First of all, on Wednesday night, I slept all night. Didn’t wake up at all in the middle of the night as I remember it. In fact, I didn’t wake up until the alarm went off at 4 a.m. That almost never happens. I got up at 4 on Thursday morning expecting to go to the gym at 5 and do abs and cardio.
As usual, I got out of bed, went to the bathroom, started coffee, but I felt exhausted. I didn’t have to commute with my son David that morning so I said to myself, “to heck with it” and went back to bed for another 90 minutes.
I guess I was really beat.
Last night was a different story. I fell asleep OK, but woke up at midnight. Fell back asleep and woke up at 2. My wife was really restless, so I got up and went to the living room sofa. I tossed and turned, then around 3, I got a bloody nose (it was dark but I could tell it wasn’t just a regular runny nose).
That pretty much did it. I got up, started the coffee, and surfed the web. I never actually got to the coffee, not right then anyway. When I got my bleeding to stop, I felt tired again and tried lying down on the sofa. No sleep and I got up at 10 til 4.
I was tempted to push my weightlifting session back to Saturday since I was so tired. I also didn’t fancy the prospect of my nose starting to bleed again while I was lifting (fortunately, it didn’t). But I convinced myself that I should just push through all this and go.
I pictured myself exceeding all my goals, especially at squats and deadlifts. I told myself that it’s not just a matter of what my body is capable of, it’s a matter of will. Other people can do more than I do. I can drive myself to do more as well.
So I got on my gym clothes and got ready. My wife woke up and did her regular routine. Finally it was time to go.
At 5 a.m. and a few seconds, I was facing the squat rack again.
Unfortunately, some noodle left the velcro cushion attached to the barbell and left some weights on it. I had to undo all that before I could position and load the bar for my first set of squats.
Rest times between sets started at around 90 seconds but quickly progressed to 2 minutes and over as I became increasingly fatigued.
Barbell Back Squats in Squat Rack
4x 225lbs/102.058kg (Bonus weight)
4x 225lbs/102.058kg (Bonus weight)
Barbell Close Grip Bench Press
Barbell Bent Leg Deadlift
5x 240lbs/108.862kg (Bonus rep)
Overhead Barbell Press
5x 75lbs/34.0194kg (Bonus rep)
Standing Barbell Curl
On Monday, starting my deadlifts at a fairly light weight and getting in an additional warm up set worked so well, I decided to try the same strategy with my squats. I also planned to ramp up the weight on subsequent warm ups as well as my 2 working sets. The result was doing the last 2 sets with 2 big plates on either side of the bar for over 100 kilos (225 pounds rather than the scheduled 220).
I took the close up presses more conservatively, but did more reps on the 2 warm up sets than required.
For deadlifts, I kept the light “extra” warm up set and then progressed up the ladder like I did Monday. Part of me wanted to up the weight to 245 or even 250 pounds, but I could tell on my first working set, the effort it took to get the barbell off the floor at 240 pounds was tremendous. I didn’t feel tired exactly, but I figure my lack of sleep was taking a toll.
On the very last set however, I felt like I had an extra rep in me, and pulled the barbell up 5 times instead of the required 4. People actually looked when I slammed the bar to the floor in victory. Yeah, it was kind of loud.
As always, after deadlifts, I don’t have much left, so I was worried about my overhead press. The squat rack was taken, so I stayed at my bench and worked from the floor.
I goofed up on my second warm up set and put the weight at my working weight. No wonder it felt so heavy. There was nothing to do afterward except attempt my 2 working sets as anticipated. I thought I wasn’t going to get the barbell completely over my head on the third rep of the first working set but I managed that and then completed the fourth. For my final working set, I even managed an extra rep here as well. That took me by surprise.
But there was a price to pay at the other end. I wanted to do something extra for my curls. Maybe a bonus set at a higher weight. But at the end of my last regular set, it was 5 until the hour and I figured I didn’t have the time or the energy for that effort.
I’m still proud of what I did, though. If I didn’t manage heavier weights (except for squats), at least I did more reps than required on a number of my lifts.
I’m swilling coffee like there’s no tomorrow right now because lack of sleep is catching up with me. I just hope I can get some rest tonight. I don’t have to be up tomorrow at a particular time so I think that’ll help.
Next week is the fifth and final week of circuit 3 and it’s probably not too soon to consider what I want to do for the fourth circuit, or even if I want to make changes in weights or training frequency.
Speaking of which, I read another article on strength training and training frequency, this time at myfitnesspal.com.
Apparently, the research is split about how effective training just once a week is compared to twice or three times. The general conclusion is that strength training even once a week is effective for an older person, but not all that effective compared to a more frequent routine.
Research also suggests that a once-weekly strength training frequency can be just as effective on improving muscle strength as a more rigorous schedule. This small study followed two groups of adults over 60—one group performing a set of strength training exercises to muscular fatigue once per week, and a second group that exercised twice per week—and found that substantial strength gains can be derived from less frequent activity.
Not all experts agree that strength training only once a week is sufficient, however. “Strength training twice per week is perfect, but once is a waste of time,” Boyle says. “Sure, you can potentially gain strength on one workout a week, but you would continually be sore. Twice a week is less of a shock to the system and allows the body to better adapt.“
Research also makes the case for two or three weekly resistance workouts rather than one. One study examined the effects of three different strength training frequencies on 1,725 previously sedentary men and women. The one-day-per-week trainees added 0.7 pounds of lean weight, whereas both the two-days-per-week and three-days-per-week exercisers added 3.1 pounds of lean weight. Another study comparing different strength training frequencies on torso rotation muscle strength had similar results.
That said, the article confirmed that strength training is “da boss” …
We won’t be the first to tell you there are plenty of good reasons to hit the weight room—even if your goal isn’t to build arms like The Hulk. Strength training can improve physical performance, movement control, walking speed, functional independence, cognitive abilities, and self-esteem. Plus, it can reduce blood pressure, enhance cardiovascular health, and decrease chances of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gaining strength also minimizes your chance of getting hurt. “You’ll increase bone density and strengthen the tendons and ligaments, so not only are you simply able to lift more weight, but you’re also building resistance to injury,” explains Michael Boyle, a strength and conditioning coach and functional training expert in Boston.
And while you may think cardio is key to losing weight, a study found that men who did 20 minutes of weight training each day saw a smaller increase in belly fat as men who spent the same amount of time doing cardio. In another study, 10 weeks of resistance training was shown to increase lean weight by 1.4 kg (about three pounds), increase resting metabolic rate by 7 percent, and reduce fat weight by 1.8 kg (about four pounds). So if you’re trying to slim down, it may be time to say so long to the treadmill—and hello to the weight rack.
Like the article says, strength training isn’t about becoming huge, it’s about developing functional strength and everything that goes along with it as mentioned above.
So this is just another confirmation that I’ve backed the right horse.
I must say that I’m probably still overeating my program as I’ve not been able to drop the weight I picked up when my parents were visiting a few weeks ago. I’m not terrifically worried, but it would be nice to actually reduce some more of my body fat as my muscles all too slowly become stronger and more dense.
In the meantime, I need more coffee. I’m really glad it’s Friday.
If you stay, stay forever. If you go, do it today. If you change, change for the better. If you talk, make sure you mean what you say.