December 2005 archives

December 3, 2005

Week 49: Please fasten your belt before sitting on the box

Filed under: Workouts

Tuesday, 29 November 2005: Accessory bench

Töölö GymSanna’s brother, who has started bodybuilding, wanted me to give him some pointers on exercise form. Midnight training at Metal might not be everyones first choice of cuppa, hence we met at neutral ground at the largest gym in Helsinki, Töölö Gym. I moved up to 70 kg/155 lbs on the inclines… it was tough, but I did pull off 5x5. Sanna’s brother did even better posting a huge gain on his bench PR.


Incline bench: worked up to 5x5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Seated dumbell press: 4,4,3 @ 26 kg/57 lbs
Flat dumbell flye:
                      8 @ 11 kg/24 lbs
                      2x8 @ 16 kg/35 lbs
Close-grip pulldown: 3x8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Supported T-bar shrug: 8 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
JM press:
                      8 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                      5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs

Saturday, 2 December 2005: Squat day

Sigh. As sweet November came and went, yours truly also had to report back at work. The month off with Rufus was great though, the highlight probably being our trip to Sweden together with my brother and his fiancée. After a few days at work, it is clear that there will not be room for a lot of sleep in the weeks to come… Good workout though. After the heavy bag work I did some box squats in one of the monolifts off Ano’s box, apparently a suitable 13″. Following Mike Hope’s instructions, I put the belt on for the “heavier” sets. Having something to push my abs into made a world of difference, I suspect one of the main reasons I tend to fall forward in the squat might have to do with me squatting without tensing the midsection… Luckily, a belt is commonly the only allowed piece of equipment in RAW meets, so not abandoning ship… Got a slight cramp at 80 kg/177 lbs, but the reps felt good and powerful.

Heavy bag, 20 minutes
Box squat, 13″:
                2x5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                2 @ 70 kg/155 lbs (belt on)
                2 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Upper body cable turn: 2x20 @ 35 kg/77 lbs
Ab wheel, partials: 2x8
Reverse hyper (down to about 45° to maintain lordosis): 2x10 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
Seated calf raise:
                10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                3x10 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Sunday, 3 December 2005: ME Bench

Blue Fitness membership cardI’ve lamented over the increasingly common membership concept at health clubs (I hesitate to call them gyms for political reasons) before. The idea is simple: the price for a single session is raised to astronomical levels, or eliminated completely, in favor of some kind of day pass that gives you access to not only the gym but also the aerobics, spinning and whatnot yogic sessions. If you commit to becoming a member for a year or more, often after paying a substantial “membership fee” that can be upwards to 100 euros or even more, the prices drop sharply. The monthly fee is deducted from your bank account monthly. If you decide to quit before the year is up, they will charge you the difference between the yearly price and the “regular price” for the time you trained there. Simply put, they take your money hostage and execute it if you decide to quit. Furthermore, this whole scheme is usually hidden behind a whole lot of “special offers” and “tailored solutions” that a “sales representative” will take you through while waiving a lot of important looking documents. In a nutshell, this really sucks.

Take the new shiny health club that replaced the neighborhood gym just around the corner from our house. Some time ago, I marched in to inquire about prices and opening hours. Turned out they were open to 11pm, great for those days when I would not have time to journey all the way to Metal. Asked if I could look inside the gym and verified that they had what I’d need for some light accessory work. When I asked what the price for a single visit to the gym was, they told me there was no such thing. The closest thing was a day pass at 12 euros that, surprise surprise, included the aerobics too. Then came all the talk about membership. For once, I cut the lady short and explained that I lived nearby, generally trained at another gym, but would be interested to pop in maybe once or twice a month. I also made it quite clear that I wanted no aerobics and that 12 euros was a ridiculous amount to pay for an hour in the gym. As I was getting ready to leave, it was suggested that their sales representative might be able to come up with a tailor-made solution. I jotted down my e-mail and left. A few days later, yes, a few days, I got an e-mail from the sales rep that stated that “they generally only discuss their prices and operational model on location” and then went on to talk about “their membership”. No mention of my particular problem. Never set foot in there again.

