September 2003 archives

September 1, 2003

About a cough and a box

Filed under: Workouts

The runny nose turned out to be of the persistent kind. Today I decided to rebel against the lingering cough by grabbing the cold iron. As I’m still not a 100%, I cut down the volume and stopped well short of failure.

Felt the call of the Box and placed a low step board in the power rack. Measuring 26 cm/10 inches, this is the same board I used last DE Squat/Dead workout. The rack was not quite wide enough for my normal stance, so a medium stance had to do (at least I won’t have trouble remembering where to put my feet as they were touching the lower beams). Pyramided up as usual and decided to stop after 90 kg/199 lbs came up with some straining. Probably not quite my max. Overall, the result is much the same as the previous time I did max box singles in May, the difference being that the box I used then was higher at 33 cm/13 inches. Another pretty good baseline to improve on.

Capped off the workout with three light sets of Romanian deadlifts (15 kg lighter than what I’ve used recently) and some standard ab work. Hopefully I will continue to get better allowing me to continue my adventures next Wednesday.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 1 September 2003

Box Squat 10″, medium stance:
3 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
1 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Romanian deadlift: 3x6 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
Kneeling cable crunch: 20,12 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Total training time: 38 min

September 3, 2003

Powersmith again

Filed under: Workouts

Tried to improve the Powersmith I did two weeks ago before coming down with a serious flu. That max came up easily, but I had to do a butt lift-off to get 10 kg more off the ground. Definitively going in the right direction. Experimented with doing Incline Dumbell Benches with palms facing each other, like Tate recommends for flat benching, but my groove was all over the place (perhaps in Paris).

ME Bench, 3 September 2003

Powersmith Floor Press *:
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
1 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs (ass off floor)

Incline Dumbell Bench, palms facing:
5 @ 24 kg/53 lbs
4,3 @ 28 kg/62 lbs

One-handed Dumbell Rows: 3x10 @ 36 kg/80 lbs
One-handed Side Delt Cable Flyes: 15,13 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Pressdowns: 9 @ 40 kg/88 lbs

Total training time: 49 min

* Powersmith weights corrected to proper weight (30 kg bar)

September 5, 2003

One-handed deadlifts

Filed under: Workouts

Fairly typical stuff, except that I made an effort to expand my torso training horizons by doing one-handed deadlifts (aka suitcase lifts, or one-sided squats). The idea is to do a conventional dumbell deadlift with only one dumbell at the side while maintaining a completely straight posture, which works the opposite side of the torso statically. If holding the dumbell with the right hand, it remains on the right side of the body at all times. Another variation is to lift the weight from between the legs, but that is quite another beast. Apparently that is how “probably the world’s greatest deadlifter prior to World War II” Hermann Goerner one-hand deadlifted 727 1/2 lbs./330 kgs in 1920.

DE Squat/Deadlift, 5 September 2003

Speed Box Squat, 10″: 8x2 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
Speed Deadlift: 6x1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
One-handed Deadlift: 2x8 @ 46 kg/102 lbs
Ball Crunch: 15 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Donkey Calf Machine: 10,10,8 @ 175 kg/387 lbs

Total training time: 44 min

September 7, 2003

DE Bench and a new home for my box

Filed under: Workouts

My trusty 13″ box from Toffe’s Gym now has a new home. As my current gym does not have a proper box, and placing a step-up board on top of stacked plates is no fun, the staff graciously let me add my box to the inventory (it probably looks hardcore enough…). It’s going to be interesting to see how many other box squatters will come out of hiding; I’ve seen one guy do them off a bench in Westside fashion (shins past vertical, sitting on the box), but can’t recall having seen anyone else hitting the box.

As for the workout, I think I’m going to be content with just mentioning that I did close-grip floor presses for the first time (free weight, not the powersmith I have used of late for floor presses). That’s it. No really.

