Saturday, after the final exam I had to administer at 11:00 am, I stopped by T-Bone’s house, or should I call it “Asheville Barbell Club”? for a mid-afternoon squat session. I warmed up for about 5 minutes jumping rope and half-heartedly practicing some double unders, until my heart rate was up and I was just beginning to break a sweat. A couple of Sampson stretches, shoulder dislocates, and then I began a pretty mellow squat workout. Friday night was rough, a real end of semester blow out, so I was struggling with a foggy head and funny guts, but thankfully, very little pain or true suffering. I was experiencing just enough residual EtOH toxicity to want to keep it simple and slow.
2 x 5 x 135
1 x 155 / 1 x 175 / 1 x 195 / 1 x 205 /
10 x 1 x 215
My last squat workout was nearly a month ago, and I maxed out that day for 185 for 3 (88% of my 5 RM) and had a small total volume of 1,850 (see 4/1/11).
Since then the weeks have flown by and my schedule hasn’t permitted squatting, amazingly enough. And neither has the “stress” of the open sectionals WODs.
Still, I’ve done some good work in that month, gotten a few new PRs and accomplished some other “feats of strength” (‘feats,’ for me, that is), even though my squat program has been derailed.
In terms of the applied math of training, what I did today was work off my existing 1 RM for squat (225 lbs, set on 2/18/11) , doing 10 reps at 95.5% of my 1 RM. In theory, that should be a good stimulus, and help get me back into the routine of working hard on the squat. The challenge is to get back into the swing of things. I gotta make sure I squat again within the week. Next Saturday at the latest, but possibly as early as Wednesday.
What a horrible week. My sleep was all screwed up. I was working long stressful days and getting up super early to grade. From Tuesday to Wednesday: 3 hours. Wednesday to Thursday: 3 hours. I was in a foggy, dream like state all day Wednesday and Thursday, and feeling depressed to boot. Not sleeping is very bad.
I had skipped the workout on Wednesday morning, although I was up plenty early and dressed to go. Instead I just stayed home and kept grading. I knew that I’d probably do more harm than good to myself in my sleep-deprived state.
After not sleeping Tuesday night, I was sure that I’d fall fast asleep Wednesday night. Nothing doing. My overheated brain. I was so tired I couldn’t sleep, and had a sleepless evening.
Thursday night I knew I couldn’t let that happen again so I resorted to a sleep aid. It was a decent idea.
Friday morning, thank God! I woke up after finally having gotten some sleep. But my mood was still dark as hell: sectionals WOD #2, a 15 minute AMRAP of deadlifts, push-ups, and box jumps, would be on the docket. I was thinking: screw 15 minute AMRAPs. I just want to lift weights!
I used to love the long beat downs, because they beat you down, leaving you sweaty and sore, and giving this sense of unreal accomplishment. That’s all still true and that feeling is good.
But these days such WODs sometimes challenge my morale and attitude because I don’t see them as quite meeting my goals. Doing a high number of reps at a medium weight (such as body weight or 50% of max, as in this WOD), and doing it as fast as possible for fifteen minutes… well… that promotes speed and endurance and “toughness.” Good. Such as it is. But it doesn’t make you “stronger.” And that’s been my goal.
It doesn’t matter if you do 10 or 99 deadlifts at 155 lbs; your max isn’t going from 310 to 320 by doing that. Yet you do increase your chance of injury and/or dealing with unpleasant DOMS for a few days. Oh well.
These WODs really are good tests, and do what they should do: they differentiate the weak from the strong, and the fit from the unfit. The stronger, fitter guys do better at them. Probably the real reason I get bummed out by such WODs is that they besides hurting me, they reveal me to be weaker and slower than others whom I would, in theory, like to compare myself to.
I know I shouldn’t compare myself. You can only be yourself. Your numbers are your numbers! But… well… I am an official competitor and competition invites such comparisons.
By the way, am I the only one who thinks the CrossFit Games site is basically the most clunky, ridiculously badly designed piece of crap on the internet? Just wondering.
Enough with the Navel-Gazing Already…
So, when I got into the gym on Friday morning, in a post-Ambien fog, but rested, yet in a dark place, residual from a crappy week, my morale was low. I saw Corey, obviously pumped up for the workout. He was going to be joining us. Cool! I said, coach, I have a problem. What’s that he said? I have a bad attitude about this, I said. Fuck that, he said! Simply and directly. You gotta love Corey, he pulls no punches at all. This was a good attitude check for me. What the hell was I doing at the affiliate in the dark of the morning on a Friday anyway, if I wasn’t going to work out and try my hardest? Thanks Corey.
