Category: General

Progress

It’s almost incomprehensible to me that it’s already (the end of) May, and we’re nearly halfway through the year – it’s gone so fast! But that’s OK – there have definitely been times in my life where I’ve felt like I’m just drifting through and not achieving anything, but so far this year that really hasn’t been the case. I had a pretty distinct mindset change at the start of this year, and it’s had a really positive impact on just about everything, and I thought it was important enough to write it down and maybe reflect on it a bit more. Truthfully, I’ve been meaning to do this for a while but things have been fairly hectic – mostly in a good way though. So here goes.

The tone of my last post was pretty low, and that probably reflects how I was feeling at the time. I was tired, unhappy in my job, feeling pretty underappreciated at home, and struggling with injuries in the gym – I didn’t feel like there was much to be happy about. I did some deep thinking, and decided that I really had to change something. What do?

Six months later I’m in a new job, I’ve reduced my debt levels by downgrading cars, I’ve finished a few long overdue projects around the house, and the gym is going better than it has in a long time – I’m actually squatting pain free for the first time in a couple of years, and actually feeling pretty positive about hitting some decent numbers in an online meet next month.

How the hell did this happen?

I’m not sure anyone will care about the details, so maybe I’ll spare you the whole story. The summary answer would be that I stopped putting pressure on myself to get things done on strict timelines and just focussed on making progress one step at a time. More succinctly, I made the decision that progress itself is the goal, not completing the task at hand. Where previously I wasn’t happy unless I finished a certain task or goal by an arbitrary deadline, I told myself that so long as I am doing something to progress towards that particular goal, that in itself is progress. Life will throw spanners in the works sometimes, but just roll with them and do what you can do – show some self compassion, take breaks when you need them, and push hard when you’re able. Some days you’ll get a lot done, and other days you won’t. Somehow this simple change which seems so minor has released a ton of mostly self-imposed pressure.

One of the things that probably encapsulates that mindset change is the Easter weekend which I’d earmarked to replace our laundry door. I fitted up the new one on the Saturday, then took it down again and we painted it. Early on the Sunday morning I took the old one down again ready to install the new one and just as I was about to do that, a pipe burst in our bathroom and partially flooded the lower floor of our house. That wasn’t ideal, and I had to make an emergency dash into town to buy parts, fix the problem, and start trying to dry out the carpet – bearing in mind at this point we had a laundry with no door.

Somehow we got through that day, the door did get installed, and everything worked out fine (although it took weeks for our carpet and underlay to dry, and the joins will never be the same again after we ripped it up). But where a year or so ago that would’ve sent me into a spin, this time it wasn’t a huge deal and I would’ve been OK with putting the door off for another day. Stuff happens sometimes, and that’s OK – we just have to roll with it.

Life still isn’t perfect, and I definitely still have my bad and unhappy days – but I think it’s been a big step forward so hopefully that keeps going.

Life Stuff – A Depressing Ramble

The other day I started a post about ‘rediscovering myself’ and never finished it. It was basically a list of stuff that I enjoy in life, in an attempt to reclaim my sense of self, if that cliche makes sense. I started writing it because I’ve been feeling quite miserable lately and don’t seem to be able to dig myself out of that hole.

But thinking on it some more, I realised that many of those things don’t really bring me much joy or happiness anyway. There isn’t that much that really makes me laugh, or gives me any sense of fulfilment. It just doesn’t seem to matter what I do.

Why? I realised that I’m a massive paradox.

I’m a loner, who enjoys his own company a lot.

At work, I’m surrounded by and interacting with people all day – and I find it exhausting.

I come home to a wife and child who ostensibly both care about me a great deal.

And yet despite all that, I am lonely and sad, and don’t feel any really deep sense of connection to anyone. It’s all just so damn superficial and pathetic.

Somehow, I keep putting one foot forward, then the next, and pushing into the wind.

The Power of Self Talk

As far as I can tell, the fitness/lifting community is a motley bunch in terms of both consistency and results. There’s the ‘no pain no gain’ crew that seem to have an insatiable appetite for work – these folks will get in and crush it whether it’s 4am or 9pm and somehow seem to always have a smile on their face while doing it. There’s the casual lifters who go through phases of consistent training, and then fall off the wagon for months or years. There’s people who seem to enjoy training whenever they get the chance, and have no guilt about missing a few sessions, just so long as they’re getting in there and doing it. And don’t even get me started on all the different training methods there are – everyone has an opinion.

Personally I feel like I’m probably closer to the first group but I’m definitely not putting myself out there as an example of how to do it right. At this point I’ve been lifting consistently for over 5 years, and aside from a couple of 2ish week breaks after some minor surgeries last year, I don’t think I’ve ever had a break longer than 3 days from lifting – that includes holidays both interstate and overseas. My desire to train consistently no matter what doesn’t necessarily always come from a healthy place – I’ve written before about how I started lifting during the Great Diet of 2016 where I decided that I was going to change my life and never be obese again. I hated my body back then, and although I now look in the mirror and see a completely different physique, those scars are deep. Even though there’s been massive positive changes, I probably won’t ever be satisfied and will always be trying to improve. Another factor driving me on is that deep down in my core I still fear that if I take a break it’ll become permanent and I’ll balloon into the fat guy I used to be. Having taken forced breaks and come back to lifting, my rational mind knows that this is unlikely, but the subconscious mind is a powerful thing.

From day one I’ve trained alone in a home gym, because it’s convenient and provides more flexibility with scheduling – I have a wife, a child, a full time job and a mortgage, and all the duties and responsibilities that come along with them. Fitting in sessions isn’t always super easy, and over the years I’ve tried various schedules and frequencies but what seems to be most sustainable is 2 early morning weekday sessions a week and 2 daytime sessions on the weekend. On those weekday sessions I’m normally getting out of bed at 4:30am so I can do the normal morning stuff, imbibe the magical wake up juice and train before walking the dog and eating a proper breakfast. I’m mindful of getting enough sleep, but at that time of the morning I often don’t really feel like going to my gym and lifting heavy things, especially if there are other life stressors going on. The weekend sessions are usually easier since I can wake up and fuel properly beforehand, but even then sometimes my mind will make up all sorts of excuses why I should put it off or even skip it altogether, especially if it’s a heavy squat or deadlift day.

