Progressive Success

morning
Photo credit: wordswithlisbeth.com

Given how successful I felt last Monday’s workout was, I found myself really looking forward to today’s “Plan A” strength training routine at the gym. It did not disappoint.

I was in and out of sleep between about 2 and 3:30 a.m and finally got up at a quarter to four. Started the coffee, then let my brain slowly wake up.

My son and I got to the gym about a minute after it opened and I headed straight for my preferred weight bench. Here’s what happened next. As always, I rested ~60-90 seconds between sets.

Barbell Hack Squat 5×5

8x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg
5x 165lbs/74.84kg

Barbell Bench Press 5×5

10x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg

Barbell Bent Over Rows 5×5

8x 115lbs/52.16kg (warm up)
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg
5x 145lbs/65.77kg

pull ups
Photo credit: girlwithnoname.com

Overhead Cable Triceps Ext w/Rope 3×8

12x 60lbs/27.21kg (warm up)
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg
8x 85lbs/38.55kg

Pull Ups 3×5-8 (bodyweight)

4x
3x
3x

Just like the Plan B workout, I changed the order of the exercises around so I could alternate between those that hit the lower body vs. those that worked the upper body. That means I always start with hack squats, then do some sort of press, and then go to rows or deadlifts.

No surprises with the hack squats. The weight is the same as Monday and I focused on my form and making sure for each rep that my thighs were completely parallel to the floor. By the end of hack squats, I’d generated the predicted flood of sweat and really needed those 90 seconds of rest between sets.

I was a little worried about the bench presses, since this would be the first time I’d do all five sets at 145lbs. It was a stretch and particularly for the last few reps of the last set, I had to reach a little deeper down for my internal “Incredible Hulk” to push the barbell all the way to the top of the lift.

I had some of the same concerns for bent over rows. Last Friday, because of my back, I switched from the barbell to a dumbbell, and today, I was not only back using the barbell, but I’d increased the weight ten pounds for all working sets.

After the first set, my son, who was watching me, suggested I keep my head up during the rows rather than looking at the floor, in order to make sure I wasn’t bending my back. I realized that I’d never watched myself do rows in the mirror before. It made a difference happily enough.

Since discovering my mistake about the cable triceps extension, that it’s a 3×8 and not a 5×8 routine, after my warm up set, I increased the weight to 85lbs figuring that I just had to do 8 reps for only 3 sets.

My workout was cruising along fabulously until the pull ups. I’m still stuck in the same pattern of 4, 3, and 3. The only way I can adjust the weight on this is by losing body weight (which I actually have as I’ll explain in a minute).

hanging from pull up bar
Photo credit: menshealth.com

Before I started writing today’s blog post, I found something on twitter from Men’s Health called The Ridiculously Easy Way to Improve Your Pullup and Overhead Press.

Since pull ups and overhead presses are definitely my weaker exercises, I was intrigued. You can read the article for yourself and watch the brief video, but basically it’s just a matter of “hanging around” … literally.

It doesn’t take much time so maybe I should incorporate it at the end of each workout to see if it helps.

Now about that weight.

I’ve been keeping track of my weight and my calorie intake using MyFitnessPal.com since February 28th. On that date, I officially weighed 207.7 lbs. This morning I weighed 193.8 lbs. I cannot remember the last time I was this light (well, light for me). I weighed 200lbs seven years ago when my son got married and my weight bounced up quite a bit after that.

I know I was pretty happy a few months back when I discovered I could fit into my 34 inch waist jeans and shorts, but those are a “relaxed fit” cut. I’ve been keeping one pair of jeans in my closet for ages that is a 34 inch waist but hardly “relaxed fit”.

I’ve been able to put them on successfully for weeks, but always with a “muffin top” effect that’s pretty unpleasant to look at. Today, I could put them on for the first time without the nasty “muffin top” and I’m wearing them right now.

Granted, they’re still a tad snug, but not embarrassingly so.

terminator
The Terminator

As Sir Arthur Helps wrote in 1868, “Nothing succeeds like success.” In other words, achieving success inspires continued effort to achieve more of the same.

This is the pay off and the motivator for returning to the gym and working even harder. This stuff really works. We can win the battle of the bulge. If I can do it, you can do it.

I’ve set 185 lbs as the target I want to reach, at least initially. That seems like a good weight for someone who is just shy of 6’3″ tall. I’ll reassess my build and strength at that point and see what adjustments I deem necessary going forward.

After my son and I got home from the gym this morning, my wife called me a “machine.” I think even she’s impressed.

Motivation is what gets you started. Habit is what keeps you going.

Jim Ryun

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