Gym Wars: The Beast Awakens (Sort Of)

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I inadvertently had a good day at the gym this morning. Here’s how things went.

I slept more or less OK. Woke up a couple of times to use the bathroom, but slept pretty solid otherwise, at least until about 3:15 a.m. or so.

Got up at a quarter to 4, made coffee, perused the online comic strips, drank some water, munched on a banana, reminded my wife that she had to get up for work (which she didn’t like but appreciated anyway).

Remembering that I set a pretty hard PR on deadlifts last week, I wondered if I could match it again, let alone exceed it. I decided to let how I felt when I got into the gym make that decision.

I got into the parking lot about 4 before the hour. The regulars were gathering and I think we even got in a minute or 2 early. This particular receptionist gal isn’t a stickler about time.

Works for me. I stashed my hoodie in a locker and went straight for the squat rack. So far, no one was there who does free weights, but you never know who’ll show up by the by.

Monday morning at 5 a.m. Here’s what I did to start the day.


Main Lifts

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
5x 55lbs/24.9476kg
5x 65lbs/29.4835kg
6x 70lbs/31.7515kg (5+)
2x 80lbs/36.2874kg (joker)
2x 85lbs/38.5554kg (joker)
2x 90lbs/40.8233kg (joker)

arnold deadlift

Bent Leg Deadlift

5x 135lbs/61.235kg (warm up)
5x 155lbs/70.3068kg
5x 180lbs/81.6466kg
8x 195lbs/88.4505kg (5+)
5x 215lbs/97.5224kg (joker)
5x 235lbs/106.594kg (joker)
1x 255lbs/115.666kg (joker)
1x 270lbs/122.47kg (joker) PR

Assistance Lifts

Overhead Press in Squat Rack (5×10)

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 55lbs/24.9476kg
10x 50lbs/22.6796kg

Core Work (3×10)

Leg Back Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Leg Side Raises
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10
Lx10, Rx10

Alternating Arm/Leg Raises (Bird Dog)
10x each side
10x each side
10x each side

Standing on One Foot
30 seconds each side

Since yesterday when I did the minimum at my 5+ sets and didn’t come close to my PRs, I decided I wanted to do a little better today. I was pushing at the barbell pretty hard for my overhead press, but while I got up to my PR of 90 pounds for 2 reps, I couldn’t get past it. That’s OK. I’ve got the rest of this cycle to start doing better.

overhead press
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By the time I was finished in the squat rack, the shaved head guy’s daughter had taken one of the bench press stations. Her Dad was nowhere in sight…maybe warming up on a cardio machine or something.

I took my time unloading the barbell in the rack, figuring I’d be fair and not rush to get the other bench. He was slow coming into the weight room so I figured, what the heck, took the other bench, and started setting up for my deadlifts.

That’s when he showed up and he was too late. I could tell by the look on his face, he was counting on using the other bench so he wouldn’t have to switch off with his daughter.

First come, first served.

I didn’t have a specific plan for deadlifts besides what was written in my exercise log. Did 8 reps for my 5+ set with a 195 pound barbell, which didn’t feel all that heavy.

I decided not to go crazy and just increased the weight for my first joker set to 215 pounds. For that, and the next joker with a 235 pound barbell, I managed 5 reps each.

I bumped the weight up again to 255 and that one I really felt. I only did 1 rep. I thought about attempting a second, but again, decided not to go crazy.

Here’s where things got interesting. I couldn’t remember what my PR for deadlifts was. For some reason, I thought it was 270 pounds. I was tempted to go for 275 and do a single for my final joker, but the amount of effort it took for me to pull up 255 pounds just once told me I probably shouldn’t risk it.

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So when I added the appropriate plates to either end of the bar to make it weigh 270 pounds, I thought I was going to do a single and match my PR of last week. It wasn’t until I got home and compared today’s performance to last week’s that I realized that last Monday, my PR was 260 pounds for 1 rep. Today, I exceeded last week’s PR by 10 pounds.

Wow! Hello new deadlift PR. Nothing gets the testosterone flowing like (proverbially) kicking @ss and taking names.

But all of that was time-consuming. Realizing that I needed to do multiple sets of my core work, I saw I only had time for one assistance lift. Since my deadlifts are doing well, I set aside rack pulls and chose more overhead press work.

I was going to do seated dumbbell military presses, but all of the benches were taken. The squat rack was still free, so I went back in there. I started with a 45 pound bare bar but increased the weight, eventually up to 55 pounds, to do “boring but big”.

I had to take the weight back down to 50 pounds for the final set because I was getting tired.

I just had barely enough time for my core work. I was worn down and breathing heavy and sweating between sets.

But for the first time, I was able to balance on first my right leg and then my left for the full 30 seconds without having to drop my foot or grab onto something to keep from falling. For me, that’s an accomplishment.

barbell grip

Of all the things that hurt on me right now, my forearms seem to be getting most of my attention. It’s the grip, probably for all my lifts, but especially the deadlift.

Since I thought I was just matching my PR, at the time, I didn’t think a lot about it except that pulling the weight up was heavier than I remembered. My face didn’t get as red, though and nothing hurt. It still took several seconds between the start of the lift and standing erect at lockout. I tried as much as possible to push down with my legs rather than just use my back and hips as a pivot. In the “bad old days,” I hurt myself pulling up 250 pounds, and now, 20 pounds heavier, I didn’t want a repeat performance.

Instead of getting hurt, I got results.

Tomorrow, it’s cardio and core work so hopefully that’ll count as enough rest to let my muscles and CNS recover before the next lift day on Wednesday.

Desire is the starting point of all achievement.

Napoleon Hill


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