The idea of this post was to reflect on the stuff I say to myself that gets me through those difficult days. Maybe it helps someone, maybe it just shows I’m nuts, but I like to write, so eh… I’m putting it out there.

Getting Started

When I roll out of bed at 4:30am, unless it’s some kind of red letter day, the last thing I want to do is a heavy squat or deadlift. The first thing I usually do is go to the bathroom, weigh myself and get dressed. That gives me a few minutes to think about the session ahead and whether I really want to do it or not – and even when things are going well, I probably flirt with skipping or postponing it 20% of the time, and when I’m feeling very sore and tired that number would be much higher!

There’s a few different techniques I can use to make it happen, but the most common self talk is an old faithful: “you can always go out and start warming up, and if it feels really bad, call it off”. To date, I can’t remember ever stopping once I’ve started (short of an actual injury)1.

I’ve felt like this even during deloads and periods where the training’s been relatively light, and at those times it’s a pretty easy sell to internally say “it’s only going to be light, let’s just get it done”.

The third thing that I fall back on is a focus on the outcome. I definitely think about the progress my lifts have made, the improvements in my physique over the years, and my “why” for doing this (that’s a whole ‘nother topic in itself). But all those things pale in comparison to the acute outcome – I’ve never, ever felt worse after lifting than I have beforehand. It’s hard to describe the feeling I get after training – some people call it euphoric, but I wouldn’t go quite that far. It’s pleasantly tired, sore, and satisfied that I’ve pushed myself to do something I didn’t really want to do, but that I know is good for me and my goals. So some easy self talk to get going is ‘think how much better you’ll feel afterwards’.

Being Data Driven 2

I was always taught ‘what gets measured gets managed’. Unfortunately, I’m also someone who gets obsessive about things, and if you’re like that (maybe even if you’re not) collecting too much data can add more complication to life than it’s worth, especially if you’re not actually doing anything with it. So make sure you’re not just tracking things because they’re nice to look at – if you’re not using the information for something tangible, maybe it’s worth assessing whether the juice is worth the squeeze.

But all that said – having good solid data on my training is a fundamental tool in my toolbox that helps me push myself each session.

If I’m anxious about a heavy squat, and I look at my training log and know that I squatted that same weight (or even a little less, or a little more) at RPE 7 a week ago, then I can be absolutely sure that this week it’s not going to be a grind. My performance doesn’t fluctuate that much from week to week, and under normal circumstances I doubt most people’s would. And under abnormal circumstances (malnourishment, sleep deprivation, illness, etc) you’re gonna feel it in the warmups and can make adjustments.

My self talk then is something like “you’ve got this, it’s nothing you haven’t squatted before”.

What if it’s something I haven’t squatted before? Then it becomes a matter of faith.

Having Faith

If you’re getting programming from a coach, do you think they’d program you something beyond your capabilities?

If you’re using a program or template written by someone else, do you believe that it makes sense for your situation, and that other people have successfully made progress running it?

Can you honestly say to yourself that you’ve given the program your absolute best efforts, without regularly skipping or half arsing sessions?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then the simple answer is that if you’ve put in the work, the rewards will come – and the worst that can happen is you’ll miss the lift and get on with your session. my self talk in this situation is usually “you CAN do this, just focus on executing the lift”. If I’ve got a favourite cue for that lift then I might remind myself of it – but it really helps not to think about it too much and just get on with the job.

If the answer to these questions is no, then maybe it’s time for some honest evaluation of whether your coaching and/or programming are appropriate.

Footnotes

1. Ironically, or something – between starting this article and finishing it, it actually did happen – I walked out of a training session while warming up because it felt so crap and something in my brain said nope. No guilt really – some disappointment, but tomorrow is another day.

2. This post originally started as a thought bubble from Josh Pelland’s great article How Hard Are We Training? Additional Considerations for RIR Accuracy (and the podcast that went along with it).

In the article, Josh has collated some evidence that perceived effort in the gym (in the form of RIR) is influenced by a bunch of external factors including (but not limited to) stuff like music, the presence of spotters and mental stress. He goes on to provide some practical suggestions to try and use that information to make training more effective – things like standardising your training environment where possible, and biasing training towards lower rep ranges. It’s well worth a read.

My immediate reaction to this was “yes, but…” – because while the evidence clearly supports outside influences having an effect, I feel like maybe the magnitude of those effects are probably pretty variable from individual to individual. Some people seem to train alone and use RPE accurately enough to make great progress, so I don’t think they’re consistently undershooting RPE because they don’t have spotters or training partners to push them. Likewise some people can barely manage a regular gym habit unless they have a fun environment to train in and people around them to encourage effort. Neither of these mean the effects aren’t real, but perhaps there are different phenotypes of people and we gravitate towards the training style that suits our personality – and perhaps we can also develop techniques to mitigate the negative effects of those outside influences when they can’t be avoided.

Ultimately this ended up being a bit of self reflection about how I personally keep myself on track, and it probably only tangentially relates to the article, but it’s well worth considering the points Josh makes if you want to get the most out of your training sessions.

Big Changes – Kinda

So, just some random stuff.

I’ve been struggling with disordered eating for a few years now. I started blogging about it, but didn’t feel comfortable putting it here so I started another blog to do it anonymously at https://disorderedthoughts.com

Things are a lot better now, although I still feel like a mess at times. A couple of months ago though I thought, screw it – why stay anonymous? So I exported all the posts from the site above and put them here in my real blog. If I ever feel the need to blog about it in future, this is where they’ll be.

Second thing, if anyone reads this they’ll know I’ve been posting my training log here on the blog (as well as on the Exodus Strength forums) for quite a few years now. Typically I’d copy and paste the previous day’s log, and just create a post in the Training Log category. Well, I got tired of that, so this week I mucked around with WordPress a bit and created a custom post type for the log entries. This is pretty cool now, the upshot is that when I click ‘new log entry’ the post editor is nicely prepopulated with a template for the day’s training log which saves me copying and pasting. Also, log entries now don’t appear on the front page of the blog and clutter up the actual blogging – the training log link on the main menu still goes to a category listing of all those posts though.

