The Great Thing About a Long Day at the Gym

no strings
Image credit: forums.superherohype.com

What a difference a day makes. Actually, what a difference a day off makes. No, I didn’t take a day off from the gym, though my wife suggested it. I do have an extra day off of work because of the Independence Day holiday.

So that means I could spend as much time at the gym as I wanted. No strings on me, to quote both Pinocchio and Ultron (and I still haven’t seen that movie yet).

I stayed up late last night and slept in this morning. I don’t have anywhere to go today, so I figured I could just show up at the gym a few hours later than normal. The only worry I had was how crowded the weight room might be and whether or not I’d have access to my usual barbell bench.

But when I got there a little before seven this morning, the weight room was almost empty (that changed within about 15 minutes or so), and I claimed my traditional spot.

I decided to rest a minimum of 90 seconds between sets and not particularly care if I rested over 120. I even considered resting a full three minutes, but I always recovered before then.

Here’s what I did. I threw in a few extras just for giggles.

Barbell Hack Squat

5x 145lbs/65.77kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3kg (warm up)
5x 200lbs/90.71kg
5x 200lbs/90.71kg
5x 200lbs/90.71kg
5x 200lbs/90.71kg
5x 200lbs/90.71kg
4x 205lbs/92.98kg (bonus set)

Barbell Bench Press

5x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg

Barbell Bent Over Rows

5x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 135lbs/61.23kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 155lbs/70.3kg
5x 165lbs (bonus set)

lat pulldown
Photo credit: watchfit.com

Cable Triceps Extension w/Rope

8x 45lbs/20.41kg (warm up)
8x 55lbs/24.94kg (warm up)
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg
8x 70lbs/31.75kg

Lat Pulldowns

8x 130lbs/58.96kg (warm up)
8x 130lbs/58.96kg (warm up)
6x 160lbs/72.57kg
6x 160lbs/72.57kg
6x 160lbs/72.57kg

Overhand Grip Body Hang
x30 seconds

Elliptical level 12 for 25 minutes including a 5 minute cooldown

As you can see, I did two warm up sets for each exercise instead of just one. I figured I had the time and I wanted to see how an extra warm up would affect my performance. Especially for the hack squats, it seems to have made a difference.

After two warm ups and doing 5 full working sets, I decided to throw in a bonus set. I only added 5 pounds to the bar and was disappointed to do only 4 reps. I probably could have done the fifth rep, but there were people walking back and forth near me (more on that in a bit) and they were distracting as heck.

Anyway, I was pretty happy to be able to do the extra set since I’ll be bumping up the weight on hack squats next week to 205 pounds. Yeah, not a really big boost, but over 25 reps three days a week, it adds up and I want to keep the wear and tear on my body down to a minimum.

I did two warm up sets at the regular weight and then jumped into my working bench presses. For some reason, this seemed harder today than it was on Monday. I think it was because I was making sure I was lowering the bar as close as I could get to my chest before pressing back up again. I made all 5 of my working sets, but given the degree of difficulty, I’m considering keeping the weight at 155 pounds for next week as well to see if I can become more proficient.

bench press
Photo credit: returnofkings.com

And I really didn’t feel confident trying a bonus set with the bench press. I might have if I had a spotter, but having been pinned under the bar before, I wisely decided not to push my luck.

Barbell bent over rows were a different story. I used my typical weights for the 2 warm up sets and 5 working sets, but I pushed the weight up a full 10 pounds to 165 for a bonus set. I barely made the last rep but I did it. Man if felt great. This is the plus in having more time at the gym to rest and for extra sets.

There’s only one weighted cable station where I can perform my triceps extension and it’s popular. Three different people used it while I was doing my barbell lifts and the third guy was still on it when I was ready for it.

Fortunately, most people at the gym are pretty good about sharing the equipment and this fellow only had one more set to do. I figured I could use the rest anyway.

I did two warm up sets for this exercise as well, but like my hack squat, I made the second warm up heavier than the first.

I hit my stride with the three working sets, trying as hard as I could to keep my elbows pulled in so I could get the most out of working my triceps.

I briefly toyed with the idea of doing bodyweight pullups, but a guy, one of the regulars I recognized, was using one of the cable pulleys right underneath the pullup bars.

