This was my final workout in the apartment. I've been having a lot of "lasts" the past few days. I was looking forward to kettlebelling outside, but the grass was much too wet. Instead, I went with a kettlebell warm up and grip workout. I'm glad I did.
After some light swings and snatches, kettlebells I moved on to axle deadlifts. I did:
1x213 (PR on this Axle, 7lbs off all time PR)
What's key about this is my body weight today is 212lbs, meaning I've hit my first goal from the Relatively Strong list, a BW DO Axle Deadlift. As promised, I have video:
Hitting this really made my day. It's a fitting end to the cycle at World Gym and a great way to close out my last workout at the apartment. I followed the deadlifts up with a bunch of block weight loads to my bench. Highlights were hitting 2x5/5x30lbs, as well as 1/1x32.5lbs. I don't remember the exact numbers.
Finished the workout off with about 25 minutes of mobility work and foam rolling. Tension was releasing all over my body, especially in my legs, hips, and neck. I even managed to do a bit of foam rolling on the sides of my legs, which are extremely tender. Finger extensions are getting done now.
That's it. I move tomorrow afternoon and am very excited.
Saturday, April 28, 2007
This was my final workout in the apartment. I've been having a lot of "lasts" the past few days. I was looking forward to kettlebelling outside, but the grass was much too wet. Instead, I went with a kettlebell warm up and grip workout. I'm glad I did.
Friday, April 27, 2007
I came into this workout well prepared. Last night I made time to do some mobility work and was in bed by 8:30. I actually woke up at 4:45 ready to go, but forced myself to lay down for another hour of sleep.
I was feeling strong in the gym. I did:
Machine Rows: Did an extra plate for 2 of my work sets
Barbell Press: Did an extra rep on one of my work sets
Dumbell Snatches: 1/1x35lbs; 1/1x45lbs; 1/1x55lbs; 1/1x65lbs (PR); The PR was kinda sloppy, but they usually are. This is the heaviest weight I've ever snatched.
Machine Pulldowns: Did some extra reps on my work sets
That's it. I was feeling energized after my work sets and wasn't prepared to wind down with stretching. This was my last workout at the World Gym in Chicago, and honestly, I was a little sad to leave. It's a great gym. Two power racks, tons of free weights, dumbbells up to 150lbs, and everyone is training hard. Going there to lift in the morning is one of the few things I'll miss about coming downtown for work.
It's now time to start thinking about my training moving forward. I've got 3 weeks coming up that will have sort of an unusual schedule. Next week I'm off, then the 2 weeks after that I'm working from home 3 days a week. I keep debating on trying to stretch my current cycle out vs. peaking next week and starting a new program from there. I may be traveling for work during one of those weeks, which messes with my training. I won't know for sure what to do until Monday morning rolls around.
I do have some ideas in my head about my next cycle:
1. It's going to run through the end of June
2. I'm going to be aggressive about cutting weight, 2lbs a week
3. I have to include some heavy lifts to be sure I don't lose a bunch of muscle while dropping weight aggressively
4. Grip work is going to be trained almost entirely through my strength exercises. I'll probably do my pulls on my axle and my overhead presses with bottoms up kettlebell work.
5. There will be a heavy focus on soft tissue work in addition to stretching. Some parts of my body have so many trigger points that I can't tolerate the pain that would come with using a foam roller on them.
6. I want to hit kettlebells twice a week as conditioning work
7. I need to be setting the stage to do a one month peaking cycle for the grip contest at the end of July
8. I need to figure out good movements for my horizontal and vertical pulling, to ensure shoulder health.
9. I will be doing turkish get ups regularly
That's about it. I am going to have to come to terms with the fact that my frame is much smaller than I like to think it is. I'm wearing a 2x shirt right now, and the seam where the sleeve meets the shoulder is 2-3 inches lower than where it should be if the shirt fit properly. I'll be pulling out some of my 1x shirts over my vacation, but there's a good chance a large shirt will be loose on me by the time I finish my goal list. Chicago really is the city of broad shoulders, so not coming downtown every morning should help me to get over it.