Shanna smartly programmed some back squats for us after this WOD. I enjoyed the challenge of pulling myself off the floor and getting myself into the mode of squatting.
Tempo: 2,0, -, 3. Result: 5 x 45 / 5 x 115 / 3 x 165 / 3 x 185. Volume: 1,850. Small volume, and, all things considered, not a tremendous stimulus. But doing this immediately after such a difficult WOD, at tempo, was its own, good challenge. I noticed that Rehm, who worked harder than I did on the WOD, skipped the squats. Anyway, I took them as “this week’s back squats,” and was happy to do it, even if I only hit 3 reps at 88% of my 5 rep max.
A Final Apology
I apologize to anybody who might be offended at my lack of 100% sunny positive attitude about the CrossFit Open Sectionals process. I’ll try to pick it up in the next four weeks. In the meantime: kiss my grits.
Wednesday morning I showed up for the 6:00 am workout. We had a good session of back squats… nothing radical but nothing to sneeze at. Then a simple, six round WOD of wall balls and walking lunges. Not quite a lactate session burn out, but good and hard.
Squat: 4 x 135 / 4 x 165 / 4 x 175 / 4 x 185 / 4 x 195. Volume: 3,420. The heaviest reps were not consistently good. The tempo here was supposed to be 3-1-x-2.
WOD: 6 rounds of 30s max rep wall ball (20 lbs), 30s max distance walking overhead lunge (45 lbs). 2 minutes rest between rounds. Result: approximately: 75 reps / 150 ft.
I was really feeling it from yesterday today. I almost bailed. But something inside said: you must squat, and, you need a new PR.
Warm-Up: 500m row (17 s/m, 1:55). Jump Rope (2 min). Mobility. Front Squats (45 x 10). Toes to Bar (5). Ring Dips (3). Pull-Ups (1).
Squat: 5 x 45 / 2 x 135 / 5 x 155 / 3 x 175 / 1 x 195 / 1 x 205 / 5 x 210 (PR)
This new 5 rep squat PR (see video, below) was pretty ugly, especially in reps 2 & 5. Before I attempt another +10 lb 5 rep PR I want to nail a 3 x 5 x 210 session, where all reps are clean. Thanks to Shanna for supporting me with the video taping.
This week turned into an unplanned and not altogether welcome week of rest, but I was by no means inactive. Monday began with an extra rest day, Tuesday was an unplanned rest day, then I did a Wednesday AM workout. But on Wednesday afternoon I was dismayed when a virus laid me low (see my previous post); this illness managed to knock me out of action through Friday.
But I did get back into the gym on Saturday, from about 10:30 to 11:45 am. (I am blessed with an understanding family. That’s how I continue to manage to find time, here and there, to continue my training. Day by day. That is the only way! Where you find a window of opportunity, practice creative self-defenestration; this is lifestyle parkour).
Warm up 1000m row avg 500 split 1:53.1 1025 stroke rate 24-25. Mobility push ups (15) squat flexibility and reps (10) pull ups wide grip blue band (10) cross chops 25 lb kb (10xside)
10×45 / 5×135 / 1×185 6 x 4 x 190 @ 300s intervals. Volume 4,560 @ 95% of 5 rm. Compare to my recent review of my progress in the squat.
These were dead hang, done concurrently with the rounds of Back Squat.
I appear to be continuing to make progress in the pull-up. For instance, I saw in this workout my first set of 7 dead hangs in a LONG time. I am getting (much) closer to my goal of being able to do a set of 10. But of course, when I get that goal, I am going to be working towards the goal of being able to do MORE than 10. Hell yes.
Had a fun session at 6:00 am on Friday at CFA. Best part was the return of founding owner/coach and my friend Randy Kite! For sure. So great to get to hug him and see him in person again. Welcome back Sgt. Randy, we honor your service.
Warm up was normal, maybe a bit more abbreviated than usual.
Strength Test: Back Squat 1 RM
Result: 5 x 45 / 5 x 125 / 3 x 185 / 1 x 210 (PR) / 1 x 225 (PR) / f x 235 / 6 x 190. Volume: 2,980.
There was plenty of rest in this “test;” we lifted according to a predefined plan of percents, etc. See CFA website for details. I was proud of my new PR, even if my buddy Tom Rehm left me in the dust with his 305. The Iron doesn’t lie. I’m stronger now than I’ve ever been in my life.
