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Wednesday, December 21, 2011

At the End of 2011

2011 was an eventful year on all levels, from personal to professional to lifting. I did not make huge progress in poundages lifted but I did gain a bit of ground while dropping about 8-10 lbs. compared to my average weight in 2010.

Training was turbulent and I suffered several painful lower back injuries which held me back on the squat and stopped all deadlift progress. It took me a month or so to rebuild my squat from sets of five with just the bar to "heavy" sets with two plates per side, and during this period I did no deadlifting. I managed to build back to consistently pulling in the low 400s, which is shitty when compared to my goal for 2011 (to pull over 500) but still better than the painful triples with 135 that I was reduced to for a while.

The final numbers achieved in 2011 are as follows:


2010 Best: 475 lbs. at cca. 207 lbs. (bodyweight from memory)
2011 Best: 480 lbs. at cca. 198 lbs.
Increase: 5 lbs., but definitely stronger at a much lower BW. I am happy with the squat improvement.

Bench Press

2010 Best: 352 lbs. at cca. 207 lbs.
2011 Best: 360 lbs. at cca. 198 lbs.
Increase: 8 lbs. Could have been better, but I'll definitely take it.


2010 Best: 455 lbs. at cca. 208 lbs.
2011 Best: 445 lbs. at cca. 200 lbs.
Increase: -10 lbs., i.e. a decrease. I was probably good for a 460-470 pull before the really bad injury, as my deadlift for reps was never stronger. Poor performance - will have to double the DL efforts in 2012.

Overhead Press

2010 Best: 225 lbs. at cca. 210 lbs.
2011 Best: 235 lbs. at cca. 198 lbs.
Increase: 10 lbs. Did not push the OH press as hard as the bench press, but saw better improvement than on the bench. Pretty good.

Goals for 2012:

Squat 500 lbs. - I think this is realistic and I should hit it after a few cycles of heavy singles.
Bench press consistently in the upper 300s. 400 is still a long way off, but who knows...
Deadlift 500 lbs. - an ambitious goal, but I think I can hit it with some specialized pull work.
Overhead press 250 lbs. - focus more on overhead pressing and do less benching.

Bodyweight could comfortably move to 220, I think it'd do me good and I'll still be pretty lean. At 5'11" and 198 lbs. I don't look or feel heavy enough for really big lifts.

Happy Holidays and here is to good lifting and no injuries in 2012!

Bench Press Training - Heavy

21 December 2011

Trained today with a sizeable hangover and on only 5 hours of sleep. Bench pressing started slow, then picked up and I ended up pressing 10 lbs. below my personal best. I guess the chain bench pressing paid off. I was also trying to go as heavy as possible as I'm going away for the holidays and will not be near a gym. Overall a pleasant surprise.

Bench press:

Warmup x a few sets
290 lbs. x 4 reps, x 3 reps x 2 sets
305 lbs. x 1 (went up like it wasn't there)
325 lbs. x 1 (also felt only moderately heavy)
340 lbs. x 1 (good)
350 lbs. x 1 (looked ugly as shit but I nailed it)

Pullups 5x5

Seated cable rows 3 sets

Two-DB hammer curls 3 sets

Machine preacher curls 5-6 sets of 5-8 reps

Monday, December 19, 2011

Squat Training - New PR

19 December 2011

Went for the 480 and got it, but it felt so heavy that I didn't dare try 500. Oh well. Next year.


Warmup x a bunch of sets, from bar x 8 to 275 lbs. x 2
335 lbs. x 2
365 lbs. x 2
405 lbs. x 2 (belt+wraps)
455 lbs. x 1 (B+W)
480 lbs. x 1 (B+W) - 5 lb. all-time PR

This is also a "bodyweight PR" - I squatted 475 lbs. last year at a BWslightly under 210 lbs. Today's BW (morning) - 197.8 lbs.

440 lbs. x 1
Tried a few more light sets, but was so beat that I had to stop.

Leg press: 4 pps x 5, 5 pps x 5, 6 pps x 5, 6 pps + 25s x 4 reps

Incline ab board situps, weighted and unweighted - 4 sets total

Glute-ham raise x 2 sets

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bench Press Training

17 December 2011

Bench Press:

Warmup x a few sets
280 lbs. x 5 reps x 3 sets (ground them out, but pretty stoked)
250 lbs. + big chains x 1
265 lbs. + big chains x 1

Pullups 3 sets x 5

Seated behind-the-neck press 135 lbs. x 5, 155 lbs. x 3, 175 lbs. x 2, 135 lbs. x 5

Seated rows x 3 sets

Two-DB hammer curls 3 sets

EZ bar preacher curls x 3 sets

Bottoms-up double KB presses 4 sets

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Light Squats + Heavy(ish) Deadlifts

15 December 2011

Wanted to hit some light squats and light pulls, felt tired like hell but the deadlifts felt good so I went a bit heavier.

Squat - worked up to 305 lbs. x 1 over 6-7 sets


340 lbs. x 2
360 lbs. x 2
370 lbs. x 2 - instead of stopping here did
420 lbs. x 1
435 lbs. x 1

Also did some standing crunches with a heavy band. Felt good.

Bench Press Training

13 December 2011

Bench press:

Warmup x a bunch of sets
280 lbs. x 5, x 4, x 3
245 lbs. + big chains x 2
265 lbs. + big chains x 1

Pullups 3 sets x 5

Seated rows x 4-5 sets

Standing overhead press - worked up to a tough 205 lbs. x 1. Lost some strength here.

Two-DB hammer curls x 3 sets

EZ bar preacher curls x 3 sets

Monday, December 12, 2011

Squat Training - Week 2 of 3-Week Cycle

12 December 2011

Final week of heavy squatting before I max out next week. I will take another (light) training session later in the week and test my 1RM either Monday or Tuesday. Will be aiming for 480, so planning to go 405x2 - 455 - 480, maybe give 500 a shot if the 480 feels okay.

