Thursday, September 4, 2014

New toys at the gym!

So the other day I saw a couple of boxes in the gym and also some new wood railing mounted up on the walls next to the end of Rogue rack system.  I asked about the wood and was told they were going to be moving part of the rack system from another wall over.  I then peaked in the box and found two new Pendlay 25kg competition plates.  Ok, that's really nothing special mind you.  I mean the gym has stacks of rubber bumper plates of all different sizes.  However, I found out a few weeks ago that you can only get 4, 45 lb bumper plates (training style) on one side of the barbell (total of 405 lbs) when I was doing deadlifts.  I mentioned this to the GM who just happened to be working out and said that at some point I will actually be able to say I have outlifted the gym and that some competition plates would be nice but they are expensive.  I suggested that since the competition plates are about half as think as the training plates.  He then told me how you can actually get 5/45's on one side by using one of the small red stretch bands.  I sort of giggled but the reality is that it works and I'm not going to be lifting that much any time soon anyway.

So, today the new plates were out of their boxes and stacked up right next to where I normally workout at in the morning.  It was like the stacked them over there just for me!  I was doing front squats today (5 sets of 5 reps) and supposed to be going up in weight for each set.  In the end, I finished at 185 and felt that I could have done another 5-10 lbs for 5 reps but opted to just cut it off there so I could do my WOD and still walk tomorrow.  When I got back to my office and was downloading the picture below I realized the plates were in KG's not lbs.  Well I actually knew that but simply forgot I guess.  So the reality is that I squated 205 for 5 reps and felt that I could have done more!  Definitely a good day...for that.

On the flip side of things, I have somehow lost the ability to link my pullups again.  So ticked off about that.  I just can't get the damn rhythm again.  Haven't been able to do them since pulling it off last week.  WTH????

Tomorrows workout is going to kick my butt.  I am hoping that my legs aren't too stiff and I can actually do it.  Worst case is I pick a different workout.  None the less, here's tomorrow's workout:

3 rounds for time

500m Row
15 hang snatches (75 lbs)
400m run
15 push ups
10 pull ups

I definitely think this one is going to take me a bit of time to complete but it's Friday so I might as well try to finish out the week with a hard workout.

Thursday, August 28, 2014

CrossFit Journal

So, if you have read some of my prior posts then you know I have been in the weight lifting game off and on for Lord knows how many years.  I typically end up in the gym for a solid 6-8 months and then somehow transition back out on to the bike and pedal away all my muscle gains.  This year however was a little different.  I have been in the gym since maybe May/June of 2013 and never really made it out onto the bike this year.  I think I am being generous if I say I rode 5 times this year.  I know for a fact I did a night ride with some friends which was a blast but other than that, no real riding to speak of.

As a result of that, my weight hit a peak of about 196 lbs and has now been holding steady at about 185 lbs.  But as the title says, I have started doing more Crossfit workouts lately so I suspect that my weight will continue to drop a bit.

So how did I get into Crossfit?  Well, I would say that it started with my trying to learn how to do an overhead squat which then became learning the Olympic lifts.  I became quite focused on this and realized that I really hadn't been focusing on anything else.  I hate doing cardio and I wasn't really hitting all my other body parts.  I was getting bigger (bulkier) and stronger but I really didn't look the way I wanted to.  So I started trying some different things and eventually ended up doing some CrossFit workouts.  They SUCK!  Not in a negative sense mind you, but in a physical way.  I guess what I should really say is that I SUCK.  I had lost all my conditioning ability and any workout that had me putting out a hard effort for more than 5 minutes was close to giving me a heart attack.

This week was the 2nd week in a row that I did a CrossFit style workout every day.  I'll start with a warmup focusing on everything and then zero in on the muscle groups I'll be hitting for the skill work which comes next.  Skill work is simply a focus exercise if you will.  It could be deadlifts, bench press, front squats, or Olympic lifts.  The goal here is to either work on technique or strength.  Once done with that I move on to some sort of Met Con (metabolic conditioning).  I typically try to employ an exercise that coinsides with the skill work I just completed and then one or two other exercises.  I'll then try to do a set number of reps and rounds for time or in a certain amount of time.  I then try to finish things off with a rowing cool down or a nice stroll out in the parking lot.

