December 2003 archives

December 1, 2003

Not what I wanted for Christmas

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

As the dutiful Westside boy I am, I went for good mornings today. I was hoping on setting a new 5 rep max at 105 kg/232 lbs. Everything went fine until I went down for the second rep with 95 kg/210 lbs on my back. It was a deep rep, at least parallel. When I started pushing into the bar to get back up I felt something in my lower back and the bar came crashing down on the pins. I dare not think what would have happened had I been doing my good mornings outside the rack.

My first though was that “now it finally happened, I just popped my back in two”. But the pain failed to materialize and I seemed to have a full range of motion (at least physically). Furthermore, when it happened it didn’t feel like something burst into pieces, it was more like something “rolled down a little”. My best guess is that I have a back sprain in the sacroiliac region and not a slipped disc. My copy of A Complete Guide to Sports Injuries informs me that a mild sprain of this kind should heal within 2-6 weeks with a moderate sprain requiring 6-8 weeks. Seems like I won’t be getting a big deadlift for Christmas.

The best I can hope for is that I can continue working my upper body, which would give me an excellent opportunity to boost my bench. How I feel tomorrow morning will probably be quite indicative of how badly I hurt myself. It goes without saying that I will have to think over my relationship with the good morning after this. I might be guilty of rushing things a little on this front by going too heavy too soon.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 1 December 2003

Arched-back good morning:
10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 (injury on second rep) @ 95 kg/210 lbs

Total training time: 17 min

December 3, 2003

Lying low

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

I’m happy to report that the injury I sustained doing good mornings on Monday is not, relatively speaking, all that bad. A slight bruise showed up on the spot where the strain occurred indicating some internal bleeding, but judging from its light color and size it wasn’t too severe. Although I had a very hard time sitting for any length of time yesterday, things where feeling somewhat better today following extensive icing, liberal amounts of IcePower, ibuprofen to lessen swelling and frequent 1000 mg doses of vitamin C. I guess a fair assessment is that people around me won’t notice I’m injured before I need to bend over (have to sit down to tie my shoelaces) although I do continuously feel the injury. I’m so happy we bought a new lower back friendly bed, since this is still going to take weeks to clear up (always the optimist).

With the bad comes the good. Ordered Stuart McGill’s Low Back Disorders from Amazon after this book turned out to be the bible on the subject of lower back injuries. There is an excellent two-part interview with this Mr. Spine over at T-mag (part I, part II). In short, I am going to let this injury teach me the lesson I deserve and take this opportunity to work on technique. Meanwhile, I think I will be able to continue my bench workouts as long as I avoid movements that hit the lower back. Will also continue the ice-IcePower-C-ibuprofen treatment for at least 72 hours following the strain.

Thought floor presses would be an ideal candidate for a back strain friendly max effort movement. Indeed they were as they effectively take the lower body out of the equation. Despite a fairly easy rep with my previous max 90 kg/199 lbs I decided to play smart for once and proceed in small increments. Better to end up at 95 kg/210 lbs than fail at 100 kg/221 lbs and be left with no new max (like I did on the bench last time). Managed to get 95 kg/210 lbs and 97.5 kg/215 lbs, but could not get 100 kg/221 lbs further than slightly off the ground after first nearly tipping it over while balancing it on my elbows for two-three seconds. Felt my right shoulder getting a little sore during the movement, but it cleared up after some post-workout icing.

To continue keeping stress off the back I did some triceps extensions on the floor and chest supported t-bar rows in very strict style.

ME Bench, 3 December 2003

Floor press:
10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
1 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs
0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs

Floor dumbell triceps extension: 4 @ 18 kg/40 lbs
T-bar row, chest supported:
12 @ 35 kg/77 lbs
7 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
8,6 @ 45 kg/99 lbs

Pressdowns: 30 @ 50 kg/111 lbs

Total training time: 51 min

December 4, 2003

Training progress at a glance

Filed under: General

Finally added a page showing my progress in the maximum effort lifts for the squat/deadlift and bench. The whole thing is broken down by month making for easy comparison. This sure beats manually searching for my results in the blog or in my training notes whenever I can’t remember what my previous max was. Also handy for seeing what I haven’t maxed out on in a while. Looking it at I am painfully aware of the fact that I need to do more maxes with different grips on the bench exercises and not just sticking to one grip.