Thursday, April 26, 2007
Front Squats: bumped up to the 40lb KBs, dropped a set, form shaky
Romanian Deads: bumped up to 175lbs for the last two sets, took a wider grip, felt pretty good
Side Bends: bumped up to 85lbs for the two work sets, reps dropped, keeping my grip tough
External Rotations: Did them
I took the liberty of bumping weights a little quicker than I normally would, since today was my last lower day at World Gym. Followed the weights up with 20-30 minutes of mobility work. Left ankle released a lot today. I am getting to a point where I don't have to baby my foot on a day to day basis. Most of the time I don't even think about it any more. I am very happy with that.
Hopefully I will have time to think about my upcoming workouts this weekend or early next week. I don't want to lose too much strength by doing just kettlebells while I am dropping weight. The lower workouts will be easy to replicate in my home gym. Simulating the machine rows and pulldowns I've been doing will be tougher. I've got a high / low pulley attachment that attachés to my rack. It may be good enough for now. Ultimately the pull downs will be replace by chins / pull ups. Not sure what the long term plan is for the horizontal pulling. I have a hard time getting a lot out of dumbell or barbell rows. I probably just need to learn how to do them right. Back work is essential to completing my shoulder recovery.
I've now got a competing grip contest for the BBB3 in October. Chris Rice is hosting Gripmas in December. I like the events better and the timing is better for me. I won't have any luck peaking for a contest in late July and then another in early October. Late July and early December would be much better. Maybe I'll do all 3, we'll see how things are going after the Michigan contest.
Wednesday, April 25, 2007
Finishing the workout now with some finger extensions and playing with a stress ball. I'd hoped to write a good post on my mobility work, but with the move I just don't have time. Suffice it to say for now I highly recommend the book Stretch to Win. They've got a free sample here:
Free chapters and podcast
The book is only $14 here:
Buy the book, no affiliate link or anything!!!
In my opinion the part of the book I am applying, which is currently just the principles for stretching, is better than anything I found in Pavel's Super Joints or in either of the mobility DVDs I got off of T-nation. It also beats Stretching Scientifically by Thomas Kurtz.
The entire focus of this book is on balancing the muscles of the body to have flexibility appropriate to your specific needs, including a personalized process for doing a self assessment of your needs, stretches, and instructions on how to apply trigger point therapy. I've got my trigger point therapy stuff on order and will do the full personalized program once it arrives. This book is some of the best value I've gotten out of my training dollar.
Tuesday, April 24, 2007
Machine Rows: few more reps than last time per set, same work weight
Overhead Presses: one more rep than last time on one work set, same weight
Machine Pulldowns: one or two more reps per work set, same weight
Dumbell Incline Press: 8x30; 2x8x40
That dumbell incline press is HUGE!!!. My shoulder wasn't perfect, but it was feeling much better than it's felt in years horizontally pressing that much weight. I think all the mobility work I've been doing to accommodate the moving has accidentally helped my shoulder. That or the postural muscles that stabilize it weren't tired because my lower workout was lighter yesterday. Either way, I'm pretty happy about handling that weight pain free.
I followed this with my mobility / stability work. I did the one legged balancing again, as well as 3/3x25lbs turkish get ups. Quite a bit of time was spent on stretching, the muscles that were cramping yesterday finally released, as did a bunch of tension in my left foot. It is doing much better overall.
I've ordered a footsie roller to start working on the soft tissue quality in the bottom of the foot more intensely. I'm also looking into a therapy ball to start looking for and working on trigger points throughout my body. I'm thinking trigger point therapy is the missing link to finishing my rehab and staying injury free.
Tonight my wife and I will go to downtown LaGrange, since we won't be able to get there without a car once we move. We'll go to our favorite Thai place. I'll get a massive plate of cashew vegetable and some green tea ice cream. Then we'll go to Trader Joe's, and I'm going to get a couple bottles of port and boxes of chocolate almonds to bring with to the new place. It will be awesome.
I hope to do a grip workout on Wednesday, as well as write up a little more about what I've been doing for the mobility work. I brought home a 32.5lb block weight yesterday, and I have a good book recommendation for the mobility stuff. We'll see how my time goes.
Monday, April 23, 2007
Yesterday was another long day, and I wasn't able to do anything about the sleep debt I incurred over the weekend. I did manage to work in a hour of mobility work, but I guess it doesn't make up for rest. When I got out of bed this morning, the area where the top of my butt meets my back was heavily cramped on either side of my spine. Standing was rather painful, but I decided I should go to the gym and see what I could do about working the pain out.
