Recovering From The Flu By Going To The Gym

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The unthinkable has happened. Someone got to the squat rack before I did this morning.

OK, it’s not unthinkable, it’s just inconvenient. Here’s what happened.

I’ve still been trying to fight off the aftereffects of the stomach flu. It laid me out all day Monday, and on Tuesday morning, I strongly debated with myself on whether or not to go to work.

But, as far as I knew then, we had a software release set for Tuesday, and someone in “Product” hadn’t gotten his work to me by EOB on Friday, so I had to go in to make sure I documented the new data and got it committed to the software repository. I got to work yesterday to discover, to my relief, that the release date had been set back a week, and having received the material I needed, got it all written up before lunch.

By yesterday evening, my stomach seemed more or less normal, and I “tested” it with a couple of chili dogs.

Kept everything down, but my “nether region” still was a little “loose,” if you take my meaning.

So I set my alarm for 4 a.m. and planned to get my buns (loose though they were) back to the gym. Wednesday was supposed to be a lift day, although depending on how I felt, I had the option to either do cardio and lift on Thursday, or bail on the gym entirely and lift on Thursday. Both options would require sacrificing Rack Pulls on Friday, however.

Sleep was spotty last night and I dragged myself out of bed at about 3:50 this morning. Stomach felt a little acidy and I didn’t even finish all of my cup of coffee. Had some water, and my loose bowels argued with me about going to the gym.

I argued back and forced myself into the car. However, by that time, I only had 5 minutes to make it to the gym. It had already opened by the time I pulled into the parking lot, and I could see strong, bent over guy walking through the doors.

I grabbed a quick parking spot and got inside, but it was too late. He’d already claimed the squat rack. I told him he got it fair and square (which he did) and he said he only had one set. He didn’t say he had 2 warm up sets before his working set, but what the heck.

So I did assistance lifts first, for lack of anything better to do, and to stay close to the squat rack so I could grab it before anyone else did once bent over guy was done. I saw tall, strong, formerly broken foot guy in the gym as well, so I thought competition for the squat rack would be stiff.

Here’s my Wednesday morning workout.

Cycle Six, Week Two, Day Two 3/3/3+

bench dips

Assistance Lift

Bodyweight Bench Dips w/Leg Ext.
x10, x10, x10, x10, x10

Main Lifts

Back Squat in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
10x 95lbs/43.0913kg (warm up)
3x 130lbs/58.967kg
3x 145lbs/65.7709kg
4x 160lbs/72.5748kg
3x 175lbs/79.3787kg (joker)
1x 190lbs/86.1826kg (joker)
1x 200lbs/90.7185kg (joker) PR

Overhead Press in Squat Rack

10x 45lbs/20.4117kg (warm up)
3x 70lbs/31.7515kg
3x 80lbs/36.2874kg
4x 85lbs/38.5554kg
2x 95lbs/43.0913kg (joker)
0x 100lbs/45.3592 (joker) -failed rep-

Mobility Work

Hamstring stretch #1 30 seconds x2
Hamstring stretch #2 30 seconds x2

Quad stretch 30 seconds x2

I did bench dips while I was coveting the squat rack. That’s probably what killed my overhead press, but I’ll get to that.

squat smith machine

I tried to be patient. After all, the other guy got there first, so the rack was his. He was doing shrugs, which I kind of thought he could do at a bench press station (and he usually does when I get to the squat rack first), but again, I was being unfair.

The last set of dips killed me (not really, they just hurt) but the wait was worth it. He gave up the squat rack finally, and it was mine to command.

I dragged a bench inside as the other guy dragged a bench into the Smith machine to set up for his back squats. The guy squats a maximum of 315 pounds for 8 to 10 reps, so he’s light years stronger than I am.

Then he squats raw for a lesser weight (though still a lot more than I can). I figure this has to do with some sort of disability, which is why he always walks bent over.

Anyway, the warm up sets of squats hurt in the usual places, mainly the outsides of my thighs where my hams are tight. I remembered that I hadn’t done any stretches since Sunday morning, so that might be a big “oops” as far as my squats went today.

Made it through my first 2 working sets by saying “you only have to do 3 reps,” and only made 4 in my 3+ set. But it was “plus” enough.

Performed a respectable first joker set (for me) doing 3 reps at 175 pounds. Although I thought I could have done a double at 190, I kept it as a single to save up for setting a new PR. I wanted that 200 pound back squat.

It really didn’t seem that unreasonable. I’d done a single at 195 last week. What’s 5 more pounds?

At this point, I’d been resting 2 1/2 to 3 minutes between sets. Finally, I decided to tackle the “beast,” so to speak.

200 pounds felt about as heavy as 190 or 195. My legs were straining as I went down into the hole and I made myself put my butt right on the bench. I didn’t want to cheat.

It worked. I was able, though it hurt, to push back up from the bench to complete the rep. Hello new PR for the back squat. Finally. I set the last PR for squats two full cycles ago, seven weeks.

Woman doing squats
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Yeah, finally getting stronger.

There were tons of people in the weight room as I unloaded the bar and prepared for my overhead press. I’d been in the gym well over 30 minutes and knew that I’d be dominating the squat rack almost to the top of the hour.

Several big guys were in the weight room and I figured maybe one or two would want the squat rack. I felt guilty about that, but not so guilty as to exit the rack.

The warm up set went OK and the working sets, though feeling heavy, were doable. Limited myself to 4 reps on the 3+ set to see how far I could take the jokers. Was a new PR in the cards for the overhead press as well?

As it turns out, no.

I did what was predictable for the first joker, 2 reps at 95 pounds. I thought that meant I could do a single at 100 and maybe a single for a new PR at 105.

No such luck.

I suppose I could blame the Firefighter. That’s what I call him. He’s been a regular in the gym for several months. I usually see him doing cardio when I’m doing cardio, but afterwards, he switches to free weights.

He always wears two sleeves on his arms, from forearm to upper arm. I know he’s a firefighter because I see his pickup truck outside with firefighter insignias. Maybe the sleeves cover burns or scars. I don’t know. I do know he’s really muscular, physically imposing, maybe about 40 years old.

As I was getting ready for my second joker set of 100 pounds, he moved to the Smith machine and started loading the bar. He made eye contact and I interpreted that as him wanting the squat rack.

Once he was finished loading the bar and was out of the way (the Smith machine and the squat rack are too close together, and if I started lifting while he was loading the left side of the machine, I’d hit him with the right side of my barbell) I started the next joker, and as it turns out, my last joker.

Maybe he distracted me. Maybe my triceps were overly tired from doing bench dips first. Whatever it was, I failed the lift halfway up. I lowered the barbell to my chest and tried again. Same result.

No success for the overhead press today. At least I made one new PR. That’s got to be enough.

overhead press

After I unloaded the barbell, straightened the rack up, and exited, I was all but out of time. Just did my usual stretches minus the Kasey the Chiropractor core work, and walked out in semi-victory.

The sky was just getting light as I headed for my car, and it felt like a nice, spring morning in Idaho.

Went home and tolerated the protein drink just fine. I hope I’m completely recovered from the flu by tomorrow and especially by Friday when I face Rack Pulls again.

Limitations live only in our minds. But if we use our imaginations, our possibilities become limitless.

Jamie Paolinetti


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