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.

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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:


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 36, The emotional roller-coaster of dieting!

As promised I have tracked everything I’ve eaten over the past 3 days in MFP so that I could post the totals here. Friday and Saturday started out fine but the late evening hours always seem to screw everything up for me. In some cases I am legitimately hungry but otherwise I’m just bored. The other problem is that for some reason drinking some protein or eating a salad that late in the evening never appeals to me.

Here is Friday. The overage is directly related to the half-bag of jelly beans that I ate.


Here is Saturday. Everything looking good until I opened the chips.


Yesterday was odd. I fasted in the morning like I normally do, but when lunch came I wasn’t that hungry. By the end of the day I was eating within a calorie/protein deficit that I never pulled myself out of. I also went to bed early!


Meanwhile I also took my measurements yesterday and I’ve lost 2.5 inches off my waist since I started. Also my weight on the scale has been basically the same (+1/-1 back and forth), but my pants seem to fit looser.

This morning I wasn’t very psyched about squatting 190. Despite getting a good amount of sleep last night I was feeling pretty worn out and initially decided that I would just drop my work set to 135 and work on my form. But once I warmed up I was feeling pretty strong and ended up doing 190 x 5 x 3. Bench was difficult because of my sore shoulder I missed a rep on the last set of 180 (basically out of fear that I might drop the bar), so I will try that weight again next week.

I took so long on the squats between warm up and rest periods that I didn’t have time for barbell rows. So I went back at lunch to do them and added a bit of stretching afterward. I broke my fast early (10 am) so that I would have a bit of energy to head back to the gym for the 2nd time.

This week I want to add 2 cardio sessions (Tuesday and Thursday) and also try to fit in a 30 minute yoga routine at least once (but preferably twice). I basically decided over the weekend with all my aches and soreness that I’m not going to lift much heavier if I don’t do something to increase my mobility and the yoga should help.

Day 24, Finally figured out this Squat thing!

Great workout this morning despite my lingering shoulder injury.

Squats 165 x 5 x 3

My 3rd set was the best. Focus is the key. Bar position, feet position, head and chest position, bend at the hips, bounce at the bottom, power up with the hips and butt. 165 felt light when I did all these things!

Bench 175 x 5 x 3

This is where my shoulder started to hinder my progress, but i still managed to finish the work sets.

Deadlift 230 x 5 x 1

A new PR for me! Last rep of the work set felt a little unsteady but otherwise pretty strong.

Scale didn’t budge since last Friday, but that was expected. I don’t think I’ll see 205 by Monday but there’s always a chance.

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 5, Sushi!

Finishing off the day with some delicious raw fish.2015-03-27 18.10.01

I know, I know. The white rice is not optimal, but have ever tried brown rice sushi? It might as well come in a bowl.

Been obsessing about squats and my workout programming. I think I want to try squatting 2x/week, but that means changing up a workout that I’ve only done for one week. So I’m conflicted…

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!