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Monday, December 31, 2012

Thoughts On 2012

Toward the end of every year I like to go over the things that happened in the past 12 months of training, analyze what I did and didn't do, what went well and what sucked and see where I’m at in my lifting in terms of weight lifted and bodyweight. It generally ends up being a mixture of good and bad; however, lifting-wise 2012 saw more good things than bad.

I also feel like I've found good training templates for all three lifts. Seeing as the world didn't end this year (although there's still a few hours left), 2013 should be even better.

Most important indicator – weight lifted
In made steady progress in all three powerlifts and finally broke through a 2-year deadlift plateau. To be honest, the deadlift has always been my weakest lift and had nowhere to go but up, but it’s good to see the numbers finally move. Hopefully this means I’ll be moving it from “pathetic” to “average” in 2013.

2011 Max – 480 lbs. @ ca. 198 lbs. BW
2012 Max – 515 lbs. @ ca. 210 lbs. BW

Increase: 25 lbs. Very happy about this, although it did come with an increase in BW. Last time I was in this BW range I squatted 475, so this is definitely good improvement.

Bench Press:
2011 Max – 360 lbs. @ ca. 198 lbs. BW
2012 Max – 370 lbs. @ ca. 210 lbs. BW

Increase: 10 lbs. Not terrific, but not bad either. As long as I get to the big 405 eventually I’ll take this. I hit this max on two separate occasions, the second time thinking I’d increased the weight enough to hit a personal best… oh well L I also increased the weight I use for repetition work by quite a bit.

2011 Max – 445 lbs. @ ca. 200 lbs. BW (all-time PR 455 lbs.)
2012 Max – 495 lbs. @ ca. 210 lbs.

Increase: 50 lbs. over my 2011 best, 40 lbs. over my all-time best. Blasted through a two-year plateau, so I’m even happier about that than about the actual increase in weight. Will break the 500-mark in the first half of 2013.

Overhead Press:
2011 Max – 235 lbs. (standing) @ ca. 198 lbs.
2012 Max – 245 lbs. (seated) @ ca. 205 lbs.

This years I switched to seated overhead pressing to spare the low back, which was getting beat up from the weekly squats and deadlifts. No standing press PR, but I established new PRs in the seated military front press of 245 lbs. and behind-the-neck press of 225 lbs. I might do a cycle of standing presses at the beginning of 2013, but the seated presses will probably remain my staple overhead pressing movement.

Things that I think worked in 2012:

- Ran through a few good programs and found out the ones that give me the biggest bang for my buck
- Consistent about doing shrugs, heavy ab work and arm work, which I have often neglected in the past
- Glute-ham raises
- Bench pressing twice a week and doing heavier repetition sets
- Getting serious about deadlift rack work – not just “ego pulls” from above the knee, which did nothing for my deadlift, but working the uncomfortable mid-shin and below-knee ranges
-  Started some light running towards the end of the year at no cost to overall strength levels. I’m more and more convinced that the concept of ‘cardio’ making one weak is a myth propagated by fat people.
- Super 100s – hundred-rep sets, where I go for a total of 100 reps with a very light weight. Did these for curls, front shoulder raises and leg extensions, bench press a few times (just the bar)
- Incline pressing – a great alternative to flat bench presses. I’m running these through January 2013 to alleviate the right pec issue, then will go back to regular bench presses
- Creatine – first time I’ve ever used this and it seems to be working well, but I don’t like the bloat and water weight

Things that didn’t go that well in 2012:

- Slacking on cable training – the poundages that I used to pull for reps I now can’t even get singles with. My cable training has shifted more toward high-rep pulls (sets of 20), which is good, as I do little bodybuilding work. Still, it’s disappointing to get weak on the big pulls.
- At the end of 2011 I decided to do more overhead pressing, instead it totally took a back seat to bench pressing
- Persistent discomfort in right pec/delt area. I healed this by avoiding heavy bench presses and doing inclines instead, but I had to cut my last bench press cycle short because of it.
- Pain in right knee and left piriformis muscle

Here's to a happy and productive 2013!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Training - Deadlift

29 December 2012

Back to rack pulls and stiff-legs for 12 weeks.

Below-the-knee pull 135x10, 225x5, 315x2, 365x1, 395x1, 415x1, 435x1, 455x1, 475xfail

Barbell shrug 460 lbs. x 8, x 6, x 6

One-arm DB row 100 lbs. x 15

Glute-ham raise x 3 sets x 6

Weighted incline board situps 3 sets x 8

Leg raises 2 sets x 10

Training - Incline Press

28 December 2012

Incline press 240 lbs. x 5, x 4, x 5, x 5 - weak on these

Bench press 245 lbs. x 10 - nice to get back into bench pressing, didn't push the weight or the reps and the set felt nice and comfortable. I'll add a 10-rep set of flat bench presses after each incline pressing session.

