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Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Press Day

27 May 2015

Standing front press 135x5, 155x2, 185x1, 205x1, 215x1, 220x1, 225x1, 225xfail, 220 x 2s x 1

Lower back and legs were very sore today, so pressing was very hard. Still got 4 reps with 220 or above, not a total fail. Had to grind some of the reps so hard I thought my eyes were going to pop out.

Pulldowns 30 total reps, heavy

Lateral raise 50 total reps

Preacher curl machine 50 total reps

DB extensions 50 total reps

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

High Bar Squat Day - 3+ Week

26 May 2015

High bar squat, close stance 225 x 3, 255 x 3, 275 (3+) x 10, 295 x 3

These weren't that hard, but for some reason they really aggravated my injury. Also I hit a sudden wall at rep #8, kinda like my triceps giving out on the close grip bench press... only with legs.

Mid-shin pull 430 lbs. x 6 singles

Glute-ham raise 20 total reps

The Hybrid Athlete by Alex Viada - Fatman's Review

Finished reading The Hybrid Athlete by Alex Viada and I must say I'm very impressed. The purpose of the book is to provide programming guidelines to athletes wishing to integrate weightlifting and endurance training, possibly even compete at both (e.g. a powerlifter looking to compete in his first marathon, or a triathlon athlete thinking about entering a strongman competition). If you're focusing on one and want to add a bit of the other (e.g. powerlifter trying to improve his conditioning), that's covered too. Personally I have no desire to improve my 5k time or do a triathlon (or a marathon), but would like to add as much low-impact cardio work to my weekly routine as I can without it negatively affecting my lifting.

The book is written in a clear, no-nonsense style. No apocryphal bullshit or broscience - where necessary, the author addresses and dismantles common training and nutrition myths using actual textbook science. At the same time, he doesn't try to cram science down your throat. There's a brief  physiology section at the beginning, describing bodily processes (e.g. digestion, strength and endurance adaptations, etc.) to lay down the foundation for the chapters to come. The short nutrition chapter is an absolute gem and contains more useful information than some whole books I've read on the topic.

Although the book does contain a few sample training routines at the end, with exercises and sets and reps and times included, it's not a "how to program my strength training" type of book. The author wants you to understand the different demands various athletic endeavors place on your body and fit the pieces together accordingly. Viada himself is a highly accomplished competitive powerlifter and runs marathons on the side, so he definitely practices what he preaches. He trains successful "hybrid" athletes, Crossfitters and military personnel. He also happens to love beer, so major points in my book.

I would recommend that you get a copy of The Hybrid Athlete, but here are some of the high points:
  • Lifting and endurance training encourage the development of different types of physique. New muscle mass places a disproportional added demand on the body's energy systems. Adding endurance training can impact your recovery, hence muscular hypertrophy. Cardio can "kill your gainz" (and conversely, gainz can kill your cardio), but you can mitigate the negative effects through intelligent programming and adequate diet.
  • Stop thinking about "strength training" and "conditioning". Instead, look at various types of training through the twin prism of skill and intensity. I.e. it's unnecessary and unproductive to do sprints on your off days from lifting.
  • Specific exercises for specific work capacity, i.e. to get better at specific movements, do those specific movements. E.g. the overhead press might or might not help your bench press, but the paused bench press always helps your bench press.
  • A "hybrid" lifting program must center on the essentials. One main movement, 1-2 high-carryover accessories and 1-2 exercises to improve structural stability. E.g. squat, front squat, split squat.
  • Don't waste time on irrelevant movements that require skill development and place undue stress on the muscle groups necessary for your main activity. E.g. tire flipping is great for strongman, okay for CF, absolutely useless for powerlifting or running.
  • Steady state, long duration cardio is absolutely essential to the "hybrid athlete" and should comprise the bulk of the endurance portion of his workout. Intense cardio, e.g. sprints, takes too long to recover from and should be treated the same way as a weightlifting workout.
  • Always think of opportunity cost - max effort training, be it sprints or heavy squats, is difficult to program in and requires a lot of recovery time.
  • Nutrition: "The majority of individuals spend entirely so much time focused on macronutrient breakdowns, meal timing, manipulating hormone levels via food, etc, that they miss the fact that their careful caloric calculations are completely incorrect. The single biggest component in eating for performance is indeed caloric intake. (...) The second biggest factor is carbohydrate intake."
  • Calorie calculators based on height, weight, "activity level", etc. are worthless. In order to estimate your caloric needs correctly, track everything you eat for a week and check the scale to determine your baseline caloric needs. Hint: you'll probably find out that you need way less calories than you thought you did. Figure out what you need to do from there, based on your goals (e.g. add 5% per week to gain weight).
  • Baseline protein intake should be around 1-1.2g/kg bodyweight. More that that won't harm you, but is absolutely unnecessary. He quotes the example of burn victims (extremely high protein requirements to repair lost tissue, way above those of any bodybuilder) being fed around 2g/kg, i.e. still way less than the broscientific axiom of 1-1.5g/lb.
  • Fats should be 10-15% of total caloric intake. The rest should be carbohydrates. Yes, for many this would be a staggering amount of carbs, and tough to swallow (in every meaning of the phrase). But as long as you count your calories correctly (and this is by far the most important factor for 99.9% of people looking to lose or gain weight), you can still get shredded.

