Saturday, March 01, 2014
Well this has been a hell of a week.....and man am I glad it's over!
I competed in my 2nd Powerlifting meet this past Wednesday. In October, I did my first one and lifted a total of 915 lbs between, squats, bench press, and deadlifts (see my blog bit.ly/1dkQH6K )
In last week's blog ( bit.ly/MEMejr ), I wrote about my trepidation with deadifts, even though I remained pretty confident about my squats and bench press. Well on Wednesday, I set a PR, lifting a total of 955 lbs!!
But it wasn't without its drama.....the weekend prior, I was sick as a dog!!
Without going into any details, last weekend's bout left me partially anemic, with my hemoglobin count way low. Unfortunately I didn't know this little piece of info till Thursday....the day after the competition. (My doc finally called me on Thursday morning to let me know the results of the lab work I had drawn on Monday. Don't get me going about doctors....I ripped into him for taking so long...he apologized, saying he had taken Tues & Wed off!)
Not having this info earlier in the week, I followed my normal routine at work and at the gym. But everything was ridiculously hard. I got winded just climbing up a flight of stairs, walking fast left me breathless, then I had my a$$ handed to me in jiu-jitsu class. By Tuesday I was seriously wondering if I could even compete.
I hit the gym at lunch on Tuesday and took it real easy, lifting light weights 5-10 times just to get my muscles warmed up. I was able to figure out that I still had my strength, but that my aerobic capacity was almost zero (had no idea why at the time, but after I found out that my hemoglobin was down, it made sense in retrospect!)
So I showed up at the competition, but I was pretty nervous. I had run and re-run all my numbers, trying to improve on last October's numbers, but I was really wary because I got winded so easy and was still concerned about the deadliift.
Squats were first. I started at 305 lbs, 10 lbs less than the 315 I did in October. Nailed it easy.
For my 2nd attempt, I added 30 lbs, shooting for 335, figuring I could get this, then go for 345 on my 3rd attempt.
I squatted to the ground....
......then fall backwards onto the rails....EPIC FAIL!
Well that had never happened before....but then again, I never attempted to squat 335 lbs either. I walked it off....played back the movie in my head about what had happened, what my form was like, where my balance point was, yadda-yadda-yadda.
I went back for my 3rd attempt, still at 335 lbs (you can't move up in weight if you don't make your lift), got under the bar, squatted.....
....and heaved those 335 lbs on my back straight up to heaven! SUCCESS!!
On we moved to Bench Press. I started at 245 lbs, which was my max lift back in October. As in the squats, I made it, but felt like I had to work for it some.
For my 2nd try, I added 20 lbs, shooting for 265 lbs. I lowered the bar, touched my chest, heaved for the sky...
....and stalled half way up....AARRRGGGHHH....I felt like a clown!
The spotters helped me rack the bar and I got up doing the same play-by-play in my head trying to figure out what just happened.
I went back for my 3rd attempt, focused everything I had on that damn bar.....and made it!
This was going to be a tough competition!
Going in to deadlifts, my favorite exercise of all time, I was torn. I wanted to do well, but the previous weeks had already made me a little wary of pushing too hard. On top of that, I was now struggling making weights I thought I could easily handle. I wasn't sure I could even make my max from last October....I was worried.
I started at 345 lbs, a weight I had successfully pulled 3 weeks ago....and nailed it!
On to 355 lbs for my second pull. This was the weight I had done back in October....and failed on just last week (see bit.ly/MEMejr ). I focused my mind, made mental notes on where every part of my body was....then thought about Stasi guy's dictum for deadlifts;"Vocus on dat virst pull...get eet off the grunt. (Focus on that first pull...get it off the ground)" ( bit.ly/1hQw0Oh )
I nailed it!
For my 3rd attempt, I added 10 lbs, feeling pretty good about being able to get it....but I didn't
So overall I improved from last October, but it was a bittersweet victory because I expected to do much better. Then again, finding out on Thursday that I was walking around hypoxic all week from a low hemoglobin count takes a little of the edge off.
