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Friday, June 15, 2018

International Bench Day

On Monday the gym was packed, but all three benches were unoccupied. There was a waiting line for the two lifting platforms, where an assortment of gym rats was performing deadlifts and pseudo-Olympic lifts. The infernal din of 95-lb. barbells being elevated overhead with terrible form and allowed to crash down without control brought to mind the Dark Tower from the writings of Stephen King. The visuals only affirmed this initial impression. Weak, undeveloped bodies twisted by miserable toil, straining toward some unfathomable purpose. The Crossfit slogan of "forging elite fitness" should be replaced by "abandon all hope, ye who enter here".

I had to do my pulls in the power rack, which is unethical but I get a pass since no one was waiting to do squats.

We are indeed living in interesting times. When I started lifting, no one in their right mind would do anything but bench press on Mondays, and few people even contemplated squatting or deadlifting. Most gyms didn't even have power racks, let alone lifting platforms. Fast forward two decades, and the International Bench Day has been officially replaced by the International Fake Olympic Lifting Day. Chiropractors around the world are rejoicing and rubbing their hands.

Bench presses started off nice and easy with 325 lbs. for 3x3, then a slightly tougher 330 lbs. for 3x3 next time. In both sessions I did a few light singles afterwards. I managed 195 lbs. x 3 on seated behind-the-neck presses (twice) and failed with 205 lbs. (twice). Also did 175x5 and 180x4 in the standing behind-the-neck press, breaking a plateau.

Inclines are progressing slowly but steadily. After inclines, I now do one or two max rep sets on the bench press. No particular goal in mind, just accumulating volume. So far I've done 15 rest-pause reps with 280 lbs. (single RP set) and 17 reps with 285 lbs. (two sets with ca. 30 seconds rest, 10+7). Don't know if this does anything, but the pump is nice. I'd like to build up to 315x10 eventually.

I squatted 380x3 paused and 470x3 unpaused. Depth was fine this time round and overall squats are going well. I thought I would lose some strength from squatting heavy once every two weeks, but the light squats keep the muscles in decent shape, I guess.

Deadlifts feel harder than ever, but the new routine has yielded singles of 465-475-495-505 recently. I failed with 445x3 in the same session (only managed 2 reps), so I don't know what to make of that. Part of it may be just me chickening out of reps once I feel strain on my lower back, because I'm paranoid about injury these days. But the singles feel stronger than ever.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Finders Keepers

Watched this movie last night.

I started the movie thinking it was a mockumentary in the vein of Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show. Had to be - the premise was absolutely ridiculous. Then I looked it up and saw it was real, which blew my mind. Initially it was hilarious, but once I figured out it wasn't fiction it was pretty sad.

Done with 315 and 320 x 3s x 5 on the bench press and 185 x 2s x 5 in the seated BTN press (170 for same sets and reps standing). 170 for two sets of five seems to be my limit for now. Moving on to triples, which will be a huge relief. Standing BTN press and inclines still feel like a strain, but I'm making modest progress for now.

I have not attempted a military (front) press in some time now. Might substitute them in one of these days, just to see what they feel like.

On paused squats, I hit 355x5 and 375x4, which is good. Two reps with 470 (not paused), but I was not happy with depth. Before that I struggled with 425x3 but did 450x3 fairly easily. I'm also doing many 20-rep sets on the leg press - at least, I try to get to 20 and usually do 16-18. Another thing I've been playing with on the leg press is rest-pause.

Went up to 485 lbs. for a deadlift single two workouts in a row. Failed with 505 lbs. in the second workout. Had I gone for 495, I believe I would have made it. The way I'm training the deadlift now is a bunch of heavy triples, then a few singles tacked on at the end. If I could hit 500+ this way, I'd be pretty pleased. My best ever was 515 (or 525?), and that was just warming up and hitting 2 or 3 max attempts, not after a bunch of heavy work. I have not attempted a max deadlift in years and that's another thing I want to try so I can hurt myself and quit lifting forever.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018


My most recent bench press workouts were 305 x 3 sets x 6 and 310 x 3s x 5. Sticking with sets of five for the next 2 weeks.

Squatted 445x3 and deadlifted 445x3, then 465-475-485 for singles. I haven't hit 485 for a (fatigued) single in some time. Squats are okay but they beat the hell out of my shoulders, especially when I get silly with bar positioning. On any given heavy squat day, the weight I lift is dictated more by how my shoulders feel under the bar than how beat up my legs/hips are. Also getting some good work in on paused squats. One of these days I may just be stupid enough to try 315x20.

