Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Deadlifts for Thanksgiving

I'm way behind on the updates, but between work, Thanksgiving and little post-Thanksgiving stomach bug, things have been a little busy.

Last Tuesday and Thursday went according to plan.  Tuesday was a bench workout and I decided to test out my shoulder and actually do some flat bench work with a barbell.  I still decided to stay heavy on the inclines and did the following:  6x225, 5x245 and then three sets of 4x275.  Finished with 2x295.  Then I did four sets of flat bench at 8x225.  No significant shoulder pain Tuesday night or in the following days.  So I'm hoping the shoulder pain is behind me.  Then I finished with some dumbbell presses and flys.

I skipped Wednesday and did back and deadlifts on Thanksgiving morning.  The shoulder issues had also caused some problems with pull-ups but I decided to give them a try.  I wanted to get in some heavy work on my back so I did super-sets of pull-ups and lat pulldowns.  Four sets of 6 pull-ups (which is all I could muster), with each set followed by a set of 10 reps of heavy pulldowns.  Then I did seated close grip rows, 4 sets of 8.  Finally I did bent barbell rows, 4 sets of 6.

Finished with deadlifts, great way to get ready for Thanksgiving meals (that's right - meals - plural).  Started with 6x315, 5x355, 4x385 and 2x425.  All felt pretty good and the reps/weights are a significant improvement over where I was a couple of months ago where my 6 rep set was about 60 pounds lower.  I'm obviously not getting that significant of a gain on a 1 rep max but that's moving north as well. 

Unfortunately Thanksgiving day was terrible for the diet side of the challenge.  I gained about 3 pounds, putting me at about 256.  But then Saturday morning came around and I got hit with a nasty stomach bug.  I was sick until Sunday afternoon and lost about 6 pounds.  Very dehydrated and not able to eat at all.  But I'm on the mend and was able to lift last night. Because of the holidays and being sick I skipped a shoulder and leg workout and decided to pick back up with the normal schedule and worked on the bench last night.

Finally able to start on a normal flat routine now that my right shoulder is feeling better.  After warm-ups, did the following:  8x225, 6x255, 5x275, 3 sets of 4x295 and 1x315.  Then heavy inclines on the Powertec, then super-sets of flat dumbbell presses and flys.  No shoulder pain today and my weight was hovering around 251. 

Thanks for reading and feel free to "follow" the blog. 


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Catching up on the week

Little behind on keeping up with this.  Last Wednesday was back/deadlift night.  With my shoulder pain I can't do pull-ups so I started with 5 sets of lat pulldowns on the Powertec, followed by 4 sets of bent barbell rows, working up to a two set at 255.  Then deadlifts.  Starting with a set of 6 at 315 and working up for 3 more sets to a set of 2x415.

Thursday was a scheduled day off and I was supposed to work shoulders on Friday night but I got home late, etc., etc., and just didn't lift.  Saturday was even busier and I skipped everything again.  I just wasn't motivated I guess.

But I felt better on Sunday but was behind on the schedule so I decided to pull a two-a-day.  I worked shoulders in the late morning.  Started with military presses - 6x195, 5x210, 4x230, 2x240.  Powertec military presses - 8x200, 6x230, 5x250, 4x280, 1x300.  Then shrugs and rear rows.

After eating, hanging out with the kids, resting a little and doing some work, I worked legs in the afternoon.  I felt great this afternoon and started with squats after a short warmup on the Precor.  Two warm-up sets and then 6x205, 5x235, 5x265, 4x295, 2x325, 1x365.  365 was a new personal record (in the modern era at least).  Felt great.  Then heavy extensions (4x10) and calf raises (4x12).  Under a little time crunch so I had to skip stiff leg deadlifts.  Got a chance to watch a little football with the 'Skins game on TV while I was lifting and watched them sneak past the Titans. 

Dieting has been up and down.  My weight was down to just under 252 on Friday but I'll have to wait and see what it looks like in the morning.  We had a great dinner with family at Riptides in Chester so there's a chance it won't look good in the morning.  Also had a late dinner (steak and mashed potatoes) last night so it may be a bad weekend for the diet end of the challenge.

It's pretty tough to cut back on eating when I'm lifting heavy.  After a day like today, having worked my legs pretty hard, I'm just starving.  That's the main reason I try to lift at night.  If I lift first thing in the morning I'm starving all day and I eat like a horse.  Counterproductive most of the time so I try to lift in the evenings and either eat beforehand or eat a small, protein heavy meal afterwards and then go to bed before I get too hungry.  I miss the days when I could lift heavy and eat heavy too. 

