Bad and Good at the Gym Today

southwest airlinesIt was a good day, it was a bad day. Yeah, trying for A Tale of Two Cities vibe (though I must admit, I’ve never read the novel).

It’s sort of like saying, I’ve got some good news and I’ve got some bad news. Bad news first, but before we get to that, a little build up.

The missus and my daughter took a wee trip to the San Francisco Bay Area. The missus will be back Saturday, so my son and I will be “batchin’ it” until then. He works and goes to school, so I hardly ever see him. In fact, when he did come home last night, I was actually startled.

Got more or less OK sleep, but this morning as I watched the numbers on my clock creep toward 4 a.m., I kept saying to myself, “Just five more minutes.”

Finally, I ran out of “five more minutes” and had to get up.

My legs were still sore but not too much. My knees only bothered me slightly as I went about my morning routine. I had resigned myself to no PRs today, at least in squats, but was hoping for a good performance in my working sets and a few respectable jokers.

Well, that’s what I was hoping for.

A big rain storm had blown through overnight, so everything looked and smelled wet. My gym is close enough to the Boise River so if the wind is right, you get a pleasant rustic smell that really just represents decaying vegetation. What the greenbelt along the river typically smells like in the Spring and Summer in these parts.

That’s what it smelled like as I got out of my car and headed to the door of the gym. Got there a minute or so before the place opened up. A few of the regulars were there and no one that squats.

I walked into the free weight room and claimed the squat rack. Pulled a bench in as always. Here’s where the rubber meets the road, as the old commercial goes.


Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20kg (warm up)
10x 95lbs/43kg (warm up)
3x 125lbs/56kg
3x 140lbs/63kg
3x 155lbs/70kg
1x 165lbs/74kg (joker)

overhead press
Photo credit:

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20kg (warm up)
3x 65lbs/29kg
3x 75lbs/34kg
3x 85lbs/38kg
1x 90lbs/40kg (joker)
1x 95lbs/43kg (joker)
1x 100lbs/45kg (joker)

Assistance Lift

Overhead Weighted Cable Triceps Ext

10x 85lbs/38kg
10x 75lbs/34kg
10x 75lbs/34kg
10x 75lbs/34kg
10x 75lbs/34kg

Core Work

Balancing on one foot
30 seconds each side

My first warm up set for squats hurt my thighs but my second wasn’t so bad. I figured my legs were just stiff. Little “comment” from my knees, so I hoped I was golden.

Working sets were another story. There was quite a bit of effort in pulling off even 3 reps per set, including the 3+ set. In fact, the third rep in the last working set bruised the thigh on the left side of my left leg exactly like it did 2 weeks ago. Problem is, 2 weeks ago, that rep was with a 195 pound barbell for my final joker, and today, I was only pushing up against 155 pounds in my last working set.

I decided to throw a joker set in just for giggles, increasing the weight only 10 pounds. Barely made a single rep and that thigh hurt like the devil.

Last week, even though my thigh felt injured, I could still do 2 reps at 165 pounds, and a single rep at 180 (although I failed the rep at 195 and then 190 pounds).

I’ve already mentioned that I injured my thigh 2 weeks ago but I managed a single at 195 pounds, and for the prior 3/3/3+ week, I established 195 pounds for a single rep as my new PR for back squats.

squat rack

Just for the heck of it, I looked backward in time two cycles to 3/3/3+ week and for the final joker set, I set a PR doing 2 reps at 185 pounds.

Oh yeah, something is definitely wrong with my left leg. Can’t wait to see Kasey the Chiropractor, and I hope he has some ideas for fixing this mess.

While all this was going on, a few of the regulars showed up, including bent over but strong guy. I thought he was going to do deadlifts, but I lost track of him until he came over to the Smith machine at my right and started setting up for his own squat routine (with far heavier weights than I’ve done, even at my best).

Big Daddy showed up but without Hit Girl. A few other people trickled in. No one acted like I was taking up their time in the squat rack.

I set up for my overhead presses and hoped that my miserable performance at squats hadn’t sucked the enthusiasm out of me. My leg was aching but I more or less ignored it. I could still walk without a limp.

My warm up set for the overhead press hurt and my first working set felt hard, but I wasn’t going to give in, especially since I blew the 5+ set last week. The second and third working sets also were hard, but within “doable” range.

Then came the jokers.

I settled for doing singles to conserve my strength and endurance and just kept increasing the weight 5 pounds set over set.

90 pounds went up OK one time. So did 95 pounds. I put 100 pounds on the barbell to see if I could match my current PR.

After resting a couple of minutes, I pressed my chest up against the barbell, assumed my grip and did the lift out and walk back.

Yeah, it felt heavy, and as I pressed up, I stalled halfway and had to lower the bar back to my chest. No, I wasn’t giving up. After a second or so, I pressed up again, started to stall, kept pressing, and finally made it.


Remember good news and bad news. Bad news first, but then good news. At least I got 100 pounds over my head again.

I'll be backLast week for my 5+ working set, I only managed 3 reps, did 2 reps at 90 pounds for my first joker, and 1 rep at 90 for the second and last joker set.

Going back to the previous 3/3/3+ week, I managed a single rep at 90 pounds and failed the rep at 95.

Going back two cycles to the 3/3/3+ before that is when I set a PR for a single rep at 95 pounds. The last time I did a single at 100 pounds was about 4 weeks ago. If I’m getting stronger, it’s in super-slow motion.

I did a triceps exercise for my assistance lift and thought about throwing in something for my legs, like maybe some over the mat lunges. But my left leg still felt pretty beat up and I didn’t want to aggravate it.

I started my Kasey the Chiropractor core work by standing on each leg for 30 seconds. I do OK with my eyes open, but when I close them, I fall over in about 3 or 4 seconds. As I was falling (well, I caught myself on a rack so I didn’t really fall), my leg started hurting again and I decided to call it.

I was only in the gym 45 minutes, and I certainly didn’t leave in victory. I have to keep telling myself that I’ll find a way to fix this and then do better. I guess we’ll see.

I’ll be back.

Arnold Schwarzenegger


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