This morning's lower workout was turned into one focused entirely on recovery. During my warm up, as the muscle cramps began to release, I actually began to get a little sick to my stomach. Whatever was stored up in the muscle must have been potent. I then proceeded through my normal exercises for a lower day, doing double the normal warm up and no work sets. Followed that with less stretching than usual, all of it focused on my hips and legs.
I feel much, much better sitting at my desk now. Choosing to take a recovery workout was a smart decision. I should still be able to hit my normal upper body workout tomorrow. I don't think my training will be compromised by the light workout today. This was certainly better than just doing nothing, which was really my only other option.
Today is going to be one of the few days where I'm ecstatic that my job involves sitting at a desk all day. I'm enjoying the opportunity to rest. Hopefully I can make time for some extra sleep tonight.
Saturday, April 21, 2007
Another Saturday spent hauling boxes down the stairs and to the new place. Only 2 SUV's worth this time, and it was good stuff too. Today we actually got to unpacking some of the things we've moved over, and I got everything out of the garage except my weights. The power rack is even setup. I am really looking forward to moving in.
Overall, my endurance was much higher today than a week ago. Given that I only got 4 hours of sleep last night, I'm impressed. Endurance just builds much more easily for me than strength does. I was even taking the stairs back up to the apartment 2 at a time.
I will be sore tomorrow, but I plan to do some mobility work before bed and in the morning. I also did some last night. Not sure if I'll be recovered enough to hit the gym on Monday. Other than the 4 hours of sleep last night, I've been going non-stop since getting home from work Friday at 7pm. I guess it all depends on the rest and food I get tomorrow.
Body weight hit 214 today. I suspect last week read high due to water retention from the pizza I ate the night before I weighed in. Test day will come when I peg 207.
Friday, April 20, 2007
5 minute warm up
Machine Rows, up to 140lbs
Overhead Presses up to 95lbs, followed by push presses up to 115lbs
Machine Pulldowns up to 140lbs
Light chest pressing
One legged balancing up to 20 seconds x 35lb dumbell overhead.
Mobility work and stretching
Felt weak today during the lifts. I'm tired from the accumulated stresses of the week. I also walked 3 miles last night, which had my feet and calves tight. They released a lot of tension during stretching. Shoulder didn't feel great on the pressing, I haven't been stretching my neck and upper back sufficiently. I need to get back on that.
I would love to kettlebell tonight, but need to rest up for tomorrow. It's a beautiful day, maybe I'll sneak something light in.
Thursday, April 19, 2007
I added a set with the front squats using the 35lb kettlebells. Repeated the 3x5x165 in romanian deadlifts. Repeated the 2x10x80lbs in the side bend. Did my external rotator work. Then I did mobility and stretching. My calves loosened a lot this morning. Last night I spent 1.5 hours taking apart my power rack for the move, and I think that left them tight.
Overall a decent workout. Later today I got the issue at work dealt with and some other things went really well. I am feeling much better. Lifting is an excellent outlet for channeling aggression so I can deal with problems rationally. I'm going out tonight and won't get a lot of sleep as result, so tomorrow's workout is going to be a bear. Luckily it is Friday tomorrow and I'm just doing upper body.
The weekend isn't going to leave much opportunity for rest. I'm going to be moving all day Saturday, then helping my dad change the shocks on his car on Sunday. At least I should be able to get enough sleep and food to make it through next week's workouts. As long as I do that, I've got a 9 day vacation to finish my move and rest up that I can look forward to. I've intentionally planned to overreach over the next 2 weeks or so, and then take the time to recover in my new place. Hopefully at all comes together like I expect!