Monday, May 25, 2015

New Program

25 May 2015

Bench press: warmup, 225 x 3, 255 x 3, 285 (3+) x 9

Joker sets 305 x 3, 325 x 2

Pretty surprised by the nine reps with 285. My best ever with that weight was ten reps, and at that time my repping strength was much better than it is today. Also nine reps on a 3-rep day is a good starting point for this sort of program.

Seated cable row 30 total reps

Dips 2s x 12

Seated DB curl 50 total reps

Rope pushdown 50 total reps

Bodyweight is holding at 210. Dipped to 208-209 a couple of times, and once all the way down to 207, but average for the week was still around 210.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Good Squat Workout, Programming Decisions

22 May 2015

Squat, paused 135x5, 225x3, 275x3, 315x3, 345x3, 365x3 - last set was hard

Squat 405x2, 440x3 - belt and wraps on both

Back-off paused 335 x 2s x 3

Mid-shin pull 380 x 8 singles

That was it. Squats felt really strong and my hip/back injury held up fine. I feel like a comeback by the end of 2015 is still possible.

Monday I'm embarking on a slightly changed program. It will be a variant of Wendler's 3/5/1 with extra "joker" sets thrown in. I like the simplicity of the programming and the "do as much as you feel like" approach. So lots of rep PRs, except in the OH press and deadlift, where I'll still be doing singles.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Weird Pressing Workout

21 May 2015

Standing front press 135x2, 155x1, 185x1, 205x1, 215x1, 225x2sxfail, 215x2sx1, 220x1, 225x1

Back-off 135 x 4, x 3

I didn't exactly expect to hit 5 singles with 225 one day after a heavy bench press workout, but the two consecutive fails were pretty disappointing. I didn't even come close on either of them, and on the first one I even failed a follow-up attempt at push-pressing 225. So I dropped the weight back down to 215, did two easy presses to find my groove, tried 220 which felt light, then tried 225, which felt even lighter. Take-home point: make smaller jumps when warming up to the working singles weight, 5 pounds instead of 10.

I also did 3 sets of 8 on the ab machine so as to not feel lazy. Accessory work to be done tomorrow, although if I feel recovered enough I'll just hit the heavy squats instead. 6 consecutive training days - I feel like Coach.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

SlingShot Day

20 May 2015

Bench press 260x4, 300x4, w. SlingShot 335x4, 365x3

Still weak, but already the SlingShot sets are feeling more solid.

Back-off (SS) 335 x 2s x 3

Seated cable row 30 total reps

DB hammer curl 40 total reps (all with FatGripz)

Cable pushdown 50 total reps