So that's what's been going on.  I'll be trying to track my progress through this process and see where I end up.  The goal is to maintain the muscle that I have, perhaps add a little more, but mostly to lean out a bit.  I'll working on cleaning up my diet a bit more and perhaps do some carb cycling here and there as well.  I'm not going for the whole Paleo thing though.  I like milk and cheese (dairy in general for that matter) so that will stay though I will cut back on it some.

I'll post up my workouts from time to time as well as any other rants/raves I might have.  Stay tuned!  Here we go!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Back in the Saddle

Well, I finally bit the bullet and set some time aside to work on my bike!  The Bianchi has some issues that won't be fixed for a while as my wife and I are trying to pay some bills off and get our driveway redone ($5k) so no new parts for now.  So as depressing as it sounds, I decided to rehab the Jabber and ride it.  Ok, there wasn't really anything wrong with it other than it was pretty much put up wet.  I think my last ride was close to if not longer than 4 months ago.  If you saw some of my previous posts on here, you can see that I was lifting again.  I also work part time at the gym so by the time I get off my full time job, I'm pretty tired.  I touched my Jabber every day as I walk past it in the garage but just couldn't seem to get the time together to out on the damn thing.

Ok so I took an ass woopin trying to swap my tires out.  I don't know if I posted this up but I sold my Stan's Crest wheels with Hope hubs.  The bottom line is that I didn't feel that they were strong enough for me after gaining some weight.  They were nice and light and flexed a bit and I was basically just paranoid that I was going to crush one again.  So I sold them to someone much lighter than me that will surely put them to good use.  Back to the tires.  Since I only have one set of wheels now, I had to swap the tires from my Bronsons, what I consider poor conditions/winter tires.  I was going to run my Wolverine on the front and my old Nano on the rear but the stupid Nano was too stretched out and I couldn't get that thing to seal for my life.  I had frickn sealant all over the damn garage and darn near thru the wheel thru the wall a couple of times.  I ended up slapping my old Bonti Team issue on the back instead.  Then after cleaning up the chain and wiping the whole bike down I went to slap the front wheel on only to realize I had put the damn tire on backwards!  Stupid disc brakes pretty much stopped me from just flipping the wheel around and of course had to dismount and remount the front tire again!  Frickn ridiculous!  I'm now going to ride these tires until the frickn fall off!

I made it out for a short ride yesterday.  The plan was to simply enjoy the ride.  I made it a point to not put the Garmin on which would prevent me from looking at my HR, tracking my speed, distance...I also wouldn't download that ride to Strava anyway as it would be a complete embarrassment.  I do know however from past rides that the loop I did was about 4.75 miles.  I really did just enjoy the ride.  My legs didn't get too tired though I did get winded a few times.  I never stopped though and made it up every little climb.  Ok, I stopped once because the bottle I chose to ride with wouldn't come in and out of the stupid cage.  I had a frickn blast being back out on the bike.

My hands were getting a little numb but I know that was because I had a bit of a death grip at times and I just need to get back into the flow and loosen up.  Other than that, my body was fine.  My shoes aren't fairing so well though.  I kept getting a squeaking out of my left shoe and when I got home a took a look.  Apparently, my egg beaters are wearing a groove in the bottom of my carbon soled shoes!  WTF?  It is at the rear of the cleat.  There is a straight line groove where the pedal rubs on the sole.  I actually have it on both shoes.  I never noticed it before and I now think it sucks!  This means purchasing another set of pedals as I'm not going to start burning thru my shoes because of a set of pedals!  I have no idea what I will run as I really do like my egg beaters and of course they are light!  This blows basically!

Oh, I also sold my XTR brakes back in the fall as well.  Again I was having problems with hydraulic brakes.  I basically suck at getting them dialed in or they seem to develop a leak somehow.  I have now run 5 different Hydro brakes on my bike and every set has had an issue.  Yet I have only run 1 set of cable BB7's and they always frickn work!  ALWAYS!  They are heavy and not as smooth but dang, having the ability to spin a dial on the trail and keep rolling is awesome!  Might look into running the lighter road bike version going in to this winter.

