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Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Never (Forever?) Gymless

My big return to the gym is not happening this year. Maybe not until this time next year.

I'm fine with that.

For a while, I gnashed my teeth at the stupid and irresponsible, whose refusal to follow common-sense masking and social distancing protocols has turned what could have been a tenacious but eminently manageable epidemic into a mass-death national disaster. In addition to making gyms unsafe. But getting upset about idiots is in itself pretty idiotic, so the only workable alternative is to accept and adapt. Hopefully these newfangled vaccines work.

Still training on the push-pull-legs split, using an isometric-dynamic protocol. 4-5 isometric exercises for 3-4 sets each, then 3-4 dynamic exercises using the old reliable 3sx10 protocol. A steel pipe works great as a barbell - I can even do front and back squat isos. After the workout, I typically go for a 45-minute walk/run. On pull days I also do sprints.

Overall, I'm making good progress. Bodyweight is back up to 210, more or less where it was before I quit the gym, only leaner. Zero noticeable muscle loss, although I have no ide where my strength is at. Working out in fresh air is a boon and fits into my new schedule perfectly. Best of all, I can do this new routine anywhere.

I still hope that someday things will go back to normal, so I'm keeping my gym membership (it's incredibly cheap and work pays for it anyway). It would be good to know where I stand exactly on the big lifts, and how effective my weightless workouts have been with regard to retaining strength.

Even if/when I'm ready to head back to the iron, I'll most likely switch to an abbreviated barbell routine and do most of the work with bands and bodyweight.

It's been a hard year for many, although I was fortunate to not suffer any impact from the pandemic. So I shouldn't complain about not being able to go to the gym. But for the first time since I started this blog, I have no end-of-year lifting numbers worth mentioning. My last real workout with weights was in early February, so in the 1.5 months that I lifted I hit the following weights:

Squat: 515 lbs. x1

Standing overhead press: 235 lbs. x 1, 205 lbs. x 3

Deadlift: 535 lbs. x 1

Bench press: 385 lbs. x 1, 365 lbs. x 3, 335 lbs. x 7

Here's hoping for a better 2021.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Gyms Are Reopening

I'm staying home.

My exercise routine is going well. Mostly lifting myself and stretching bands, with some isometrics. Weight has stabilized at around 205 lbs. and I am noticeably leaner than before.

I have exactly zero desire to return to the gym. As much as I love barbells, I also love not having to deal with hordes of people getting in each other's way, hogging or stealing benches, racks and machines, or the perennial "how many sets you got left brah" while flexing imaginary lats. Sweat dripping on you as they spot you during a crucial set. Now I get 60-90 minutes of extra sleep, do some light exercises and stretches while drinking my first cup of coffee, then work out in the fresh air  for an hour and am at my desk by 9AM.

The COVID-19 situation also freaks me out. Daily cases in my area have been on the decline, but nowhere near enough to warrant reopening. Gym management is being smart and only allowing 30% capacity at any one time (yes, they are actually enforcing this), but it doesn't look like they're getting even that many visitors. People here are acting responsibly overall - wearing masks and social distancing for the most part. But I can just see some backward-hat-wearing college douchebag flouting the rules simply to be cool and edgy, or the gym staff slacking on sanitizing everything. So I'm staying away for now.

At some point, I'll probably go back to the gym to see how I fare on the main barbell lifts. I'm expecting some decline, not too dramatic. The plan is to lift a couple times per week and continue with bodyweight and bands on other days. Then again, if it turns out I've dropped 50-100 lbs. on each lift, my inner meathead will probably rebel.

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Fat Barstarzz

I've gotten into a great new exercise routine while gyms are closed for teh Covids. Working on a push-pull-legs split. Dropped a couple of pounds of flab while keeping most (almost all?) the muscle and am at the closest I've been to visible abs since like 2001. My joints never hurt, bloat and nagging pains are gone, even my sleep is much better. Now that I'm at home all the time, diet has been pretty on point too.

Self-isolation is no big deal for me. I've been practicing it for close on 40 years, so you could say I was well prepared for this crisis.

With the exception of that one week in March, I haven't worked out with weights since mid-February. Three months with no weights, and I haven't felt better in a long time.

Maybe I should learn a lesson and stop lifting weights. But all I can think about is losing strength on the big lifts. Can I maintain deadlift numbers doing light kettlebell swings? How many banded pushups equal a 405 lb. bench press? So as soon as the gyms reopen I'll do my best to get back under the bar. Back to being fat, tired and hurt.