In any case, I had already planned to ease up on strength training to give my body a chance to recover. My plan was to focus more on cardio and jiujitsu through March, then pick back up with the heavy weights in April. Now, I've got to re-structure my workouts compensating for my reduced oxygen uptake. I see the doc again on Wednesday....more to follow then.
Thanks for reading.....have a great night Spark Friends!
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
So I've come to realize that blogging on SP is cathartic and is best done whether I'm feeling up or down, whether I have good news or bad news, yadda-yadda-yadda.
In my last blog ( bit.ly/1kZjKjb ) I talked about how I was on the verge of over-training to exhaustion. So I made a few adjustments (I ditched the extra Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu class at work), and, wouldn't you know, I got one hellacious cold and missed about 4 days in a row of my regular workouts.
Overall, I feel much better!
But there's a bit of a problem....actually this problem has been brewing for a while and I don't like it.....hence the blog.
About 5 or 6 weeks ago, as I was doing my last deadlift of the day (I think it was 325 lbs), I felt a little "Pop-Pop" in my lower back. It was very weird. It wasn't painful at all, it was almost like cracking a knuckle....but it was in my lower back so I became concerned.
With the wisdom of my 54 years, I knew better than to keep pushing and decided to call it quits for the day.
No pain at all, but I kept thinking about what the hell it could have been. I did some Google searches and read a few bodybuilding forums that talked about guys that experienced similar lower back pops.....but they all described them as debilitating and had them laid up for weeks!
I did not want to go there!
The next week was my designated de-load weak. So on deadlift day, I cut the weight back to 185 lbs....then felt the same "Pop-Pop". Now I was worried. No pain again, but two weeks in a row of strange popping sounds in my lower back, I decided something was up. I called it quits and began to fret.
I went back to the books, re-read everything I could devour on deadlift form (my favorite is still Mark Rippetoe's Starting Strength.....excruciating detail on form and anatomy....and kinda funny too!) I focused on keeping my abs tight, my butt and hips way back, my back tightened to support my spine.
I eased up on deadlift days. I still pulled heavy weights, but once I made my designated number of reps for the day, I called it quits....I didn't go to failure and I always stopped while I still felt like I had some gas in the tank. I took it slow, thought about every move, every body part, went over and over in my mind how to position my body before committing to the lift.
Last week I pulled 335 lbs for 3 reps and felt real good, tight and strong throughout the whole session. That was a good sign, because next week, on 26 Feb, I have my next powerlifting meet!
Last October I lifted 915 lbs between deadlifts, squats, and bench press (see blog bit.ly/1dkQH6K ). I have been hoping to add 50-60 lbs to that next week. I think I can add 20-30 lbs each on squats and bench press, but the deadlifts have me worried.
Because you see today....I failed.
Today's goal was to lift 355 lbs....once. I did all the warmups, and on my penultimate set, I lifted 315 lbs for 3 reps. But I worked real hard for it.
For my last set, I got my hands around the bar with 355 lbs on it, pulled....got the bar 3 inches off the ground.....and down it went.
I walked around a bit, caught my breath, tried again....and failed.
I took 20 lbs off, tried to lift 335 lbs....and failed again.
I think the memory of those "Pop-Pops" are still in my head and have me being uber-cautious...which I suppose is a good thing (My motto for working out is, "First, do no harm")
But I have an ego.....yes, I know it's hard to believe, but I am plagued with a competitive streak and sometimes my ego just won't let go.....I want to do really well in next week's meet!
In October's meet, I pulled 355 lbs on the deadlift, a personal record for me and it felt great. My goal was to surpass that by at least 20 lbs this time.....but after today, I'm not even sure if I can pull 355 again.
Now, as with any competition, the adrenaline and the cheers of buds and the crowd helps you push past many barriers....but in this case, I'm not 100% convinced I should push it that hard.
