the spaz of fitness has arrived

Wrong, Again

In Rhetoric, Training on November 5, 2012 at 9:29 pm

So now that I had my fluffy, happy, post-competition reflection, I need to follow up with perhaps a little less fluffy Jo-rant. I intend to continue training with a Westside-based template; I enjoy the variation it gives me, and how I can theoretically customize according to my weaknesses– assuming I can correctly diagnose those weaknesses, and wisely configure the correct matrix of exercises to remedy those weaknesses (that’s a lot of assumptions, I realize…). Saturday night, I drafted a new regimen, and Sunday morning, I went into the gym chomping at the bit. In my defense, I wasn’t planning a on a max-effort day– mostly assistance work and testing out the accessory exercises that I wanted to implement on my lower body days, but I did still know that most people would advise against lifting the day after a powerlifting meet. Zebrapants arrived at the gym and confirmed my suspicions and told me I shouldn’t be lifting at all. So I unracked my bar and rowed a very bitter, slow, 20ish minutes.

Sidenote: I think the reason I dislike long, slow cardio is that it gives me too much time inside my own head, and it’s a scary place in there. Spurts of intense activity– sprints, short metcons, bursts of heavy lifting– are all so demanding that they, for a few seconds, can obliterate the mind chatter. Long WODS, the beautiful hero WODs that become slogs through bodyweight and barbell activities feel entirely meditative to me. I reach a state where I can clear my mind, where I just move and the burn is cleansing. But I can’t find that rhythm in cardio; I know plenty of people do, but at least the first ten minutes of slow cardio are miserable for me– and I mean that in an emotional rather than a physical sense. I descend somewhere angry and unhappy and bitter and and just loathe the world for a good while. After that, I actually begin to enjoy runs or rows… somewhat, but there’s a weirdly dark passage that I have to traverse to get there. I realize this is symptomatic of something entirely unrelated to physical activity and much to do with my own insanity… and is probably something I should address, and is probably inappropriate for this blog, so we shall move on. Anyway!

Anyway… today I went back to the gym, assuming (apparently wrongly) that it was an appropriate day to start lifting heavy again. And I did. I hit a 235lb deadlift– a 10lb PR and 15lbs more than my final attempt at the meet on Saturday. I was psyched, of course. I finished with the new accessory lifts (which I like so far, we’ll see… I’ll post an updated schedule when it’s finalized), and then a few 250m rowing sprints and prepared to call it a day, feeling perhaps a little too proud of myself.

I’ve screwed up enough times, and have enough self-destructive impulses that I’m intimately familiar with Jefe’s “You’re -doing-something-wrong” look. When I naively announced to him my PR, I got that look x 5. In retrospect, with all the reading I’ve done on exercise theory, I really should have known that anyone would balk at a max effort day two days after a powerlifting meet. But… here’s what’s been troubling me all weekend and today:

On Saturday, I lifted 85% of my max squat (poorly) three times. I benched, poorly, less than 85% of my max– albeit with a pause, once, and then screwed up the next two attempts. I deadlifted, yeah, three times within a max-effort range. But on the Westside template, “max-effort” days involve lifting above 90% of your max for seven reps– which is more volume than my entire day put together (or at least damn close). Prior to my day of competitive half-assery, I rested for a full week. I did not lift anything above 85% of my max. I reduced my dynamic work, and limited myself to only assistance exercises. I did absolutely no metcons, and any conditioning was under 15 minutes and at probably 50% effort. And I still… relatively… sucked. Then, today, when my system is supposed to be “taxed,” when I’m supposed to (apparently) be “resting,” I feel fantastic and hit a 10lb PR.

I guess the root of my frustration is that I want/expect this science to be a science. I want my body to respond as the literature says it should. I want to PR (or at least lift well) when I’ve deloaded. I want things to make sense. The first time I squatted 142.5, it was a 7.5lb jump from my last sticking point, and it was literally two days after I’d last tested my squat. Any time I abandon a lift for more than a week, my numbers drop substantially. Everyone else raves about the restorative effects of proper rest, but for some reason it feels like my body forgets that it can lift these weights.

I worry it must be a mental thing– that I just shed all confidence that I’m capable of these things if I don’t remind myself every so often. But I’ve also been shocked by these drops in lifts… After not squatting for two weeks, only two weeks, my max decreased by 15lbs and I was stunned by the gravity of the bar on my back. So if it is a mental thing, it’s buried deeper in my subconscious than anything I can easily access.

I also wonder if all these principles of rest and restoration apply better to people that truly lift heavy. Yeah…  squatting 400lbs even once probably does a hell of a number on your system, but I’m so damn small that I feel like the sheer mass of what I’m moving can’t compare to those of the test subjects in these tried and true methods. That’s probably me rationalizing irrationally though. The final point is just that… because it’s me, because I’m the only one for whom everything just seems backwards and wrong, it makes me feel like I’m fucking up somewhere. It taps into all those insecurities that there’s just something wrong with me or that I’m stupidly bumbling around in my ignorance… but if I am, I can’t pinpoint the source of my wrongness.

I’m just whining now. I will feel better tomorrow. I feel better after writing this… and I will update you with my new gameplan for my training. But for now, thanks for your patience, and for fielding my frustrations 🙂

Happy Monday…


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