Monday, May 13, 2013
Well once again, today was a high rep leg day....this is where I squat about 70% of my max weight for 15 reps, then deadlift about 80% of my max weight for 15 reps. These are the days that try men's souls. The summer gym rat and the sunshine lifter will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their bodies; but they that stand by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman.
The only reason I so poorly paraphrase Thomas Paine is that today, I worked out with my trainer. Yes, those of you who follow my travails with this East German Stasi agent, should know that today he decided to work in with me. That in and of itself deserves a re-reading of our Revolutionary War documents!
Note, he didn't ask if he could work in with me....he declared, in the way that only a Communist peasant can declare to a landowner that the family farm now belongs to the state.
"Today, I vill verk in vit you" (Today, I will work in with you)
"What is this the gym equivalent of a Proletariat Revolution? This is America you Commie bastard. I'm paying YOU to train ME!"
"I vill also do legs today" (I will also do legs today)....he gave me that stubborn Eastern European look (he could be Russian, Ukrainian, or any number of ethnic blends) that signified he'd just wait me out till I came around to doing it his way.
"OK, you're on dude....3 sets of 15 reps, mano-a-mano. And don't start talking any Bolshevik in between sets!"
So off we went. I slapped 185 lbs on the bar for squats and counted, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.....then repeated. The only way I get through these is to just think of doing 3 sets of 5. By the time I was done, my heart rate was up to 90% of max.
I won't even say what Stasi-boy put on the bar, but it was impressive. As were his squats....deep, knees BELOW parallel, slow and controlled. I hate him.
Then I went again. Second set tougher than the first, but 15 solid squats later, I was done.
Stasi boy got under the bar....and eked his out as well....but I detected a slight vibrato in his voice at the end of the set....he was feeling the pain.
YES, finally, a chink in the armor. Screw you and the Dictatorship of the Proletariat....I'm squatting for Democracy, Truth, Justice, and the American Way!
I slapped that bar on my back and squatted for all we hold dear people! Quotes by Thomas Paine floated in my head, "....the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value!"
Fifteen long squats later, I got out from under the bar, looked into his Slavic eyes and thought, "“I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country.” but just smiled and said, "All yours, Comrade!"
He worked his Teutonic butt off for that last set....it didn't come easy....even he was heaving by the end of it. Did I feel sympathy, did I feel any remorse, regret, compassion?
Not even a flicker!
"Let's go Tovarich, deadlifts next!"
I pulled 255 lbs, 15 times for those 3 sets. My heart rate was up, my breathing was up, I was sweating like a race horse....but for me, this was the final showdown, this was Rocky 4 all over again, no way in hell was I going to not get that bar up every time! In your face Mother Russia!
Have I mentioned, I'm a little competitive?
So it was quite possibly the best hi-rep day I have had in a very, very long time. Not only did I knock out major PRs on squats and deadlifts, but I actually felt nice and strong doing them. There might be hell to pay tomorrow on my legs as I sit in a plane for hours on end, but that's the price we pay for supporting and defending the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
Many of you know about the ruthless ex-Stasi agent I call my personal trainer (although he could be Russian Spetsnaz, Croatian Ustachi, or a Chechen Rebel.... he's basically a Communist, a chameleon...he is evil, he has no soul....but he is a damn good trainer....I hate him, but we work out together 3x/week no matter what!)
Well today was my favorite of all our lift days....heavy legs! We do it about every 10-12 days, because I need that much time in between to recover. I focus on the complex moves...squats and deadlifts, then add in some assistance exercises like leg extensions and hamstring curls. Then I work on back by doing pullups (overhand grip on the bar), chinups (underhand grip on the bar), rows, etc.
I went on a business trip last week and only did cardio and some basic ST with some cruddy dumbbells in the hotel gym. Anyway, my excuse for today is that I got out of my rhythm of lifting for a few days.
So today we started off with squats and I got in 4 sets of 4 at 260 lbs, feeling pretty good, but I had to work for it. Trainer guy gave me an assist on the 4th squat of sets 3 & 4. Nonetheless, it was a PR, but we'll stay there for a few weeks until I can smoothly get 4 sets of 5.
Then I tackled the deadlift, determined to get 4 sets of 5....but I only got 3 sets of 4 and once again really worked for them. But I also had my first failure.
On my second set, I pulled the bar off the ground about 2 inches....then dropped it right back on the floor.
My first deadlift failure! What to do!
Trainer guy looks up me with this sh*t-eating grin, "Yor furst vailure!" (Your first failure!)
"What, are you happy I failed you miserable Commie?"
"Ve all doo eet...dis is just yor furst" (We all do it....this is just your first)
Or did he say worst?