Future upgrades....well, I've been thinking about a few things and honestly, a shock is at the top of the list.  I don't want a normal looking shock though.  I'm still hooked on the whole Lefty set up which will mean another front wheel.  But I like the set up so that is something I'll be working on going into the fall/winter this year.  Its a big ticket item so we'll just have to see how that goes.  Other than maybe trying a set of Hope brakes I'm quite happy with the bike at this point.  It frickn works and rides quite smooth overall.

As far as my workouts go, not too much has changed.  After doing the same routine for the past 2.5 months I decided to completely change things up last week.  I did an entirely different workout that kicked my butt.  It was a welcomed change of pace if you will.  This week I'm back to my routine and started the week off with leg day!  Yep, front squats!  Felt great and suspect that I'll be a little stiff tomorrow.  But tomorrow will an arm or delt day so I should be able to limp through that.

My goal now is to keep working out at least 3 days a week if not 5 and get some rides in right after work.  We'll see how well that works as the wife usually has be running around picking kids up and what not.  But I'm going to give it a shot now that I got the bike back together.  Going to try to keep what muscle weight I have gained over the past year but continue to lean out if possible.  Currently sitting at about 10% body fat and would like to get that down to about 6% but I don't know if I can handle dieting any further to get there.  Diets suck!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Training

So I work at the gym part time.  This all started as a favor to a friend of mine who is the General Manager.  I agreed to come and work the front desk a few nights a week and close the gym for him because he was short staffed.  I was asked because I used to be a personal trainer for the gym years ago before going out on my own to do it.  In any case, I have basically told no one that I'm a certified trainer as well as the holder of other fitness certifications yet somehow word has gotten out recently and I now find myself being asked training and nutritional questions damn near every night I go to work.  I don't mind answering them or giving out pointers here and there to people really, provided I'm not swamped with the actual duties I am being paid to perform.

Last night however was a bit different.  I was walking the floor in the free weight area restacking weights from all the lackies that can't seem to remember that the plates weren't on the bars before they started their workout and then left them there.  Yes, I will frickn chase you down if I see you do it and tell you to go back and rack your weights.  If you refuse, then I will simply ask you to grab your shit and leave the building.  "you will respect my AUTHORITY!!!"  In any case, a member asked me if we had a particular piece of equipment (Hack Squat machine) that he was standing right next to.  In his defense I know exactly what he was referring to and we don't have one of those but the Hack Squat will do the exact same thing he was looking for.  He mentioned that he wanted to try doing squats on that because he was having balance issues when doing barbell squats.

All of a sudden I felt like, here we go again.  Time to play trainer.  I mean, I couldn't just walk away after telling him he was leaning on the machine he was looking for could I?  That would just be rude and he wouldn't learn or progress.  The hack squat machine might allow him to hit his quads but it would have no impact on his ability to actually perform a real squat with a barbell.  So after showing him how to use the hack squat machine, I then asked him to step into the smith machine as we were about to have a coaching moment.  I explained what I was going to try to do with him and promised that in no less than 10 minutes I would improve his form and he would be able to apply what he had learned and be on his way to doing weighted squats in no time.  So without going into all the details, he got in the Smith and I had him stand straight up with the bar on his shoulders.  I then stood behind him and told him to squat.  As he started to bend his knees, I grabbed his waist and started pulling it back slightly.  Next thing you know, he was bottomed out.  I then walked around him and pulled his knees out slightly and told him to sit there for a few seconds to feel the position.  Then I told him to repeat that 10 times.  I noticed that as he was getting tired he would start to lean forward.  Even on the Smith his form was breaking down.  So I told him to rack the bar and take a 2 min break.

