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!

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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 12, Squats and “Chocolate Day”

Happy Friday! Home scale: 206. Gym scale: 205.

2015-04-03 07.19.276 days of strength training are in the books. Today was a very good day for progress. I continue to work on my squat form and added another 5 pounds since Wednesday. Here’s a video of my first work set. Still seeing my heels come up, but pretty happy with my form otherwise.

The biggest problem for me with squats is getting use to how uncomfortable the bar feels down low. My shoulder blades are sore and my wrists feel strained when I pull the bar off the rack.

So after 2 weeks of training my numbers are:

  • Squat: 145
  • Bench: 165
  • Deadlift: 195
  • Press: 70

Progressing linearly means my numbers *should* look like this by the half-way point:

  • Squat: 200
  • Bench: 190
  • Deadlift: 215 (assumes only 5 pounds/week, could be more)
  • Press: 100

So now the hard part begins. Despite the next two days being low-calorie, low-carb,  I’m facing some very high-calorie, high-carb temptations. I’ll be going out to dinner with friends tomorrow night and Easter (aka “Chocolate Day”) on Sunday. So I need to be vigilant. I need to remember that if I decide to grab a handful of candy or some other high-carb snack that it MUST be logged. Better yet, knowing that everything MUST be logged I intend to not grab the handful in the first place.

For tomorrow, the plan is to eat about 300-400 calories of protein and fat and save the rest for dinner which will likely include some high-carb selections as well as 2 margaritas. Going to dinner with 1400 calories and 100 grams of carbs left for the day should allow me to enjoy myself and keep within my macros.

reeses2Easter will be different. Dinner will not be the problem. The problem will be the constant temptation to eat jelly beans and chocolate. I’m still not sure how I’m going to handle this other than sheer will power and gum chewing. I might take some Hoodia on that day just for extra help.

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.