December 7, 2003

Chalk lines and video matters

Filed under: Workouts

Happy days! Sanna’s brother was kind enough to lend us his Canon PowerShot A70 for the purpose of documenting our ginger bread house project (will probably appear at another section of this site at some point). As this digital camera is also capable of recording avi video snippets it would have been futile to resist taking it to the gym. I was most interested in taping my speed benches to check my form, but then went on to film the first set of every subsequent exercise. Presto! My first training video. I am releasing it here in the hopes that someone more experienced than me might provide some valuable feedback and to add some needed visual context to this blog. Besides, training videos are always fun.

I have no bragging rights with these weights, but I will as sure as @”#§! get much stronger and then I for one will enjoy looking at the puny weights I’m moving now. Without further ado: DE Bench video (5.23M). If you are on Windows you can either view the video directly by just clicking on the link (if a sidebar appears pop the video view off it to get the full 320x240 size) or save it by right clicking -> Save Target As. The latter method is much preferable if you plan to watch it more than once to save bandwidth.

The ginger house project brought the camera into the gym at a very auspicious moment as I had just received JM Blakley’s Building the Perfect Beast bench technique video. Although my mind revolved around such issues as arching and torso tilting, foremost was the idea of elbow tucking. For one thing, the video finally made it clear precisely what elbow tucking is all about, i.e. getting the elbows in far enough so that the angle between the humerus (upper arm bone) and the midline of the body (spine) is no more than 45 degrees. More pressingly (pun intended) JM explained that not tucking the elbows enough puts a lot of strain on the shoulder structure. He particularly highlighted exactly the part of the shoulder that I’ve had problems with in the past, most recently while maxing out on the floor press. No siree, the arch can wait. Getting the elbows in to protect the shoulder can’t.

First I did a couple of sets of wide-grip speed benches with my standard form and taped those. Then I went through several really light sets trying to concentrate on tucking the elbows in. After that I did my normal speed bench sets with the normal 60 kg/133 lbs and taped one of them. The difference was quite striking: not only did my elbows stay tucked in far better, but the bar path became more consistent as measured by where the bar hit the chest (got this from the video: put some chalk at the mid-point of the bar and then bench away; if you have your form down you should only have a single chalk line on your shirt after several reps). The frames below are from the video; the screenshot on the left shows my normal bench form and the one on the right, I hope, proper elbow tucking.

comparison between my normal bench and better tuck

Now if I can only keep the elbows in while going heavier I’ll be a happy man with healthy shoulders.

DE Bench, 6 December 2003

Several light bench sets of technique training
Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Lying dumbell triceps extension: 2x9 @ 18 kg/40 lbs
Pulldowns, wide-grip: 2x8 @ 96 kg/210 lbs
Seated dumbell power clean: 2x16 @ 9 kg/20 lbs
Seated cable L-flye: 2x16 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Lying cable curl: 2x10 @ 70 kg/155 lbs

Total training time: 66 min (camera tax added…)

December 10, 2003

First ME Bench video

Filed under: Workouts

95 kg/210 lbs bench PR
After a long struggle with various video codecs and RAM limits, I finally have my ME Bench video done for this workout (download 7.4M). Since Windows Media Video 9 (WMV) currently gives the best tradeoff between quality and file size, I have somewhat grudgingly settled for that, but only because it now also runs on Unix/Linux systems thanks to the great MPlayer (also the base for the Movix distribution, which creates self-contained video CDs… but I digress). The whole workout is not on video, but at least the best set of every exercise is. Enjoy and please comment if you find any problems with my bench or have other feedback. I finally removed the password protection from the commenting system (something I’ve been happily unaware of for the last few months) so that is no longer an excuse. ;-)

On to the workout. I had planned on doing close-grip floor presses as my max exercise, but having a digital camera present was too good an opportunity for filming my bench. My strained lower back is still far from healed (no surprise there!), but it hurts less and it seems to be able to sustain heavy chest workouts as long as I support my lower back during rowing movements. I was also longing to setting a new PR by avoiding the mistake of doing too big jumps. I knew I had it in me.

After doing a triple with a somewhat unbalanced 75 kg/166 lbs caused by the plates on the left side of the bar being away from the collars (if you look closely at the video you will see that I press unevenly on that set) I easily pushed up 85 kg/188 lbs and 95 kg/210 lbs for a new PR. I very nearly got 100 kg/221 lbs through my sticking point, but ended up holding it there for a while… same deal after I dropped down to 97.5 kg/215 lbs.