Next we jumped back on the Smith and did another 5 reps and took a break.  His form was perfect.  Ass to the ground, knees kicking out, feet flat.  He actually has really good mobility which is half the battle.  We then put 25 lb plates on the Smith and I had him do another 5 reps.  He did great.  We racked it and immediately went over to the squat rack and I had him get under the barbell. I told him to squat and down he went.  Perfect form!  He did 5 free standing reps with great form and I had him rack the bar.  I then told him that since he hadn't been doing squats in a while I only wanted him to do one more set and then walk away from squats all together for the day.  He did 5 more reps on the Smith and then 5 more with just a barbell.  Again, all with perfect form.  I then kicked him off any other leg equipment for the night.  I told him he could thank me tomorrow when he was starting to feel stiff.  He left with a smile on his face having learned something new.  Most importantly, he left feeling accomplished even though he was only squating the barbell.  I told him that the people that see him lifting in the gym won't be with him 24-48 hours later when he can't frickn walk because he strained a hamstring.  Forget about being worried about how much is on the bar.  Take baby steps and learn the form/technique first.  The weight will come.  Most importantly, you'll be doing it right and won't have all the associated injuries with doing it wrong.

It was an awesome experience for me as well.  I didn't realize it at the time but when I got back to the front desk, our head trainer just happened to see me instructing him as well as a few other members.  Those other member commented to our head trainer that they they thought it was awesome that our staff (ME) was so focused on learning proper technique over lifting weight and that they wanted to know how they could book an appointment with one of the gyms trainers or me if I was available.  Paul told them that I was not a trainer for the gym and that I only worked at the front desk.  But he would be more than happy to link them up one of the gyms trainers.  In the end the member talking to the head trainer signed up for some training sessions but added that the gym should have more trainers out on the floor willing to help members as I had.

So I figured that was it.  Then today (a few minutes ago) I got a call from my friend, the General Manager (GM).  He apparently had Paul, Head Trainer, in the office with him and they wanted to discuss the issues that occurred last night.  Paul apparently complained that I was out on the sales floor providing training sessions to members for free and that since I was not a "Golds Trainer" and only worked at the front desk that I should have simply referred the member to one of the trainers.  My response back was that I would be more than happy to provide Paul with all of my credentials and fitness resume if you will which clearly demonstrates that I have over 15 years and no less than 9 different certifications to my name.  I also stated that if Paul was so concerned he could have jumped in the conversation at any time seeing how he was less than 10 feet away from us and a simple thank you for the sale of some personal training sessions would suffice.  None the less, I got my ass reamed out for training a client.

At this point, I simply informed the GM of my situation.  I would be more than happy to step down from my duties as a front desk attendant if he would like.  I would return my key to the gym, they could reinstate my membership to where I have to pay like everyone else, and they could both kiss my ass.  I have a full time job already and my being at the gym was a damn favor to start with.  I also reminded the GM again, that if Paul was such a superior trainer and in charge of all the trainers at the gym then perhaps he should have offered the help himself.  I finished by stating that a training session is where you program a workout for someone and run them through it.  In this particular case I simply showed them how to use a machine and gave them a base on which to build for learning squats.  Technically, Paul was off the clock and there were no trainers working at that time of night but perhaps to prevent such instances of this nature from happening in the future perhaps scheduling trainers until later in the evening and providing the gym with more than one staff member in the entire facility for the last 2 hours of the gyms hours of operation might be a good idea.

Finally, I told them I would appreciate it if in the future if perhaps we could have these conversations in person when I was actually working at the gym and not at my full time job.  I then said thank you for your concern and I will do my best to not assist gym members in the future, told them to have a nice day, God Bless, and hung up.

Litterally, 2 minutes later I got another phone call.  The GM was ticked and felt that I didn't give him time to explain.  I told him that just like him, I have a job to do and I have no time to deal with this part time BS and that I would be at work at 8 PM if he would like to discuss this further.  I hung up.

So an hour went by and I got an email from the GM.  The tone was different this time.  It was an apology.  It also included two attachments.  One of them was an email that was sent to him from his Regional Manager. Apparently another member sent the Regional Manager an email.  That other member just happened to be the head of the HR department for Golds in our region.  I had no clue who that person was at the time because all the folks in the free weight area looked like my normal night time crew getting in their workouts.  The HR person basically gave me a glowing review stating that they have always found me to be out going, excited about what the members were working out on, willing to offer a spot, give training/nutrition advice, and knew first hand that I held many certifications.  Low and behold the HR person was one of my former clients who I had taught how to squat almost 7 years ago using that same technique on the same damn equipment!  I had no clue she worked for the company at all!

