the spaz of fitness has arrived

Posts Tagged ‘Max’

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…

Testing Maxes and Trash-talking

In General, Training on August 17, 2012 at 9:43 pm

So, at the conclusion of my 70’s Big Strength and Conditioning Program, I’ve re-tested all my one rep maxes. Now at a body weight of 109lbs (107-110 depending on the scale and probably time of day), I have the following one rep maxes:

Back Squat: 140lbs

Shoulder Press: 67.5lbs

Deadlift: 225lbs (Reached my over 2xbodyweight goal!)

Bench: 100lbs (A bit unhappy about this one. It was ugly, and I feel like I should be able to press more, but my technique is very, very sloppy.)

Power Clean: 85lbs x2. Though I can do 85 for reps, I can’t go any higher– again, I think I’m limited by technique here.

I feel all right with where I am– though admittedly most of my lifts are just a tad shy of where I’d hoped to be by the end of the summer. I know I’m greedy though, and am trying to apply more patience to my strength training. I’m happy with my deadlift, but I’d like to improve my back squat, and I’d like to add another ten pounds to my bench and clean, and hopefully get my press up to 75. Eventually. Immediately, I want to work on my squat and clean and my explosive power. By the time of the Iron Lion powerlifting open in November, I’d like to be able to put up a 150 squat, a 110 bench, and a 235 dead… I have about six pounds of bodyweight to play with and stay within the 115lb weight class, so… fingers crossed.

I almost had a heartbreaking moment when testing my deadlift today. I failed once at 210 before trying again. Afterwards, 215 went up easily, 220 was rough but manageable, and 225 was a good stopping point because my form was giving. But what happened during that first 210 fail? It should have been easy– I’d managed 195×5, so 210 should have been a given. But I knew I wouldn’t make the lift before the bar even left the ground. Something in my setup didn’t feel right. As I gripped the bar, I saw myself failing. I should have backed off and restarted. I’ve experienced this before with all the different lifts– the moment I imagine myself screwing up, I inevitably will. I don’t know how to keep myself from doing this, but I do know that I should learn to shed the ego and back off rather than attempt the lift anyway. Everyone says it– the body is capable of more than the brain thinks it is… if you let that mental self-doubt sneak in, it can sabotage you well before you reach your potential. I’m a master of self-sabotage. I’m always inside my head, always second-guessing. always predicting the many ways that things could go wrong. Ironically, just this morning, I ran across a post by CrossFit Games competitor Katie Hogan about “how to prep for a max effort lift.” She recommends psyching yourself up– in whatever way works for you. I’ve been working on this lately… I have two approaches: either channeling something that gets me angry, or repeating Sgt. Powerlifter’s slogan: “I’m going to make this weight my b*tch.” It’s silly, but the words allow me to embody an attitude that I can’t quite own on a regular basis. And–even if just for those few vital seconds– it allows me to mime a confidence that then become real when I pull the bar. So… Katie Hogan stomps and curses out her weight plates, I mentally demoralize mine with questionably sexist trash-talking. But hey… find what works for you 🙂

After testing my one rep maxes, I decided to participate in the box’s WOD. We could either run 3 miles or row 5k. Because I’d just maxed my deadlift, I felt more like a light jog than the prolonged torture of rowing… so I embarked on my three-miler, but foolishly slow. I missed the turn, and wound up probably running an extra mile or two after I got lost. Silly wandering Jomad. I didn’t mind the extra distance, but I’m regretting it a bit now since I’m not accustomed to endurance runs and the soreness is settling in. Mostly, I’m worried that I’ll be too sore to participate in tomorrow’s programmed “Nancy” WOD (sprints and overhead squats), but we’ll see how I feel tomorrow.

Oh! It’s been a while since I’ve mentioned anything food-related, but I’ve been experimenting with paleo-esque barbecue sauces just for fun… partially because I bought a case of tomato paste from Sam’s Club and needed to discover new things to do with it. Here’s what I have right now:

(Mostly) Paleo BBQ Sauce:

6 oz can tomato paste
1 TBSP Apple Cider Vinegar
3 TBSP Mustard
1 TBSP Worcestershire Sauce
Splash of liquid smoke
Generous amounts of onion and garlic Powder and smoked paprika
3 TBSP water (to thin out the consistency)

Add honey, molasses, or apple juice if you prefer a sweeter flavor

Anyway. The new semester is only two weeks away and my professors have already sent out our first assignments… so my Friday evening’s about to be a blast. Happy weekend to you all.