DE Bench, 7 September 2003

Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Close-grip Floor Press: 6,5 @ 70 kg
Kraftwerk Iso-lateral Front Pulldown: 4x10 @ 45 kg/99 lbs per side
Kraftwerk Rear Delt machine: 2x12 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Standing upright dumbell L-flye: 6 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Seated upright cable L-flye: 6 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Standing Barbell curl: 6,4 @ 42.5 kg/94 lbs

Total training time: 60 min

September 8, 2003

New 13″ box PR

Filed under: Workouts

When I did my first max off the 13″ (33 cm) box in late May I squatted 95 kg/210 pounds. As I did 90 kg/199 lbs off the 10″ box last week the time seemed ripe for a three digit (kilograms) squat this time. 100 kg/221 lbs went up easy enough, 105 kg/232 lbs with some effort. As I doubted I would have enough in me for a higher result I stopped there. As usual, I squatted totally raw (no belt or wraps) and sat down on the box and relaxed my legs before blasting the iron up. Still pretty much a beginner’s result, but I’m happy with it. The results are going were they should - up.

Also did rack pulls (aka pin pulls) for the first time. Or actually, did them in the rack for the first time. Back in late June, I pulled a double at 130 kg/287 lbs off two benches at just above knee level. Went for a triple max today starting with the bar at kneecap height and got up to a hard triple at 140 kg/309 lbs. Yes, yes, good, good considering that I had a month’s layoff in between.

Beginning today, I am also pretty much ditching the reverse hypers and replacing them with pull-throughs (and perhaps weighted hypers). As I don’t have access to a proper reverse hyper machine, it seems pretty unproductive to continue raising the reps above 30 without weights off a normal hyper bench.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 8 September 2003

Box Squat, 13″:
3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
1 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
1 @ 105 kg/232 lbs

Rack pulls, 1st pin (kneecap):
6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
3 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
3 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
3 @ 130 kg/287 lbs
3 @ 140 kg/309 lbs

Twisting Ab machine: 3x10 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Pull-through: 3x8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 66 min

September 10, 2003

Stiff shoulder and rack lockouts

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

My left shoulder wasn’t happy with the dumbell L-flyes I did last DE Bench on top of a preacher bench. Although I did feel at the time that the exercise wasn’t good for me, it took a few heavy sets of military presses today before it really sunk in. It is likely to be an irritated rotator cuff, nothing that has stretched or popped. Have to take it easy with the shoulder lest it turn worse and kills me.

My shoulder didn’t complain at all doing lockouts in the rack. Did the presses off the pins, that is beginning from a dead stop. The challenge is to get lift-off, after which locking it out isn’t all that hard. It is a fairly stupid feeling to lay down with 125 kg/276 lbs, press like a madman and… nothing. After some seconds have passed the effort seems futile and there is nothing to do but get off the bench and conclude that 120 kg/265 lbs was the max of the day. Where was the spectacular descent? The fair failure?

A nice exercise all the same, that is important for getting me used to holding heavier iron.

ME Bench, 10 September 2003

Close-grip rack lockouts, 5th pin:
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
1 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
1 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
0 @ 125 kg/276 lbs

Standing military press:
10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
4 @ 55 kg/122 lbs

Seated cable rows, wide-grip: 4x8 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
Standing side delt flyes: 14,12 @ 14 kg/31 lbs
Rope pressdown: 16 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
Captains of Crush:
6,3 @ I
12 @ Trainer
5 @ I (negatives)

Total training time: 50 min

September 12, 2003

Hip flexor blues

Filed under: Workouts

A new personal record off the 13″ box means higher weights on the speed box. As noted before, I am using 65-85% of box max as the indicator of weights to use for the speed box, which means that my current bracket is 68-89 kg/150-197 lbs. Being a relatively non-explosive beginner, I went for the lower range today. As I feel things are going pretty well, I will shortly start cycling the weight on my speed box squats. More on that later.