The second attachment was from the individual that I was coaching.  He gave me a glowing review and that the lessons learned and the fact that I took the time to teach him was more than enough to make his decision to sign up for a membership at the gym.

Funny how things work out some times!  In the end, the GM called the RM directly and explained that I no longer wanted to be a trainer for the gym due the unpredictable schedule they have and that I didn't want to go through the Golds Trainer certification (a Golds requirement) knowing already had my personal trainers license.  He then told him that the whole situation had gotten twisted from the Head Trainer and that when they called me, I basically told them to Shut the Hell up and hung up on them because I was at work.  The RM apparently told him that he would be a fool to let me quit at this point and that if anything he should use that as an example of how all staff members should handle such situations.  I guess I impressed a few people last night and ticked one off.  Oh well.  So goes life.  You can't make everyone happy all the time!

I honestly can't wait to go to work this evening.  I may even try to go early just so I can say hello to Paul!

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Community

So I read an article about a Crossfitter by the name of Greg.  Honestly, it was quite inspiring.  He was out of shape and decided to turn his life around.  His wife had already been doing Crossfit for over a year and he decided he would give it a shot.  In the end, he signed up for the Open (an annual event which qualifies you for regionals then the games).  He competed and came in last place.  Sounds horrible but the story is more about the courage and determination to change his life.

What I found interesting about the article is something I had already heard about and seen first hand at a local box in my area when they held a little 3 way box competition between 3 local Crossfit gyms.  Everyone cheered for everyone.  When someone was struggling, the cheering got louder.  Hugs and high 5's were all over the place.  Planet Fitness wouldn't know what to do with such a crowd of people.

None the less, hearing this story gave me a little bit different perspective.  I'm a bit of a gym rat now days and have been off and on for as long as I can remember.  I pretty much stick to the free weight area in my local gym.  Some times I have heavy days and get a spotter, other days its about higher reps and getting the blood flowing to the muscles, and even still, some days its Olympic lifts.  The one thing in common with all of those days is that not once, has there been a group of people there doing the same thing as me cheering me on to complete one more rep (aside from a spotter here and there).  Not once is someone there telling me good job, don't quit, push harder, dig deeper...Community in this sense doesn't exist in most normal gyms.  That same atmosphere just isn't there.  Sure you might get it from a lifting partner but I tell you it is no where near the same.  The workouts are different and no one is pushing to complete one more rep before time runs out.

I realize that "community" isn't there in my road riding either.  I will say that it does exist in the mountain bike scene though.  Slightly different but definitely there and that is probably the closest comparison I can give.  Roadies are frickn Alpha attitudes hell bent on being faster and stronger than the person next to them where as some MTB folks are that way but for the most part everyone is simply out to have a damn good time!

Most importantly I realize that I am lacking this sense of "community" in my life!  I want that interaction.  I want to be pushed and encouraged.  I want to do the pushing and cheering.  I think it might just be time to figure out how the hell I'm going to pay for this and take the plunge!

On a side note, a comment was left by a reader at the end of the article.  Understand that in the article Greg mentioned not being used to coming in last and was going to have to accept the embarrassment of being last on a regular basis as he got started. So the comment was, "embarrassment” to overcome isn’t in “being last” … the “embarrassment” to overcome is NOT starting."
I simply think that is amazing!  This comment alone defines the "community" spirit that Greg experienced.

