Day 80, Taking a break from the break!

9 days have passed since I posted my previous update. In that time I’ve done very little to maintain whatever fitness and weight loss I’ve achieved so far. There were a few days when I stuck to my macros and other days when, at the very least, I got enough protein. But otherwise everything has stopped and I’m ready for it to start again.

The biggest problem over the past few days has been the pain in my neck and shoulders. At this point it’s almost gone away so I’m a little apprehensive to start up at the gym on Monday because I don’t want to aggravate anything. I keep promising myself that I will do more yoga but it hasn’t happened yet. It seems that I only do yoga and stretch when something hurts instead of to prevent something from hurting.

This weekend will be chock full of more parties and bad food and I probably won’t say no to most of it. But hopefully by Sunday the novelty of junk food will have worn off and the guilt will set in and I’ll be set to go full force again on Monday morning.  Until then I have 2 goals.

  • Eat my macros tomorrow and Sunday
  • Do yoga tonight, tomorrow and Sunday

That’s it. Should be easy right…?

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Day 71 – 8 Week Results

The time has come for me to take a break from lifting. My body is in desperate need of some extensive healing and stretching. The timing couldn’t be more perfect though. Friday I’m on vacation, Monday I’m working from home and next Friday my gym will be closed for graduation. Trying to shove a lifting session in the middle of all of that is probably not worth the effort. So I will spend the next 11 days stretching, resting and doing a bit of cardio.

So now is the time to check the numbers and evaluate my progress.

Starting numbers as of April 1st. Three sets of five for all lifts (3 x 5)

  • Squat: 135
  • Bench: 160
  • Dead: 195
  • Press: 70

Latest numbers as of June 3rd.

  • Squat: 225 (+90) 67% increase
  • Bench: 205 (+45) 28% increase
  • Dead: 265 (+70) 36% increase
  • Press: 115 (+45)  64% increase

Looking at these numbers I have to say that I’m pretty impressed. I remember a time ten or twelve years ago when I was *about* this strong, but I wasn’t doing squats or deadlifts. So it might be valid to say that I’ve never been stronger! That’s amazing to me and something I wasn’t even expecting!

Obviously these types of gains cannot progress forever and I’m sure that I will eventually switch to a 3 day split. But for now I plan to continue the StrongLifts progression and finally add in the desperately needed barbell rows every other workout.

The common advice is to deload by 10% on all lifts after a week off, so this is where I will be starting on June 15th:

  • Squat: 200
  • Bench: 185
  • Rows: 155*
  • Dead: 240
  • Press: 95

Regarding rows, on my first day back to the gym I will increase the weight every set until  5 reps becomes difficult and that will be my work set weight for the next session.

Whew! That’s a lot of number crunching. And I haven’t even mentioned my diet yet!

It goes without saying that I’m hoping to stay on target with my macros during the week off from the gym. My new numbers (200/150/50) seem to be working well for me (so far at least). The next few days will be fraught with temptations – 3 birthday parties and a trip to Atlantic City – so I need to stay focused and plan around these calorie bombs!

I’m not sure how often I will post to this blog. 2 or 3 times at least just to keep myself accountable. Here’s to the next 8 weeks!!

Day 69 (tee hee!), Squat Practice

2015-06-01 11.52.51After a couple days of ice and heat on my hip, I went back to the gym this morning to work on my squat form. It’s really is humbling when I drop 90 pounds off my previous PR and realize that there are still plenty of things to tweak about my form.

I ended up doing about 5 sets of 5 at 135, going very slow, trying to get below parallel and keeping the rest of my form precise. I spent a lot of time warming up my shoulders and experimenting with bar placement. In a nutshell, I’ve been placing the bar a bit too low and keeping my hands too wide. Once I corrected that, things felt better.

The final tip I got from a fellow gym-goer was to be cognizant of any bend or curve in my back on the way up. Prior to today I’ve always been concentrating on using my hips to raise up out of the low position and probably neglected any attention on keeping my back straight and chest up. But I think I’ve got it now. I swear, the squat is hardest exercise to do with proper form, but it’s really rewarding when you get it right!

After squats I put up 115 on the overhead press for 2 sets of 5 and then only got 3 on the final set. This is fine since my goal is 115 and I will have one more workout next week before the break.

2015-06-01 12.23.14

Finally I loaded the deadlift bar with 265 (after warming up of course) and got a nice set of 5. I constantly go back and forth between doing one or multiple sets of deads. I think trying to do 3 sets of 5 last week may have been too much.

Diet wise, I’ve changed up my macros (yes, again!). I’m still not a fan of the carb cycling even though I’ve had a few good days doing it. As I’ve stated before on this blog, I think it adds another level of complication to menu preparation.

So I’ve simplified my numbers:

200c
150p
50f

Based on all of the literature I’ve read and all of the advice I’ve received I now declare these to be my magic numbers! And while I’m not sure that these numbers will affect my fat loss in either direction compared to what I’ve done up until now, they seem to be three numbers I can live and work with. The overall calories for these macros is 1850 which by most calculations is about a 500 calorie deficit per day if I’m working out 3 days a week. Even better, these numbers are easy to track and remember.

From here the plan is to go to the gym Wednesday and Thursday (I’m off Friday) and then take next week off entirely from lifting weights. I must say that I’m looking forward to the break!

Day 40, Diet Break

I didn’t diverge too much. I just decided that I didn’t want the burden of logging food.  I’ll get back to it tomorrow.

Since I worked from home today, I wasn’t able to lift weights at the gym. Instead I spent 30 minutes with Kasandra and her Yoga for Weight Lifters video. This was just the break I needed to stretch out and loosen up. The routine is great and not overwhelmingly difficult or complex.

In and ideal world I would do this workout every day. For now I will shoot for twice a week! Tomorrow I go running again.