Day 42, Post Gym

I’m so glad I decided to force myself to the gym at lunch. I spent a total of 48 minutes on the weight room floor and extended my lunch break by about 15 minutes. But no one really noticed. At one point I was very close to forfeiting my 3rd exercise (barbell rows) in order to get back to the office quicker, but I hung in there and got them all done.

Squat and bench felt strong and bb rows are still a little too easy.

  • Squat 195 x 5 x 3
  • Bench 180 x 5 x 3 (on my last set I got distracted and accidentally hit the safety causing me to quit at 4 reps. I re-racked and then did one more, so it counts damn it!)
  • BB Rows 134 x 5 x 3

Been eating like a horse ever since I came back from the gym…

Day 19, Grrrrr!

Ok, I’m a little pissed off, but this is the best place to vent right?

As I may have already posted, getting to the gym in the morning is a bit of a balancing act. My train needs to be on time and I need to quickly change and get to the workout floor before all the squat racks are taken. This is one of the main reasons why I decided to start with a split routine so that I wouldn’t have to try to get a squat rack every time.

Once I moved back to doing squats 3x/week, getting to the gym as early as possible became important again. I need to clock in at work by 8am and I usually arrive at the weight floor by 6:50. This gives me roughly 45 minutes for my 3 lifts so if I have to wait 5 to 10 minutes for a squat rack things start to get hectic.

Today, my train was late and I spent a few extra minutes in the locker room getting ready. But I assumed this would be ok because Fridays aren’t usually as crowded as the rest of the week. When I got to the weight room floor all the racks were taken and it looked like everyone had just started. I stretched for a bit with the intention of waiting 5 to 10 minutes for a rack. But when it didn’t look like anyone was going to be done quickly, I switched to overhead press first.

After my 3 worksets, there was no end in sight to the popularity of the racks. What pissed me off the most is that one of the racks was being used for rows and then the guy moved to bench press. Now I consider myself a courteous person and had this been me I would have left the squat rack and used the floor or the regular bench to do these lifts. There was plenty of room on the other side of the floor. But that’s me and not him, and I’m not aggressive enough to tell him that he should move.

2015-04-10 07.19.08Anyway, the good news is that I hit a new PR for deadlift… 225 x 5! After warming up with 135 x 5 and 185 x 3 I decided to go for broke and I was surprised that 225 was not as debilitating as I thought it would be. Ironically, because I was in such a rush to get a squat rack, I didn’t take off the 25 pound plates to add 45s. I added 10 pound plates instead. Next time I’ll do double 45s for maximum effect!

After the deadlifts I surrendered any hope of doing squats and headed to the foam rolling area. After showering, the scale read 207, 1 pound up from Wednesday, which didn’t help matters.

So the takeaway is that things will happen and I need to be ready to adapt. I am fully commited to going back to the gym at lunch and finishing my squats. I will leave by 11 so that I can avoid the lunchtime rush. My only concern is that I will still be fasting. I will have had 3 servings of BCAAs before going back to do squats so hopefully I won’t pass out from hunger.

Quite memorable for the last workout of my 41st year… Yes, that’s right my birthday is on Sunday!

Day 8, Back to the Gym

2015-03-30 05.03.56Home scale showing 207 this morning and 206 at the gym. I won’t believe it until next week but I’m hoping this means that I won’t see 210 ever again.

The students have returned to my gym. When I arrived at the lifting area all three squat racks and both benches were occupied. Luckily it didn’t last too long and I grabbed a squat rack after about 5 minutes.

First off, the workout I posted last night is totally wrong. It’s not an A/B workout. It’s a 3 day workout where the push exercise alternates between Bench Press and Overhead Press. Like this:

Monday

  • Squat 3×5
  • BP or OP 3×5
  • Chins

Wednesday

  • Squat 3×5
  • BP or OP 3×5
  • Deadlift 1×5

Friday

  • Squat 3×5
  • BP or OP 3×5
  • Pull ups

I approached my squats with a completely new eye. Some of the things I tried different since last week:

  • Lower rack position. As suggested so that I don’t go on my tip toes to unrack the bar
  • Safeties. As suggested so that I don’t injure myself
  • Low bar position on back: Based on my history, I was positioning the bar too high. My shins and calves are too tight to do a high bar squat
  • Hip Drive Focus: Consciously thinking about dropping the weight by bending at my hips first and then my knees
  • No bouncing at the top of the lift: As suggested which can cause injury
  • Lower weight, less volume: Because I’m focusing on form and knowing I will be doing squats 3x/week again I dropped the weight to 135 and did 3 worksets

2015-03-30 07.23.49With all this in mind the 135x5x3 was difficult, but not bad enough for me to sacrifice form (at least I don’t think so). Hopefully this becomes easier so I don’t have to think about it as much.

After that I did 160x5x3 on the bench and 3 sets of reverse grip cable pull downs. The programming for this exercise says “3 sets to failure, add weight reps go higher than 15”. I did 15 at 120 but then after adding another 20 couldn’t do more than 6. So I will stick with 140 for now.

The app I’m using is called Gym Buddy and although the interface is very outdated, the app is very functional. I have yet to find another app that handles weight lifting better. Unfortunately I don’t think the app is available anymore. So I’m happy to still have it.

Diet wise, I’m all set for the day. We’re having pizza tonight and I managed to fit 2 slices into my menu and still hit my macros.

Day 5, My Legs are WEAK!!

The bathroom scale registered 208.4 again this morning. At the end of my workout the gym scale read 205. I like the gym scale better!