Then he comes at me with, "Dry again (Try again). Vit so much vate (with so much weight), only tink about da vurst pool (only think about the first pull). Get eet oaf da grount, (get it off the ground), don't tink about da tird or vort reps (don't think about the 3rd or 4th reps)"
"Or we can lighten da load some?"
What, did I hear him right, did he say "we can lighten the load some"....who the hell are you and what did you do with my trainer.
I look him in the eye, "What, so all of a sudden you're Maximus the Merciful....I suppose if you lighten it up, I'll just have to do 10-15 reps right?"
"Uv gors!" (Of course!)
So I went back, got my mind straight, thought about nothing but lifting that bar off the ground just one time.....and up it went, smooth and by the numbers. I did a second rep....wobbled through a third rep....pulled with everything I had for a 4th....then set the bar down.
A third set was a repeat of the second, 4 reps and back on the ground went the bar.
But I felt good....yeah, I had my first failure...and it was humbling....but it wasn't the end...it was more a mental battle than a physical battle...it took getting mind and body to work together, taking nothing for granted.
In the end, did I feel like Gladiator?
Hmmm....actually a lot more like Braveheart!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Tuesday, May 07, 2013
So I had an EXCELLENT spin class this afternoon. They're usually always pretty good...curvilicious instructor gal puts together a great routine, with awesome music, a good mix of hill climbs and flats, and the energy in the room is always high.
As many of you know, I'm a bit of a geek about getting instrumented up with Heart Rate Monitors, GPS, Bodymedia Armbands, etc. I like to collect up the data and see how my workouts compare, see how I'm progressing in both ST and cardio. One thing I've seen a trend on is that my spin workouts are much more intense in a group setting than when I spin or ride my bike alone.
Here's my HR during a 50 minute spin session I did on my own last weekend;
Here it is during a 50 minute spin session from today with curvilicious instructor gal;
It's about a 10-20% improvement by being in a group setting. I can get a bit competitive, so probably push harder and keep a more sustained level of intensity in a group session, whereas on my own I see that I ease up more in between intervals. The interesting part from the charts is how my pulse rate starts going down immediately.....within a minute or 2 it plummets down from 90% of max to 50-60%....I guess that's a good sign of cardiovascular health.
On another front, it looks like we'll be moving further north this summer. I got a job up in the north part of Virginia. We lived there many years ago and enjoyed it, and this is a good professional opportunity. I'm flying up there next week to do some house-hunting, and hopefully can sign a lease or find something worth buying.
It's going to be hard to give up this backyard view of the Santa Rosa Sound every day though!
But you know what's even cooler than all that!?!?! I think I finally found the ultimate late night snack....Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder! Work with me on this one people....
So I admit to having a certain weakness for late night snacking. It's pretty much been peanut butter....and a glass of cold milk. I don't go too overboard with it....but it's annoying and can add 300-400 calories as well as a few dozen grams of carbs to my daily total. I've been trying to find a way to temper this habit.
Enter whey protein!
I lift a lot and so I make a whey protein shake or 2 during the day to increase my protein intake....it's a good filler between lunch and dinner as well as a good post workout supplement. The taste though is nothing to brag about.
Enter the Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder!
Take a look at the nutrition label;
Am I missing something here or is this stuff almost biologically inert?!?!?
So for the past few days, I've been mixing a scoop of whey protein powder (24 gms protein, 5 gms carbs, 130 calories) with 1 tablespoon of Hershey's Dark Chocolate Cocoa Powder shaking it all up and chilling it in the fridge. By late evening, it is icy cold and is better than having a chocolate milk shake for dessert!
Am I crazy here?!?!?! Can there really be a free lunch here? Can I actually have something healthy that tastes freaking awesome?!?!? I don't know, but I'm going to keep experimenting with it to see. Maybe this weekend I'll see if I can get a spoonful of this stuff dissolved in just water to see what it tastes like (it does take a while to dissolve, hence I make it early in the evening and shake it up when I remember)
Anyway, that's my latest obsession....have a great night Spark friends!
Monday, April 29, 2013
So I've been pretty good at eating clean for almost a year now. Every now and then, I'll make an exception and have some cakes, cookies, & ice cream, because, well hey, I'm not a Monk!
One of the great things I've noticed since eating clean and not partaking in junk carbs especially, is how my appetite has stabilized....I pretty much eat only when I'm hungry and stop eating when I'm not hungry....what a concept.