At some point in the next little while I might even move this blog to the website’s root domain – or create a link there to the blog. Not sure if I want to completely unanonymise myself (since I’ve been using this domain for general purpose email since… forever) but I’ll think on it a little more.

Deep thoughts

Non log stream of consciousness post….. partly prompted by this article that came across my Facebook feed the other day. I already shared it elsewhere but it deserved a post of its own.

I needed that deload more than I thought – if Josh had’ve asked me beforehand I’d have said ‘nup, apart from this TFL niggle and my sore arm, I feel good to go’. Honestly, though, whenever I’ve written deloads in my own programming I’ve never really dropped intensity all that much because I still wanted to ‘feel like I’ve trained’. So I suspect I didn’t ever really wash off much fatigue and then I just kept on trying to aggressively add load/volume so any benefits didn’t last long anyway. This has probably been the easiest deload I’ve ever done, but after every session I still felt like I’d lifted and didn’t feel lazy at all, which was a great lesson for me to learn.

Last week I said on Discord that (I quote): ‘my desire to train hard all the time doesn’t necessarily come from a healthy place.’ I didn’t elaborate at the time, but what I meant was that I always felt like I had something to prove; like I know I’m not particularly strong (and probably never will be) but deep down I have some silly fear that people will say I train like a pussy; and at least by logging here and training hard I showed that I’m putting in as much consistent effort as I can to get better.

And then a couple of days later came that article… and the truth is, while I do genuinely love lifting (despite not always feeling like it), the other reason that I tend to overdo it is right there in print. If I train hard enough I can forget about all the other crazy shit going on in my head for a while, and when I come in from the gym I’m just too damn tired to yell at my kid or do some other stupid thing to make an arse of myself…..

The article is right. You can’t achieve your way out of depression. And it kinda seems like I’ve been doing that all my life in some way or other. Not that I would hold myself up as some sort of major success or anything, I did OK in school and have managed to stay gainfully employed most of my adult life but it’s mostly been from throwing myself into things 110% and working hard, not from any sort of special talent and that drive has probably not been from some deep internal desire to succeed (at least not primarily) but more from some deep self loathing and need to change who I am to something more likeable and less worthless.

Anyway… apart from that dip a few weeks ago, I’ve been having a reasonably good run in terms of my diet and my mental health overall, and feel like it’s given me a little clarity and insight. For a fair while now I’ve been consuming content related to eating disorder recovery on top of fitness content and a big part of that recovery is learning self compassion. And part of that process has been realising that shit days are OK, everyone has them. And on those shit days….. just getting out of bed and training in some way and going to work and putting food on the table and being a husband and parent as best you can is enough. Those things are an achievement in and of themselves and I don’t have to prove a goddamn thing to anybody really. Lifting’s fun, and I want to keep doing it and get stronger and improve my form and just get better at all facets of it but fuck…. at the end of the day it’s just me and some weights and it’s utterly meaningless to anyone else. And it’s like I said to someone here at work the other day who is trying to lose weight – don’t let this shit take over your life. At the end of the day when you’re gone, people aren’t gonna remember you for how much you weigh, or how much you lift… they’ll remember how you treated other people, made them feel, and the type of person you are. Personally I’d rather be a little weaker and a little happier than a strong angry bastard who never has time for anything or anyone else.

So… with all that said… I’ve committed to following the program and taking progress at whatever pace it comes without trying to force it. That doesn’t mean I don’t have goals/aspirations – it’d still be nice to hit that 200kg squat / 220kg deadlift this year. But it seems like it’s been a long time (like maybe a year or more) since I’ve been completely niggle free, and while I’ve got myself to a reasonably happy place with food and body comp, now would probably be a really good time to just consolidate what I have and get my body feeling as good as my mind is. I still have some work to go on the food front, but I’ll get there with practice and persistence and time.

Let’s see if I regret posting this later – but it was nice to get it out of my head. Hope it maybe helps someone else too.

Barbell Medicine Training Camp – 17/2/18

So yesterday I flew over to Melbourne for a training camp with Jordan Feigenbaum and Tom Campitelli from Barbell Medicine. They went through the coaching progression for squat / press / deadlift with us (in that order) and then did a Q & A afterwards (which unfortunately I had to miss, as I had to get back to the airport for dinner and my flight home).

There were about a dozen of us there of varying experience levels. Most of us had been lifting for a while, but it varied a lot – there was a 73 year old lady just starting out (see photo Jordan posted), a guy who was only a couple of months into his novice LP, then there was an 18 year old guy who looked pretty jacked and was pretty easily pumping out 160kg squats like they were warmups, and everything in between – I was one of the weakest there, naturally. But who gives a shit. We got split into 2 groups, I ended up in the group that had Tom coach us on squat and deadlift, and Jordan on the press, and we all worked up to three sets of five at a moderately challenging work weight.

I ended up going much lighter on squats than I planned, as the bar was moving pretty slowly – but then since I’ve only squatted once in the last 4 weeks and I’m still nursing this hamstring, that probably wasn’t a bad thing. The take homes for me were that my upper back is a bit soft and collapsing in the hole (which a few people have already tried to help me with) and I have a tendency to get on my toes coming out of the hole (also true). The cue for me there is to stay really tight and think ‘knees back’ when I start the ascent; I also have to make sure to setup the same way every time and not make adjustments. But even compared to some of the stronger and more experienced guys there, my squat definitely wasn’t the worst going around, which was pleasing considering I’ve never had any in person help.

Pressing was kindof an unknown quantity, as I’ve been pressing mainly 1.0 ever since I started – tried 2.0 a couple of times but never really stuck with it. Jordan coached us on the style he uses now which I think is more like 3.0 – a hip thrust, which drops the bar and gives you a bit of bounce off the chest to start the movement. I was fairly happy with how this went – even though I was only pressing 40kg for sets of five at about RPE9, I seemed to pick the movement up pretty quick compared to some of the others (a couple of guys were really struggling with getting the timing right). I didn’t need a lot of coaching after the first set, so maybe I’m not as much of a motor moron as I thought. The main points for me here were that my grip needed to come in a lot from how I’d been pressing previously, and I need to keep my elbows in tight and forward of the bar. I struggled with a couple of reps that got out in front of me but for a first effort pressing that way I was stoked and I quite like doing it that way. Will probably train that way for the next few press workouts, if it means I might lift more weight it’s worth trying.