So we'll see....there's no time-table pushing me to increase the weights, there's really no pressure, other than that of my own making, to keep going up....and I really don't want to be here in a week or 2 blogging about how I screwed up my back from working out too hard. Sometimes in war, it's best to retreat and live to fight another day.
Bottom line....it feels good to get it out and put it down on paper (or whatever we want to call blogging). Thanks for reading.
Have a great night Spark friends!
Wednesday, February 05, 2014
OK, so I have this thing about whining...I am philosophically opposed to it. I also have a real hard time with whiners. This has led me to have certain personality conflicts with various people at different times in my life.
That being said, I have to admit, today I am physically exhausted!
About 3 weeks ago, #2 son and I started taking Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu classes. (See my blog bit.ly/1nVwMhN ) We go 3x/week and I do this on top of my regular ST routine.
My regular ST routine entails lifting 4 days a week doing a program called "5/3/1"( bit.ly/1bwAE3q ), which focuses on 4 main lifts; squats, overhead press, deadlifts, & bench press.
On top of that, I found out that my gym at work also offers Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu during the week. So being a Type A kind of guy, I thought to myself, "Hey, how cool would it be to practice with these guys at work on the days I'm not lifting! I can take a Jiu-Jitsu class at work, then another one at night with #2 son!!"
So for the past 3 weeks, I have been working out EVERY SINGLE DAY, to include weekends, and on 3 of those days, I've been working out twice a day.
This has not proven to be an effective fitness strategy.
Did I mention that I also have a day job and, oh by the way, other family obligations around the house.
So on Monday, I woke up and I was in a foul mood. It seemed like no amount of coffee was pepping me up. At lunch I did 90 minutes of Jiu-Jitsu at work, came home, had a light dinner, then went for another 90 minute class at 7:30 with #2 son.
We got back at 9:30 and I just crashed in bed!
Tuesday, I woke up in the same grumpy mood. I started my 6th month of the 5/3/1 program and so did 12 sets of deadlifts, pulling 315 lbs for 5 on my last work set. But man I had to work on every one of them. Luckily, that was my only workout for Tuesday.
Today, I woke up foggy headed again. I did 12 sets of Bench Presses at lunch, finishing up with 205 lbs for 11 reps. Came home, skipped dinner, took a 30 minute power nap, then did a 90 minute Jiu-Jitsu class with #2 son.
My body and mind are now screaming, "NO MAS!!!"
The good news is, tomorrow (Thursday) I'm driving up to Boston to pick up my mom. She's been complaining about this winter's ridiculous snow (she's been complaining about the winters in Boston for the last 70 years!), so my brother and I decided to bring her down to DC to ride out these last few months (although it's not that much warmer here). We're going to time share her a couple of weeks each through March, then I'll drive her back (she's not a fan of flying either)
Oddly enough, I have been looking forward to the 10 hour drive all week. I can kick back in the car, relax, listen to my .mp3s and I don't have a workout planned for the entire day.
Now that is not like me at all. One of the biggest and best changes in my life these last few years is that before, I used to look for reasons to NOT workout. Today, I look for opportunities TO work out. Truth be told, I do have to get in squats this week and I'll probably do that on Friday at a gym near her house.
So my dilemma is this; I know better. I know this is an unsustainable pace. I know that rest and recovery are the keys to getting and staying fit. But I'm in a quandary....
....I want to keep doing the Jiu-Jitsu with #2 son. I also want to keep lifting. I'm entered into another Powerlifting Competition on 26 Feb and my goal is to lift somewhere around 960-980 lbs between squats, bench press, and deadlifts. This would be a 50-70 lb increase from my last meet in October. ( bit.ly/1dkQH6K )
So something's got to give, maybe it'll be the extra Jiu-Jitsu classes at work. But I've got to take a good hard look at my schedule and alter the lifting with the BJJ classes and build in at least one rest day during the week as well. I've just got to plan smarter.
