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Thursday, April 25, 2019

Backward Hat

Not much to update here. Shoulder is still messed up but I'm still bench pressing. Oddly it doesn't hurt at all when I press overhead. Maybe that's a sign to work more on my overhead pressing and bench less. Maybe it's a sign I'll ignore. Stupid sign.

Speaking of overhead pressing, that's been going well, increasing slowly but steadily. Recently I did 180x6, followed by 200x3. Still not quite at my best-ever weights, but I've neglected front presses for a long time.

On a totally unrelated note, there's this widespread stereotype of the gym douchebro working out in a tank top, with a baseball hat turned backwards, doing nothing but arm exercises. I always thought it was one of those exaggerated gym memes (like "curling in a squat rack", which I've seen exactly twice in 20 years of lifting in commercial gyms). But lately douchebros with backwards hats seem to be everywhere. I counted no less than five in the gym this morning. Guess it's a case of life imitating meme. With apologies to Richard Dawkins.

I stopped pressing behind the neck until the shoulder pain goes away. Not that I think BTN pressing causes shoulder issues, but it does place extra strain on an already overworked muscle group. I read a shoulder saver article by Eric Cressey where he lists all the exercises that can cause scapular issues. While they're all good and productive exercises, the accumulated strain on these small muscles (rotator cuff and scapular area) can over time lead to nagging aches. At one point I was back squatting twice a week and pressing behind the neck twice a week, never really giving the scap muscles time to recover. Band pullaparts are usually prescribed for rotator cuff issues, but now I'm starting to think they may have the opposite effect.

I might also switch to floor or board presses for a few weeks. It's not like I'm setting any records anyway, and they may give my shoulders a rest.

Interestingly, paused benches hurt way more than my regular touch-and-go reps. Probably more time under tension for the injured muscle. Also, close-grip presses hurt just as bad as those done with regular grip. So much for broscientific claims that close grip benches are better for the shoulders. But my last close grip pressing workout went 275x5, 300x4 and 310x4, so there is improvement.

Back squats seem to be the main culprit. I'm keeping them in rotation, but I've now moved the bar higher on my back. Sort of a mid-bar position. This hopefully means less rotator cuff strain. These past weeks I worked up to 435x4, 445x3 and 465x3, which is pretty much what I was doing low-bar.

Deadlift reps were a grind. I feel like the straight-legged deadlifts I'm doing on light lower body day are hurting my heavy sets. Sure, the weight is very light, but the stress still adds up. But I'd rather work my hamstrings than set deadlift PRs, so I don't think I'll back off the straight-leg deads. I still hit fairly comfortable triples from 405 to 445, then easy singles with 455 and 475.