Wednesday, April 18, 2007
Goals for 2007 are listed below. They are centered on developing the ability to move my body through space. Currently I am planning to get each one on video. Each video will be posted for feedback, along with weight lifted, date, and bodyweight. This list will evolve as I meet goals:
1/3 Bodyweight Kettlebell
1.1) Clean (05/26/2007 - 69lbs at 206lb BW - Video)
1.2) Push Press (05/26/2007 - 69lbs at 206lb BW - Video)
1.3) Snatch (05/26/2007 - 69lbs at 206lb BW - Video)
1.4) Press (08/09/2008 - 53lbs at 158lb BW - Video)
1.5) Bottoms Up Press
1.6) Goblet Squat (06/30/2007 - 69lbs at 205lb BW - Video)
1.7) Double Front Squat (08/09/2008 - 2x53lbs at 158lb BW - Video)
1/2 Bodyweight Kettlebell
2.1) Clean (01/12/2008 - 176lbs BW - Video)
2.2) Push Press
2.5) Bottoms Up Press
2.6) Goblet Squat (01/12/2008 - 176lbs BW - Video)
2.7) Double Front Squat
4.1) Front Squat
4.3) Push Press
5.1) Chin (07/13/2007 - 201lb BW - Video)
5.2) Pistol per leg
5.3) 5 Chins (11/18/2007 - 180lb BW - Video)
5.4) 5 Pistols per leg
5.5) 3x5 Chins (11/18/2007 - 180lb BW - Video)
5.6) 3x5 Pistols per leg
5.7) 5x5 Chins (02/23/2008 - 170lb BW - Video)
5.8) 5x5 Pistols per leg
5.10) Handstand Press Up
6.1) Bodyweight Double Overhand Axle Deadlift (04/28/2007 - 213lbs at 212lb BW - Video)
6.2) 1.25 Bodyweight Double Overhand Axle Deadlift (02/23/2008 - 213lbs at 170lb BW - Video)
6.3) Compete in July Michigan Grip Champs 5 (07/28/2007 - 200lb BW - Video)
6.4) Bend Grade 5 bolt
6.5) 1.5 Bodyweight Double Overhand Axle Deadlift
6.6) Compete in December Gripmas (12/08/2007 - 177lb BW - Results)
6.7) Deadlift 35lb Blob
6.8) Bodyweight V-bar (02/23/2008 - 171lbs at 170lb BW - Video)
6.9) Bodyweight One Handed Deadlift (04/02/2008 - 165lbs at 165lb BW - Video)
Mobility / Stability
7.1) 3x5/5 Turkish Get Up with 12k KB (07/13/2007 - 201lb BW - Video)
7.2) 3x5/5 Turkish Get Up with 16k KB (10/14/2007 - 187lb BW - Video)
7.3) 3x5/5 Turkish Get Up with 20k KB (02/15/2008 - 171lb BW - Video)
7.4) 3x5 Overhead Squat Empty Bar
7.5) 25 Push ups (04/02/2008 - 165lb BW - Video)
7.6) 60 Second Front Bridge (05/26/2007 - 206lb BW - Video)
7.7) 60 Second Side Bridge (02/23/2008 - 170lb BW - Video)
Tuesday, April 17, 2007
Load block to bench: 4x5/5x27.5lbs
Followed that up with dexterity balls and finger extensions. Mixed a couple moderate gripper closes in there. Then I stretched my calves, foam rollered my upper spine, and stretched my posterior shoulder capsule. I'll probably stretch my neck after I shower. Not the best grip workout, but time was short.
After coming home exhausted last night and going to bed at 9pm, I was feeling well rested this morning. My shoulder was a little tight from the increased weight in the Romanian deads, but the soreness from moving only remained in my glutes and right calf.
Hit machine rows, overhead barbell press, and pulldowns with no problems. Did a few more reps on the rows and presses, 10 more lbs on the pulldowns. Opted to skip any chest work since my shoulder was complaining a little. Did a set of 3/3x20lb turkish get ups, then 3 rounds of balancing on one foot for 20 seconds, last 2 rounds with 35lbs overhead. Followed that with my mobility work.
Overall, the workout felt pretty good. My shoulder is going to need some time before it is ready for more weight on the romanian deadlifts. The tight calf was making my right knee click a little more than expected during the turkish get ups. I failed to stretch my posterior shoulder capsule, but may do some more intensive upper body stretching and foam roller work tonight.
My progress is pleasing. I am 20lbs off the weight I was using on my romanian deads last year at this time, right before I had to stop lifting because my shoulder was hurt. There is very little pain now, and I am also 30lbs lighter. My foot has started to come around. I am developing more confidence in it when jogging to cross the street or going down the stairs. Stretching my calf daily is making all the difference. After the foot was such a problem for so long, I am surprised at the simple activities that are fixing it. I guess it just demonstrates how important it is to align my training with my actual needs.