But that's not happening for a while.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Zombie Apocalypse Update

Hope everyone is staying safe and practicing social distancing. Wouldn't want to catch the viral cold of the zombie apocalypse with something like a 98.5% survival rate.

I lost close to 15 lbs. on a recent work trip. Strength hasn't exactly plummeted, but there is a noticeable dip. I've probably lost 20-30 lbs. off my top working sets on all lifts.

Wife thinks this is funny and has started calling me "anorexic bitch". Affectionately, no doubt.

All gyms in my area are closed and who knows when they'll open again. Before they closed, I posted the following weak lifts:

Bench press 315x6, 335x2

Squat 405x5, 425x3, 445x3

Standing overhead press 170 lbs. x 2s x 5

Deadlift 405x5, 445x2

Monday, February 3, 2020

Tryhard Mentality

Training has been going okay. Another 3-week training cycle followed by a week of heavy singles.

My shoulders and elbows have been hurting a bit so I substituted one-arm dumbbell presses for barbell presses and threw on a SlingShot on my heavy bench press day. I may stick with dumbbell pressing for a while because it feels pretty good. Also because Joseph Curtis Hise said that the barbell press sucks:

The Hise Deltoid Exercise

I haven't done much dumbbell pressing in years, so the exercise felt a bit awkward. Weights from 40 through 70 lbs. felt very light and more or less the same. Then 75x5 felt super heavy. Many years ago I could clean and press 90 lbs. for a few reps. I'm nowhere near that weight now.

For my low volume weeks, I need to back off the weight on all exercises. It's supposed to be heavy singles, not max singles. But it's hard not to get sucked back into the tryhard mentality and feel like I'm slacking off if my spine isn't being crushed.

My traps feel incredibly beat up all the time. No idea why.

Training lifts:

Standing overhead press: 165x10, 185x8, 205x3

Squat: 425x5, 445x3, 475x2, 470x3

Deadlift: 450x3, 480x1

That last one was supposed to be 470x2, but I did not load the bar correctly.

Bench press: 335x7, 355x3

My working weights on the bench press are stagnating, but my heavy singles are progressing. I would prefer the opposite.

SlingShot bench press: 345x9, 365x3, 370x2

Close-grip bench press: 315x5

Single-rep lifts:

Squat: 445x1, 485x1, 515x1, 455x1

Standing overhead press: 205x1, 225x1, 235x1, 210x1

Deadlift: 455x1, 495x1, 505x1, 415x3

Bench press: 335x1, 365x1, 385x1

I have brought my grip in to mitigate the incredibly high hooks on the bench. Unracking the bar is still a major struggle as soon as the weight gets over 315 lbs. or so. I'm thinking of buying some sort of pad for the bench to gain an extra 2-3 inches of height (hue).

Monday, January 6, 2020

Split Year Training

Low volume week - got to go crazy with the weights and just hit singles. Two workouts in the old and two in the new year. Here's how it went:


Squat: 365x2, 405x2, 455x1, 480x1, 510x1, 455x1

This was hard, but doable. Probably close to a one-rep max. Happy with the weights I picked.

Standing overhead press: 155x5, 185x2, 205x1, 225x1, 235 x fail, 195x1

Overhead pressing has not been going as planned, and I'm definitely weaker than I was the last time I tried heavy singles. 235 lbs. would not budge, not sure why I tried that. Even 225 was a struggle.


Deadlift: 365x2, 405x2, 445x1, 485x1, 505x1, 535x1

Pulling has been going well and I was confident about beating the numbers from last time. 535 lbs. is also my best pull ever, so not bad overall. I don't think I had any more left in me.

Bench press: 315x2, 335x1, 355x1, 380x1

Bar wobbled a bit out of the shitty bar hooks, but I managed to get it under control and press. Again, good weight selection. 385 lbs. would have been too much and I would have been unhappy/disappointed with 375.

Not a bad training cycle. Have had some shoulder and elbow pain, nothing dramatic. Some new things I've added:

  • Fat bar training, mostly for upper body exercises (using FatGripz).
  • Farmer's carries with trap bar - started out with low weights, 30 seconds, one set. Will stick to the same time and gradually increase weight as I progress. Goal is double bodyweight on the bar for 30 seconds, and I'm nowhere near that yet.
  • High-rep cable workouts, for some extra swoleness.