Deadlifting was also very light, in fact I bailed on the actual work set as time was running out and my hamstring was getting sore from the last warmup – I didn’t want to risk it further. Going into this day, my deadlift was probably the lift I was most concerned about due to my inability to flatten my t-spine. I bought my Chucks specifically for the deadlift but interestingly Tom got me to change back into my heels for this – I forgot to ask why. Anyway – he said what I’ve suspected for a while, that my upper back is never going to get totally flat. I just have to work on keeping the whole thing rigid during the pull and not letting it flex under load So I guess lots more back work is on the radar (I guess I’ve been doing lots of it anyway) – it will also help my squat. But aside from that, I was managing to get into a good position and looked ok (though I only got to like 55% of my 1RM).

Anyway that was about the end of my day, I grabbed an Uber for the airport just as they were about to start the Q&A. But I left feeling pretty reassured that my form is not terrible, inspired by what some of the other folks were achieving, and glad that I made the trip even though I was maybe a bit apprehensive about it beforehand. Tom and Jordan are both very good, patient coaches, particularly Tom (who had one or two trainees that were struggling to follow directions) and I got a fair bit of good info from it. If you ever have the opportunity to go to something like this I’d highly recommend it.

2018 Goals

So it’s early January. I’m back at work, and already feeling tired and depressed. This post is a bit of an attempt to do a ‘year in review’ and set some SMART goals for 2018.

The Good
Lots of positives from this year – I’ve trained extremely consistently, even through an overseas holiday. I’ve generally kept my body fat in a healthy range, though a couple of tracking breaks through the year reminded me that I’m a long way from being able to eat intuitively without overeating and gaining fat real quick. While I’ve had some emotional blowups, I think my interactions with others have become generally more measured and I’m learning to be more patient. It seems easier when I am exhausted because I just don’t have the energy to yell at people or throw things. I think my marriage is better than it was, although it still needs LOTS more work. I am an extremely lucky guy to have such a tolerant wife.

The Bad
On the flipside though, I feel generally unfulfilled and not particularly happy. Depression has reared its ugly head many times, and one of the symptoms now that I don’t self medicate with alcohol is comfort shopping – so my finances aren’t what they should be. This is a problem not just for me but for the family I desperately want to support and provide for. Work is easy but boring, and I never seem to get enough sleep. Tracking macros has been invaluable in getting weight under control, but I’m still hyper food focussed, and have some habits I’m unhappy with. And while my training’s been consistent, progress on my lifts and physique has been very slow.

The Ugly
On a personal level, I have had some extremely angry moments this year and broken things. There have also been times I’ve yelled at my daughter or had a temper tantrum at home and afterwards have felt the strong desire to hurt myself as punishment. This doesn’t feel like a healthy impulse to have.

So, with that bit of reflection out of the way, here goes some goals:

  1. Personal/Family Goals: Be a better husband and father; this means being more patient and thoughtful, not wasting money on frivolous shit, and trying to be a happier and more fun person to be around in general.This is hard to be specific about, but I guess I could measure it by how many times I yell/spit the dummy and how much money I have in the bank at the end of the year. In terms of how to get there, and how to improve my overall happiness… well the annoying part is that it’s tied up with so many other things in this list. I must remember that my self worth is not determined by how strong I am or how much money I have.

    I am hopeful that a more fulfilling job will help on the happiness/motivation front, so I applied for an opportunity last week that looks attractive. If that was to eventuate, then things could change quite a lot. If it doesn’t, then I definitely need to spend more time on self development and less time fluffing around.

  2. Body weight goals: I’m still hovering around the 71kg mark, but would like to be around 75-76kg at the same body fat by the end of the year. At my training age, this should be possible if I’m smart and if I can stop self-sabotaging every time the scale jumps. My plan is to do a number of very slow bulking cycles (gaining 0.1-0.2kg per week) of 6-8 weeks with short periods at maintenance (1-3 weeks) or just below. Let’s see how that goes.

  3. Gym goals: I’m shooting for the stars a little, maybe – but then if I put on 5kg of muscle, maybe not.

    New aspirational 1RMs:
    Squat: 150kg (+20kg)
    DL: 175kg (+15kg)
    Bench: 90kg (+12.5kg)
    OHP: 55kg (+5kg)

    These will be interesting. I’m peaking for a mock meet in 9 days at the moment so I should get an idea what my true 1RMs are very shortly. I also have a couple of other aces up my sleeve – if I’m going to eat at a surplus that definitely should help. I’m attending a seminar with a couple of SSCs next month to get some coaching – I certainly hope THAT helps. And beyond that, I’m seriously considering investing in some better ongoing coaching than what I’m currently getting, if finances allow (and if I can commit enough time to training to justify the cost too). If all that doesn’t result in some gainz it’ll be extremely demoralising.

The TLDR: This year I want to:

    • Be more patient with kid (and wife)
    • Be happier
    • Work harder
    • Train harder
    • Keep growing both professionally and personally
    • Put on some muscle. At least 75kg @ 15% BF
    • Get stronger:
      • Squat 150kg
      • DL 175kg
      • Bench 90kg
      • Press 55kg
    • Be less food focussed

I really really hope I can look back on this post at the end of 2018 and tick a few of these off.

Oh, I almost forgot one other aspirational goal. Try keto – at least once. For a week or so minimum, just so I can say I’ve done it.