I know it's nutty....it's a dilemma of my own making. I think I know how to solve it, and I know that if I don't, it'll eventually lead to an over-training injury or chronic fatigue unless I make adjustments. So, more to follow.
Why couldn't I have been born a Type B!
Have a great night Spark Friends!
Tuesday, January 21, 2014
I've got to admit, it's not often that I get a snow day off, but today, with some hellacious "wintery mix" expected in the Northeast with "Winter Storm Janus" (have I been asleep the last few years....when did we start naming snowstorms?), the Virginia Dept of Transportation (VDOT) as well as most of DC has shut down traffic, schools, airline flights, and work for most of Northern VA and DC.
I have a Snow Day off!!!
What was my first thought when I saw this news at 5:30 AM? "Damn, I won't be able to do my deadlifts today....how will I re-flow this week's workout schedule!!!"
I know....I'm sick.
Luckily, I completed all of SWMBO's Honey-do items yesterday, so I decided to spend this morning getting smart (no sarcastic comments from the peanut gallery that this is a full time job for me!) surfing the web and Amazon getting up to speed on my new hobby....
#2 son and I spent 90 minutes yesterday at our first Brazilian Ju-Jitsu class (see my last blog bit.ly/1an5uxq ). WOW!!
Now I consider myself a fairly fit, if inflexible fellow. The inflexibility was confirmed as we did everything from front rolls to various positioning drills, but man, I didn't think my fitness was going to be challenged like it was!!
The whole purpose of doing this was to give our disabled, 20-year old son an opportunity to exercise at something he recently expressed an interest in. The price was that I have to take classes with him. Sunday, we attended a traditional Korean Tae Kwon Do school, and while it was good, he had a real hard time getting even the basics of kicks and stances down in our short 30 minute intro class.
Last night's Ju-Jitsu class lasted a full 90 minutes and they just incorporated us into the training like we were lifetime members. The owner is an Ex-Navy SEAL and he has a great bunch of instructors and advanced students.
So we practiced some basic techniques for an hour, then they threw us right into the mix for 30 minutes of on the ground grappling! My natural inclination was to stay close to my son and to jump in to help him out if he looked confused, but one of the guys said, "it's OK Dad, we got it. Focus on YOUR training"
I looked the 30-something purple belt in the eye, figuring if it came right down to it, I could take him, even though I'd probably get hurt in the process. Then my frontal lobe took over and I realized that he was just being helpful and was eminently trustworthy. So I trotted over to another instructor and we started 30 minutes of free form grappling.
Holy Jesus, this was tough. I had no idea what I was doing, but every advanced belt I grappled with took time to give me pointers. Here are a few;
- "Dude, your back is tensed up like a vice...relax or your going to burn yourself out, then I'll just take advantage of you"
- "Your strong, but your balance is all off....I can just flip you over like this" WHAM.....I was flat on my back!
- "Don't use strength, use leverage...position is everything"
At first I figured it was the advantage of young guys, but then I paired up with a 110 lb, 20- year old gal, sporting a purple belt.
"What would you like to work on?" she asked
"Well, apparently I have no sense of leverage or balance, so how about we focus on that?" I said.
"Sure, let me get on back and wrap my legs around you to show you how" she said
Did I mention Brazilian Ju-Jitsu was really, really awesome!!!
So, as I tried to maintain my best Poker Face, she launches into her explanation, and 2 seconds later.....
......WHAM, I am flat on my back!!
OK, I was unprepared for that one, so I tell her, let's try that again. This time, I'm using my full 196 lbs to resist, as well as every muscle I've spent building up with 3 years of squats, deadlifts, and bench presses thinking, "No way am I getting l flipped like that again!"
.....and 2 seconds later....I am flat on my back....AGAIN!!
Then she says, "OK, now get on your back, wrap your legs around my waist, and try to flip me!"
