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Sunday, May 31, 2015

Fives Week - High Bar Squats

31 May 2015

High bar squat 135x5, 225x5, 265 (5+) x 12 reps

Felt like I could do 3-5 more, but my lungs weren't on board, so I decided not to push it.

Mid-shin pull 430 lbs. x 8 singles

This was hard.

Glute-ham raise 3s x 8

SlingShot Bench Press- 3+ Day

30 May 2015

Walked 10 miles in 90 degree heat before lifting today. So not a great day lifting wise.

Bench press 135x5, 185x4, 225x3, 265x3, SlingShot 295x3, 315 (3+) x 10 reps

Joker sets 335 2x2

Standing front press 135x2, 155x2, 175x3, 180x3, 180x2

Rope cable rows 5s x 20

Inclne bench DB curl 50 total reps

Overhead tricep extensions 50 total reps

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Skwatz and CelicaXX for Marshal of the Republic

28 May 2015

Still sore, squats were fun today.

Squat 135x5, 225x3, 275x3, 315x3, 335x3, 370 (3+) x 8

Joker sets 390x3, 410x3 - belt but no knee wraps today

Mid-shin pull 380 lbs. x 8 singles

Hack squat 50 total reps

Paused shrug 50 total reps

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, and that's about as sciency as it gets. 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 an accomplished competitive powerlifter who runs marathons 'for fun', 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

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Squat Again and Some Rack Pulls

19 May 2015

Squat, paused 135x5, 225x3, 295x2, 305x2, 315x2

Squat, regular 335 x 3s x 5

Back-off paused 280 x 2s x 3

Mid-shin rack pull 405 x 10 singles

Ab machine crunch 3s x 8

Cutting out some of the accessory work this week because I'll be training 4 days in a row (Sunday-Wednesday).

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Pressing Woes, Soreness

18 May 2015

Bench press 275 x 5, 285 x 4, x 5

Bench press seems to be taking a nosedive. I miscounted on the first set with 285, but even that weight felt heavy. Shoulders and upper back (lats) are really sore. I've decided to start alternating DB presses and lighter shoulder presses week to week. Also alternate pulldowns and pullups.

Standing front press 175 lbs. 3x3 - this wasn't that hard

Pullups 30 total reps - took it easy because I have to press heavy Wednesday and Thursday (bench/OH).

Lateral raises 50 total reps

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Leg Power

17 May 2015

Missed Saturday due to a late night on Friday (but I made sure to get my cardio workout in before going out on Friday). So next week is going to be rough.

Today I did:

Squat, paused 135x5, 225x3, 285x3, 295x2x2, 305x2sx1, 315x3

Squat, regular 335x3, 365x3, 405x1, 425x3 - belt and wraps on last three sets

Back-off paused 275 lbs. x 5

Mid-shin rack pull 355 lbs. x 8 singles

Paused shrug 50 total reps

Leg extension 50 total reps

Leg curl 50 total reps

20 minutes cycling

Friday, May 15, 2015

Press and Press

14 May 2015

Close-grip bench press 250 lbs. 2s x 8, 1s x 7

Could have gone for rep #8 on that last set, but my triceps were still sore from Tuesday's workout so I bitched out. My triceps have a habit of locking up / unexpectedly giving out when I do close-grip BP, and I wanted to avoid the embarrassment of getting pinned by 250 pounds and having to commit seppuku in the locker room shower later.

Standing front press 135x2, 165x1, 185x1, 205x1, 220 lbs. x 5 singles

Almost didn't make #1, it was probably the longest press repetition I've ever done. I blasted the weight up, stalled, ground it up a few inches, stalled again, managed to get it moving again (and promptly rammed the left-side 45# plate into the crossbar at the top of the rack, and almost dropped the bar on my head). Reps 2 through 5 were easier than 215 last week.

Overall I'm pretty pleased with the OHP progress. At least one of my lifts is moving.

Pulldowns 30 total reps, heavy

DB front raise 50 total reps

Seated DB curls 50 total reps

DB tricep extensions 50 total reps

Rope cable row 3s x 20

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Heavy SlingShot Bench Press

12 May 2015

Bench press 245x6, 275x6, SlingShot 315x6, 355x5, 315x3

Was supposed to do 355x6, but crapped out. Shoulders feel infinitely better though. I've lost the SlingShot groove, but it should come back to me after a few sessions.