Ok, so I'm not a Crossfitter though I do some workouts on my own.  I don't belong to a Crossfit gym simply because I don't have the financial means to do so right now.  My current gym membership is free because I work for the gym part time.  It sucks that Crossfit is so expensive when I think about how many people out there are like Greg and need it.  Or perhaps even folks like me that are in decent shape, workout, and want to join but simply can't afford it.  I guess it reminds me of golf.  How many more people might get out and try it and excel at it if they could simply afford to play!  But when you look at what it costs to sign up, monthly membership, and the basic classes that all boxes require you to take, it quickly adds up to a good amount of money.  Honestly, I wish Reebok offered some sort of scholarship for folks in need (I don't mean me in this case but those that need to get in shape for medical reasons or those who just let themselves go over the years).  I think that would be an awesome program for the gyms to offer and I think it would help to bring even more people into the sport.  But money drives all things in this world so I have my doubts that this will ever happen.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Been a while

Well, its been quite a while since I have posted anything up.  Life has been rather busy lately between construction going on in two of my facilities at work, in my bathroom at home (I'm doing the work there), the girls sports, my workouts, spending time with the family in general, and working part time at the gym.

So, first off, I haven't been out on the bike in a while.  Any bike for that matter.  I was so excited right before winter hit when I was building up my 26" jumper and have no only ridden it down the street to my daughters bus stop.  The problem here is that the jumps/pump track are about 10 miles from the house.  Sure its not far but I simply haven't had the time to get out there.  The times I have been out there, mostly for soccer games, I end up having to drive my daughter and another player so there isn't any room in the car for the bike.  No bike rack either.  As for the SS, well, there really isn't anything wrong with it at all.  The weather has kept me off it a bit tho.  The times I actually have had the opportunity to go, it had rained the day before so everything would have been a swamp so that was out.  The Pinella (road bike) has been doing so well.  I basically broke my crank and a shift lever.  It fell when hanging in the garage.  I had another set of levers to put on it but when I took it out for a test ride after swapping those out, I kept hearing some sort of creaking noise.  Sure enough when it hit the ground it most have hit the crank somehow and cracked it.  Either that or all this time in the gym has given me super human strength in my quads.  So since money has been tight, it has just been hanging around in the garage.  I miss it for sure.  Especially after watching the Tour of CA.

For the most part I have simply been in the gym doing the workout thing again.  I set a goal of being ripped this summer and getting down to 10% body fat.  I figured that would be good enough to see my abs popping.  Knowing I wanted to lean out, I figured I needed to put some weight on first so I did a bit of a bulking phase for about 10 weeiks.  Ideally, you want to bulk for a good 3-6 months but who has that sort of time.  I say that because I decided to do this late in the winter.  I started out at about 178 or so and peaked at 193.  I then sat there for a few weeks and couldn't seem to get back down.  More tweaks to the diet and increase cardio.  Went from 17.5% down to 10.5%.  You can definitely see that I have put on some muscle as my shoulders and traps are larger as is damn near everything else really.  The cool thing is that even though I have leaned out, my body weight is still sitting around 188-89 or so.  On days where I don't eat as much I seem to drop as low as 185 but that has been somewhat rare.  I realize however that 10% isn't really where I need to be.  I'm thinking it needs to be more like 6% if you really want to see your abs.  That being said, the last 4% is going to be brutal to get rid of.  It will require even further tweaks to the diet which basically means, carb manipulation (decreasing from day to day, then popping back up on like day 4 or so just to keep the body guessing).  It also means more cardio.  I have to do it at least 3 x week first thing in the morning on an empty stomach and then again in the afternoon or evening.  The mornings are typically harder with intervals and what not where as the afternoon stuff is just casual constant rate stuff....boring as hell.  I thought about riding the bike and that might work a day or two but I'll end up going too hard (as we always do on the bike) and start to lose muscle.  That will be fine after July (I have a sand soccer tournament at the beach towards the end of July that I am trying to ready by).  That is pretty much my target date so I have about 1.5 months left of this dieting crap and insane cardio.

On a side note, I've really been thinking about incorporating crossfit back into my workouts here and there.  I figure I will continue with my normal routine for the next two weeks and then make the switch.  Instead of doing my high intensity cardio, I will start doing cross fit workouts instead.  This way I will hit lots of muscle groups, use weights/barbells, and still get a kick ass cardio workout out of it.