Bradford press 4 sets x 5

Seated pulley row with scap shrug 4 sets x 10, 1 set x 8, 1 x 6, 1 x 5 - progressively heavier

DB skullcrushers (60s) x 3 sets x 12

Barbell curl, strict 4 sets x 10-12

Incline bench DB curl 3 sets x AMAP

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Training - Legs

27 December 2012

This session I did light squats for lots of reps and with little rest between sets again. Also decided to do some pre-exhausting of the quad and hip area. It went something like this:

Leg extensions 2 sets x 12, light
Leg abductor machine 1 x 20, light

Paused back squat:

135x8 - 155x8 - 165x8 - 175x8 - 185x8 - 195x8 - 205x8 - 220x8 - 225x5 - 275x5

(Weights in pounds)

The 220x8 almost killed my lower back and hips. I've squatted almost 300 lbs. more than that for a single, but that didn't feel anywhere as tough as this. Funny thing is, my legs (quads and hams) felt fine, but my hips and lower back were screaming for mercy. This either means a) that I have a hidden muscle weakness that the light paused squats will fix, or b) that I have a hidden injury that the light paused squats will aggravate. I'm going with a) until proven otherwise.

I'll keep doing the multiple sets of light squats for a few more sessions, then get back to serious squatting in February or so. I'll also be working on some perceived weak areas, e.g. abduction and adduction, quads, etc.

Leg press 5 plates x 10, 6 plates x 10, 7 plates x 10

Glute-ham raise 3 x 8

Weighted incline board situps 3 x 8

Leg extension, heavy, 1 set x 20

Leg abductor machine 1 x 20

Leg adductor machine 1 x 20

Monday, December 24, 2012

Mixed Session - Pressing and Squatting

23 December 2012

Today I did a press/squat session and got a lot of work in before the three-day layoff from training I'll be taking next week.

Incline press 3 sets x 6, 1 set x 7

Squat, very light, 8 sets of 8, weight from 135 to 210 lbs. Got a nice pump from this and took very short breaks between sets to get the heart rate up. I need to unload my spine a bit after all the heavy squatting this year and this seems to be a good way to do it (working way below 50% of my 1RM).

Standing Bradford press 4 sets x 5 - this exercise is tougher than it seems

DB skullcrushers (60s) 3 x 12

Barbell curls with heels and back against post 3 x 12

Training - Deadlift Triples

22 December 2012

Hit a few heavy triples in the DL today, lower back was feeling beat up for some reason so I didn't push the weight:


135x10 - 225x5 - 315x2 - 365x3 - 385x3 - 405x3 - 315x3 from deficit

One-arm DB rows (100 lbs.) 1 x 20 reps (rest-pause), 1 x 10 reps

Weighted abs x 3 sets

Glute-ham raise x 2 sets

Leg curl x 2 sets x 10

Friday, December 21, 2012

Training - Incline Press

20 December 2012

Incline press 235 lbs. x 4 sets x 6

Then (couldn't resist) bench press 285x1, 300x1 No pain in right pec = win, but I'll still stay with the inclines until February to get a bit less pathetic. 255 x 4 x 6 is the goal.

Pullups 5x5

Seated front military press 155 x 2 sets x 5

Rope pushdowns (very light) 2 sets x 50

One big set of light cable stack curls (maybe 50-60 reps)

Didn't have much time to train tonight.

Thursday, December 20, 2012


Sums up my feelings about Five Guys food and fast food in general... only I'm not artistic enough to come up with something like this:

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Training - Squat For Reps

18 December 2012

Went light on the squat but did more reps than usual. High bar (almost on neck) and close stance again to hit the quads. Can barely walk today.

135x8 - 185x3 - 240x5 - 270x3 - 300x3 - 340x8 - 410 x 8, x 8, x 6

Leg press, close stance 5 plates x 10, 6 plates x 10, 7 plates x 10

Glute-ham raise 3 sets x 8

Weighted incline board situps 3 sets

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Training - Incline Press

17 December 2012

Had a tough weekend, so poor first session of the week.

Incline press 235 lbs. x 6, x 6, x 4, x 3 - just gassed after the second set

Low pulley rows with shrug 3 sets x 10

Standing BTN press 125 lbs. x 12, x 12, x 10

Chest-supported HammerStrength rows 3 sets x 10

Bench press x 100 reps (bar)

DB skullcrushers (60s) x 15, x 12, x 8

Barbell curls w. back/heels/head against post 4 sets

DB incline bench curls 3 sets x AMAP

Friday, December 14, 2012

Deadlift - Big PR

13 December 2012


135x10 - 225x5 - 315x2 - 385x2 - 405x1 - 425x1 - 450x1 - 495x1

Back-off 385x3

Shrugs 460 x 8, x 8, x 6

That was it.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Training - Incline Press

12 December 2012

Incline press 225 lbs. x 3 sets x 6, 1 set x 8

Really easy, on the first set I even paused each rep on the chest.