Did 3s x 6 with 180 lbs. in the behind the neck press (seated) and 3s x 5 with 170 lbs. standing, and now my traps hurt. Good times. With the BTN press, I have this weird issue where moderate weights keep getting lighter, but heavy weights stay heavy. E.g. sometimes I feel like I can press 165 lbs. 10 times with strength to spare, but when I do 175x3 my eyes almost pop out with strain. Kind of like with inclines, except my incline press weights are so pathetic I'm embarrassed to log them.

I'm doing all kinds of weird rows and loving them. John Meadows is a genius and everything he writes is gold. I'll probably hurt myself doing Mountain Dog exercises and blame John Meadows for ending my lifting career.

Hope everyone (anyone?) is healthy and happy and lifting, or at least just happy.

Friday, April 27, 2018

In Other News

Still lifting sporadically. My hip/back pain is gone and a few weeks ago I deadlifted 400ish pounds for five reps without anything snapping. But still taking it easy and will now alternate heavy squats and deadlifts week to week. A few years ago I got decently strong on the Advanced Texas Method program, where you don't squat or pull heavy very often. I'm looking forward to a summer of uninterrupted training and hopefully some gainz.

In other training news:

Bought a lacrosse ball to massage those hard-to-get-at muscles inside the hip and between the scapulas. I've only used it a few times but it feels good. Squats are feeling great - last night I hit 465x2 after a ton of warmup sets, with none of the usual low back, knee and hip soreness. Not bad after squatting zero times in three weeks.

Will experiment a bit with occlusion training for the arms and legs. I only tried it a few times and the pump was painful and uncomfortable, i.e. promising. I especially like the idea for leg training, as I should be able to get a massive pump using low weights, so less wear and tear on the joints. It's probably not a good idea to use them while squatting, but I will try them out on leg press sets.

Incline and BTN presses are staying in the rotation. I'm still very weak at incline presses, so more work on these will hopefully translate to a few more pounds on the bench press. I'm back on my favorite bench program and so far it's going well. Hoping to ride it out to a modest single with 365, then maybe run it one more time.

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Snap, Crackle, Pop

Pulled something in my lower back or left glute while deadlifting, and it doesn't feel good. I'm about to take 3 weeks off lifting anyway, so it's not like it matters.

Before that I had a nice stretch of 4 consecutive lifting days, which may have contributed to the strain. Bench presses on Monday felt really good too. I am virtually back to my normal pressing weights, only with a closer grip, and less shoulder pain.

Squat 440x5, paused 375x3 - ramped up the weight over 5 sets and got some nice volume going here.

Bench press 325x5, SlingShot 360x1

Deadlift 460x3 - this was accidental, I thought I had 440 on the bar. Snapped my back next workout with 425x4.

Standing BTN press - 185x5, then 190x3

Seated BTN press - 200x2, 210x2

Thursday, March 15, 2018

Nothing Of Note

Squat 465x3, 375x3 paused

Bench press 330x5, then 330x4

Deadlift 465x2, 455x3

Behind the neck press 165x5 standing

Current weekly goal in the bench press is 4-5 sets of 5 with a weight higher than 315 lbs. I have been hitting this regularly. Then one day of incline and dumbbell shoulder presses, sometimes followed by a few triples with the SlingShot. Shoulders are tired from the extra bench pressing and the overhead press is stalling. I'm also doing these with a closer grip than usual, so that might be the reason.

On inclines, I'm shooting for higher reps and low weight. I have always sucked at incline pressing, so there's nowhere to go but up. It's a difficult lift to program. E.g. I'll pick a weight and do 8-10 reps easily, but then I add 10 lbs. on the next set and barely eke out 3-4 reps, which is not my experience with any other lift. Someday I'd like to work up to a 315-lb. incline press. That day seems very far now.

On squats and deadlifts, I'm working up to whatever feels like a reasonable triple on any given day. Sometimes it's only a double. That's fine, as there are no real goals right now, just maintenance training.

Monday, March 5, 2018

Master of None

Best lifts in the past couple of weeks:

Deadlift 460x3

Squat 460x3, 365x3 paused

Bench press 330x5, 320x4sx5, with SlingShot 360x3

Not sure if 330x5 is a legitimate personal best, but it's a PR with this closer grip. SlingShot press was again done after pre-exhausting with inclines and DB overhead presses.

Press behind neck 190x3 seated, 145x3sx8 standing. Did not go heavy on overhead presses these past couple of weeks.

I've started doing weighted dips. I do them on dip bars, but stay upright to hit the triceps. Not sure how much they're helping anything, but they are fun, and they don't strain my shoulders like normal dips do. You can add a ton of volume without overtraining.

Also I'm already stalling on the seated DB press. My gym doesn't have 75-pound dumbbells. 70s are no longer challenging (I do sets of 6), but 80s seem way too heavy. #firstworldproblems

Push presses are something I'd like to get back into, but have neither the time nor the energy.

Dropped some fat too and am now between 215 and 220 on most days.