pounds on the first set. He rescued me and might have slightly mocked me for only getting 4 reps, but he said I’d have no trouble getting the full reps at the final weight. Ha! Yeah, I got all 8 reps, but my arms turned into noodles after the fourth rep. Not even joking! The second drop set was somewhat better. Really I just wanted to see some improvement on the first two weights of the set, and I did.

1b. chin-ups, neutral grip

with blue band x 6

with small green band x 7, x 5, x 4, x 3 + a few reps of what will be described below

My chin-up reps typically drop fairly quickly. It is frustrating, kind of demoralizing actually. For some unknown reason, my reps dropped very quickly today and Michael wanted more reps than I was getting. So, he had me finish off the last set above and do one more set like this:

using a barbell on the rack and with my legs resting on the top of an inclined bench x 8

2a. seal rows

75 lbs x 13, x 12, x 14

2b. incline dumbbell presses

20 lbs x 12, 20 x 12, 25 x 9

3a. single arm dumbbell triceps extension

10 lbs x 8 x 3 sets

My poor triceps! I could barely lift my arms into the proper position.

3b. barbell curls

45 lbs x 8, 45 x 5, 45 x 5 + 35 lbs x 8

And that’s it, that’s all. I am wiped out both physically and mentally. My husband wants to watch an episode of Gilmore Girls, and then I think I’ll be crawling into bed.