September 2006 archives

September 6, 2006

Week 36: A Minor Major PR and A Major Minor PR

Filed under: Workouts

In the rackGot two PRs last week and set out to grab two more this week. On Monday, squat day, I found my easy victim in a 110 kg/242 lbs ass-to-the-grass close-stance Manta Ray squat. Perhaps it is just bodybuilding nostalgia, but a high-bar Olympic squat is still in my book the most pure way to squat and seeing that climb into the voids of old competition stance PRs is somewhat dear to me. 110 kg/242 lbs was a snap. 120 kg/264 lbs was stiffer, but there was still a bit of air in it. Decided to leave it at that, a 10 kg/22 lbs PR. I haven’t failed a squat since 20 May and am really finally beginning to see the light that Mike tried to let me unto in a comment back in February last year. Not failing lifts is a huge psychological advantage and an important part of not plateauing. My squat work has never felt better and I constantly feel I have more in me. This is of course herecy as far as Westside methodology goes (max effort = go to failure), but I just can’t argue with my own gut feeling at the moment. Perhaps I will later, but right now I want to embrace the Iron God That Never Fails His Reps. This requires a lot of sensitivity to when strength levels have improved to the degree that the old PR will yield easily, and might mean not going for PRs on the same exercise all that frequently, but so far the dividends are more than worth it. If you follow this god, you don’t attempt new PRs, you smash them with confidence (most of the time anyway, reality check…). Sounds like I am now a follower of Yoda, doesn’t it… “do or do not…there is no try…” [wav courtesy of YodaJeff’s Yoda Page].

Wish I could say the same thing for the bench. I’m too lazy to go back to count the numerous times I’ve failed at 105 kg/231 lbs after punching up 102.5 kg/226 lbs back in November 2004. That’s the definition of a habitual rut right there. There’s more reasons for this never-ending Tibetan plateau of sorts, but a tradition of failure now appears to me to be one of the prime reasons. If you’ve failed a weight 15 times, what is the likelihood that you will make it when you go at it for the 16th time? Psychologically speaking, the chances are close to null. Or then I just haven’t watched enough Dr. Phil. If you look back at the recent RAW meet video (8.1M), you see 95 kg/209 fly up like putty with 105 kg/231 lbs suddenly appearing overwhelming. I knew I had the strength then, but it just was a no show. Typical.

Don’t know why Wednesday saw me select the bench press for yet another 105 kg/231 lbs attempt when I could have wiped the rack with some much easier old PR. I had a headache and was bursting with gas on account of having cooked green pea soup with ham earlier in the day like a good stay at home dad should (three hours in the oven, and this is the reward??). I did the usual jumps towards 105 kg/231 lbs, but instead of going straight into it from 95 kg/209 lbs, I did a feeler with 100 kg/220 lbs. Not surprisingly, it flew up. More surprisingly, so did 105 kg/231 lbs. I paid extra attention to all the details - getting shoulders in under me, heels down hard into the floor to shift the weight unto the traps, squeezing the bar tightly, not flopping the descent by going too fast… etc etc - and up it went without too much trouble. The descent didn’t quite hit where it should, but still. I then did a stupid thing by failing on 107.5 kg/237 lbs twice (was close to choking myself on the first attempt as I hadn’t noticed that the right safety pin was set one notch too low). Be that as it may, but I know I have that weight in me right now if I can just hit it with good technique. Now I just need to convince my body.

Here’s the video (4M). Next week I will be embarking on a new periodization program while starting to diet down for the virtual meet. This means no more PRs for most of what’s left of 2006. More on that soon.

Monday, 4 September 2006: ME Squat

Full Manta Ray squat, close stance:
              worked up to 1 @ 100 kg/220 lbs (belt on)
              1 @ 110 kg/242 lbs
              1 @ 120 kg/264 lbs (PR)
GHR: Got 3 reps before a major cramp hit my left ham
Reverse-hyper: 12,10 @ 40 kg/88 lbs
Band crunch against upright: 10,12 reps with 2-5 second holds @ light band
Upper body cable turn: 15 @ 40 kg/88 lbs (reeaaallly sloooow)

Wednesday, 6 September 2006: ME Squat

            worked up to 1 @ 85 kg/187 lbs
              1 @ 95 kg/209 lbs
              1 @ 100 kg/220 lbs
              1 @ 105 kg/231 lbs (PR)
              2x0 @ 107.5 kg/237 lbs
Metal iso-lateral seated row: 2x6 @ 35 kg/77 lbs per side
Wide-grip pulldown: 8 @ 13th (65 kg/143 lbs?)
Standing face pull: 9 @ 8th (40 kg/88 lbs?)
Metal cable preacher curl: 8 @ 3rd (15 kg/33 lbs?)