Seated cable row 30 total reps, heavy - got through these without having to reduce weight

Seated DB press 4s x 6 (65s)

DB hammer curl 50 total reps

Rope cable pushdown 50 total reps

Boring Squat Day

11 May 2015

Volume squat 135x6, then triples to 315x3, then 345 lbs. 3s x 5

Mid-shin rack pull 405 lbs. x 8 singles

These caused a flareup of my hip injury. Did hip stretches to alleviate the pain. Also my knees are starting to hurt, not sure why as I've never hurt my knees doing squats before. Could be the total cycling volume in addition to the squats.

Leg extension 50 total reps

Leg curl 50 total reps

Curls and extensions instead of leg press, as I didn't want to aggravate the injury further. I never realized how much work the hips do in a leg press until I got hurt.

20 minutes cycling.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

Medium Pressing Day, Some Programming Thoughts

10 May 2015

Bench press 275 lbs. 3s x 5

Standing front overhead press 170 lbs. 3s x 3

Pullups, various grip 50 reps total

Overhead tricep extensions 50 reps total

DB lateral raises 50 reps total

Incline bench DB curls 50 reps total

Low pulley rows with rope 3s x 20

25 minutes cycling

Looking over my logs, I see that my lifting program has changed a lot. I've been making little changes here and there, trying to work around my hip and back injury, and the little tweaks have added up to something quite different from the modified Texas Method I've been running over the past couple of years.

While I still want to get back to that original template (because it's very productive as far as heavy lifts go), I'll have to do so gradually in order to accommodate some changes to my lifting and overall health goals, such as:

  • Five lifting workouts per week. If I can't go heavy on squats or pulls, I should at least focus on pressing strength, especially my neglected overhead press. Maybe something positive will come out of the back injury after all.
  • Less fat - no use carrying bulk around if I'm not going to use it to lift heavy weights. Plan is to get my bodyweight to under 210, then to around 200 this summer. Then if I feel like my BF% is where it should be, gradually start to add weight. At a little under 6', 210 is more than enough BW, and a lean 200 would be great.
  • More cardio work - I want to aim for 2-3 sessions of 20-30 minutes, plus 2 sessions of 60 minutes per week. The short workouts will be done after lifting and the longer workouts on my two days off from lifting. I've been pretty consistent with these, I just haven't been logging them.
  • No more deadlifts. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me... you can't get fooled again. Or something. My deadlift journey has always been one of one step forward, three steps back (and months taken off training as a consequence). The only serious injuries I've ever sustained from working out and playing sports have been deadlift-related. The deadlift is the only lift in which the starting point is determined by manufacturing standards (plate diameter), rather than the relative length of your own body structures (in competition, you can adjust the height of the squat stands and bench uprights if you're taller or shorter, but you ALWAYS start with the bar at EXACTLY the same height off the floor, regardless of whether you're 6'7" or 4'11"). Seeing as I don't compete in powerlifting and have absolutely zero need to practice heavy deadlifts from the floor, mid-shin pulls in the rack will do me quite nicely. I'd like to still be lifting weights in my 60s, and snapping my back up time after time isn't really conducive to that goal.
  • More SlingShot bench pressing. I have been using the two SlingShots for a while now, with good improvements on my "raw" bench press. I want to see what effect (if any) a period of SlingShot-dominant work would have on my bench press 1RM. So most of my heavy work will be done with either the Reactive or Original SlingShot.
So for the foreseeable future the plan will be:

Day 1 - Lower Body Volume - Squat sets of 5 + Pull singles + Leg Exercise 1 for 50 total reps

Day 2 - Heavy Bench Press (SlingShot) + Back Exercise 1 for 30 heavy reps + Seated DB press 4sx6

Cardio Day

Day 3 - Heavy OH Press + Close-grip Bench Press + Back Ex. 2 for 30 heavy reps

Day 4 - Heavy Squat (up to triple) + Pull singles + Leg Exercise 2 for 50 total reps + Shrug 50 reps

Cardio Day

Day 5 - Medium Bench Press 3s x 5 + Medium OH Press 3x3 + Back Ex. 3 for 50 total reps

With small exercises (arms, shoulders, upper back, calves) added throughout the week.