Back squat:

Warmup x a bunch of sets
315 lbs. x 2
335 lbs. x 2
380 lbs. x 2
435 lbs. x 1
460 lbs. x 1
405 lbs. x 5 (no belt)

Paused squat 360 lbs. x 3

Shrugs (really wanted to do these but didn't know where to put 'em):

135 lbs. x 10
225 lbs. x 10
315 lbs. x 10
365 lbs. x 10 (straps)
415 lbs. x 8 (straps)
225 lbs. x 10

Hanging leg raises x 2 sets

Hack squats x 3 sets

Glute-ham raise (BW) x 2 sets

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Bench Press Training - More 3x5

10 December 2011

Continued to move the weight up on the 3x5 and am still hitting the reps. Today's session turned out to be more high-volume than planned. I managed to squeeze a lot of work into around 90 minutes.

Bench Press:

Warmup x a few sets
270 lbs. x 3 sets x 5
275 lbs. + big chains x fail (didn't even come close to pressing it - nasty surprise)
245 lbs. + big chains x 1 (barely)
265 lbs. + big chains x 1 (almost missed again)

Pullups/chinups 5x5

Bent-over rows x 5 medium-light sets

Seated HammerStrength rows x 4 sets, worked up to 3 plates per side x 8

Seated behind-the-neck press 135x3, 155x3, 175x2, 190x2, 200xfail, 135x5

Two-DB hammer curls 3 sets

Weighted dips x 3 sets (none very heavy)

EZ bar preacher curls x 3 sets

BW this morning - 197 lbs... dammit... can't seem to get it moving upward.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Squat Training - Week 1 of 3-Week Cycle, Day 2

8 December 2011

Back squat:

Warmup x several sets
305 lbs. x 1
335 lbs. x 2
370 lbs. x 2
425 lbs. x 1
450 lbs. x 1

Deadlift - light:

335 lbs. x 2
345 lbs. x 2
355 lbs. x 2

Deadlift starts (pull only to knees) 315 lbs. x 5 reps, x 2 reps

Hanging leg raise 2 sets

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

Bench Training

6 December 2011

Continued with the sets of five, felt nice and strong.

Bench press:

Warmup x a few sets
225 lbs. x 3
260 lbs. x 5 x 3 sets
260 lbs. + big chains x 1 (easy)
275 lbs. + big chains x 1 (pretty easy)

Pullups/chinups 5x5

Two-DB hammer curl x 3 sets

EZ bar preacher curl x 3 sets

Hanging leg raise (full ROM) x 2 sets x 8

Squat Training - Week 1 of 3-Week Cycle, Day 1

5 December 2011

Finally got round to doing some heavy squats, felt pretty good. I haven't given up on the 480 lbs. x 1 before the end of the year just yet.

Warmup x a bunch of sets from 5 to 2 reps
300 lbs. x 1
335 lbs. x 2
370 lbs. x 2
425 lbs. x 1
450 lbs. x 1 (good)
420 lbs. x 3
430 lbs. x 2
440 lbs. x 1
430 lbs. x 2
420 lbs. x 3

Paused squats 350 lbs. x 4 (3 reps with long pause, one barely paused, fifth one was impossible)

Hack squats x 2 sets

Incline ab board situps, no weight x 2 sets

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Mixed Push / Pull Session

3 December 2011

Hit some bench presses and deadlifts today, felt a lot better. Deadlifted heavy for the first time since my multiple back injuries, including the back tweak from Thursday, and was pleasantly surprised.

Bench press - light:

Warmup x a few sets
250 lbs. x 3 sets x 5
250 lbs. + big chains x 2 (big chains weigh 45, but add something like 30 lbs. apiece, total of 60 lbs.)
260 lbs. + big chains x 1 (nice and easy single)

Pullups 5x5

Bent-over rows 135x8, 185x6, 205x5, 235x5


Warmup x a few sets, some conventional, some sumo
335 lbs. x 2 sumo, x 1 conventional (all double overhand to train the grip)
355 lbs. x 1 sumo (double OH), x 1 conventional (mixed)
385 lbs. x 1 sumo
405 lbs. x 1 sumo
415 lbs. x 1 sumo
435 lbs. x 1 sumo (felt good, so I kept adding)
465 lbs. x fail x 2

465 lbs. would have been an all-time PR, which would've been a huge surprise. Considering the state my back is in, even 435 was a big surprise. Either my lower back is getting strong from all the squatting, or sumo pulls are worthless as an exercise.

Some arm work:

Hammer curls x 3 sets
Olympic bar skullcrushers x 3 sets
EZ bar preacher curls x 3 sets

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Coming Back - Light Session

1 December 2011

First session back from my trip. Jetlagged as hell - 12 time zones in 1 day tends to be stressful on the body. So I didn't exactly push myself today. Squats felt terrible (a good 80-90 lbs. heavier than they were), bench press was okay. Not bad all things considered, although I sprained my back (yet again) racking the bar on squats and now it hurts a bit. The whole setup felt wrong - my quads were the first thing to go, which almost never happens, it's always the hamstrings and hips that get tired first. Right knee feels weird too. I guess flying 45 hrs. coach in a week doesn't do much good for the back and knees either.

Squat: warmup, 300 lbs. x 1, 315 lbs. x 5, 365 lbs. x 3 (toughest triple I've ever done, sprained my back slightly here so I decided to quit)

Bench press: hit a few warmup sets, then 255 lbs. x 2 x 3 sets and a light single with 265 lbs. All felt nice and easy.

Pullups/chinups 4 sets x 5

That was it.