September 8, 2006

Pure Power Mag 16-week Squat Routine

Filed under: General

In my quest to find a core-centric training program with a suitable does of accessory work to address my weak points on the squat and bench, I remembered a squat routine in an old copy of Pure Power Mag that I acquired about a year ago. This one has a lot of competition squat work spiced with paused squats, front squats, quarter squats, lunges and step-ups (cycled, not all at once) and comes with suggestions for how to bake in the bench and deadlift work. My preliminary plan is to do at least the first seven weeks of it (the first cycle of the three cycles that comprises this program) and then likely continue with the second cycle of six weeks while skipping the final peaking cycle. That would carry me into December, after which it is time to start the final meet preparation cycle for the virtual meet on February 9th-11th (not sure on what day I will be lifting yet). This would also be a weight loss (hopefully as in fat loss) cycle as I will be on a cyclical ketogenic diet (very low-carb diet, high fat and protein for 5½ days in a row followed by a high-carb low-fat phase to rebuild glycogen stores and raise hormone levels). I lived on this for well over a year straight in my bodybuilding days, so I am quite familiar with how it works (for those of you who read Swedish, here’s a rather extensive walk-through of the diet that I wrote back in 1998). I’m not going into the diet nitty-gritties just yet, but suffice it to say that the workload and array of exercises should be plenty enough to deplete muscle glycogen before the weekend carb loading. I haven’t had time to think about it much yet, but I am tentatively thinking of just plainly using the same percentages as for the squat on the bench and, possibly, also the deadlift (if it’s not too much) with accessory work to focus on my weaknesses. I might need to adjust weights down a bit since it is likely that the weights will drop some while dieting (the goal is to increase relative strength, I can take a temporary hit in actual weights). I plan to begin the program and diet on Sunday evening. Still have to get my cholesterol and fat percentages (skin folds) taken to establish a baseline to compare progress against, but other than that, I am set.

Made a calculator for the squat routine, here’s how the cycle looks for me without any tweaks (kilograms, pounds). To get a better view of the squat progression you may want to view this version without the bench and deadlift clutter in there (kilograms, pounds). I’d appreciate any thoughts you may have on this, also let me know if you find any problems with the calculator.

September 12, 2006

Haunted Rack at Metal

Filed under: General


No wonder Metal Gym closes at midnight… Thanks to Måns for revealing the dark truth to me, looking back at recent workouts, you can even see me, gasp!, squat on top of HHHHHIIIIMMMM!!! If the posts suddenly stop, I am probably screaming in the clutches of the Floor Press Zombie. Ssssh… what was that noise?

September 18, 2006

Week 37: A whiff of ammonia

Filed under: Workouts

Ammonia ampoules

This should have been my first week of dieting, but I came down with something that left me feeling sore in the throat specifically and lethargic like a wet rag generally. On the bright side, this was the week I started making a distinction between squat shoes and deadlift shoes thanks to Stinn. Got the new Red Devil Powershoes on Wednesday… guess who was back in the gym that very day despite still not really being up for it yet? I shall return to how the shoe affects my squatting mechanics in a later post, but suffice it to say that I am quite satisfied with the purchase.

I first spent around an hour or so shooting a bit of video to be used for virtual meet rule clarification purposes and did tons of squats with 65 kg/143 lbs in the process. Squatting with a heel didn’t feel as awkward as I had imagined it might and the shoes provided a good fit, velcro straps and all. Feeling a strong urge to test out the heel under some heavier iron, I loaded up for what should be an easy 13″ parallel box PR in light of recent achievements. I was really tired by now and made larger weight jumps than usual, just looking for a routine PR. Once up at 135 kg/297 lbs, a new PR weight, I popped out another little thing that had arrived inside one of my new shoes. Ammonia capsules are frequently used at powerlifting meets to psyche up for big lifts, but they were a new acquaintance for me. Cracked one open at the designated spot, took a good whiff and immediately started setting up. As I got into my stance, the ammonia really kicked into gear leaving me with tears in my eyes and a general sensation of wonder… not the best of states to be in when descending towards a squat box. The descent was horrible, the plates on the right side slid out a bit, but I got back up in some very old way. Not surprisingly, the heel equipped shoe seems to cause me to not sit back as far as with the flat soled shoe, but this attempt was just something else with knees protruding sharply (VIDEO 1.5MB). Ah well, I shall have ample of time to work my squat as I embark on the new routine. The ammonia also needs some working on before the meet; for one thing, I think it might be prudent to leave a bit of time between the whiffing and the lifting… Think the ammonia will become a good associate of mine once I get used to it.

Wednesday, 13 September 2006: ME Squat

Box squat, 13″: worked up to 135 kg/297 lbs (PR)

Breaking news: Metal Gym shut down!

Filed under: General

I was the last man to leave the gym on Sunday at midnight. Today, Monday morning, only a few hours later, word has it that the gym is suddenly closed with a sign posted on the gym door. There is a small announcement on the Finnish language version of the Metal homepage that translates loosely as follows:

Dear gym customers!

The gym is closed. The gym business has moved into the hands of another company which failed to reach a new rental agreement. The gym will shortly reopen in some capacity at a new location.

We regret this sudden change! We ask those customers who have paid in advance to contact us by e-mail so that we can arrange to reimburse the unused visits.

The location of the new METAL sport & wear store in the metropolitan area will be announced shortly!

Metal Gym

Looks like I need to find a new gym. No more reverse hypers, cambered bars… sigh.

September 29, 2006

Virtual Meet Update

Filed under: General - Geographically Dispersed Powerlifting Meets

The blog has been slow of late, but there’s a lot of work going on in the background both relating to my powerlifting projects and other obligations. As you might recall, the intention was to have the virtual meet site up in September. As you can see from the banner, I have finished the general site design but there’s still a lot of content to be done including editing the video clarifying the meet rules. The meet is very much on, but you will have to wait a bit longer for the site. Then again, I think it will be worth the wait. Updates on my dieting, training and the recent visit up to Toffe’s Gym will appear over the next few days or so. Meanwhile, may I suggest a warm cup of Miso soup?