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tuesday 11/16: Bench night

Following my normal day of rest on Monday, Tuesday night was, as usual, time for working on the bench.  I've been having some pain and tightness in my right shoulder which I've self-diagnosed as a rotator cuff issue.  I had a similar problem on my left side during the spring and early summer and it kept me from benching for about two months.  The odd thing was that while I couldn't do the typical flat bench work with a barbell, incline wasn't painful and dumbbells work was fine.  So I took about two months and focused on incline and then slowly worked back into flats.  It set me back on one hand but my incline strength really improved.

So I find myself in the same situation but the pain is not as severe.  I think I recognized it much earlier and have taken the last several weeks off from the flat bench and have moved back to focusing on incline.

Although I am in no way qualified to offer advice to anyone, I'm fairly comfortable assessing the causes of my current problems.  I see two causes.  First, because I'm always pressed for time I tend to blow off rotator cuff work.  It's just boring and I don't care for it.  But I used to do it and never had these problems so I'll take my lumps now and try not to make the same mistake going forward.  Second, I was overtraining.  I was trying to get in two bench days a week - one a very heavy day and one a speed and conditioning day.  The problems are that 1) I'm older and need more time to heal; 2) I really ended up going heavier than I should on the supposed light days; and 3) I'm still not in top shape so my body just can't take the abuse it could when I was younger and in good shape.  Back then it was no problem to lift 5 days out of 7 with a couple of two-a-days mixed in for fun. 

Anyway, here's how tonight went.  Much like last Sunday, I just didn't have the top end and I think I need to do some heavier tricep work over the next few months because they were failing during the heavier sets.

Started on incline (skipped the Precor warm-up because of time), stretched, few warm-up sets and then into the work sets.  Went as follows:  8x205, 6x225, 5x255, 3x275, 2x295.  Then two max rep sets at 225 (8 & 6).

Powertec flat bench:  8x270, 6x310, 6x340, 4x380, 3x410.  Two max sets at 270 (6 & 5).

Incline dumbbell presses:  4x8x70s.  Flat dumbbell flys:  4x10x40s.

Not a terrible night but not great.  Had a light snack of oatmeal before I lifted and then ate steak and homemade mac & cheese (best ever by the way) for dinner.  That will probably push me over my starting weight so I'm going to have to hit the Precor before bed in hopes of mitigating the damages. 


Sunday 11/14: Squats, etc.

After a morning filled with supervising ten 3 year olds for an hour or so in the nursery at church, we made it home, got a bite to eat from Chipotle and then I finally had time to try and lift (with the end of the 1:00 p.m. games on TV of course).  Just didn't seem to have the energy that I had last Sunday but I muddled through and tried to make the best of it.  After a 10 minute warm-up on the Precor and some stretching, started with squats. 

Sets went like this:  8x190, 6x230, 5x275, 4x290, 2x315.  Just didn't have the top end for some reason so I couldn't push towards or past 340 like I intended to.

Followed up the squats by trying to cut down on rest between sets and exercises so I did 4 supersets of stiff leg deadlifts (8x145), extensions on the Powertec bench (8x70) and calf raises on the hack squat rack (12x250).  That managed to tire me out as punishment for not squating well.

Oh well, can't set a personal record every week.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Shoulders on Saturday 11/13

Shoulder's yesterday afternoon.  Before I get to the boring details, yesterday was a prime example of the differences between lifting now and when I was younger.  More responsibilities, more demands on time, etc.  On a Saturday in 2000, if I wanted to watch a football game and wanted to lift, I would have had the time to get up, go to the gym, lift for an hour or two, and then come home and clean up, eat and get ready to watch some football.  Now, married with two kids, there's just not enough time.  So I have to plan out the day and multi-task.  Waited to lift until about 3:30 so that I could have the Carolina/Tech game on in the garage while I was lifting.  Not ideal to have that distraction but there just isn't enough time to spend an hour or so lifting and a few hours watching a game.  At least I got it done, too bad my Heels didn't.

As for the lifting, decent day.  Started with a 10 minute warm-up on the Precor and some stretching.  Then into military presses:  two warm-ups, 6x190, 5x210, 4x230 and 1x250 (missed the second rep at 250).  Powertec military presses, trying to go heavier than last week:  8x200, 6x230, 5x260, 4x290, 2x310.  Then four supersets of shrugs (8x270), 30 seconds on the rope and reverse flys (8x40# dumbbells).

Squats and leg work coming up on Sunday afternoon (probably with football on TV again). 