Somewhat reluctantly I did some incline sit-ups today. For years, I have prided myself on knowing how to focus the strain on the abdominals by taking the hip flexors (psoas) out of the movement as much as possible. The rational behind the no-psoas school basically boils down to variations of two main points: 1) training the psoas is a waste of time (after all, as abs are the six-pack one would better focus all the stress straight on the abs) and 2) many psoas movements can be dangerous for the lower back. This is the basis for the “golden rule of ab training”: don’t do any exercises which cause you to raise your shoulders more than roughly 30 degrees (lest you activate your psoas or wear out your lower back). The flip side of the golden rule is the golden ab movement: the crunch (or more recently, the Janda sit-up).

For a classic exposition of this position see The Good News About Sit-Ups: Don’t Do Them! from the Legendary abs manual by Health For Life.

Typical of life on Earth, there are other colors besides black and white. There are those that have challenged the whole idea of the psoas tugging into the lower back, among those the venerable Dr Mel C. Siff (RIP):

The very act of raising the head and shoulders during the early stages of sitting up activates the abdominal musculature so strongly and increases the psoas angle to such an extent that the ability of psoas to increase the lumbar concavity is minimal. [..] Does the body not automatically act to minimize the risks of any high levels of stress as soon as the head and shoulders are raised during the early stages of any supine sit-ups or ‘crunches’?

Although I could point to other sources of psoas/ab controversy, I will leave that issue behind and raise another closer to home: what if one actually wants to train the psoas? Like…um… to make it stronger? Citing Tate’s article on Westside ab training:

As you can see we like those movements that work the hip flexors and abdominal at the same time because this is how they work under the barbell. Now some of you may not be able to do some of these movements without back discomfort. In this case you need to make your back stronger! Stick with those movements that don’t hurt you back and concentrate on strengthening your lower back. If you have a strong back none of these movements will hurt you. There is no such thing as an unsafe exercise, just unsafe application. You must know your limitations and fix them; otherwise you will be limiting yourself on the platform.

Tate goes on to recommend Zercher squats, Hyper sit-ups (Roman chair sit-ups), Strapped-in abs (a Westside variation of standing cable crunches), and Spread eagle sit-ups… some of these are the crunching fellow’s worst nightmare!

Who am I to argue with the Simmons crowd consisting of some of the strongest powerlifters on earth? They are famed for knowing what to do to get stronger. In theory, there is nothing that says that psoas movements couldn’t be dangerous and essential for maximum strength at the same time. I for one do have some personal issues with upright rows, generally regarded as harmful for the rotator cuff, being listed in the Elite Fitness exercise index. Still, if Westside hails psoas ab movements I will just have to repress my anti-psoasism and see what happens. The fact is, I can cable crunch decent amounts of weight, only to get killed by incline sit-ups. That’s no fun.

DE Squat/Deadlift, 12 September 2003

Speed box squat, 13″: 8x2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Speed deadlift: 6x1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
One-handed deadlift: 2x8 @ 48 kg/106 lbs
Incline sit-up: 2x12
Donkey calf machine: 10,8,7 @ 175 kg/387 lbs

Total training time: 45 min

September 15, 2003

Raising the [ever heavier] dead

Filed under: Workouts

Skipped DE Bench on Sunday to give my shoulder some extra rest. It’s feeling better, but is not yet up for heavy action.

Added 5 kg/11 lbs to my max deadlift today. As 140 kg/309 lbs came off the ground relatively easy (emphasis on relatively) I trust my best ever max, 150 kg/332 lbs, is not far around the corner. This time, it’s going to be a true strapless and beltless max.

As I write this, the archives page tells me that I have completed roughly 10 total training weeks on Westside.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 15 September 2003

5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
1 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
1 @ 130 kg/287 lbs
1 @ 140 kg/309 lbs

Stiff-legged deadlift: 3x5 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
Twisting ab machine: 3x9 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Pull-through: 10 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 52 min

September 17, 2003

A good day to forget the chalk

Filed under: Workouts

Left my box of chalk at home today, but with my shoulder doing some of the screaming I didn’t really need it. As rack lockouts don’t seem to affect the shoulder, I went for those with the pin one step lower than last workout. The rack I’m using is the extremely heavy duty kind with massive pins, and lowering the pin just one notch equals a big increase in lifting range. In this case, the 5th pin is just short of lockout and the 4th about half way down.