I’m going to make this new 1 RM into a new 5 RM by the end of April. And I’m going to start moving towards that on Tuesday with a workout of 6 x 4 x 190 (volume of 4,560 @ 95% of 5 RM).
Rowing Test: Max Calories in 60s
I actually did two rounds of this, testing out the effect of stroke rate. I was able to get slightly more calories on the second round, at a higher stroke rate. I wonder how I could have done with an even higher rate, and only one attempt.
Quickly, I wanted to get an overview of where I’ve been lately with the Squat (aka “Back Squat”).
When I look at the data on this blog under the tag “back squat”, in order to compare what I’ve done since Christmas, 2010, I like what I see:
2/15: 8 x 3 x 185 @ 180s (volume: 4,440 @ 92.5% of 5 RM)
2/8: 12 x 2 x 180 @ 120s (volume: 4,320 @ 90% of 5 RM)
2/5: 8 x 3 x 175 @ 120s (volume: 4,200 @ 87.5% of 5 RM)
1/29: 5 x 115 / 3 x 175 / 5 x 190 / 5 x 200 (+10 lb PR) (volume: 3,050 / 1000 @ 100% of 5 RM)
1/22: 5 x 5 x 165 @ 120s (volume: 4,125 @ 86.8% of 5 RM)
1/18: 12 x 2 x 160 @ 60s (volume: 3,840 @ 84.2% of 5 RM)
12/24/10: 12 x 2 x 155 @ 60s (volume: 3,720 @ 81.5% of 5 RM)
I think is rock solid proof that I am on a beginner’s curve here. I am just beginning to learn this movement. Look at the way that I have progressively increased not only weight, and total volume (except on the max effort day) but also worked at a higher and higher percentage of my max. This is only possible because I am a total NOOBIE.
Concerning my squat technique…
Yes I use the “low bar” back squat technique, which I like, because it suits my frame and I can move more weight. I stand by Rip’s endorsement of it and you can kiss my grits if you disagree. Yet, yes, I will switch it up at some point to a “high bar” style to help me with my cleans and snatches. But for now I am first looking to hit 225 using low bar. And I’ll come back to low bar again later.
Yes, duh, all these squats are deep below parallel. Yes, I allow a bounce and I don’t care if you think that’s not right. I haven’t hurt myself yet.
No I don’t follow a particular tempo. I just try to stay in control. All concentric phases of the movement are executed at the maximum possible speed I can muster. Yes I breath deeply in and create core stability by pressing out my belly with the diaphragm (thanks, Corey Duvall, for that awesome tip).
I also don’t care if you think using a 5×5 or 3×5 would be more effective. Is this weird self-derived system working for me or not?
I’m not looking to be a power lifter or an Oly lifter, folks. (In any case, I do both power lifting lifts and oly lifts, so, WTF?)
Made it to the YMCA this morning, with JZ in Child Watch. Spent only about 40 minutes and got a decent workout in.
Warm up: ergometer for a couple of minutes, dislocates, mobility, push ups, deep squat holds.
Back squat: 5×45 / 5×95 / 5×115 / then: 8 x 3 x 185 @ 180s. Doubtless my highest volume day ever on back squat. I am encouraged. I should do a post that explicitly graphs out the “curve” of overload I’ve been doing on back squats. (Because, in truth, I’m mostly flying blind here; my plan for squats is: keep increasing the weight). It is worth noting that 185 lbs is my body weight and that not too long ago it was my 5 RM.
Pull-ups: 6 x max reps x deadhang, rotating through the various grips (mostly underhand variations) on the squat racks: 6, 6, 4, 2, 2, 3 (23, +2 since last Tue) these were done concurrently with the last six sets of squats. (Just could not get that 7th rep on the first set today. I look forward to getting it on Saturday. I think I can.)
Snatch: I worked with Jamie Hurlston on this lift for about 30 minutes. Fun times. 3 x 1 x 65 / 3 x 1 x 75 / 2 x 1 x 85 / 1 x 95 / 2 x 1 x 100 / 3 x 1 x 105 / 2 x 1 x 110 lbs. No PR here (currently at 115 lbs), but a lot of fun just working on catching that weight as low into the squat as possible. I plan to work on the snatch every week for a few weeks, so long as I can get to open gym. I’ll be looking for a 120+ PR soon!
Squat: after last Saturday’s new PR I just wanted to get in 24 reps at a higher weight than my last work sessions (Jan 18, 2 x 12 x 160; Jan 22nd, 5 x 5 x 165). So: 8 x 3 x 175 lbs @ 120s intervals.