Ending Week 5 of Round 2 and Fighting Gravity Every Inch of the Way

vanishing point
Scene from the 1971 film “Vanishing Point”

I don’t know if it was gravity, if I didn’t sleep enough (although it felt like I had), if it was the end-of-week “tireds,” or if I was just too distracted, but I definitely was off my game at the gym this morning.

So much for my limits receding in the distance.

I have some vague memory of my wife waking me up in the middle of the night, probably because I was snoring or hogging too much of the covers or something. Other than that, I don’t remember much until I opened my eyes and saw the clock staring back at me announcing it was 3:40 a.m.

I don’t know how people can say “just five more minutes”. When I know I have to get up soon and there’s not enough time to get anymore meaningful rest, I just get up.

I was actually happy it was a lift day. I was planning on substituting my squats working weight of 220 pounds / 99.7903 kg with 225 pounds / 102.058 kg for both sets, just so I could say I did my squats at over 100 kilos. I figured what I was learning from Kelly Starrett’s book would help me deepen my squat and keep myself stable at a greater load.

One cup of coffee (OK, 1 1/2), one glass of water, and one banana later, I was standing in the squat rack loading up the barbell at my warm up weight for my first set.

Depending on the lift and how I was feeling, I rested somewhere between 90 to 120 seconds or more between sets. I’ll tell you right now, it was the deadlifts that completely drained me. But that’s not all that happened.

Back Squat in Squat Rack

3x 175lbs/79.3787kg
3x 205lbs/92.9864kg
3x 225lbs/102.058kg (Bonus weight)
3x 225lbs/102.058kg (Bonus weight)

Close Grip Bench Press

3x 125lbs/56.699kg
3x 135lbs/61.235kg
3x 150lbs/68.0389kg
3x 150lbs/68.0389kg

snatch deadlift
Photo credit: crossfittidalwave.com

Bent Leg Deadlift

3x 205lbs/92.9864kg
3x 225lbs/102.058kg
3x 245lbs/111.13kg
3x 245lbs/111.13kg

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

6x 60lbs/27.2155kg
5x 70lbs/31.7515kg
3x 80lbs/36.2874kg
1x 80lbs/36.2874kg
3x 75lbs/34.0194kg

Standing Curls w/Fixed Weight Barbells

6x 70lbs/31.7515kg
5x 80lbs/36.2874kg
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg
3x 90lbs/40.8233kg

Zercher Squats in Squat Rack (Bonus)

6x 135lbs/61.235kg
6x 155lbs/70.3068kg
6x 165lbs/74.8427kg

On paper (or online as it were), my numbers for the back squat look good. What you don’t see is that I really couldn’t get very low for my 2 working sets. It was difficult to even take a proper stance with a 225 pound barbell resting across my traps. As I screwed my feet into the floor, tightened my abs and glutes and started my squat, I could see my face getting redder.

Photo credit: strengthtech.com

I finally got to a point in my descent when I could feel it in my lower back and experience a problem with my balance, even trying to open my hips by spreading my knees apart. At that point, it was stand up again or risk losing control of the barbell and injuring myself.

And that happened for both working sets. I was really disappointed.

The only thing with the close grip presses was attempting to get the barbell as close to my chest as possible without trapping myself under the weight. For at least one set, I didn’t exactly cover myself in glory since I kept the bar a little too high. Still, between sets, I really felt it in my triceps, especially the upper head.

I could tell I was going to have a problem when muscling the warm up weight of 205 pounds for my deadlifts was more difficult than I anticipated. By the time I was up to my working weight, I was panting and sweating and although I managed to finish as expected, I knew I didn’t have a 250 pound bonus set in me. I decided not to push my luck and just let it be.

Then came the real disappointment.

I did my warm up sets of my overhead press well enough. For the first rep of the first working set, I almost stalled with the barbell lifted up only halfway, but I pushed through it and completed that rep and 2 more.

But for the second working set, I barely got the barbell up once and then stalled on the second rep. I couldn’t get the weight up any further and set the barbell back in the rack.

overhead press
Photo credit: buffdudes.us/

I wasn’t going to give up so easily, so I took 5 pounds off the bar, lightening the load to 75 pounds, and managed 3 reps, but it felt as difficult as I expected the 80 pound barbell to be.

I’m going to have to work on this one, and probably for week 5 of circuit 3, I’ll attempt the same weights again since I failed to meet my goals for this press on this round.

I had a brief thought of quitting at this point due to disappointment and fatigue, but I shook it off and headed for the fixed weight barbells. I still had to do curls, but I felt like I’d gone 3 rounds in the ring with Floyd Mayweather (and in real life, I’m sure I wouldn’t last 10 seconds).

The first warm up set went well as did the second. I managed both working sets, but on the last rep for each set, I was struggling to get the barbell all the way up to my chest.

I still had a little time left, and I wanted to get an extra something in, so I settled on zercher squats, my old standby.

Since I hadn’t managed to get very low on my working sets for back squats, I figured I’d concentrate on good form and the heck with heavy weights.

This is pretty much my standard pattern for zerchers, starting really light at 135 pounds and working up to 165. I probably could have gone heavier, at least in an ideal situation, but I was at the end of my workout, my shirt was soaked, I was dripping sweat off of my face, and I was really tired.

It was just after 6 when I finished my last squat, called it a day, and walked out of the weight room.

As I was leaving, a woman, one of the weight room regulars, was just ahead of me and held the door open for me. We joked about how tired and sore we both were from lifting. It was the first time I ever spoke with her.

In the gym, when I lift, I have this sort of “bubble” around me. Anyone who gets too close of even inside of the “bubble,” really annoys me. I need my space when I lift, especially when the weights are heavy (for me). If I get distracted, it either cuts into my performance or could make me lose control of the barbell, particularly when I’m squatting or doing deadlifts.

Unfortunately, this means I sometimes tend to view the others around me in a “competitive” manner, that is, competing for space as well as equipment. It was nice to step outside my bubble and relate to this person as a human being who I have something in common with.

Photo credit: ironmanmag.com.au

In addition to Starrett’s book, I happened to pick up a copy of Strength Training Past 50 (3rd ed) by Wayne Westcott and Thomas R. Baechle at the library in the new books second. I’ve only had time to thumb through it so far.

The content seems pretty elementary, but I noticed a few tidbits that looked interesting, information about training and nutrition specifically targeting the older lifter, which is exactly what I’m interested in.

I’ll have to write a proper review once I’ve read more, as I plan to for Starrett’s book.

Looking at the copyright page, I see that Westcott was born in 1949 and Baechle in 1943, so by their age alone, they’ve got some street cred (or gym cred) in writing on this topic.

After today’s workout, I’ll take all the help I can get.

Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life.

Steve Jobs


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