2015-03-27 07.19.17I got to the gym ready to do some squats. Warmed up with the bar twice, then 95 x 3, 115 x 2 and 135 x 1. Then I moved to my work set of 160 (5 pounds heavier than last Friday) and was flabbergasted when I realized that the weight was too heavy for me to complete 5 x 5. I completed one set, dropped the weight to 155 and completed the other 4 sets. But damn, were those sets hard!

I don’t know what I was expecting. Prior to today I had done 2 sets of 5 at 155 after taking a month off and prior to that was 160 x 5 x 5. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I’ve stalled, but it seems like my legs have always been weak. There’s a whole bunch of legitimate reasons why my squats are where they are and I’m willing to accept them. I’m not going to change my programming again since it’s only been one week. If I can get my squats up to 200 by the end of the 12 weeks I’ll be happy.

The only thing I’m unsure of is my form. Everyone *thinks* they have good form until someone else critiques it. Knowing this, I captured one of my sets on video. The thing I notice right away is that my heels come off the floor, which is a signal that I’m using my legs more than my hips to get the bar back up. Otherwise it seems like I’m going deep enough.

If anyone can give me some advice on my form I’d be grateful.

After squats, I did overhead press 65 x 5 x 5 which was what I expected. I hadn’t done OPs since last year and my shoulders are still a little sore from Wednesday.

So that’s it for week 1 at the gym. I’m heading to Chipotle for lunch to do some serious carbing up!

Day 3, Bench and Carbs!

Didn’t snap a pic of the scale today but it read 207, which is down 1.4 pounds from yesterday. Meanwhile after my workout the scale at the gym read 205 and both of these scales are usually in sync. I take these drops in weight with a grain of salt, but it’s still encouraging. I fully expect to see my weight go back up to 210 by the end of the week, although it would be a nice surprise if it didn’t.

2015-03-25 07.17.44The gym was definitely less crowded today compared to Monday. Most of the kiddies are on spring break so I really only saw the normal die-hards who usually clear out by 7:15. They installed a new platform for the Olympic lifts which is pretty nice. Wednesday is bench press day and I spent about 20 minutes getting in my 5×5 at 160 pounds. Then I did 4 sets of push ups using 10 pound weights as grips to keep my palms off the floor. I prefer this because normal push ups hurt my wrists. Surprisingly I cranked out 15 reps on the first set which is more than I expected considering all the bench work I had already done. I grew steadily weaker from there.

My soundtrack for the day was Infestissumam by Ghost BC. Not exactly the sound I was looking for today, but it worked for the most part. I seem to be very picky about my gym music. Regardless of genre it has to have a certain amount of emotional power for me, but metal and hard rock are the usual suspects.

So now the big challenge is waiting another 3.5 hours until I can eat lunch. This is usually broken up by drinking coffee and taking my second dose of BCAAs at 10 am. My diet consists of the exact same thing as Monday. Not very creative but at least the macros will be easy to calculate. Tonight we’re having tacos for dinner so I’ve saved up enough calories to have 4 tacos and some chips too.

Day 1, Gym

I spent most of the train ride trying to decide if/how to tweak my workout routine. I blogged earlier that I was going to switch from Big 3 to an RPT split, but then started second guessing my decision.

There’s a definition of “beginner” that relates to weight training and it’s not necessarily how heavy you can lift, but moreover how quickly you recover from lifting. After a few months of Big 3 and StrongLifts I can still make progress doing the same 3 lifts 3x/week. The only major issue is the lower back soreness that comes from doing deadlifts. When that started to happen, I switched the programming to 3×5 instead of 5×5. So there’s an argument for me to remain classified as a beginner and stick with the simple Big 3 routine.

The argument for switching to a split routine is time and variety. The ultimate success of a program isn’t about the minor changes made to a lifting routine or a diet, but the ability to stay motivated and not abandon the program prematurely. Doing the Big 3 routine is fun for the first 2 months, especially when you start loading big plates on to the bar. But it’s an exhausting workout. And even though I have a full 50 minutes to dedicate to lifting if I go in the morning, there are times when that isn’t enough. Squat racks are very popular at my gym and sometimes it’s 10 or 15 minutes until I can start my first work set. The potential stress of getting to the gym on time and being able to complete the workout directly affects my motivation.

But variety is a big motivator as well. Striving to increase weight and maintain good form for all 3 big lifts 3x/week is taxing, but only having one big lift per workout could be a boost to my ability to focus.

2015-03-23 07.00.24I walked over to the weight room area still undecided, but the crowded conditions quickly helped me to decide. My gym is linked to a university, and despite this week being spring break the weight room was packed and all 3 squat racks were occupied. So instead of waiting around, I decided to go right to a deadlifts/chins routine.

After a few warm ups, I did 185 x 5 x 5 with 2 mins rest in between. And despite my lingering lower back soreness, the sets got easier as I progressed. From there I 3 sets of reverse grip seated pull-downs (since I’m too weak for body weight chin-ups) using RPT (6×140, 8×120, 10×100). And with 10 minutes to spare I finished up with some much needed foam rolling and a couple of sun salutations.

Meshuggah-DestroyEraseToday’s workout soundtrack was “Destroy Erase Improve” by Meshuggah. I’m hoping to find some time before Wednesday to make some custom playlists, but there will always be certain albums that are good to workout with from start to finish. This being one of them.

So I think I’m going to stick with a 3 day split using classic 5 x 5 programming for the big lifts and RPT for the ancillary exercises (basically chins and push ups) .

Now, with all that out of the way, I can focus on eating. Today is a carb day and I’m soooo ready for it!!