Did I mention Brazilian Ju-Jitsu was really, really awesome!!!
Now I'm feeling like a real klutz because I can't remember what the hell she did, but she walks me through all the moves, the first of which entails leveraging myself up into a sitting position using my abs and just one arm for support, while my legs are wrapped around her waist.
Holy Jesus, what was wrong with my abs!?!?! I felt like I had never done a sit-up in my life! What the hell was wrong with me.....I can lift a barbell loaded with 355 lbs of weights off the ground using my legs, back, and abs, but I couldn't leverage myself 45 degrees into a sitting position for the life of me!!
Add to that the fact that these grappling sessions lasted only 4-5 minutes each, but I was tuckered out after the first 2-3 minutes (hence the, "relax or your going to burn yourself out" comment above).
The good news was that #2 son loved it as well. He had a nice healthy, pink glow on his cheeks by the end of our class and we talked about it all the way back home.
Wednesday night, we go back for another complimentary class, but I'm pretty sure we're going to sign up with these guys.
So, today, I downloaded up a few beginner's Brazilian Ju-Jitsu books for my Kindle and will spend my Snow Day off getting up to speed.....and maybe grappling with #2 son in the basement for a while as well!
Have a great day Spark friends!!
Saturday, January 18, 2014
Well, just when I didn't think I could add any more to my plate....
....our younger boy (#2 son), declared that he wants to start taking karate lessons.....with me!!
There's a bit of a story here....
Many years ago (1999) we lived in Montgomery, AL. While there, I had a fairly easy schedule, and so my older boy (#1 son) and I signed up for Karate lessons at a nearby dojo. He was 13, I was 39, and many years prior (1980) I had earned a black belt....it was just a matter of brushing off the old skills....even though I had let them all slide!
So #1 son and I took classes 3-4x/week and we both got better. We practiced, we tested, we earned higher ranking belts, and we drove all over the Southeastern United States entering tournaments. It was fun and it's something he and I still talk about today.
Our #2 son has some developmental disabilities, both cognitive and physical....and he's the sweetest kid on the planet. Before Christmas, SWMBO was driving him around town shopping for XMAS presents, and as they passed a Karate school, he tells her, "Hey maybe Dad and I can sign up for Karate classes like he did with brother"
She comes home and tells me to go find a Karate school because I'm taking lessons with #2 son!
He's 20 and, at 54, I'm a pretty fit guy. I lift weights, I take spin classes, I kick some pretty hardcore ass in the gym....but my flexibility is shot
Add to that the fact that in 2010 I had hip "resurfacing" surgery (a slightly less drastic procedure than a replacement), I'm not so sure I can double roundhouse someone to the side of the head anymore!
ANYWAY.....today, SWMBO, #2 son, and I went to see 4 different Karate schools within a 5 mile radius of our house.
Times have changed!
Some offered 2 free classes, one wanted me to sign up for a "3 year Blackbelt Leadership Plan" (Only $13,000 for the 2 of you or $10,500 if you sign up and pay cash today!), another had a roomful of 5 year olds bashing each other with "nerf rods"......yeah, like I need THAT!
At 4:00, we went to a Korean Tae-Kwon-Do dojo where "Master Nam" had offered to give us a private 30 minute introductory class. We loosened up, then he covered the basics. #2 son gave it his best shot, but, like any beginner, he has a long way to go.
Monday night, we're trying out a Brazilian Ju-Jitsu place. This involves a lot more grappling and floor work, as well as close in combat skills. I feel a little more drawn to this.....like I said, I don't see myself (or #2 son) doing any fake reverse double flying tornado kicks....but I can grab someone and wrestle them to the ground while I twist a joint or two!
I guess by the end of this week, we'll make a decision on who we're signing up with.
So another workout adventure starts.....hey, maybe my long awaited dream of being able to get 2 workouts in a day is finally coming true!!
Have a great night Spark friends!
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