I might end up doing grip work tonight. My hands feel strong today, and I want to capitalize on that. It's also a good warm up for the upper body mobility work I'd like to do.
Monday, April 16, 2007
I figured that since a high workload with relatively light weight was responsible for my soreness, my low volume, high weight workout shouldn't be impacted too much. Other than a lack of energy, it went pretty well. I did my front squats with the same weight as last time, added 10lbs to my Romanian deadlifts, and added 5lbs to my side bends. I'm sure there is a direct relationship here to the extra food I ate this weekend and the added strength, despite my low energy levels.
Finished the workout off with about 30 minutes of mobility work. I forgot to cool down like I'd planned, and it took my quite awhile to loosen up. I'm feeling much better from the trip to the gym though. It worked out a lot of my aches and pains.
No weight change last week. It's not surprising, since I ate out most days and there was a big bowl of easter candy at work that I've been helping myself to. I'm currently planning to dial my food in for the next two weeks, by reducing the frequency with which I eat out. Already this morning I skipped going out for my 2 bagels with cream cheese after my workout. I've been doing that daily, so just leaving those out every morning should get me back on track.
Saturday, April 14, 2007
There are 32 stairs from the entrance of my apartment to the parking lot outside my building. 4 flights, 8 per flight. I know this because I counted. I counted while I filled the SUV we rented, over and over and over. 3 trips to the new place with all the stuff we won't use in the next 2 weeks. I have no idea why we have 3 SUV's full of stuff we don't use, or why we are moving it. That's a question for my wife.
My body held up surprisingly well. I prepped for today like I would a contest. Huge meal last night followed by about an hour of mobility work. Full night's sleep, another huge meal for breakfast, and a hot bath to get everything warmed up. Started with the weights I don't use, finished with the lightest things I could find. By the final bits of load 3, I was unable to stop my hands from shaking with exhaustion. I am amazed by the guys that do this for a living.
I ended the evening with another big meal and another hour of mobility work. Everything is tired, but nothing is injured. I cannot believe I neglected mobility work for so long. It takes so little time and effort to make such a huge difference in how I feel. I bet I cut 1-2 days off the amount of rest I'll need from today's work. I'm going to take it easy tomorrow and hope to be in the gym on Monday. Life is good.
Friday, April 13, 2007
I moved on to my mobility and stability work. I'm having a really hard time letting go of the tension that is generated during my workouts now. I don't know if it's a result of the accumulated fatigue from the week, or if my foot and shoulder have finally gotten well enough that I'm stressing my whole body during workouts. I may play around with introducing a five minute cool down on the elliptical at the end of my workouts.
I did unofficially hit one of the goals on my relatively strong list, a 60 second front bridge. I think I'm going to require video to sign each goal off, but it's good to know that one is close. I've got a test day planned for the weekend after I move.
After the gym I ran into Neil Kaz on my way to work. Cool to see a fellow grip enthusiast on the streets of Chicago. With all the grip guys in this area, it's a shame there's not more get togethers. Maybe I'll try to organize something once I've settled in to the new place.
Not sure if I'll hit grip tomorrow or not. It looks like I may spend the day doing some preliminary moving, hauling things we aren't currently using to the new house. The workout will depend on how that leaves me feeling. Resting will also be a big priority this weekend. If the fatigue that has settled in isn't resolved by Monday, I might have to skip the first two workouts of next week.
Thursday, April 12, 2007
Yesterday I was out from 8am to 10pm, sitting almost the entire time. I didn't fall asleep until 11pm. My whole body was tight from sitting so long. Getting up at 6 this morning meant there was no chance of a serious workout. So, I got up anyway and decided to goof off at the gym instead. Warmed up and jumped into the work
Deadlift Max: 5x135; 3x185; 3x205; 1x225; 1x245 PR;
All reps were done rest pause style with a double overhand grip. That's a 10lb PR. It's funny, when I'm tired, I can still focus for a max effort. Reps are what would kill me. I had the sense to walk away happy with a 10lb PR and leave some in the tank. That's the maturity that comes with spending months recovering from injuries. I know now a successful max is one that leaves me feeling good the next day.