Training 13/12/17

Wed 13/12: Deadlift

Food yesterday: 2557 kcal (2588 kcal target)

Activity yesterday: 11.7k steps

Sleep last night: 6 hrs 49 mins – 50 mins awake

AM BW: 71.2kg (+0.2kg from yesterday)

Deadlift:
80kg 1×5
105kg 1×5
125g 1×3
145kg 1×2 @ 10 (PR, +2.5kg), 1×1 @ 10
140kg 1×2 @ 10

Front Squat (with straps):
20kg 2×5
45kg 1×5
60kg 1×3
75kg 1×2 (oops) @ 9.5
70kg 5×3 @ 9ish

Slingshot Bench Press:
20kg 2×5
45kg 1×5
60kg 1×5
70kg 1×2
80kg 1xF
70kg 2×2
65kg 1×5

GPP Superset – 4 rounds:
KB Swings 25lbs x 50, 25lbs x 25, 22.5lbs x 25, 22.5lbs x 30

alternating with

Weighted stepups 25lbs / side x 10 per leg

Flailing and failing:

Session notes:
– Finally a PR, but with horrible roundy back form. I’m sure it wasn’t this bad when I pulled 142.5kg for doubles. And I got it for sets across last time, but on the second attempt there was just no way.
– Screwed up front squats, had the spotters misaligned and hit them in the hole on the 3rd rep at 75kg. I think I probably could have got triples there but backed off a little anyway since I was planning 5 sets.
– Slingshot turned up today, and I couldn’t wait to try it out so did some work that wasn’t in the RX. Really liked it. Not sure how much it added – I still can’t hit an 80kg bench but was closer… what I will say is those doubles @ BW and even the fives flew up compared to what they would have without it. So it’s definitely added something.
– Dat GPP doe….. 50 reps of KB swings was too much, I was thinking about dropping it and at 25 reps on the second set the locking pin flew out of my adjustable kettlebell and I was lucky not to smash something. Figured that was a sign and dropped to lower reps. Added an extra round though so still did plenty of work.
– Anbsolutely epic session. Wasn’t SUPER long at 88 minutes, because I pushed the pace a bit especially the benching and GPP. It was hot in my gym and I was drenched in sweat by the end. Not too DOMset this morning, surprisingly. Have a wonderful day all!

Training 15/10/17

Sun 15/10: Squat

Food yesterday: 2388 kcal

Activity yesterday: 9.8k steps

Sleep last night: 8 hrs 59 mins – 52 mins awake

AM BW: 73.9kg (-0.9kg from yesterday)

Low Bar Back Squat:
2×5 @ 20kg
1×5 @ 50kg
1×5 @ 70kg
— Belt on (5th hole) —
1×5 @ 90kg
1×2 @ 110kg was supposed to be a triple
1xF @ 130kg Gah
1xF @ 125kg FFS
3×2 @ 120kg

Narrow Stance High Bar Back Squat:
3×10 @ 80kg (beltless)

Weighted Step Ups:
3×10 / side @ 50lbs (25lb dumbbells)

Work sets, including fails:

So for the past few days I’ve just been trying to hit my protein target but reduce carbs/fat from what I had been eating before we went overseas. I was aiming for about 2500-2600kcal. Unfortunately I was lazy and just relied on the calorie number that MFP spat out (it showed 2550kcal yesterday) but if I actually add up the macros it was a couple of hundred calories lower. Seeing as I’ve dropped 1.7kg in 3 days, I’ve definitely been in a bigger deficit than I intended and lost too much too quick. Anyway, turned Avatar on to fast fat loss this morning and got some macros to aim for – 305C / 197P / 74F for 2674 calories. It wants me to lose 0.9kg a week, which would get me back to around 70kg or so if I manage to do it for 4 weeks straight. Definitely don’t want to go any longer than that. Going to attempt it with no more than one cardio session a week (other than walking). Then I’ll start bulking again at a more realistic pace.

Felt like shit this morning, probably partly due to the weight loss. Mentally and physically not in a great place to train, but gotta be done.

Session notes:
– Low bar squats sucked. I really shouldn’t have even gone for the 130kg but I squatted it for singles a few weeks ago, figured I might be able to get doubles now. Maybe I could have if I’d kept eating for performance. Anyway, failed it, then basically gave up on 125kg in the hole and didn’t even try – think it had me beat psychologically before I even started. Dropped back to 120kg and did doubles there, and they were freaking tough. Even with long breaks. And without quite hitting depth. And especially when the bar got forward. FFS.
– The high bar squats were a pleasant surprise after that. Added 5kg to the weight I did for 10s last session, didn’t hurt my neck like last time (thanks to ithryn’s thread elsewhere, I racked it a little lower). Was supposed to be descending sets but the first one was not challenging enough so I did sets across instead. Definitely need to add maybe 10-15kg for the top set next time especially if I’m in better shape nutritionally.
– I don’t think step ups do much except pump some blood into the legs and help with conditioning. As if they weren’t tired already ūüôā
– I was due a shitty workout, but even this wasn’t that bad in the end and at least it’s explainable. Took 1hr 15 mins all up.

Sadly, holidays are over and it’s back to the work grind tomorrow. At least my sleep debt is wiped out, for now…. Have a great day people of the interwebs!

Training 12/10/17

Got back yesterday. Horribly jet lagged – got close to 12 hours sleep but still tired. Wife and daughter stayed in bed until almost 3pm, something like 16 or 17 hours!!

Disappointed to have gained so much weight while we were gone. I made a real effort to eat sensibly and not binge on shit food, and thought I’d done a pretty decent job until the final 24 hours – went pretty badly on the plane (it didn’t help that my daughter wouldn’t eat much of her food, and I couldn’t avoid the temptation of having it sitting in front of me to help dispose of it), and had a bit of a binge on chocolate and biscuits before bed last night. Tiredness and stress got to me. Anyway, at least some of it is lean mass, I think. Going to just track and let things level out for a few days, on Sunday I’ll flick Avatar back on and do a 4 week mini cut just to get things back under control.

That was one of the reasons I forced myself to train tonight, also the fact that the sooner I get back into a normal routine the sooner my body clock will sort itself out. Might be able to squeeze this week’s 3 sessions into 4 days, we’ll see how things go…..

Thu 12/10: Deadlift

Food yesterday: No idea. Did not track. But it was lots….

