I feel thankful for paying per visit and not monthly at Metal… First I spent a week recovering from the latest bout of back trouble. For once, I actually managed to fix myself up in a record time by doing nothing but avoiding flexion and decompressing frequently. Eleven days after the relapse, I was in the gym doing front squats and feeling dandy. Then I suddenly lost my voice and caught a fever. A far nastier critter than the usual flu fare, I was down and out from work for the whole of week 13. If I don’t have any energy to compute, I know it’s bad. When Rufus also caught it we had our hands full. Then it was Sanna’s turn, who is at the time of writing still recovering from hers. I could have sweared Metal Gym was no longer in the same dimension.
Here’s a quick glance at the two workouts I got in before falling ill.
Tuesday, 14 March 2006: ME Bench
Being the first workout after the back pain, I played it safe and kept my feet up on all the benching. After posting a routine failure at 102.5 kg/227 lbs on the close-grip bench, I worked my way up on the dumbell bench with a light band around my back (VIDEO 1.8M). Not perhaps what you’d expect from a guy vehemently opposed to starting on the bands too early, but, or so the story goes, I did it in an effort to solve the two-fold problem I have with the dumbell bench: the lack of a dumbell pair between 36 kg and 41kg/91 lbs has proven to be too big a weight jump to continue the 5x5 progression and lowering the 41 kg/91 lbs bells to the floor seriously strained my weak biceps. With the band, I can achieve the same level of work with much less dumbell poundage while drastically cutting down on the weight I need to lower to the floor. The 26 kg/57 lbs dumbells were plenty for a set of six. And yes, I am going to bring my biceps up with more direct biceps work, for I really want to manhandle the heavier bells soon. If it takes bands to do it, then so be it.
Heavy bag work
Close-grip bench press, feet on bench:
6 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
6 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
6 @ 60 kg/133 lbs
6 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
1 @ 80 kg/177 lbs
1 @ 90 kg/199 lbs
0 @ 102.5 kg/227 lbs
Dumbell bench, feet on bench:
8 @ 13.5 kg/30 lbs + light band
8 @ 16 kg/35 lbs + light band
8 @ 21 kg/46 lbs + light band
8 @ 23.5 kg/52 lbs + light band
6 @ 26 kg/57 lbs + light band
Chest supported T-bar row: 3x8 + 6 shrugs @ 55 kg/122 lbs
Parallel-grip pulldown: 2x8 + 6 shrugs @ 14th (70 kg/155 lbs?)
Metal cable preacher curl:
3 @ 3 plates
9 @ 2 plates
Friday, 17 March 2006: Squat
Due to the aforementioned back episode, my newly acquired Sting Ray was confined to the stinky darkness of my gym bag for two weeks before it finally got out in the limelight. The Sting Ray does for the front squat what its cousin the Manta Ray does for the back squat, namely delivers a much increased surface area for the bar in the guise of blue high-tech polyurethane polymer that snaps readily unto the bar. The end result is sheer comfort that allows one to concentrate on the task at hand without worrying about the bar. For more ramblings on this, see my post on the Manta Ray.
The Manta Ray provides an easy way to do an extremely high-bar squat that taxes the quads to the max, but no serious powerlifter would consider using it exlusively since it is illegal in competition and a low bar placement gives better leverage anyway. Leave that for the bodybuilders. In contrast, I see little point in doing front squats without the Sting Ray since it does not noticeably alter the mechanics of the lift. As anyone who has done front squats extensively can attest, the front squat is an uncomfortable lift where you get to choose between sacrificing your shoulders or wrists to keep the bar in front of your body. With the Sting Ray the discomfort is virtually eliminated, provided you get the two pieces properly spaced on the bar. I also found that you don’t even need to hold on to the bar at all, but it felt more natural for an old front squatter to keep the arms over it. Just in case.
For obvious reasons, I took it easy with a few fivers at 70 kg/155 lbs, but it was more than enough to convince me that the Sting Ray will be worth much more over the years to come than the mere $39.95 plus $11.60 shipping that I paid for it suggests. Inspired by Alberto, I continued the quad assault with walking dumbell lunges from the end of the lifting platform to the Metal shop. Turned out to be sixteen lunge steps. The next day my glutes and quads were fried.
Heavy bag work
Full Sting Ray front squat, close stance: worked up to 3x5 @ 70 kg/155 lbs
Walking dumbell lunge: 16 steps @ 13.5 kg/30 lbs dumbells
Reverse-hyper: worked up to 3 @ 50 kg/111 lbs
GHR, narrow: aborted with a cramp in left calf
Seated band leg curl: 12 @ mini