As I felt like going a little heavier for the triceps as well, I did rack lockouts off the 5th pin in the groovy power rack environment. My previous max done as the first exercise, 130 kg/287 lbs, did not go today. No sweat, that wasn’t what I was there for. Rounded off with the usual back and delt work.

ME Bench, 10 December 2003

Bench:
5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
5 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
3 @ 75 kg/166 lbs
1 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs (very close)
0 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs

Close-grip rack lockouts, 5th pin:
5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
5 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
3 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
1 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
0 @ 130 kg/287 lbs

T-bar row, chest supported: 3x10 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Dumbell front raise: 8 @ 16 kg/35 lbs
Dumbell side raise: 15 @ 16 kg/35 lbs

Total training time: well over 60 min due to filming

December 13, 2003

Two scripts added

Filed under: General

With several projects in the pipeline before Christmas, I am trying to clear all lingering small things out of the way. In this spirit I offer thee a dynamic effort bench script (enter shirtless bench max and get recommendations for straight weight, chains and bands) and various three-week box squat cycles based on the article TNT II: More Tips-n-Tricks for Strength and Size by Dave Tate. Let me know if you find any errors or have suggestions for improvements.

December 14, 2003

Time warps, web comics and the obvious bench

Filed under: Workouts

101st entry. Christmas. Time flies. With a load of projects on my hands I am in the middle of a veritable time warp. Before I know it I will be benching 130 kg/287 lbs or something.

Undrande TantenWarped through much of the night quickly putting together a web site for Sanna’s web comic Undrande Tanten (if that sounds weird it is because you don’t know Swedish, but here’s one of the Wondering Lady in English for you). As a result, I dragged myself to the gym after having gotten up at 2pm.

The speed bench went so so. Actually, it probably went much as usual, but since I continued with the practice of rubbing chalk on the middle of the bar to check for bar path consistency I was constantly reminded of my shortcomings in the consistency department. I don’t think I have much of a problem with heavy weights, but the speed bench is great for weeding out the real technicians. If you can get the bar to land at exactly the same spot at high velocity it will surely come down there with double the weight too. I got a perfect line twice, a number of pretty close lines and a few really off ones. I will be chalking until the line is mine.

DE Bench, 14 December 2003

Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
JM press: 3x8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
Pulldowns, parallel-grip: 14,14,14,12 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Seated dumbell power clean: 2x12 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Lying L-flye: 8 @ 8 kg/18 lbs
Lying cable curl: 5,4 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 56 min

December 15, 2003

It wasn’t ME

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

In an effort to keep some power in my squat and deadlift muscles I did some lower back “friendly” exercises today. The Kraftwerk lying squat machine was the best thing I could come up with short of leg extensions. Tried to get as close an approximation as possible of a powerlifting squat on it; got the shins nearly vertical by putting my heels as high up as possible on the platform, which involved having the toes off the platform altogether. Width wise it was a little too narrow, but let’s just call them medium-width squats and be happy that the word squat still features in this blog. Things could be much much worse.

Worked up to some light straining with 130 kg/287 lbs for five reps. Felt good. If there are no ill side-effects I might go a little heavier next week. Getting into the Flex hamtractor seated leg curl was just the opposite; just getting into position was uncomfortable. Hamflexor standing one-legged leg curls proved a good substitute, where I worked up to a heavy fiver. Ditto for the lying leg curls. Chances are my hamstrings will be pretty sore after those two.

Seated calf raises -> shower -> home.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 15 December 2003

Kraftwerk lying squat:
6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
6 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
7 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
5 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
5 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
5 @ 130 kg/287 lbs

Hamflexor standing one-legged leg curl:
6 @ 23 kg/50 lbs
8 @ 27 kg/60 lbs
8 @ 32 kg/70 lbs
5 @ 36 kg/80 lbs

Lying leg curl:
10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
10 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Seated calf raise: 9,9,9,8 @ 75 kg/166 lbs

December 17, 2003

Plane 95KG now boarding

Filed under: Workouts, Handiwork

all my boardsThis entry is added somewhat late; I hope to pacify the hordes of angry readers with this picture of the boards I use for benching (the hordes are also very gently reminded of the power of RSS). The courageous story of how these boards were made has already been told.

The temptation of bettering last week’s videotaped benches was hanging in the air today as I had been so close to inching 100 kg/221 lbs to lockout (surely, 97.5 kg/215 lbs would be easy). But variety is the spice in both life and training, and why attempt a very close 100 kg/221 lbs now when I surely can smoke it anytime later after a few weeks of other movements? This was a great opportunity to practice ego restraint and let the training have its own course… booooards!