I also know that with certain foods (for me it's carbs) I don't stop eating them...even when I "feel" full. When I eat veggies & proteins, something kicks in to my brain that says, "Stop, you're full"
But when I start eating bread (fresh, hot out of the oven bread, with some butter melting into all the crevices....Ahhhhh heaven), or brownies (worse than potato chips, can't eat just one!), or soft, chewy cookies, generously overflowing with chocolate chips (big hunks of dark chocolate), well I'm all in.
So I do best by just saying "NO"....and it's usually been pretty easy, especially once I got over the daily overload I had been so used to for years.
Today, my secretary, a wonderful woman, worth her weight in gold, who saves my bacon on a daily basis, brings in a batch of Reese's Peanut Butter Cup cookies...soft baked cookies with a mini peanut butter cup baked right into them....still warm in their Tupperware container.
Apparently today was the last day of a 20-something front office intern/assistant and so she thought it would be nice to bring in some snacks....4 big fat Tupperware containers filled with these evil cookies.
Throughout the year, I've survived her Christmas holiday baking (chocolate peppermint snaps, Heath bar crunch brownies, chocolate almond brittle), her Thanksgiving desserts (Pecan Pie and Red Velvet Cakes), even her occasional "I just felt like baking this weekend" Monday surprise....each time I would just walk to the coffee bar, fill my mug with Joe, give a disapproving glance at her latest offering of baked goods, and walk back into my office chiding her for once again giving in to her evil desires to bake, bake, bake, and bake!
So I don't know why today, of all these times of just saying no, I just said, "sure, what the hell", grabbed 2 and chomped them down....then grabbed 2 more and took them back to my office....then 10 minutes later, on the pretense of sending a report back to her for corrections, I grabbed 2 more.
I was hooked...I am hooked....I'm a junkie and I know it....I'm not like normal people, I can't have just one and be done with it....carbs breed the desire for more carbs in my brain and in my body.
Thankfully I broke the cycle by breaking open my lunch bag and eating the grilled chicken breasts SWMBO made this weekend. (OK, so later in the afternoon I had 2 more of the peanut butter cup beasts.....the last two I must say and that put an end to the frenzy.) Finally, I drank my protein shake, then went to the gym to lift (heavy chest & shoulders today....I needed that after the extra 800 calories of frenzied snacking)
As always, it's a good reminder for me...I know my triggers, I know my habits, I know that the best path for me is to not cross the bridge that has dragons on the other side....I only get burned when I do!
Have a great night Spark friends!
Friday, April 26, 2013
"The Iron never lies to you. You can walk outside and listen to all kinds of talk, get told that you're a god or a total bastard. The Iron will always kick you the real deal. The Iron is the great reference point, the all-knowing perspective giver. Always there like a beacon in the pitch black. I have found the Iron to be my greatest friend. It never freaks out on me, never runs. Friends may come and go. But two hundred pounds is always two hundred pounds." - Henry Rollins
So in keeping with my "Embrace the suck - fear no workout" attitude adjustment, I made a concerted effort to go into the gym this afternoon, knowing that Stasi trainer guy had some evil, evil plans to push it up a notch today. I'll admit, fleeting thoughts and excuses came into my brain late in the afternoon, especially when a mild crisis erupted around 4:00 PM (why don't crises at work erupt on Tuesday mornings....they ALWAYS seem to happen late on Friday). But we got it worked out and I was able to make my appointed time in the squat rack.
The Squat Rack...the Iron Tower of Justice....the metal cage where you come face to face with yourself....and iron plates that do not lie....if you've prepared and you are ready for them, they'll go up and down....if you're not ready, they'll tell you so and patiently stay in place, waiting for you next time.
But today went well....it went very well, with some very smooth squats that went real deep and a straight up and down motion with no wavering. 4 sets of 5 at 255 lbs....5 more lbs than my last heavy day 2 weeks ago and the last set was almost.....almost to failure
(Note, this obviously isn't me, but she exemplifies a good squat!)
Deadlifts were much the same....hard, but smooth, with good form that didn't break and didn't waiver. Another PR over last session, but instead of additional weight I did an extra set....4 sets of 5 at 315 lbs....progress is not always measured with additional weights (so says this East German Communist I call a trainer)
(Again, this is not me....but man, it's a goal to shoot for!)
All of these took a good 45 minutes, but it was time well spent....I'm not hardcore about timing the seconds between sets....I'm hardcore about doing them right and improving every session. We spent the remaining time on smaller muscle groups and support movements.
But it was my going in mental attitude that made all of that happen....progress is slow....my gains and increases are slow and incremental, real progress is measured in weeks not days....every session is hard....so knowing that going in, makes it a little easier to mentally prepare and push
Because the truth is, you're ready or you're not...the Iron Never Lies!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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