Pretty much stopped after that, as training the back and shoulders would have put too much strain on my shoulder. I probably have a minor case of shoulder bursitis. According to my old copy of A Complete Guide to Sports Injuries that should heal in 7-14 days. Seven days to go.

ME Bench, 17 September 2003

Close-grip Rack lockouts, 4th pin:
3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
0 @ 95 kg/210 lbs

Dumbell press: 12 @ 26 kg/57 lbs
Pressdown: 7 @ 45 kg/99 lbs

Total training time: 27 min

September 19, 2003

All the world is a stage

Filed under: Workouts

Pretty standard stuff today. Decided to do some light good mornings instead of the normal speed deadlifts for some variation. Also continued upping the weight on the one-handed deadlift, today grabbing the 50 kg/111 lbs dumbell. On the second set I had some trouble holding on to the last reps with my left hand. I’m not quite sure if this was due to a nasty case of a broken callus or if I’m actually banging against my grip limit.

Suddenly taking a leap in a whole other direction: was browsing the Elite Fitness Systems web store and found a shirt with the print “Max effort method - if you have to ask you wouldn’t understand”. Featuring a strong dude doing three board presses, it is meant to scare away questions from the non-Westside aware crowd about why on earth one would stick a bunch of boards on the chest instead of just doing benches the “normal way” (like everyone else and their strong grandma do). Now, I have yet to make my board press debut, but I have already had time to ponder what reactions that will bring in my gym (or should I say, what glances, as Finns don’t do a lot of asking about what non-friends are up to instead preferring to use a well-placed mirror to observe and wonder). The atmosphere being pretty hardcore I don’t think this would actually be a serious issue, but apparently being the only one following the Westside protocol I sure will be sticking out dragging ‘em boards into the gym.

The web store also has similar shirts for band squats and sled dragging. One thing is for sure, Westside is not for people with stage fright. Heck, you don’t even need boards, bands or sleds to stick out. Even today, just doing box squats, good mornings and one-handed deadlifts, people took notice (although not necessarily in a bad way).

DE Squat/Deadlift, 19 September 2003

Speed box squat, 13″: 8x2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Good morning: 2x6 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
One-handed deadlift: 2x8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Ball crunch: 2x20 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Seated calf raise: 3x10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Total training time: 48 min

September 21, 2003

Videos and books galore

Filed under: General

Following in last week’s footsteps, I skipped DE Bench today to give my shoulder some extra rest. As it happens, this was also the day of my birthday celebration and it would have been a pinch to make it to the gym after throwing together a whole bunch of taco fillings, guacamole and cake made of pancakes with layers of fruit in between (actually, my wonderful girlfriend took care of the last item staying up the night before frying some 20 pancakes). Everything made from scratch and sugar-free/sweetener-free as I don’t touch that stuff. But really, my shoulder can use some more rest and this was a convenient day for it.

Besides getting a whole lot of useful stuff, including a new favorite home-made duct tape wallet from my girlfriend, my birthday presents also included a gift certificate to Amazon and some funds towards a few Westside videos. Didn’t take me long to browse in to Elite Fitness and order the Deadlift, Squatting Secrets and Bench Press Workout videos (the Bench Secrets video was on back-order). The Amazon gift certificate allowed me to remove Mastery of Hand Strength from my wishlist. Expect reviews of all this items as soon as I receive them. Happy happy! … and a BIG thanks to family & friends for making it fun to devour tacos.

September 22, 2003

Birthday erectors

Filed under: Workouts

Good mornings, stiff-legged deads and pull-throughs in the same workout would have been total overkill pre-Westside, but in a perverse sort of way my erectors and rest of the posterior chain is now thriving on it. Blogging this one day after the fact… sore indeed, but no problem bending over to tie the shoe laces. If my box squat and deadlift maxes keep going up there is little one can do but agree with the prescription.