I've thought about joining a cross fit gym but it is just stupid expensive.  $140 a month or so and that is for only 2-3 classes a week.  Really that is about all I can make with my schedule anyway though I would love to do more.  So I can almost deal with the $140 but its the fundamental classes that you have to take on top of it all before you can even start going to the classes.  Thats like another $2-300 for the 6 mandatory classes.  Just not sure where that money is going to come from at the moment.  So that has been on hold along with the repairs to the Pinella.  At this point, I do have a gym in my basement so I can always do cross fit workouts at home or even at the gym first thing in the morning.  While I can do it, it just isn't the same as when you are doing the WOD with a bunch of other folks right next to you.  You certainly push yourself a little harder when there are others doing the same thing.  Oh well, I'll do what I can with what I got at this point.  When I do finally hit the cross fit gym, I'll just be that much further ahead of the game.  Maybe that is what I'll do over the winter or something.????

Guess that's about it for now.  Back out on the bike soon.  I'm really starting to miss it at this point.

Ok, I'll add a little more to this.  The whole workout thing really kicked off last year after watching the Cross Fit Games.  My daughter and I were watching and the athletes had to do overhead squats.  I had never tried this so I ran to the other room and grabbed the barbell.  I tried to mimic the way they held the bar and for the life of me I couldn't do a damn squat.  I kept falling forward.  It was ridiculous.  I could front squat 180 and back squat damn near 400.  Now you are telling me I can't overhead squat a 45 lbs bar!  Just sad!  That's all it took.  I was determined to learn this lift.

So as the weeks went by, overhead squats turned into snatch, clean and jerk and ultimately, a training program from Cal Strength.  I was doing Olympic lifts 5 x a week.  I was on this program for about 2 months and it simply started giving me a lot of knee problems.  I started going to physical therapy and ultimately, just had to take a break from it.  The workouts shifted to standard workouts and some cross fit stuff.  Soon the cross fit stuff faded and I was basically just a gym rat again.  I was bulking and that led me to how this whole post started above.  Now I tend to only hit my Olympic lifts once a week or so.  My goal is to maintain the mobility in my hips, knees, and shoulders that took so long to get.  I peaked in my weights lifted during that training program and had a 5 rep max of 385 on back squats and a 2 rep max of 405.  My dead lift max was at 415, I could clean and jerk 225, but could only snatch 140 (that lift is so damn hard!).

I realized I wasn't so concerned about how much I could lift if the shape of my body wasn't changing for all the work I was putting in.  So add that to my knee drama and it was time to stop being a weight lifter and be a body builder.  No, not to get huge, I don't have the genetics for that, but to basically just build my body.  So from that point which was back around March till now, if I can't get 8 reps (heavy weight) to 12 reps (goal), then it is too heavy.  There are burn out sets or pre exhaustion sets I'll do where I go light enough to hit 20-30 reps.  I tell ya, those feel worse than going heavy.  The burning in the muscle is just insane.  In any case, this style of training is what seems to give the best results as far as building muscle.  Going super heavy all the time will put on some mass but it is just bulk and raw strength.  You might look a little bigger, but I certainly didn't look like I was in shape.  I now look much better and you can see the definition between muscle groups.  This is much more appealing in my opinion.  I mean you can actually see what you have been building.

I have a long ways to go but I'm not going to let getting huge become a goal.  I want to keep my weight close to where it is, if not less, and simply be leaner.  My diet has become a way of life.  I eat differently and make better food choices now than I ever had before.  It's no longer a struggle to figure out what to eat or when.  I pack my lunch damn near every day the night before.  If anything it is the weekends that I struggle with now since there is less structure in the day.  My wife gets mad at me when I pack my lunch box to go to a soccer game or something but it is better than having to stop to buy something to eat every 2-3 hours.  Much cheaper for sure.  She doesn't quite get it but that also explains why I have dropped body fat and retained muscle and she is still struggling with her weight loss goals.  Hell you would think that having a personal trainer as a husband who has figured it out and is going thru the same thing, a gym in the basement, 3 active daughters that all enjoy sports or running/swimming, that something would click.  But she isn't ready to make that dietary change that is needed.  Until that happens, she'll continue to be frustrated and struggle with her goals.  It won't matter how much she works out if she doesn't get her diet/eating habits together.  She can talk about it all she wants, but until she makes the move, nothing will change.  I wish she could see that.  Its not worth fighting about though and trust me, we have had some heated discussions over this.  She gets mad when I question what she is eating or when she is working out, or if she wants to come workout with me.  Just not worth my friends.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Lifting continues