The whole “shiny club” scheme was again unravelled before my own very wallet today as I joined Sanna’s brother for another session, this time at his gym. As was to be expected, the closest thing to a gym visit was the 12 euro daypass that entitled its happy bearer to all aerobics and all the three Blue Fitness gyms in Helsinki. As I did not show much interest in signing up for several months or a year, the skinny guy behind the counter told me he could give me a “special offer”. For a mere 8 euros, I would get the magnetic card fee waived and one week of unlimited training at all three gyms. Oh, and they would also take my personal information and my photograph for the customer registration. In retrospect, I should probably just have declined the honor of being pulled into their customer database, but I paid up and got on with it. A pretty nice basic gym otherwise, no power rack or specialty gear of course, but they did allow me to use chalk. Most health spas don’t.

As for the workout, got very close to putting up a new PR on the close-grip bench. Seems like I’m finally back to full strength after the unfortunate layoff.

Close-grip bench:
                5 @ 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 @ 100 kg/221 lbs
                0 @ 102.5 kg/227 lbs
Speed bench: 9x3 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
Dumbell bench: 5x5 @ 32.5 kg/72 lbs
Parallel-grip pulldown: 3x8 @ 14th hole (70 kg/155 lbs?)
Cable L-flye in Free Motion machine: 2x8 @ 15 kg/33 lbs

December 11, 2005

Week 50: Progress and mulled wine blues

Filed under: Workouts

Thursday, 8 December 2005: Squat

The new rehab approach is starting to pay dividends. I felt good today and worked up to 105 kg/232 lbs on the 13″ box squat. Stopped short of going all out as the last thing I want to do is something trademarkedly stupid. The lower cable twists didn’t feel good in the back, but otherwise this was a very encouraging workout. Also did some seated band leg curls that I gleaned from the Westside Barbell Reactive Method tape. I picked that up together with the Special Strengths tape from on a sale at 19 euros each. I love sales like that.

Heavy bag, 15 minutes (went hard, drenched in sweat)
Box squat, 13″:
                2x6 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
                3 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
                3 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
                2 @ 75 kg/166 lbs
                1 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
                1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
                1 @ 105 kg/232 lbs
Upper cable turn: 2x30 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
Lower cable twist: didn’t feel good, aborted
Reverse hypers (down to about 45° to maintain lordosis):
                10 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
                10 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
                3x10 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
Seated band leg curl, mini band: 2x12
Standing band crunch, mini band: 3x10 (straight, left, right nonstop)
Seated calf raise:
                10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                4x10 @ 80 kg/177 lbs

Saturday, 10 Dec 2005: Bench accessory

Christmas is in the air. I don’t know about elsewhere, but at this time of the year most companies are celebrating something called pikkujoulut in Finnish. Literally “Little Christmas”, this usually consists of an evening out in a restaurant or Christmas snacks at the office. These events are notorious for sometimes being pretty wild affairs. Gyms also seem to arrange them. As Metal was closed for pikkujoulut and a club bench meet, I headed over to Töölö Gym for my bench work. I was greeted by candle light and the sweet scent of mulled wine. Politely declining the invitation, I rushed over to City Gym and crossed my fingers. Phew, only barbells in the air there. The incline work went miserably at the new weight of 72.5 kg/160 lbs, but otherwise a good workout. Christmas has its place, but gyms are not among them. In my humble opinion.

Incline bench: worked up to a miserable 2x3 @ 72.5 kg/160 lbs
Seated dumbell press: worked up to 5x5 @ 25 kg/55 lbs
Flat dumbell flye:
                10 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
                2x10 @ 15 kg/33 lbs
Chest supported T-bar row: 3x10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Chest supported T-bar shrug:
                10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                3x6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Metal cable preacher curl: 3x6 @ 35 kg/77 lbs

December 17, 2005

Week 51: Speeding up

Filed under: Workouts

Wednesday, 14 December 2005: Squat

Unlike for the bench, I don’t have much that I could call a “routine” for the squat work yet. If you scroll down you’ll probably see trends though involving GHRs, reverse hypers and calf raises. Now that I seem to be able to tolerate a bit heavier squatting again, I am putting the speed work back in. Started at a very moderate weight to ensure enough speed but kept the sets at a high twelve (basically a lightened old-school Westside cycle). Also went for a tad higher reps on the GHR with various stances. Fifteen reps was not hard for the first set, but very tight on the last one… Also found out that doing standing band crunches with two minibands gives quite the rebound…