Activity yesterday: 7.3k steps, on planes and stuff

Sleep last night: 11 hrs 45 mins – 1 hr 40 mins awake, eww

AM BW: 75.6kg – yikes. Up 2.8kg from before we left

Deadlift:
1×5 @ 90kg
1×5 @ 105kg
1×3 @ 120kg
3×5 @ 135kg (new PR, +2.5kg)

Paused Box Squats:
2×5 @ 20kg
1×5 @ 45kg
1×5 @ 70kg
1×5 @ 80kg
— Belt on — (still managed 5th hole… just…. yay!)
1×5 @ 90kg
1×5 @ 100kg
1×2 @ 107.5 (bah – it’s a PR, but was supposed to be five, damnit)
1×3 @ 105kg

Kettlebell Swings (with dumbbell):
5×15 @ 47.5lbs

Ab Roller:
3×15

Videos are back:


And so is my Instagram: Deadlifts Squats

Session notes:
– The deadlifting was a pleasant surprise, didn’t feel awful, and managed sets across, but I think it took a bit out of me.
– Was always feeling a bit ominous about the pause squats, went for a conservative PR, but the second rep was a max effort jobbie so I pulled out of it and took a little weight off to finish. Having reviewed the video from this session and the last time I did them, I think the setups are slightly different – looks like this time the seat is set slightly lower, though the bench might not be quite as vertical which compensates a bit. I definitely think there’s an inch or two more ROM this time though.
– I liked kettlebell swings when I did them the other day but they were upsetting my janky shoulder using the dumbbell. May have already been sore from deadlifting too.
– Almost bailed on the ab work, since I did some situps on Tuesday (and the kettlebell swings work the core to a certain extent anyway). But they were only sets of 15 so did ’em while I edited the video.
– I knew this was gonna be a bitch of a session, especially in my current state. But got it done anyway in 1hr 28 minutes and as usual, felt much better afterwards than before. I’m back, baby!

Happy training everyone!

Training 10/10/17

Tue 10/10: Something something posterior chain / press / abs

Food yesterday: No idea. Did not track.

Activity yesterday: 8.2k steps, but screwed up cos timezone changes

Sleep last night: 3 hrs 15 mins – 20 mins awake – but again timezone blah

AM BW: NFI

Bulgarian Split Squats (dumbbell):
4×10 @ 20kg/side

Dumbbell RDLs:
3×20 @ 20kg/side

Seated Dumbbell Press:
1×12 @ 15kg/side (33.06lbs)
1×10, 2×9 @ 17.5kg/side (38.58lbs)

Incline Bench Press (dumbbell):
1×3 @ 20kg/side (44.09lbs) – felt too heavy and I was tired
1×10, 2×12 @ 17.5kg/side (38.58lbs)

Decline Situps:
3×20

Session notes:
– In the hotel gym at Changi, while the wife and daughter are sleeping off the timezone change. Dumbbells up to 20kg, an adjustable bench, a spin bike and an (out of order) treadmill. So this was kinda just to get a pump and work off some of the bloat from sitting on a plane for 12 hours doing nothing but eating shit food and binge watching The Sopranos.
– Its fairly warm and humid here. Pushing 30deg C in the gym.
– 52 minutes. Like it. The pool looks inviting now. Have a fantastic day!

Blog revamp

So – in preparation for our holiday the blog has a new theme and I’ve given it a bit of a spruce up! Have got some more ideas for things I’d like to do with it, but will see if time permits.

Enjoy ūüôā

About Me

I’m a forty-something bloke, who’s lucky enough to have married a lovely lady, and we’ve even managed to multiply and raise a daughter who is growing up very fast. I went through a bit of a metamorphosis in 2016, lost a lot of weight, and since then I spend a lot of time strength training and trying to improve myself.

This blog has been in existence for a very long time (since 2004) and obviously my views and attitudes to life have changed a fair bit over that time. It’s interesting to see how one evolves.

I’ll elaborate on this a bit more at some point in the future ūüôā

Training 25/09/17

Mon 25/09: Squat + Bench Press

Food yesterday: No idea. Did not track.

Activity yesterday: 12.7k steps

Sleep last night: 7 hrs 14 mins – 34 mins awake

AM BW: 72.8kg (up 0.1kg from yesterday)

Squat:
2×5 @ 20kg
1×5 @ 45kg
1×5 @ 65kg
— Belt on (5th hole) —
1×3 @ 85kg
1×2 @ 100kg
1×1 @ 115kg
3×1 @ 130kg (PR… +5kg!)
2×6 @ 110kg (big rep PR.. like 12.5kg I think!)

Bench Press
2×5 @ 20kg
1×5 @ 45kg
1×3 @ 60kg
1×2 @ 70kg
1xF @ 77.5kg nup
1xF @ 76kg double nup FFS
1×1 @ 65kg
2×6 @ 60kg (equal PR)

Incline Bench
2×5 @ 20kg
1×8, 1×10, 1×9 @ 40kg

Seated Dumbbell Curl:
3×12 @ 25lbs / side

Supersetted with

Dips:
3×10 @ BW

Big video today – still uploading:


And also some gramzgoodness: #showyerfailz

It feels awfully weird to not be tracking and weighing food. But not bad. I am just scared to overeat and come back heaps heavier, as I am planning on a shortish cut when we get back.

Squeezed one more training session in, but we fly out tomorrow and I will be lucky if I get 2 sessions in in the next fortnight. So rather than starting another cycle of eights I decided to deviate from the programming, pull a bigger session and attempt some 1RMs. Basically a mish mash of whatever I felt like doing.

Session notes:
– Big squat PR. Was tough, but might have had another kilo or so in me. Back off work was exhausting (and a bit shallow, on video) but jubilant. Just wish I could stop the damn bar getting forward out of the hole! That’s what’s putting the extra work on my lower back for sure.
– Disappointed I missed any sort of 1 rep PR on bench. Thought I’d have at least had another kg in me the way things have been going, but probably a bit tired after squatting too. Even 65kg felt like too much to do for back off work (should’ve rested longer, fails are fatiguing) so I dropped weight even lower.
– Went a little lighter on the incline bench to allow for fatigue, glad I did. Bit below my best, but got some volume in.
– That pesky left forearm pain started showing up again during the curls. Got them done, slowly, stayed away from failure on dips especially.
– Pretty awesome session, took 104 minutes, and I was #rekt by the end. Could’ve so easily sat on my arse (or started packing, which is what the wife is doing) – gonna pack lifting shoes, hope I can find a decent gym in the UK!
– Have a great day/night all!

Training 20/09/17

Sat 23/09: Back Assistance / Hypertrophy

Food yesterday: Target: 3361 kcal / Actual: 3381 kcal – macros bang on

Activity yesterday: 13.4k steps

Sleep last night: 6 hrs 26 mins – 43 mins awake

AM BW: 72.8kg (up 0.3kg from yesterday)

Pull Ups:
3, 3, 5, 4, 4, 3, 3, 2, 2, 4, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3, 3 @ BW
All on maximum 2 min rests (mostly 60 seconds)

Dumbbell Rows:
4×12 @ 42.5lbs (PR)

Shrugs:
4×15, 1×12, 1×5 @ 70kg (PR)
(60 second rests)

No video today.