Still, I am eagerly waiting to get my hands on the Westside tapes I ordered to see first-hand how to best discipline the posterior chain. Not to mention seeing the good morning Westside style live. Did them in the rack today with the pins in the sixth holes, which gave me a good depth guide as the bar nudged the pins when the body was about parallel with the floor. Although only five kilos heavier than my previous triple max, I think I went a little bit deeper today than previously. Rechecking the exercise description at Elite Fitness, where it says to stop “slightly above parallel”, makes me think that perhaps I should stop a little earlier. Going down that deep is plain scary.

I have steadily added weight to my stiff-legs, today going up to 120 kg/265 lbs from earlier 110 kg/243 lbs and 100 kg/221 lbs. It was a hard three sets of five. I’m thinking of staying at this weight for a while adding reps instead of weight to build a good foundation before going heavier (perhaps working up to 3x8 or 3x10 before hitting 130+ kg/287+ lbs)… if I can hold myself back from the temptation of adding plates.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 22 September 2003

Good morning:
5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
3 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
3 @ 95 kg/210 lbs

Stiff-legged deadlift: 3x5 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
Kneeling cable crunch:
6 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
10,8 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
Pull-through: 7 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Total training time: 50 min

September 24, 2003

Last abbreviated bench session?

Filed under: Workouts

I hope this is the last time I mention my shoulder injury. It is feeling better by the day, although still making its presence felt when I get out of bed in the mornings. For the first time since the injury, I did a couple of lightish sets for the back and some very light side delt flyes with cables.

Wanted to go for a max on the incline bench, but as I didn’t have a spotter handy I opted for the powersmith instead of setting it up in the rack. Although it allows free lateral movement, the machine is still not as sensitive as a free barbell. Worked up to what I think is 80 kg (given an estimate of 35 kg for the bar). No sticking point, but the very slow rep speed made it clear that there was no point in trying for more. Next week I might go for it with a free weight to see what happens.

Somewhat lazy workout. No fire. Almost fell asleep sitting on the bus to the gym after work. I should probably bring my MiniDisc player on workout days so I can psyche up on Metallica, Limp Bizkit and other good stuff before heading for the gym. Or why not even Finnish Nightwish? Incredibly uplifting stuff, although too light as actual workout music (my ears).

ME Bench, 24 September 2003

Powersmith Incline Bench*:
3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 75 kg/166 lbs

Dumbell bench: 7,6,5 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
Kraftwerk one-handed row: 2x12 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
One-handed cable side delt flye: 2x15 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Pressdown: 5 @ 45 kg/99 lbs

Total training time: 38 min

* Powersmith weights corrected to proper weight (30 kg bar)

September 25, 2003

Help me solve the powersmith mystery!

Filed under: General

'Powersmith' seen from the sideMy friend who works at the gym I train at had the powersmith weighed today. The electronic scale failed to provide a reading for just the bar, so he had to first weigh himself and then deduce the weight by mounting the scale with the bar on his shoulders. Turns out it weighs approximately 30.6 kg/68 lbs. As I earlier guestimated the weight to 35 kg/77 lbs I will go back through my blog and edit the powersmith weights to match reality.

Now that the weight is no longer just a hunch, I though it appropriate to try to solve the last question mark regarding this piece of equipment… what the bananas is this thing really called? It reminds me of a smith crossed with a power rack, hence I call it a ‘powersmith’. Unlike a normal smith it allows the bar to move laterally as well as, obviously, vertically (the bar can be racked on either side of the rack on knobs, which are the round things on the uprights in the sketch). Like a power rack, safety pins can be inserted to prevent the bar from dropping below a certain height. On my gym’s equipment page it is listed simply as a “Special Smith” (”Erikois-Smith” in Finnish). Obviously, that’s pointing the finger in the right direction, but, but, but, does it have a name commonly used? Or is this some kind of rare thingy that only exists in this particular gym (unlikely)? Anyone have any clues?