While waiting for one of the two benches to become vacant I had the pleasure of seeing a guy do 70 kg/155 lbs speed box squats off my squat box and spotting a friendly guy who after saying that he might not be able to handle 150 kg/332 lbs proceeded to bench three fairly easy reps.

In the spirit of adding more grip widths to my ME movements, a close-grip was the order of the day. Equal to my current bench max and 5 kg/11 lbs more than my last two board max with a wide grip, 95 kg/210 lbs was easy. The magic 100 kg/221 lbs was about as far away as the moon or Timbuktu.

I will skip DE squat on Sunday, as trying to do speed work just does not seem relevant to me in my current condition. In a week or two I might be able to start light box squats as my back is doing better by the week and sitting is now largely pain free.

ME Bench, 17 December 2003

Close-grip board press, two-board:
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
3 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs

Lying Tate press: 4x6 @ 18 kg/40 lbs
Kraftwerk one-handed row: 2x10 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
One-handed cable front raise:
6 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
14 @ 15 kg/33 lbs

One-handed cable side raise:
6 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
12 @ 15 kg/33 lbs

Kraftwerk triceps extension: 15 @ 8 plates (unmarked)

Total training time: 60 min

December 21, 2003

Benching before the King

Filed under: Workouts

It has been snowing fairly heavily for the whole day. One of the side-effects was that the bus ran some 20 minutes late when I was going to the gym. As there was a birthday party to catch, I had to cut down on the volume of today’s workout a little. But it was all worth it as we were served tuna steaks with passion fruit sauce along with a kind of crab lasagna that besides melting on the tongue also were more than adequate post-workout nutrition. The Return of the King rounded off a very nice evening. My lovely lady Sanna also surprised me by making some delicious and totally sugar-free Christmas pastries with plum filling. Since May, I have been following a zero sugar lifestyle and my taste for sweetness has completely vanished making me very uninterested in desserty things, but these were just plain great being more salty than sweet.

DE Bench, 21 December 2003

Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Incline close-grip bench:
6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Kraftwerk Iso-lateral Front Pulldown: 3x10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs per side
Incline hammer curl: 10 @ 16 kg/35 lbs

Total training time: 41 min

December 22, 2003

Machine cranking

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

Since my lower back felt happy enough after last week’s would-be ME Squat/Dead workout I repeated the workout. Went very near failure on the lying squat machine plus added cable crunches for the abs which also went well. My first post after the lower back injury was titled “Not what I wanted for Christmas”. Three weeks post-injury I now feel that the fact that I have been able to continue working on my bench and am already doing cable crunches make for a pretty good Christmas present all things considered. To cite myself, things could really be much worse.

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE! I will be benching on Wednesday, but expect to update my blog on the 27th or so.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 22 December 2003

Kraftwerk lying squat:
10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
5 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
5 @ 110 kg/243 lbs
5 @ 120 kg/265 lbs
5 @ 130 kg/287 lbs
5 @ 140 kg/309 lbs

Hamflexor standing one-legged leg curl:
8 @ 23 kg/50 lbs
3x8 @ 32 kg/70 lbs

Lying leg curl: 3x6 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
Kneeling cable crunch:
20 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
2x12 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Seated calf raise: 4x7 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 60 min

December 24, 2003

Jingle dumbells

Filed under: Workouts

To get a break from all the max effort barbell movements I rolled in the dumbells. I need to do this more often, perhaps also on inclines and floor presses. Looking back I last did dumbell benches as the first exercise in June, then eight reps with 30 kg/66 lbs. With some training mileage behind me since those times the anticipation of what dumbells would fly up today almost rivaled that of the anticipation of the Christmas delicacies that would grease my palate later in the evening. I was not to be disappointed on either count.

Did larger jumps until I entered uncharted territory at 32 kg/71 lbs when I started slowly feeling my way forward with 2 kg/4 lbs jumps per dumbell per set. My groove was not always the best, in fact I had to realign the left dumbell in the middle of the third rep with 36 kg/80 lbs which might have cost me the fifth rep. Same thing happened with 38 kg/84 lbs, which felt surprisingly light despite the fact that I only managed to muster 3 reps. OK, forget about the “only”; this gain more than agrees with me. Next time I do this I will be able to enter a new training phase with the 40+ kg/88+ lbs line of weights. Still, I am only about half way to the heaviest dumbells in the gym, whose mere presence is motivating enough. Many of the local gyms I’ve seen only have bells up to 40 kg/88 lbs so this is indeed a small personal victory for me.