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Opening salvo

Hey everyone, welcome and thanks for checking this thing out.  Let me explain what I'm doing here.  I guess it starts in the mid to late 1990s when I was a much younger, thinner and stronger Sergeant in the United States Marine Corps.  I had gotten into lifting and managed to put on a lot of weight (mostly, but not all) muscle and, with the help of my good buddy Jay, also managed to get pretty strong.  I kept at it when I got out and went to college in Chapel Hill.

But after graduating in 2001, I went on to law school, got married to my beautiful wife Julianne, and generally got busy doing things other than lifting.  I got back into it for a little while during law school but I broke my ankle playing basketball and that was all she wrote (it didn't take a whole lot to stop me from going to the gym).  So from about 2003 until January 1, 2010, I basically didn't exercise with any consistency and when I happened to exercise it wasn't very serious.

But while my exercise habits changed, my eating habits either didn't change or got worse.  You can all see where this is going.

Let's get back to the recent past.  December 31, 2009 rolls around and I find myself way, way, way out of shape and much heavier than I had ever been.  I had managed to lose a little weight at the end of 2009 thanks to a bout of the swine flu and trying to eat a little better for a few months.  But I'm weak as a kitten (at least relative to where I used to be) and I have a wonderful wife and two beautiful little girls that I want to be around for as they grow up.  Not to mention, I really want to be able to scare the *&@% out of little boys when they start coming around the girls down the road.  Fat old dad just wasn't the profile for success.

I made a New Year's resolution with the wife to get back in shape and lose weight.  It started out very, very slowly since I couldn't lift anywhere near the levels I remembered from back in the day.  We had moved into a new house in October of 2009 and finally had the space in our garage to set up a basic but respectable gym.  Squat cage, benches, treadmill, couple hundred pounds of weights.

I started trying to eat better and cutting out certain things that were really bad for me.  I haven't had a cheeseburger from a fast food restaurant in 2010.  In the interest of full disclosure (and because my wife points it out all the time), I haven't necessarily stopped eating hamburgers and I certainly don't eat a perfect diet.  But I cut out the bacon doubles (or sometimes triples) from Wendy's, BK, McD's, etc.  Anybody that knows me understands how difficult it has been to remove that particular staple from my diet.  I've cut back on fried stuff, been eating more salads and lean proteins, etc.  Sodas are almost exclusively out of my diet.  I drink water and skim milk mainly and take a daily multi-vitamin and amino acid supplements.

With eating better and easing back into exercise I managed to gain some strength and lose some weight.  Over the last 11 months we've added a Precor elliptical to the gym, a nice Powertec workbench,  basic dumbbell set (10-70s), more free weights, a 1 1/2 inch rope and a weight sled to the equipment.  But I lack the intensity of my youth and I needed to set goals for myself.

That's where the blog comes in.  I've decided to aim for competing in a local powerlifting meet in December 2011.  That gives me a little over a year to accomplish two goals that some may think are mutually exclusive.  I need to lose weight (a lot, see below) to try and get to the 220 weight class and I need to add weight to all of my lifts.  I've decided to go public with the journey in hopes that it will encourage me to work harder because I won't want to make a fool out of myself in front of the 3 people that will likely end up following my blog (Hi Juls, Mom and Grandma!) and maybe it might encourage somebody else to try something productive.  Between work, taking care of two amazing little girls, spending time with my incredible wife, great friends and family, I expect that it will be a bit of a challenge.

My plan is track my progress via the blog, keeping everyone filled in on what I'm doing in terms of lifting and dieting and letting you know what's going well and what's not.  I'm going to try and keep track of my workouts on the blog and then give a monthly assessment of my body weight and my maxes in the three main lifts:  bench press, deadlift and squat.  Those are the competition lifts but I'll probably track military press, power clean and incline bench as well.

So let's get down to business.  Here's where I am at age 35 and where I want to be in December 2011.

Current weight:  253.  Goal:  220.  That's going be a tough row to hoe.
Current bench press max:  345.  Goal:  405.
Current squat max:  340.  Goal:  405.
Current deadlift max:  445:  Goal:  500.
Current military press max:  250.  Goal:  305.
Current incline bench max:  305.  Goal:  365.
Current power clean max:  205.  Goal:  285.

Mostly arbitrary goals but I think that if I can get to these then I can go compete in December and not make a fool out of myself.  Won't win, but I won't get laughed out of the gym.

Thanks for reading and I'd be happy for you to tag along for the ride.  I can always use encouragement from friends and family and if you happen to have any helpful suggestions then those are appreciated too.