Seated low pulley rows with scap shrug 3 sets x 10

Seated front military press 135x6, 185x3, 165x8

Chest-supported row 3 sets x 10

DB skullcrushers (60 lbs.) x 14, x 10, x 10

Barbell curl, back and feet against post, 3 sets x 5

Incline bench DB curl 3 sets x AMAP

Training - Skwat

11 December 2012

Back squat:

135x5 - 225x3 - 255x3 - 280x5 - 315x5 - 385x5 - 435x5 (all high-bar, close-stance)

Then 465x5, 485x5, 485x4 all regular stance with belt

Leg press: 10 reps with 5 - 6 - 7 plates +10 lbs.

Glute-ham raise 3 sets x 8

Weighted incline board situps 5 sets

Tried some front squats in the Smith machine (very light). They felt pretty good and I was able to maintain a straight posture and squat completely ATG, but my knees feel a bit off today.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Training - Incline Press

9 December 2012

Incline bench press 225 lbs. x 4 sets x 6

Seated low pulley rows 3 sets x 10

Did these as follows: grab cable handles - perform a scapular shrug - hold the shrugged position - row. Used less than half my usual weight and totally smoked my mid-back.

Standing BTN overhead press 125 lbs. x 12, 120 lbs. x 12, x 10

Chest-supported seated rows - same here, went light for 3 x 10-12, going for the squeeze in the mid-back area

DB skullcrushers 3 x 10 (60 lbs.)

Barbell curls 4 x AMAP with strict form and light weight

Incline bench seated DB curls 3 x AMAP, as above

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Training - Pull

8 December 2012

Missed with 490 today (twice), but otherwise the session went well.


135x10 - 225x5 - 315x2 - 385x1 - 405x1 - 425x1 - 455x1 - 490 x fail x 2

Pulldowns, heavy-ish, 180 lbs. x 4 sets x 6

Back hyperextensions 2 x 12

Glute-ham raise 3 x 8

Incline ab board weighted situps 3 x 8

Some stretching, wall walking, plus a couple sets of rope climb.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Training - Incline Press

6 December 2012

Incline press 235 lbs. x 2 sets x 6, 220 x 1 x 6, 1 x 7

Loaded the bar wrong - was supposed to only do 220 for the usual 4x6. The 235 felt weirdly heavy (because I thought it was 220, obviously), but I still squeezed out two okay sets with it, which makes me happy. I feel like I could have done more reps on the last set if I hadn't done the two sets with 235. Next weight - 225 x 4 x 6.

One-armed DB row (100 lbs.) 5 sets x 6

Smith machine front military press (rack was occupied) - 4 sets x 5, 1 set x 3, progressively heavier. Focused on squeezing the weight up with the shoulders.

DB skullcrushers (60 lbs.) 3 sets x 10

Incline bench DB curls 3 sets x 10

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Squat Training

4 December 2012

High-bar close-stance squat:

135x8 - 205x5 - 235x5 - 265x7 - 335x5 - 385x5 - 415x5 - 465x3x3

Used belt on all sets above 235 lbs., wraps on the triples with 465. Felt weak and tired.

Leg press:

5 plates x 10
6 plates x 10
7 plates + 10s x 10
7 plates + 35s x 8

Leg extension 1 set x 10 - too tired to go on, so I called it quits.

Update on December 6: Worst. Soreness. Ever. Don't know why, but I can't recall my quads ever being this sore.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Training - Incline Press

3 December 2012

Incline press 210 lbs. x 3 sets x 6, 1 set x 8 - move up to 220 lbs. next session.

Still weak on these, but progressing nicely.

Pullups 5x5

Standing BTN military press 120 lbs. x 12, 125 lbs. x 12, 125 lbs. x 8

Rubber band tricep pushdowns x20, x15, x15

EZ bar curl, elbows against wall 4 sets

Concentration curl 3 sets x 6

Monday, December 3, 2012

Training - Pull (PR)

1 December 2012


135x10 - 225x5 - 315x2 - 385x1 - 405x1 - 425x1 - 445x1 - 485x1 (PR)

ROws from floor 135x10, 225x3

Shrugs 455 lbs. x 3 sets x 8

Glute-ham raise 3 sets x 8

Weighted abs 3 sets

Super 100s: face pulls