Beginning with this post I am turning commenting on. If you have something on your mind feel free to comment. As a relative beginner in the powerlifting game I welcome all words of wisdom and most everything else as long as it is relevant to the topic at hand.

September 26, 2003

No sleeping on the box, sir!

Filed under: Workouts

Really tired today before the workout, but luckily Rammstein was playing in the gym. Went a little bit heavier on the box, probably a little bit too heavy in terms of speed. My grip didn’t complain although I continued to raise the weight on the one-handed deadlift, this time laying my chalky paws on the 52 kg/115 lbs dumbell. Working the numero uno Captains of Crush gripper felt decisively good. Nice workout.

DE Squat/Deadlift, 26 September 2003

Speed box squat, 13″: 8x2 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Speed deadlift: 4x1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
One-handed deadlift: 2x8 @ 52 kg/115 lbs
Twisting ab machine: 3x10 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Seated calf raise: 4x8 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Captains of crush:
10 @ I
22 @ Trainer
8 @ I (negatives)

Total training time: 60 min

September 27, 2003

Link for all geek lifters

Filed under: General

Learn how to do keyboard back breakers (an ideal ME replacement for those nasty good mornings). Master the little known mouse hammers (great with mini bands if done on DE bench day). Get the scoop at Nerd gym, your best resource for learning how to increase your hp level in total secret!

September 28, 2003

DE Bench 9: Rise of the lat pulldown machine

Filed under: Workouts

First DE Bench day in three weeks! The speed bench continued feeling light, so I put 5 kg/11 lbs more on the bar. My friend, who is on a 10 seconds per rep bodybuilding routine and thus equipped with a stopwatch, timed my third set; at roughly 3.13 seconds, it is just about the recommended speed of three seconds per set of three reps. If I had lost anything by not speed benching for a few weeks it was definitively my groove. Although things were a little less haywire towards the last sets, I had a definitive feeling that the bar was playing a very subtle game of hide and seek with me. Stupid bar!

The close-grip benches went well. After three sets of eight, I put 80 kg/177 lbs on the bar for a triple. With the first rep going up very easily I believe I could close bench 90 kg/199 lbs right now, which confirms my hunch that I can handle about the same weight as off the fourth pin in the rack. Things are looking bright indeed. Hopefully my regular bench will follow suit.

I was somewhat disappointed with my performance on the close-grip pulldown, until I noticed that the weight stack had jumped out of its sockets in the base causing it to be leaning slightly forward. Don’t how much, if any, heavier the reps got due to this, but one thing is certain: the machines are clearly affected by the Terminator 3 movie banner hanging above.

Did the usual rear delt, cuff and biceps work and then went home to put some ice on the thing that will not be mentioned anymore. Just in case, nothing really bad transpired on that front.

DE Bench, 28 September 2003

Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
Close-grip bench:
3x8 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Close-grip pulldown: 4x6 @ 100 kg/221 lbs (stack out of sockets)
Kraftwerk rear delt machine: 2x20 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Seated cable L-flye: 2x12 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Lying cable curl: 8,7,5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs

Total training time: 74 min

September 29, 2003

Top heavy boxes and front delt lament

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

Had a pretty sore and tired lower back today. After doing a lot of squat and pull movements lately, I had planned on hitting the good morning this workout as well, but thought the better of it. Figured high box squats would give me some needed mercy. Took my 13″ box and placed the low pulling box I usually use for stiff-legged deadlifts underneath. Including a mat put lowermost to prevent gliding, the whole thing measured 43 cm, or roughly 17″. According to my friend this is about parallel for me (probably slightly above, I’m 184 cm/6 feet tall; see this link for some comparisons for shorter lifters).