So lat pulldowns it was. Although the pull up exercise doesn’t call for it, I decided to do two warm up sets for the pulldowns as well at a reduced weight. Then I set it at 160 pounds, which is still well under my body weight, and cranked out 6 reps for 3 sets, which pleased me. I just barely managed 5 reps for 3 sets last Monday, so I was happy my performance improved.

I have noticed in the mirror that my lats are expanding and they feel more firm when I flex them. Some of the changes on my body are subtle but others are more noticeable, at least with my shirt off, so I’m happy I’m ending my fifth week in the 5×5 strength training routine seeing physical improvement.

jaw day
Photo credit: humoar.com

Unfortunately, the company at the gym wasn’t optimal. I should amend that, though, most of the people who were in the free weight room came in, did their thing, and left (or left and returned, left and returned, which got distracting). One guy was particularly “interesting,” though.

He was maybe mid-to-late 30s or early 40s tops. He walked in with a Starbucks coffee in one hand and checking his mobile with the other (at least he didn’t have those darn ipod earbuds in, though). He did this for several minutes, which just amazed me. Then he’d do some dips on a bench or a little dumbbell work, and then walk out for five minutes or just mess with his mobile some more.

The kicker was when he saw his friend. His friend got in the Lifefitness Leg Press machine…and just stayed there talking to “coffee guy” (who left his cup on one of the benches in the weight room for most of the time he was in the gym).

These two guys talked non-stop, maybe for 10 minutes or more, certainly enough time for me to do two warm up sets and five working sets on my bench presses, including my rest between sets. I was astonished. I finished a total of 35 reps with ample rest periods, and these two characters just hung out and talked.

They eventually separated and exercised, at least intermittently, but I remained flabbergasted.

I know I shouldn’t let it bother me, but if I had wanted to use that leg press machine, I’d have been pretty smoked that the fellow sitting in it didn’t actually start using it for over 10 minutes.

At one point, coffee guy looked up from his mobile and made eye contact with me. I wasn’t sure if I wanted him to notice that I was annoyed with him or not, but the moment passed and he moved on.

I didn’t see when they left the gym, but I was there a lot longer than they were. I don’t think they worked as much as they talked and stood around. Another jaw day at the gym…for them, I mean.

Since I had the extra time, I thought I’d add a short cardio to the routine after my usual 30 seconds of “hanging around.” I was a tad surprised I had the energy for it, but I didn’t actually start noticing how tired my muscles were until after I got home and took a shower.

elliptical
Image credit: dreamstime.com

25 minutes on the elliptical seemed plenty, though, and I’m glad I didn’t do a full 40 minute session.

A terrifically successful day at the gym. I can’t call my bonus sets jokers since I’ve learned that is a very specific thing. I don’t think I have the spine (physical or otherwise) to attempt a 1 rep max. I’m not even sure what my 1 rep max would really be for hack squats and bent over rows.

According to the calculator at Bodybuilding.com, if I can do 4 reps of hack squats at 205 pounds, my 1 rep max should be 224 pounds.

Certainly, that’s a future goal for that lift, but I don’t know if I’d dare try it today.

For bent over rows, if I can barely lift 165 pounds for 5 reps, my 1 rep max should be 186 pounds. I might have risked that one, but it’s probably better I didn’t. I wouldn’t want prove my wife right and hurt myself because I was pushing too hard.

After getting home, I immediately consumed a protein shake, but after my shower, I still felt hungry and made myself a veggie and cheese omelet. I had time, so I included spinach, garlic, ginger, hot peppers, and onion…and a little cheese just to make things gooey.

Since the missus thinks that grazing all day long is actually promoting my hunger (which may be why I come home from work every day feeling starved), I decided to try having a more robust breakfast and see if it will last me until lunch.

My weight seems stalled in the 191 to 193 pound range, which isn’t bad, but my goal weight is 185, which should be a respectable weight for a 6 foot and almost 3 inch guy (I used to be 6’3″ until gravity decided to suck my spine to the center of the earth…now, according to a nurse at my doctor’s office, I’m 6 foot, 2 and 3/4 inches tall. I miss my quarter-inch of height).

That’s it. Tomorrow, I’ll probably do some ab work and I may go for a truncated cardio workout of 30 or 35 minutes or so, depending on how I feel.

For all of my fellow countrymen and women, have a happy and safe Independence Day celebration tomorrow.

America was not built on fear. America was built on courage, on imagination and an unbeatable determination to do the job at hand.

President Harry S. Truman

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