ME Bench, 24 December 2003

Dumbell bench:
10 @ 16 kg/35 lbs
10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
5 @ 24 kg/53 lbs
5 @ 28 kg/62 lbs
5 @ 32 kg/71 lbs
5 @ 34 kg/75 lbs
4 @ 36 kg/80 lbs
3 @ 38 kg/84 lbs

JM press: 9,8 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
T-bar row, chest supported: 4x6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Cable front raise:
8 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
16 @ 30 kg/66 lbs

One-handed cable side raise: 14 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Lying dumbell triceps extension: 12 @ 16 kg/35 lbs

Total training time: 66 min

December 28, 2003

CrÍpes in, crÍpes out

Filed under: Workouts

It wasn’t quite as bad as today’s headline insinuates, but the fact is that the crÍpes I had two hours before the workout did not quite make it as far down my digestive system as I had hoped to come workout time. Coming back from her aerobics session, Sanna reported the same thing. Felt sluggish. Pity, for the crÍpes were good including left-over ham, liberal amounts of cheese and some left-over tacoish meat sauce.

Before the workout I mentally went over supplementary tricep exercises I haven’t yet tried. Four-board presses with a close grip came first to mind, so that was the order of the day after the sine qua non speed benches. Planned to work up to a max triple, but it became a max double after the second rep with 100 kg/221 lbs felt somewhat shaky. Good movement, but frankly I like rack lockouts better as a tricep finisher.

Another novelty that I have done light-years before my Westside project was assisted pull-ups. This if anything is a really good back saver! Speaking of the omnipresent lower back, tomorrow I might do two things 1) do some squats to work on technique and 2) go out and buy a new nice chair with a lot of nice adjustable features. This is a cheap way of saying, come back tomorrow folks. ;-)

DE Bench, 28 December 2003

Speed bench; wide, medium, close: 9x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Close-grip board press, four-board:
10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
5 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
2 @ 100 kg/221 lbs

Assisted wide-grip pull-up: 4x5 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
One-handed dumbell rear delt flye: 2x12 @ 14 kg/31 lbs
Lying L-flye: 2x9 @ 8 kg/18 lbs
Incline hammer curl: 3x10 @ 16 kg/35 lbs

Total training time: 62 min

December 29, 2003

Chair hauling and Smith squatting

Filed under: Workouts, Rehab

Next 3092 office chair from IskuIn yet another attempt to improve conditions for my lower back, today was chair purchasing day. What I wanted was a comfortable professional chair that would allow me to keep moving around as per the advice of Stuart McGill.

Many people think they should adjust their chair to create the ideal sitting posture. Typically, they adjust the chair so that the hips and knees are bent to 90 degrees and the torso is upright [..]. In fact, this is often shown as the ideal posture in many ergonomic texts. This may be the ideal sitting posture, but for no longer than 10 minutes! Tissue loads must be migrated from tissue to tissue to minimize the risk of any single tissue accumulating microtrauma. This is accomplished by changing posture. Thus, an ergonomic chair is one that facilitates easy posture changes over a variety of joint angles
McGill, Stuart (2002): Low Back Disorders, Human Kinetics: pp. 175. My emphasis.

I ended up buying it at Kaapin paikka, an outlet in Helsinki that sells models taken out of production at a discount. I bought a funky looking blue and black version of the chair above for 450 euro (discounted from 750 euro). Not cheap, but according to the seller this chair should last 10-15 years which makes it a good deal in the long run. It also has enough levers to accommodate a variety of sitting postures from the leisurely style with feet on desk to an extreme forward lean. Weighing in at 24 kg/53 lbs, it was pretty fun to slug it around town on my way home. This was already the second time during the history of this blog that I wondered whether the bus driver would let me in or not; I had to lift it up above the railings that divide the back-doors in two to get it into the bus as the wheels were too wide. Still, it is easier for the driver to relate to a chair than to a bunch of boards that threaten to put a nice dent in the roof… What next? We already have a nice washing machine… Anyway, many thanks to my dad who funded the bulk of this chair. A very nice Christmas present indeed!