Weight keeps going up, but body fat is static. This, I like.

Session notes:
– I did this workout fasted first thing in the morning before the girls got out of bed. Also it had only been ~17 hours or so since the press work out and sleep was ordinary. Strength felt pretty down, not that I’m ever good with pull ups anyway.
– Took me half an hour to get through the pullups. Was hell.
– Rows and shrugs were OK. Probably should’ve used straps for the shrugs like Andy said, was struggling with grip by the end and forearms were rock hard, which is why I didn’t quite get sets across. Oh well.
– A nice 55 minute session to start the day. This might be my last lifting session for a while, we’ll see I guess. Have a fantastic day, lifters of the internet!

Training 22/09/17

Fri 22/09: Press

Food yesterday: Target: 3267 kcal / Actual: 3169 kcal – macros fine

Activity yesterday: 12.2k steps

Sleep last night: 7 hrs 7 mins – 64 mins awake(!)

AM BW: 72.5kg (down 0.1kg from yesterday)

Overhead Press:
2×5 @ 20kg
1×5 @ 35kg
1×2 @ 42.5kg
1×2 @ 49kg (new PR, +1kg)
1×1+F @ 50kg overreached
2×2 @ 49kg
1xF @ 51.5kg ffffff
1×9 @ 38kg
1×9 @ 37.5kg
1×10 @ 36kg

Lateral Raises:
12.5lbs / side x 15, 12, 12, 12, 12, 15
60 second rests

Dumbbell LTEs:
20lbs / side x 20
22.5lbs / side x 15, 10
20lbs / side x 15, 12
17.5lbs / side x 15, 16
Also 60 second rests

Instagram: Click here
Video of work sets:

I’m now officially on leave from work. This is excellent.
Strangely, after sitting at 15% body fat consistently for the past few days, the scales started reading in the thirteens this morning. I haven’t grown tons of muscle overnight but there is definitely still plenty of lean mass gains occuring. Hate to stop training while progress is going so well, but the break will be nice and hopefully it will come back quick.

Session notes:
– Another little PR for doubles on the press. First one went up so easily I thought I’d try a little more, but that was wishful thinking ūüôĀ
– Decided to try for a 1RM after doing the doubles, didn’t try very hard, to be fair. Should’ve probably jumped up a slightly smaller amount.
– The back off work was actually a bit of a regression over last time, did an extra set to compensate. Probably fatigue is all.
– The accessory work was just a mad pump. My shoulders and triceps were absolutely swole. First set of tricep exensions don’t look that great on video but form got a bit better as I went.
– Just a nice session for 69 minutes. Awesome sauce. Have a fantastic day/night all!

I’m baaaaacckkk

Wow, it’s been over 6 years since I actually posted anything. Lots has happened!

We’ve had overseas holidays.
I’ve changed jobs – multiple times.
We’ve moved house.
We’ve got married.
We’ve got a beautiful daughter (who is now more than 2 years old and growing fast).
I started this year at about 106kg, dieted down to 68kg at one point (in August) and now started weight training to try and put on some muscle. Currently a svelte 72kg and working hard – it’s become a bit of an obsession, and I may have an addiction to Quest bars. Fitbit and MyFitnessPal have become a fairly large part of my life, as has my workout log. Which is not here.
As a result of this, I’ve become a morning person. In 40 years, this is a totally new thing but it’s by necessity. It’s not really possible to train in the evenings due to family commitments, so it’s early mornings or nothing.

Blabstinence

Last night, lying half asleep in bed, I made the momentous decision that I need a break from social media. In my groggy, half crazed state I tried to come up with a word for leaving the virtual conversation for a while and this was the best catchword I could think of to describe it – a nice portmanteau of ‘blog’ and ‘abstinence’. And no, I haven’t googled it – so if someone already coined the term, as they probably have, I promise I came up with it independently.

Recently there’s been a lot of talk of internet usage rewiring people’s brains – much of the debate sparked by Nicholas Carr‘s recent article, “Is Google Making Us Stupid?”. And all I can say is – parts of this article rings as true for me as anything I’ve ever read.

The quote:

My mind isn‚Äôt going‚ÄĒso far as I can tell‚ÄĒbut it‚Äôs changing. I‚Äôm not thinking the way I used to think. I can feel it most strongly when I‚Äôm reading. Immersing myself in a book or a lengthy article used to be easy. My mind would get caught up in the narrative or the turns of the argument, and I‚Äôd spend hours strolling through long stretches of prose. That‚Äôs rarely the case anymore. Now my concentration often starts to drift after two or three pages. I get fidgety, lose the thread, begin looking for something else to do. I feel as if I‚Äôm always dragging my wayward brain back to the text. The deep reading that used to come naturally has become a struggle.

elicited nods reminiscent of a bobble headed toy when I first read this article. Or should I say, skimmed it. Because yes, it’s true – I completely empathise with Carr that after many, many years of high intensity internet use, I have a very difficult time focussing on an article even of that modest length and reading it start to finish. My mind skips to the next paragraph and then the next, looking for interesting tidbits to purloin from each block of text, and I’m continually dragging myself back to where I was up to. Even when I do read it, the amount my brain absorbs is negligible unless it’s something I’m really interested in. As the great Arthur Conan Doyle said (via Sherlock Holmes) –

man should keep his little brain attic stocked with all the furniture that he is likely to use, and the rest he can put away in the lumber-room of his library, where he can get it if he wants it.

When Holmes said this, he was referring to his lack of knowledge on any subject which wasn’t related to his detective work. His point was that he consciously chose to discard information that he felt would not be directly relevant to solving cases – if he didn’t do this, then he would soon find useless information taking the place of important knowledge and pushing it out.

Right now I feel like my brain is overstimulated. The internet is like masturbation for the mind, and after a decade or more of constant exercise, it’s starting to feel a bit… flaccid. Remembering things is difficult. If I can’t remember something my instant reaction is to Google it. If I’m bored, I have about 8 different forums that I regularly use for conversation, plus a constant stream of witty, useless, interesting and downright rude updates in my Twitter client, as well as Facebook (which I rarely use – SHUN THE UNBELIEVER), email conversations, online shopping, and goodness knows what else.