From the beginning I could tell that this wasn’t going to go very well. The reps were slow and my back took every opportunity to remind me of its sore presence. What the heck. Being some 4 inches higher above sea level than when I recently did 105 kg/232 lbs I did off the 13″ (33 cm) box I though I would quite easily move some heavier iron my soreness notwithstanding. Wrong. What should have been an easy rep with 110 kg/243 lbs left me nailed to the box. Good thing I was doing my sitting in the rack. I think I was probably protecting my back and not allowing myself to lean forward sufficiently to get good drive off the box. Can’t wait to put things right next time.

Saw no need to punish the punished further. Cut the lower back out of the equation and did some rare sets of leg curls plus the normal ab stuff.

Unfortunately, the not to be mentioned shoulder was not to be forgotten that easily. Although the Sunday workout felt good, it had by Monday morning regressed considerably. Although nowhere as sore as it was a couple of weeks ago, this was nevertheless a big step in the wrong direction. I suspect I should not have done the Kraftwerk rear delt machine yesterday. The time had come to consult my girlfriend on the matter.

My girlfriend is, among so many other things, a licensed massage therapist. After doing a lot of test pressing (palpation) all over the place she pinpointed the problem to the front delt region. The place was jumpy as a frog on springs. Ouch!

This was a diagnosis I was only too happy to hear. Rotator cuff injuries have a tendency to make a comeback when you least expect it, and can be a pain to heal. Seems like I was wrong about this being a case of bursitis. According to Basic Clinical Massage Therapy (by James H. Clay and David M. Pounds) this is a common misdiagnosis:

Deltoid trigger points are often interpreted as bursitis (an inflammation of the bursa, the fluid filled sac that serves as a cushion underneath the muscles).

Indeed, the fact that it doesn’t hurt to move my arm up sideways or do L-flyes indicates that this is no rotator cuff problem. On the contrary, it hurts when I extend my arm straight backwards behind me or lift it straight up besides my head (i.e. when the front delt origo and insertio are the farthest from each other).

I got a light front delt massage, did some light stretching and applied ice directly on the spot (frozen in a styrofoam cup). If it feels worse tomorrow it is probably, or so am I told, an inflammation. Otherwise it is probably just a trigger point caused by a defensive contraction or a sudden excessive stretch. If the latter it should respond favorably to continued massage and ice. Before going to bed in anticipation of tomorrow morning, I will pop a gram of vitamin C and apply a generous amount of IcePower on the shoulder. Good night, heal tight!

ME Squat/Deadlift, 29 September 2003

Box Squat, 17″:
3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
0 @ 110 kg/243 lbs

One-legged standing leg curls: 3x6 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Ball crunch: 3x25 @ 10 kg/22 lbs

Total training time: 45 min

September 30, 2003

Shoulder update and rest week

Filed under: General, Rehab

The shoulder did indeed feel a lot better this morning following massage and ice treatment yesterday. As the day progressed it felt like some of the stiffness was coming back. In the evening my girlfriend gave me a more direct massage of the sore spots, which hopefully will loosen things up a little (at least it did during the massage itself, when more and more pressure could be applied with less and less pain… to a point). For a nice visual of where the problem is, see spot 1 on this page.

I am going to insert my periodic rest week here (see training routine). Not only because of the shoulder, but also because my body is starting to feel a little rundown (as evidenced by the previous ME Squat/Dead workout) and I have a somewhat hectic week ahead when I would have possibly had to skip one or two workouts anyway. In practice, I have trained the whole of September without breaks other than skipping a couple of DE Bench days to give some room for the shoulder. Also, I expect the Westside videos to arrive any day now, and I will probably not feel like taking any time off once I get a hold of those! I might go to the gym for a light pumping workout on Friday. The next heavy workout will be DE Bench on October 8th.

Before closing shop today, here’s something to prove how fiendish rotator cuff injuries can be. Happy not to be in that league.

Contrary to popular belief, partial or complete tearing of the rotator cuff is often asymptomatic. [..] tears of the rotator cuff often are compatible with normal painless use of the shoulder.
Hans, Guy DC: Chiropractic management of shoulder pain and dysfunction of myofascial origin using ischemic compression techniques

Last but not least, my copy of Mastery of Hand Strength arrived today.