I honestly had no idea what I was going to do at the gym this morning. Well, that’s not exactly true. I had planned to start Cycle 15 and 5/5/5+ week, but I found myself nice, and warm, and cozy in bed this morning and I didn’t want to get out.
I justified my decision by saying I could just “deload” by doing cardio this week, so I didn’t have to get to the gym right at 8 a.m. I told myself I could just lift tomorrow, but the gym opens at 5 a.m. on Monday and if I got there later, there’s no telling if I would be able to get to the squat rack.
8 a.m. came and 8 a.m. went. I got out of bed with the vague idea of doing something for exercise today.
I noodled around on the computer, read the Sunday morning comic strips, checked email, twitter, and Facebook, checked my various blogs. I finally ran out of things to do, especially since my wife and son Michael were still asleep (David was out for the evening/morning).
Oh yeah, Happy New Year. I keep forgetting, especially since this is Sunday and I’m normally off work anyway.
After 62 years, the passing of one more year isn’t particularly impressive, so I tend space the transition. I must have gotten to bed last night around 9:30.
This morning I figured “what the heck” and decided to just wing it. I put on my oversized t-shirt so that if I did overhead presses, my manly girth wouldn’t show. Finished getting dressed and organized, and then left home, driving through 18 degree F weather and on icy roads.
Got to the gym at around 9:30. Cars in the parking lot so the place was active.
I got into the weight room and no one was using the squat rack. Hooray me!
I claimed it, fixed the weight plates up, and got to work.
One of the things I feel might be holding me back is that my warm ups are pretty light, and then I’m jumping to working weights that are fairly near my one rep max and/or my current functional limit.
I thought maybe today I’d start light, and then increase the weight gradually, just to see how heavy I could go, or at least how heavy I wanted to go.
Technically, I’m still in Cycle 14 and this is a deload week, but it’s probably nothing you’d find programmed for deloads in any book on strength training. I kind of just did what I felt like doing.
Barbell Back Squat in Squat Rack (raw)
Fixed Weight Barbell Overhead Press
I didn’t call my warm up weights warm ups. They were just a starting place today.
I’d just finished my first set in the squat rack when big, tall, strong, formerly broken foot guy walked in, came up to me and said, “You’re just starting your squats, aren’t you?”
I replied, “Yes. Sorry.”
He was disappointed, but I’d gotten there first. I felt kind of bad, so I decided that I’d do something different for my overhead press so I wouldn’t dominate the gym’s only squat rack too long.
He pulled some plastic platform into the Smith machine and started doing calf raises, alternating with some dumbbell work.
I kept doing 10 rep sets until the weight felt too heavy, then I reduced to 5 reps. I had considered finishing up with whatever number of reps I could manage using a 225 pound barbell, but when I hit 205 and my legs felt exhausted, so I called it quits.
I deloaded the barbell and walked out of the rack. Big, strong guy smiled and nodded at me as we passed each other. Then he got into the squat rack and set up for his workout.
I decided to use the fixed weight barbells for my overheads. Weights increment by 10 pounds, all of them ending with zero.
I started ridiculously light using a 20 pound bar and it was like lifting a toy. I incremented by tens, and by the time I hit 60 pounds, I had to reduce the number of reps from 10 to 5.
The strange thing is that the whole process felt really different because I wasn’t in the squat rack. I just pulled a barbell off the rack, lifted it to my chest, and pushed up. For some reason, extending one leg back was awkward and made me feel off balance. In the rack, it works just fine.
I was doing well until I hit 90 pounds. I felt off balance and did only 4 reps. I might of been able to do 5, but it didn’t feel right, so I stopped.
Meanwhile, big strong guy was doing set after set of squats at 205 pounds doing maybe 8 to 10 reps per set.
After I ended my overhead presses, I did 5 sets of kneeling cable ab crunches just because I hadn’t done them in a long time, then moved on to my usual mobility work.
By that time the squat rack was available again.
I’d stopped doing overhead presses using fixed weight barbells at 90 pounds, but I wasn’t satisfied. With the squat rack available, I set the bar up to 95 pounds wondering how many more sets I could get in.
The answer is exactly one. My arms were whipped. I got 2 reps done and called it.
When I had been stretching out my hams, the one leg I was standing on had been trembling. I’d substituted intensity for volume and my muscles and nervous system were begging for mercy.
For squats and overhead presses, I did a total of over 50 reps for each routine. On a normal working week, I might do a total of 15 to 30 reps across all sets depending on the week and how heavy the weights are.
My arms and legs are really tired now. Good thing I don’t have a lot of physical labor in my near future. It’s cold but not snowing, so I don’t have to shovel anything. The yard is covered in six to eight inches of snow, so there’s nothing to do with any of that.
I am going out for coffee this afternoon with a friend, but that’s about the only thing I have planned besides puttering around the house.
Not sure what I’m going to do next for Cycle 15 and 5/5/5+ week. I may end up recalculating the weights again so I’m not under quite as much strain during my main lifts.
On the other hand, progressive overload is the key to making my body adapt, so I can’t ease up too much or my nervous system will get used to that and I’ll never get stronger.
Well, I’ve got a week to think about it. Now if I can just get back to doing regular cardio.
You’re never beaten until you admit it.
–General George Patton