Friday, May 8, 2015

Heavy Squat Day - Long Road to Recovery (i.e. 5 Plates)

8 May 2015

Squat 135x5, 225x3, 275x3, 315x3, 335x3 all paused, 355x3, 385x1, 405x3, 415x3

Made these with power to spare, but form was not great. Still sort of uneven "in the hole". Used belt from 385 up.

Rack pull 380 lbs. x 10 singles in under 10 minutes

These were very hard today.

Leg press 50 total reps - made it to 35 with 5 plates

Glute ham raise 8 reps

I've been reading some stuff by Alex Viada and I can't believe I haven't discovered this guy before. Got his Hybrid Athlete book and might post a review soon. So far everything I've read, especially nutrition, is the work of pure genius.

Shoulders and Triceps

7 May 2015

Close-grip bench press 245 lbs. 3s x 8

I'm really enjoying the CG presses, but wrist wraps are a must for this exercise due to the severely compromised position my wrists are in at the bottom. With my history of tendinitis, I might come to regret doing these.

Standing overhead press 135x2, 165x1, 185x1, 215 x 5 singles

Almost 'forgot' to press the bar all the way up on the first single with 215, then stayed focused and nailed the next 4. Was going to try a sixth single with 220, but some guy wanted to use the rack, and since I have mad guilt/shame about pressing in the power rack I let him have it.

Pulldowns 30 reps total, heavy

One-arm preacher curls (machine) 50 reps total

DB front raise 50 reps total

DB tricep extension 50 reps total

Low rope cable row 3s x 20 - terrific back exercise, not sure why I don't do these every workout

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Permission To Increase the Planned Percent

5 May 2015

Bench press 335 lbs. x 5 singles, SlingShot (O) 365 lbs. x 2

Singles went better than 330 last week, but still not as explosive as I'd like them to.

Seated cable row 30 total reps, heavy - really struggled with these today.

Seated DB press 4s x 6 (65s)

Hammer curl 50 total reps (about 30 with FatGripz)

Tricep pushdown (rope) 50 total reps

Shoulders feel beat up and I'm starting to get twinges in (what I think is) my right rotator cuff. Overall this is too much pressing weekly volume. Will have to make some changes, maybe alternate bench and overhead press on the medium (5 sets of 3) day. Skipped dips today to give the shoulders a chance to recover.


4 May 2015

Squat 135x5, 225x3, 275x3, 315x3, 345 3s x 5, paused 285 x 2s x 3

Rack pull 380 lbs. x 10 singles, 45-60 seconds of rest between singles

Leg press 50 total reps - started out at 4.5 plates, had to strip down to 4 for the last 15 reps or so

Ab machine 3s x 8

15 minutes cycling

Sunday, May 3, 2015

"Heavy" Squats, Random Day

1 May 2015

Squat 135x5, 225x3, 275x3, 315x2, 345x5, 365x5, 385x3, 405x2

First squat over 400 post-injury. Was pretty happy about that.

Rack pull 355 lbs. x 12 singles, 60 minutes rest in between

Paused shrug 50 total reps

Lever squat machine split squats 50 total reps

Worst leg exercise ever.

Calf raise 50 total reps

3 May 2015

Standing front press 165 lbs. 5s x 3

Did this instead of bench pressing because I want to BP on Tuesday.

Neutral-grip pullups 50 total reps

Lats were sore today for some mysterious reason.

Lateral DB raise 50 total reps

Overhead tricep extensions w. EZ bar 50 total reps

Incline bench DB curl 50 total reps

Lever squat machine:

Friday, May 1, 2015

Shoulders and Triceps

30 April 2015

Close-grip bench press 240 lbs. 3s x 8

Standing front press 135x2, 165x1, 185x1, 210 lbs. x 5 singles

These were hard and I had to cheat the weight up on a few of the reps. Shoulders are still sore from the mediocre bench press workout two days ago.

Pulldowns 30 total reps, heavy

Machine preacher curl 50 total reps

Front raise with DBs 50 total reps

DB tricep extensions 50 total reps