Speed box squat: 12x2 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
GHR: 15 (narrow), 15 (medium), 15 (wide)
Reverse hypers (down to about 45° to maintain lordosis):
                15 @ 10 kg/22 lbs
                2x15 @ 20 kg/44 lbs
Standing band crunch:
                15 each straight, left, right @ mini
                10 @ two minis
Upper cable turn with band: 10 @ mini
Seated calf raise:
                10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                10 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                2x8 @ 90 kg/199 lbs

Friday, 16 December 2005: ME bench

With a few hours to kill between my last class and the school Christmas show, I paid a now rare visit to the school gym. After yet another failed PR attempt on the incline, I did speed benching and followed up with an all-out 24 reps with 21.5 kg/48 lbs dumbells on the dumbell bench. There just wasn’t anything heavier to work with.

Incline bench:
                5 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                2 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                1 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
                1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
                0 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
Speed bench (wide, medium, close): 6x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Dumbell bench: 24 @ 21.5 kg/48 lbs
Wide-grip pulldown: 10 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
Lying L-flye: 8,6 @ 7 kg/15 lbs
Lying cable curl:
                8 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                2x8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs

December 24, 2005

Strong Holidays and a Happy New Year 2006!

Filed under: General

ho ho

December 27, 2005

Week 52: SQUAT PR!!!!!!!!!!!!

Filed under: Workouts

Monday, 26 December 2005: ME squat

Box squat PR in the ovenThe lone squatter entered the gym followed by his spotter sidekick. Lightly brushing by the heavy bag hanging in the entrance, he stops to gaze fiercely upon the squat bar. The bar patrons are long gone, it is nearly midnight. “An empty bar…”, the sidekick can vividly see the speech bubble forming, “… this bar ain’t big enough for my old and new squat PR”. After removing his long johns, after all, it is winter, he straddles the box and rides off towards higher and higher weights. The belt goes on, no bullets this time. It doesn’t take a bald bandit to see that the bar is putty on his shoulders. After 105 kg/232 lbs forms a clear silhouette against the moon shining in through the side window, the lone squatter loads the bar to 117.5 kg/260 lbs. He breaks sweat, but it doesn’t challenge his manhood. The spotter sidekick rejoices, but the lone squatter remains calm as a dead chinchilla. He knows it was meant to be, although it took a good two years to hunt it down. The uneasiness he has felt for so long is starting to melt like butter under the red Mexican sun. The hope he had been given made his cause just, but the story is not yet a happy one. As long as there are more PRs to arrest, the lone squatter will be out there.

VIDEO (2.3MB), published with permission from Ano Turtiainen.

Box squat, 13″:
                3 @ 45 kg/99 lbs
                3 @ 55 kg/122 lbs
                1 @ 65 kg/144 lbs
                1 @ 75 kg/166 lbs
                1 @ 85 kg/188 lbs (belt on)
                1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
                1 @ 105 kg/232 lbs
                1 @ 117.5 kg/260 lbs (PR)
GHR, narrow:
                10 @ bw
                5 @ 5 kg/11 lbs plate against forehead
GHR, medium:
                8 @ 2.5 kg/6 lbs plate against forehead
Full Manta Ray squat, close stance:
                3x8 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
Reverse hypers (down to about 45° to maintain lordosis): 12 @ 30 kg/66 lbs
Standing band crunch:
                8 @ two doubled minibands

Wednesday, 28 December 2005: ME Bench

Even more amazing than the fact that I finally got a new squat PR after two years of back trouble must be the lack of subsequent back pain. Unheard of. Feeling good, I had no trouble arching in under the cambered bar. Put up a 5 kg/11 lbs PR by reaching 95 kg/210 lbs. Life, life, life is good.

Heavy bag, 10 minutes
2″ camber bar bench:
                2x6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
                5 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
                1 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
                1 @ 75 kg/166 lbs
                1 @ 85 kg/188 lbs
                1 @ 95 kg/210 lbs
                0 @ 97.5 kg/215 lbs
Speed bench (wide, medium, close): 9x3 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
4 supersets:
        Dumbell bench: 5x5 @ 33.5 kg/74 lbs
        Assisted pull-up: 5,4,4,3,3 @ light band (purple)
2 supersets:
        Face pull: 2x15 @ 6th (30 kg/66 lbs?)
        Metal cable preacher curl: 8,4 @ 4th (20 kg/44 lbs?)