So back when I was in my lifting phase a few months back...well lets go back to week one of that time frame anyway.  I went to move the barbell (unloaded, just the damn bar) from the lower level of my rack to the upper so I could do squats.  I grabbed the bar as if to do a biceps curl and instantly felt a nice strain in my left elbow.  I literally went thru my whole 3 month cycle w/ irritating tendonitis.  As a result, I was limited on what I could curl as well as dealt with the pain in other movements off and on.  As the cycle came to an end, I was getting back out on the bike more for my cardio workouts which of course transitioned into my riding the bike all the time and working out very little (once a week and light at that).  One day I went to pick up the 5 lb can of protein powder w/ my right hand and felt the same sort of pain in my right elbw.  Ridiculous!  I have now been on the bike for about 3 months w/ minimal lifting and both elbows are still nagging w/ my right being the worst.  I tell ya, getting old sucks!

In any case, I have lifted 3 days this week and pretty much hit all body parts w/ delts and traps being hit twice.  I will now be taking the next two days off and trying to get some riding in on those days (at least one anyway).  On Monday I will be starting a basic power lifting routine.  I haven't done a real power lifting routine since the mid 90's so it should be fun simply because it will be different.  There will be a lot more math with this as it is important to know the max lifts weights for some exercises so that you can calculate percentages as each week you will use a slightly higher percentage w/ the goal of increasing your max by the end of the cycle.  At the same time, I don't really care how much I can lift but I know that I'll get into it.

I actually have some goals in mind.  One of which is a concern of my wifes.  She really doesn't want me to get any bigger.  I on the other hand hate that I have lost so much size on my upper body.  I worked hard to get that only to lose it just as fast.  But lifting and cycling don't mix very well.  Honestly, I'm not interested in putting on more weight.  I actually want to lean out in the mid section but at the same time put on a little muscle on my arms, shoulders, and traps all while staying around the same weight.  It really shouldn't be too hard.  I do pretty well on my diet and I actually enjoy cardio (riding my bike).  W/ a 3 day workout program, it will provide me the time to still get out on the bike.  I may not be riding as intensely but it should allow the transition back into longer miles to be a little smoother than it was this last go around.

So the question is why do power lifting over something like cross fit or a more traditional program?  In this case, it's simply to do something different for a little while.  I have been doing traditional workouts for quite a while and it will be nice to switch it up a bit.  I do suspect that by Dec/Jan, I will probably transition into some more HIT style training and cross fit stuff.  I'll get into that when the time comes.

I ordered some new wrist wraps (Inzer 20") as well as some Schiek elbow supports.  They are thicker than what you can buy at a sports store (I already have one of those).  I don't expect them to do wonders but I'm sure they will provide a little more support than what I have.  The wrist wraps are simply to replace the ones I bought some 7 or 8 years ago.  I typically only use them on heavier chest or shoulder presses.  I do my best to only use supports when needed.  I don't believe in wrapping up my knees in an effort to lift more weight.  In stead, I only wrap my knees if I feel they need more support.  If the weight is too heavy and my form is sacrificed then I know it is time to back it off a little bit until I'm strong enough to make the weight. I do wear a belt on squats and deads once the weight hits 225+ and so far that has served me well.

As a side note, I did get out on a little 10 mile ride today.  My goal was to stay below zone 3 as far as my HR which meant just tooling along.  This was to help me to be good and warmed up for doing some squats.  Again, I didn't go heavy at all.  My hamstrings strain pretty easily so no need to go heavy on squats for a while.  I'll work my way back up to that.  Later in the afternoon, I worked out again and did shoulders and some dead lifts.  Ended up lifting 245 lbs for deads.  I was at 405 3-4 months ago.  I know I could have pulled more today but I only have 255 lbs here at the house so I will definitely have to go back to the gym once the percentages start going up.  Overall, it was a good day and the 2 days off will be welcomed even though I'm excited about getting the program going.