Circuit Zero, Day Two of Lifting

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Actually, day two of zero circuit was yesterday afternoon at around 2 p.m. or so. I had a number of midday appointments on Wednesday, so I decided to take the day off from work. I was considering another ab and cardio session at the gym in the morning but decided I needed the sleep instead. I didn’t get out of bed until around 7:30. It was glorious.

I muddled through the morning and attended my appointments but then I had time on my hands. My wife was still at work and my daughter was out doing errands.

Frankly, there was a lot I could have done around the house, but after watching the video of Sam “Sonny” Bryant Jr, I really wanted to workout.

Thing is, I wasn’t planning on lifting until Thursday (today, as you read this), so I thought I’d just hop over to the gym and sweat on the Elliptical for 40 minutes or so.

But when I got there, the lure of the weight room was strong. True, there were several people in there, but I figured if I went light and ignored the distractions, I’d be OK. My lower right back area discomfort had subsided quite a bit.

It looked like the squat rack was in use (this wasn’t actually true, there was this guy was walking around in that area between sets, but he was using the leg press machine … plus someone had left weight plates on the barbell *again*), so I started out with a standard bench press.

It was a good/bad day at the gym as you’ll discover in a minute. I rested anywhere between 1 to 2 minutes between sets depending on how each individual exercise stressed me.

Barbell Bench Press

8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg

Barbell Zercher Squat in Squat Rack

8x 135lbs/61.235kg
6x 155lbs/70.3068kg
6x 165lbs/74.8427kg
5x 170lbs/77.1107kg
5x 170lbs/77.1107kg

Lightweight Straight Leg Deadlift

8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg
8x 135lbs/61.235kg

one arm bent over row
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Bent Over Dumbbell Rows at Bench

10x 30lbs/13.6078kg
8x 40lbs/18.1437kg
8x 50lbs/22.6796kg
6x 55lbs/24.9476
6x 55lbs/24.9476

Curls w/Fixed Weight Barbells

10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 60lbs/27.2155kg
8x 70lbs/31.7515kg
6x 70lbs/31.7515kg
8x 70lbs/31.7515kg

I was determined to do a full 5 sets of each exercise, at least 5 reps per set, though I wasn’t being strict about the reps. To do this, I kept everything light, in some cases much lighter than a Week 1 in my traditional 5-week round where I do 10 reps per set, albeit only 4 sets instead of 5.

As you can see from my bench press, this was a pretty minimal weight, but I got a good 8 reps in for each set, the very last set feeling pretty difficult by the end. Good range of motion, though.

Since I realized the squat rack was free, and I wanted to do something for my lower body, I decided on some lightweight zercher squats. My back felt fine during the bench press, but I knew squats was a make or break lift.

I tried to keep in mind everything I read about squats in Mark Rippetoe’s book such as positioning my feet out at an angle and making sure I was moving my knees out of the way, but I still couldn’t tell if the barbell was consistently tracking over the center of my feet throughout the squat motion.

I also forgot to look down at first. I’m used to looking at my reflection to determine how close to parallel my thighs get. The nice thing about zercher squats is that I can actually hit parallel because my center of gravity is lower.

zercher squats
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As much as I tried to put it out of my mind, I still felt a little embarrassed at using such light weights, especially since there were a couple of other guys working out with barbells and dumbbells, but I was working around an injury and needed to be careful.

I wasn’t careful enough however, since my back did take a hit during the squats (I’m sitting with my trusty ice pack against my back as I write this).

Next, I decided to really tempt fate and do deadlifts, but Jerry suggested lightweight straight-leg deadlifts, so I did that at a humiliating weight of 135 pounds for all 5 sets.

It almost felt good to bend over and stretch out my back, but pulling the weight off the floor is the single most dangerous thing I can to do my back with deadlifts, so I really, really needed to keep the weight particularly light so the pull up wouldn’t kill me.

At least my lower back and hams got some exercise.

I figured bent over barbell rows was pushing it, so decided on bent over dumbbell rows while bracing myself on a bench. I used to do this lift all the time back in the day, and now didn’t have a way to determine the right weight. I played it conservative and started with a 30 pound dumbbell, but when I pulled it up with my left arm, it was like lifting paper. Way too light. I did 10 reps for giggles and got heavier.

By the time I got to 55 pounds, that was sufficient, but I remembered how this exercise used to knock the wind right out of me, requiring excessive rest times between sets, even at lighter weights. While I could certainly feel the weight, I had no recovery problems at all. Sure, I was working. The sweat dripping off my face onto my shirt and the floor was proof of that. But I think I am getting stronger and building endurance.

To find out, I went back a year in my workout log and was kind of disappointed. For the dumbbell bent over rows, I was doing 3 sets of between 8 to 10 reps at 60 pounds. This wasn’t consistent, since I’d alternate every other week with cable low rows, and also, I’d lighten the weight on subsequent weeks to 50 pounds and do 3 sets of 10 reps per set.

barbell curls
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No notes on how winded I was or wait times between sets, but I’m still convinced that at least my endurance and recovery have improved.

I didn’t have a time limit but decided to restrict myself to just one more exercise. Keeping my back in mind, I settled on fixed-weight barbell curls.

I thought about going heavier than 70 pounds, but decided to keep my volume up rather than lift as heavy as I could for fewer reps.

That was it. Once done with the curls, I was done.

It was mid-afternoon, and when I got home, my wife still wasn’t back from work. Time to apply ice and hope I’d be able to stand up, walk, and sit down without showing her any signs that I’d actually aggravated my back again.

That’s it for lifting this week. I said twice a week and I’ll stick to it. That means it won’t be until next Monday or Tuesday before I hit the weights again, giving me 4 or 5 days to heal up. Of course, if I were smart, I’d wait a full week and not lift until Wednesday again. But my motivation to lift keeps overwhelming my common sense.

On the other hand, I’ll never lift to my max potential as long as I’m working around an injury.

Dilemma, dilemma.

There will always be a reason why you meet people. Either you need them to change your life or you’re the one that will change theirs.

Madeline Sheehan


2 thoughts on “Circuit Zero, Day Two of Lifting

  1. I know the feeling of having to miss a planned workout, and the satisfaction of getting it fitted in. You have nothing to be ashamed of about,the weights your using. I’m sure most of the young guys you see lifting heavier weights then you now won’t be doing anything like you are when they get close to our ages. Besides that, many of the written programs call for cycling the weights lifted every five to six weeks. Injuries sure seem to take longer to heal as we get older. I did tweak my back last year but was able to get back kind of quick by stoping any thing that worked it for two weeks. But a shoulder injury has been hampering all presses since July,even though I have went for some ART treatments and massages. I can DL and squat using the saftey squat bar and do DB rows and pulldowns without pain, so I still get to WO twice a week.


    1. I know you’re right, Jerry. It just seems there’s a difference between how I imagine I should progress and the reality of the situation. Not only do we heal more slowly than younger folks, but because of our reduced flexibility, we get injured more easily. I took it easy this a.m. and did just 30 minutes of cardio. Interestingly enough, I’m feeling DOMS in my pecs, traps, and even my hams, so even going way lighter, yesterday still had an effect.

      Thanks for the encouragement.


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