I then tried my first 2 reps of sumo deadlifts ever. One at 135, and one at 205. Man, the length of that pull is so much shorter. With the flexibility I've developed in my hips and I little practice, I could probably do a lot more weight this way. I can see the objections to allowing this style for the axle deadlift in grip contests. It really decreases the duration the bar has to be supported.
Followed that up with some light goblet squats, standing on one foot with a 35lb dumbell overhead, and about 35 minutes of mobility work and stretching. I was moving sloooow and it took a long time to release all the tension that was generated by the deadlifting. I barely made it in to work on time.
My hope was the max effort deadlifts would stimulate my nerves enough to prevent me from wanting to sleep at my desk. It seems to have worked for now. My whole body feels loose from the stretching. It's a great antidote to the damage caused by sitting so much. I'll probably crash as the day gets on, but that's why I train in the morning. I can go home tonight and do nothing.
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
Tomorrow evening I'm busy, have to head off to a PMI chapter meeting and get my PMP on. The upside is I get dinner and professional networking. The downside is my grip workout got shifted a day early, to tonight. I prefer not to do two workouts in one day, but I'm not real happy with the drop in my grip strength and want do what I can to reverse it.
Grippers: Worked up to a max attempt on my BBM. Barely hit it righty, missed it lefty.
Blockweight Loads to Bench: 5/5x20lb; 2x5/5x25lb; 1/1x30lb; 2/2x30lb;
Bent 2 Timber Ties Double Underhand, 2 Double Overhand
Stretched my left calf
Overall not a terrible workout. I'm quite a bit off from my peak strength. Hopefully with a bit of focus I can get it close to a peak for the July grip contest. I have been neglecting my grip workouts lately, counting on kettlebells and practice tearing phone books to maintain things while I drop weight. It didn't work. This new approach might. If I'm not close to peak strength by the end of June, I'll need to consider a few high calorie weeks leading up to the contest. It'd be nice to place higher than last place
The dumbbell presses felt ok, went up to a couple sets with a 40lber. The barbell presses feel better on my bad shoulder, but these worked. It seems like if I start with the dumbbell in the overhead position (via a snatch), my shoulder is happier with the pressing than if I clean the weight to my shoulder first. I don't know why.
Moved into pulldowns. These felt pretty good, definitely hitting that weak right lower trap. It was more tired than usual today, I expect from the turkish get ups yesterday. Then I gave the incline dumbbell presses another shot. Bumped the weight slightly to 2 sets with the 35lbers. Bad shoulder started to complain near the end of the second set. Still a big improvement from not being able to press horizontally without pain 8 months ago.
Finished off with some stretching and mobility work. Ironically, today my right ankle was hurting, but my left foot felt pretty good. I suspect I've overstretched the right ankle with the twice a day stretching. I took it easy on that leg and worked the left one over. Realized calf raises are not the next phase, but rather single leg balancing. Mobility, then stability, then strength. So I did some balancing on one leg with a 10lb medicine ball overhead.
Overall, a decent workout. It's so easy to forget the order that my training should focus on things. I always want to work strength, but I'm really not at that level yet. My primary need right now is to develop the ability to move easily and freely through all ranges of motion. It's not as much fun while I'm working out, but it has really been paying much greater dividends in my day to day life than pure strength training ever has.
Monday, April 9, 2007
Mobility work and stretching afterwards felt pretty good. My left ankle had a lot of tension in it that released. I'm thinking in another week or two I may be able to try strengthening things with calf raises. Stretching 2x a day is helping a lot, but I need to be careful not to push to hard, as other parts of my feet and ankles were starting to ache. I've lowered the intensity of the stretches for now.
Sunday, April 8, 2007
I was diligent about my training this weekend. Saturday saw me doing nothing but eating, sleeping, and playing video games. In other words, I got much needed rest. On Sunday, I did some grip training, kettlebells, and mobility work. I'm still stretching my calves twice a day. Interestingly, my grip strength is way down, even though all of my other lifts are progressing. I expect this is a result of the grip strength being at a higher level prior to dropping weight. That realization is one of the primary drivers behind my decision to start tracking workouts on a stand alone blog.
I did get the second 16k kettlebell from my parents today. The handle is not smooth at all. I went with another Power Max kettlebell and am disappointed with the quality, honestly. It remains to be seen if the non-uniform handle shape effects how I use it, but the perfectionist in me doesn't like it.