After having recuperated at home from the hardships of chair slugging for a few hours, it was real lifting time (surpriiise!). When push came to shove, I was still too hesitant to load a free weight barbell on my back even for fairly light squatting. I have never really found the smith machine good for anything, but today it seemed like a safe alternative that would ensure that my upper body stay erect no matter what. On the downside, the mechanics of a smith squat is quite different from a free weight barbell squat, especially in the upper range where the feet are way in front of the bar (in order to achieve vertical shins they have to be placed quite far out). In contrast with a free weight squat, I found getting out of the hole below parallel the toughest part. A strenuous wide stance well beyond parallel double with 90 kg/199 lbs may not sound too glorious, but considering the state of my back it is not too shabby and much preferable to the Kraftwerk squat machine.

Now, time to get off the chair and do the reach-for-the-ceiling movement McGill recommends for thwarting the accumulation of disc stress caused by prolonged sitting.

ME Squat/Deadlift, 29 December 2003

Smith machine squat:
6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
2x5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
5 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
2 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Lying leg curl: 7,7,7,6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Kneeling cable crunch: 3x15 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
Seated calf raise: 4x8 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Total training time: 54 min

December 31, 2003

A small bang and your chance to win a $15 Amazon gift certificate

Filed under: Workouts

Against better judgment I decided to see if I could end this year with a big bang. You guessed it, for me a 100 kg/221 lbs bench would be a pretty big one after having started this Westside experiment in late May with a 75 kg/166 lbs bench max. I did my best to overlook the fact that I had woken up feeling tired and was now lying on the bench way too early for my system with slightly sore pecs and pretty sore biceps to boot. If it wouldn’t be New Year’s Eve I would surely be in the rack doing lockouts instead. I downed the great equalizer, the Adrenalin stack, and started focusing on the bang to come. Would I be needing eye goggles and ear plugs?

Worked up to a very easy 90 kg/199 lbs, which I did for the first time without bothering to ask a spotter as that weight is now as sure as taxes for me. Then I was confronted by the question of what to load on the bar next. I could either go directly to 100 kg/221 lbs (pretty certain, but not quite), go for the sure 97.5 kg/215 lbs or do 95 kg/210 lbs as a feeler and then decide. Ended up with the second option and had no trouble pushing it up for a new personal record. After some six minutes had passed I was back on the bench for the big one. I got a spectacular descent and an equally awesome grin. No go, stuck on the chest. I will never know what would have happened if I would have skipped the taxing previous set, but at least I wasn’t left empty handed. Looking back I must say I am very pleased; a 22.5 kg/50 lbs gain since late May is not bad, especially considering that I took a complete break between 9 July and 20 August to go to China with the result that it took me until 8 October to better my pre-China 85 kg/188 lbs max by doing 90 kg/199 lbs. I was also battling with a stiff left shoulder for most of September. I present thee with this chart:

Bench progress

So much for the past. Now let’s talk about the future. After all, isn’t that what New Year’s Eves are for? And a competition. Competitions are always fun, aren’t they? In short, I would like to hear your guess on how much you think I will be able to bench by June 2nd, 2004. Barring injuries, I will try for a new gym record (RAW and natural as usual) on that date. If I for some reason am unable to bench on that date my bench record then in force will be counted. The rules are as follows: you may enter with 1 (one) guess by submitting a comment below (if I have reason to suspect that anyone enter more than once I may disqualify that/those persons without further notice). Guesses can be submitted in either kilograms or pounds; I take the liberty of editing the comments by rounding to the nearest 2.5 kilograms. The prize will be awarded to that person that has the closest guess (rounding downwards if needed), i.e. to prevent me from scheming with the result to avoid awarding the prize it will be awarded provided there is at least one participant. If more than one person has the same guess I will randomly arrange a draw between those persons. The prize is a $15 US dollar Amazon gift certificate to be awarded via an e-mail address that is supplied with the guess (go ahead and camouflage it to avoid spam harvesters, i.e. instead of someone@somewhere.com write someone#&%#somewhere.com or something similar). The competition is open until January 11th, 2004. If there are any questions they may be submitted via comments or e-mail below. I guess this will show how many lurking readers I have. Hopefully at least one. ;-)

With that said, I will now get into my suit and scurry away with Sanna to a New Year’s Eve party. I bid you a HAPPY NEW YEAR 2004.

ME Bench, 31 December 2003

Bench:
10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
5 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
3 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
1 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs
0 @ 100 kg/221 lbs

Floor dumbell triceps extension: 2x6 @ 18 kg/40 lbs
T-bar row, chest supported: 3x7 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

Total training time: 49 min