The point is – it’s amazing that I get any work done at all. (I am on my lunch break as I write this). There is more distraction than there is production. There is more trivia than there is consequence. And I’m just plain dog tired.

So, my Twitter client is off now. The forum tabs are all closed down, bar one favourite (which is also work related). It’s time to make my own entertainment – at least in the time I’m supposed to be working (which between my day job and my personal projects is about 10 hours a day). And there is silence. No stream of news and joke links popping up from Twitter. No tweets about trivialities or conversations about TV shows. I’m not quite sure what I’ll do with myself – but surely it can’t hurt.

Gay Marriage

I just wrote this for a Whirlpool post – thought I should save it here as well.

I am against gay marriage. I am pro gay civil union, with exactly the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual marriage. I decided to try to explain it in the context of motorsport:

Way back before the dawn of time, a motor racing series was created called the Folden race series. Only Fords and Holdens were allowed to compete.

Then Toyota came along and said they’d like to compete too. The Ford and Holden owners were quite happy with their race series ‚Äď the two types of cars were very closely matched, the drivers loved it and the racing was very close so they didn’t wany to upset the delicate balance they’d created. They also quite rightly said that if Toyota were allowed to compete it wouldn’t be the Folden series any more. Toyota had a big teary and said that they were being discriminated against.

The Ford and Holden owners were quite happy to create a new series, with exactly the same rules, so that everyone could race against each other but they wanted it to be called something else like maybe the Unified race series. That way the Ford and Holdens who wanted to keep competing in their Folden series could keep on doing so, but the Fords, Holdens and Toyotas who wanted to participate in the new series could also race against each other in an inclusive way.

Some of the Toyota owners were quite happy with the new series, it gave them exactly the same opportunities to race as the Fords and Holdens and they had lots of fun.

Unfortunately there were some other vocal Toyota owners who continued to expect the Folden series to let them in because they thought they were missing out on something everyone else had. Perhaps a small part of them was a little jealous that they hadn’t actually bought a Ford or a Holden in the first place.

I don’t care if people call me a bigot. Flame away.

If Aus Politics Was Harry Potter

So, last night I was watching the rather average telemovie Hawke and it occured to me that some of our parliamentarians could come straight from the pages of JK Rowling. So, I thought of a couple… and then a couple more… and now, with a little help from Wikipedia and my Harry Potter loving partner, we have a list!

Note I have tried to be objective; and for that reason have not got any Dumbledores, Potters or other tier one type characters. Also, I have not thought of any legitimate parallels with current or past pollys to them! But all suggestions/additions gratefully accepted, it’s a bit of a lark, really. So, without further ado:

Labor:

Julia Gillard as Nymphadora Tonks. Like the Harry Potter character, her hair is one of her remarkable features. Hair isn’t enough to save her in the end though….

Wayne Swan as Wormtail/Peter Pettigrew. The least intelligent of his friends in school, a faithful servant of Voldemort who is willing to cut off his hand in order to restore his master to corporeal form. Can also turn into a rat.

Kevin Rudd as Cornelius Fudge – the Minister for Magic who refused to believe that Voldemort was back, tried desperately to discredit Harry and the other good guys, and gets a bit paranoid that Dumbledore is plotting against him. Eventually ends up being the case that Voldemort IS back – Fudge still tries to deny it and eventually has his job taken away. Youch.

Paul Keating as Professor Snape. This was the one that started the whole thing… he’s tall, slim, dark haired and sleazy. And he holds grudges for a long, long time……

Bill Shorten as Professor Slughorn – lowers the barrier for entry to his potions class so Harry can get in. Is described by Wikipedia as preferring to be a “backseat driver”, obtaining things he desires by using his contacts. It is revealed at the end that he has recruited a large number of followers to fight at the battle of Hogwarts.

Kate Ellis as Fleur Delacourt. I admit this is based purely on looks…. pretty much the best looking character in the whole Potter series, what more can one say….

Chris Evans as Neville Longbottom…. he’s slightly chubby… and has had a hard life – hardly ever smiles. Loyal to a fault, though.

Coalition:

Tony Abbott as Remus Lupin. Sorry Tony, you do just have a slightly werewolfish air about you. Umms and aahs a lot while speaking.

Joe Hockey as Rubeus Hagrid. The big guy who on the outside seems to be happy all the time. Unless there is a problem with one of the strange creatures he’s adopted. When he gets angry, look out!

Barnaby Joyce as Mad Eye Moody. What a guy, huh! His party loves him but he is clearly a little… different for some.

Malcolm Turnbull as Gilderoy Lockhart – wordly, vain, and much loved by many. We’ll just ignore the fact that he ended up being a fraud, that never happened to Turnbull… did it?

Christopher Pyne as Colin Creevey – the slightly nerdy kid who looks up to Harry so much but never really gets to be good friends with him. Dies in the end. Bugger.

Wilson Tuckey as Grawp, the giant. Ahhh, good old Ironbar…. the subtlety of a housebrick. He’s a heavyweight, for sure. But he’s lovable in his own way.

Julie Bishop as Dolores Umbridge. The teacher you do not want to cross! Umbridge had magic pens; Bishop has the death stare.

The Greens:

Bob Brown as Argus Filch. Is fairly old and apparently bitter that he was born a Squib. His knowledge of Hogwarts secret passageways is legendary. Has an unusually strong attachment to his cat, Mrs Norris.

Christine Milne as Sybil Trelawney. Apparently has some knowledge of the future and is prone to making all sorts of predictions which may or may not come true. Is also slightly mental.

Sarah Hanson-Young as Bellatrix Lestrange – Nymphadora’s evil (and psycho) cousin.

So, that’s all I have come up with so far. Thoughts, additions, anyone? ūüôā

PS: If I was allowed to add journos, Annabel Crabb – you’re Hermione. Kerry O’Brien – you’re Arthur Weasley. In both cases, it’s all about the hair, baby. And Latika Bourke, you get an honorable mention as Cho Chang. Just because.

Happy trails ūüôā