I should have done all this yesterday. I planned to, but I haven’t been sleeping well lately and it caught up with me Wednesday morning. I remember waking up once during the night, but I must have fallen back to sleep hard, because the next thing I knew, my alarm was going off.
I never sleep until my 4 a.m. alarm goes off, mainly because I hate the sound of it, and also because I seem to naturally wake up around 3:30 or 3:45 a.m.
But not so yesterday. I heard my wife, who also has to get up at 4, tell me to get some more sleep. I briefly considered powering myself out of bed but that didn’t go well. Then I told myself “five more minutes” and closed my eyes.
I figured the morning was a waste as far as the gym was concerned (and I was right), but thought I’d get up at about 4:30 to start my day. The next time I opened my eyes, it was nearly 5.
But I felt better. No aches or pains in my back whatsoever. After a cup of coffee, I felt pretty lucid. My wife left just as I was getting started and I slowly puttered around the house, getting breakfast and making my lunch for work.
I knew this meant that Thursday and Friday would both be lift days. I was hoping an extra day of rest and recovery would be reflected in improved performance.
Later that afternoon, I checked Thursday’s weather report and saw we were due to get snow starting around midnight and continuing through the morning.
Terrific. Commuting to the gym in the snow.
This morning, I woke up more normally (i.e. at about 3:45), looked outside, and saw less than an inch of snow was on the ground. Figured I dodged a bullet. I still gave myself some extra time to get to the gym’s parking lot and I pulled in just at 2 minutes before 5.
I saw the receptionist gal go in and didn’t see her lock the door behind her. No one, and I mean no one was waiting at the door with me, although I saw a couple of regulars waiting in their car. Strange, because they are usually outside waiting in 27 degree F weather and the temp outside this morning was a “scorching” 34 degrees.
I waited until 5 and let myself in the gym. The receptionist gal was turning on the TVs and by the time I hung my hoodie up, the lights and music were on.
As Mr. Incredible might say, “It’s show time.”
Back Squat in Squat Rack
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
6x 135lbs/61.235kg (5+)
5x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
3x 155lbs/70.3068kg (joker)
2x 160lbs/72.5748kg (joker)
3x 165lbs/74.8427kg (joker) PR
Barbell Bench Press
10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
6x 125lbs/56.699kg (5+)
5x 135lbs/61.235kg (joker)
2x 145lbs/65.7709kg (joker)
1x 150lbs/68.0389kg (joker) PR
Barbell Bent Over Row (5×10) 120lbs/54.4311kg
Dumbbell Bench Press (5×10) 55lbs/24.9476kg
Not only did I have the weight room to myself, I was completely alone for the first 30 minutes or so. I was in heaven.
As usual, I dragged a bench into the squat rack with me, pulled what is euphemistically known as the “pussy pad” off of the barbell, and started my warm ups.
I went through my 3 working sets, and 135 pounds felt a tad difficult. I still managed 6 reps in the 5+ set. Probably could have done more, but I thought I’d save something for the jokers. I was aiming for a new PR.
Last Sunday, my PR for the back squat getting my butt all the way down to the bench was 3 reps at 155 pounds. I did that for my second joker today, nudged the weight up to 160 and pushed through a disappointing 2 reps. Oh well, better than nothing.
I still thought I had a little more left in the tank, increased the weight to 165 pounds and tried again. This time, I managed 3 reps. I might have been able to do more, but I didn’t want to extend myself too far. I might have also been able to do more weight, but I decided to call it at 4 jokers. There’s always next week.
I was glad to be alone with no one to hear me, because I was grunting, groaning, and moaning through my working sets and jokers. Those muscles on the outside of both my thighs continue to complain when I do proper squats.
The weight room was still a big empty except for me, so I had my choice of bench press stations. I chose my favorite of the 2 and got everything set up.
My PR on Sunday for the bench press was 2 reps at 147.5 pounds. I thought I could do better than that today and I did, but just barely. My first joker set at 135 pounds felt predictably heavy but 5 reps was very doable. I added 10 more pounds and could only manage 2 reps, but I wasn’t done. I wanted that new PR.
I increased the barbell weight to 150 and pumped out 1 rep. I didn’t actually stall on the way back up after the bar touched my chest, but I slowed considerably about halfway to the top of the lift. I momentarily thought of trying a second rep but decided I should call it a day as far as bench presses were concerned.
By this time, shaved head guy and his daughter were in the weight room. Apparently it was chest day for them again, but since I had managed to claim 1 of the only 2 bench press stations, they switched off on the other.
I had been toying with the idea of doing main lift rack pulls instead of resistance lift bent over rows. Shaved head guy and his daughter never use the squat rack and none of the regulars or anyone else known to squat was there. I thought I could do the overhead press and bent over rows as main lifts tomorrow, just to change things out.
But I was too late. Tall, strong, formerly broken foot guy walked in and headed straight for the squat rack.
I wasn’t too disappointed since I could just proceed to my assistance lifts, but I had thought if I got rack pulls out of the way today, I wouldn’t have to dominate the squat rack with the overhead press and rack pull tomorrow.
Between sets, I watched formerly broken foot guy doing squats. His max weight was only 135 pounds, but his form was perfect, and I saw he set the safety bars one set of pins lower than I do. I suppose that means his squat is deeper, maybe by about an inch or so, even though he’s about an inch or so taller than me. It didn’t look like his thighs were going below parallel and I know mine do hit parallel. Maybe he’s bent more forward at the waist than I am when I squat.
It was nearly a quarter to 6 when I started my bent over rows. They went pretty well and as time passed, I was tempted to not do dumbbell bench presses since I’ve read a lot of advice saying assistance work is more or less optional.
But I hate to leave anything in my workout log undone, so I went ahead with them anyway.
Managed all 5 sets doing 10 reps per set with a pair of 55 pound dumbbells, though the last 2 reps of the final set were murder.
It was about 3 after 6 when I finally finished everything and I didn’t have time for any other work including stretching. I decided to take what victories I earned, such as they are, and get back home, setting my sights on better PRs another day.
Tomorrow the main lifts are the overhead press and rack pull. Great way to end the week.
My experiences have taught me that if you deeply believe in what you are doing, success can come at any age.