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Friday, June 29, 2018

Harlan Ellison (1934 - 2018)

Saw on Twitter yesterday that Harlan Ellison had exited this poorly programmed ancestor simulation we call life. He wrote some good stories. He wrote a lot of stories, for sure. His anthologies gave exposure to some really good and less-known writers at the time.

Apparently he was bad-tempered, ornery and an unrepentant iconoclast IRL (IRAS), which I highly appreciate and strive to emulate (except no one takes me seriously).

Having read a bunch of his stuff, I believe that old Harlan saw through the simulation and that's he's not too bothered not to be part of it anymore.

Here is some recommended Ellison reading:

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream

Dangerous Visions (really both Dangerous Visions books)


Finished bench press triples with 335 lbs. for 3x3 and kicked off the doubles part of the program with 340 x 3s x 2. This is still well within my limits - in fact, I was only supposed to do 2x2, but felt combative. One more week of doubles, then I'll work up to a cautious single.

My shoulders are starting to hurt a bit, which I'm blaming on overhead pressing twice per week and much more incline bench work than I've ever done in the past. The plan is to drop behind-the-neck overhead presses altogether in the last two weeks. Speaking of which, I hit 175x5 standing fairly easily and inched up the inclines by another 5 lbs.

Squat this cycle was up to 405x3 paused and 475x3 unpaused. I felt like I had more in me, but I'm overly cautious due to past back strain. Pulls today went 465x2 - 495x1 - 515x1. The last single matches my all-time PR.

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.