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 64, Back to the Gym

Yesterday’s macros were not as difficult to stick to as I thought. I logged everything as precisely as I could, including trace macros. The only thing I excluded was the green veggies from the 2 salads I ate. Here is the final tally:

  • Protein: 183
  • Carbs: 60
  • Fat: 80

The largest amount of carbs (22g) came from the 1/2 cup of brown rice that I added to my eggs and turkey sausage for my first meal. The interesting thing was that at no time during the day was I ravenously hungry. In fact I needed to force myself to eat my afternoon snack.

This morning I returned to the gym after 4 days off and did

  • Deadlift: 265 x 5 x 2, 265 x 4
  • Overhead Press: 110 x 5 x 3
  • Cable Rows: 100 x 10, 120 x 8, 140 x 8

2015-05-27 07.01.19The deadlift and press are new PRs, but I failed to get the last rep on the last set of deads so I will do 265 again next time. I haven’t done cable rows in a long time and didn’t know where to start. 140 seems to be a good weight to stick with for next time.

And now the rest of the day will be cake. My workout is done and I have 200 grams of carbs waiting for me to consume!

Day 44, Three New PRs!

Not sure how this happened. I woke up this morning super groggy and sore all over. But I dragged my ass to the train and 1:15 later I was in front of the squat rack, stretching everything in every which way and dreading the first work set of 200.

200??? Seriously? I weigh 200. Are you telling me that I am strong enough to squat my own weight 15 times? Ok, well maybe this had something to do with it…

2015-05-06 07.38.05At the beginning of the workout this thing was full of double strength cold brew iced coffee. No milk, no sugar, just a straight up blast of Good Morning! For those interested, I used this recipe.

The first squat set was tough and I chalk that up to my creaky old body needing a little more time to warm up. But sets 2 and 3 were strong.

2015-05-06 07.31.25After squats was overhead press for 100 x 5 x 3 and finally the granddaddy of all vein-popping, hernia-inducing exercises, the deadlift. After *warming up* with 225 x 3 (I smile as I type that!) I blasted through 250 x 5, trying to hold my breath through the entire movement, which is really tough!

So now I’m facing a new dilemma. Should I do squats again on Friday or start skipping every other workout? I could probably manage 205 on Friday with enough rest and sleep but trying to fit squats in on the same day as bench and barbell rows takes a long time. One of my primary goals for this 12 week program is to hit 225 on the squat, and I think I can accomplish this with squatting 2x a week. I haven’t decided yet. I think I will wait until Friday morning and see how I feel.

I ate breakfast again this morning. Not sure if this is a permanent break from intermittent fasting or just a temporary one…

Day 33, 2 new PRs!!!

Had a great session at the gym this morning. Logged 2 new PRs in Squat and Deadlift:

Squat 185 x 5 x 3. This is a big deal for me. Finally getting up to the 25 plate with good form. Took vids of all 3 sets. Here they are:

Set 1

Set 2

Set 3

After my squats came overhead press 90 x 5 x 3, then on to the killer set of deadlifts 240 x 5. I warmed up with 135 x 5, 185 x 3 and 205 x 3 first. Here’s the vid:

I’m not happy with my form here. I think my back needs to be more neutral.

CaptureDiet-wise, my macros were pretty much on again yesterday. Fiber was a little low and I snuck a shortbread cookie after dinner because, well, it was the last one left in the box and I’m certainly not going to put the box back with only one cookie in it! I think I will keep posting these macro summaries every day in a effort to be more accountable.

Tonight there will be pizza, but I have planned accordingly and should be able to keep within my limits. Gotta love IIFYM!

Day 26, Best Workout So Far!

2015-04-17 07.13.44Wow! What a way to finish up the first 4 weeks of workouts! All the planets aligned and my train was on time and I found a squat rack at 6:45 giving me plenty of time to warm up and rest between sets.

Squats: 175 x 5 x 3
This might be a new PR, honestly I’m not sure. I seem to remember getting to 185 a couple years ago. But it sure felt pretty good to squat that much weight with confidence. I’m really in the zone now with the squat movement. Ascending back out of the squat with the hips and butt is definitely the key and I can feel the difference when I don’t do it that way. On almost all the reps I lifted properly and weight felt easy. I could have done 5 sets.

Overhead Press: 85 x 5 x 3
My least favorite lift for sure, partly because of my neck and shoulder issues. I don’t think 85 is a PR.

2015-04-17 07.24.31Deadlift: 235 x 5 x 3
Another PR! This one was tough. I warmed up with 135 x 5, 185 x 3 and 205 x 3. Then I rested for about 4 minutes before doing the workset. The reps were hard and I needed to pause an extra 2 seconds before the last one, but all in all I had good form. Man that kicked my ass too. I needed to take a long breather once I was done.

I also started using the StrongLifts app for iPhone. It’s really the best app available if you’re following that program. Very simple and intuitive, with built in timers that remind you when rest times are up. Best of all, it’s free!

So that’s it for the first 4 weeks. I received a response on the IIFYM message board from someone who seems to have a lot of experience (1000 posts on the board). He (she?) recommended upping my protein and fat and dropping my carbs a bit. So the new macros will be:

  • protein: 150
  • fat: 60
  • carbs: 240
  • calories: 2100

Nice round numbers, I like that! So I’ll working with this starting today and through the weekend. And then a 24ish hour break from Monday afternoon until Tuesday afternoon. I plan to do IF on Monday morning and then finish my last meal on Tuesday by 8 or 9. But between those two times I’m disregarding macros.