2014 American Open Training Week 16 – The Death Spiral

2014 American Open Training Week 16 – The Death Spiral

Dec 2, 2014

You’ll notice there honestly isn’t a lot of training to talk about right now.  I mean I’ve mostly been hitting my main lifts but that’s about it.   Between the end of last week and the end of this week, I’ve been fussed at by my chiropractor, my massage therapist, my acupuncturist, and both coaches.   Seems I’ve done a pretty epic number on my left hip that’s caused my SI joint to get all out of whack and a mess of other stuff (my glutes, hip flexors and IT band and probably some other stuff I don’t know about) to freak out and join the protest.  Am I actually injured?  Probably not.  Should I have stayed more on top of stuff so I didn’t end up here?  Probably.  Am I going to have to be very careful about how I train and rehab over the next couple of weeks?  Definitely.


Tuesday was back to the heavy triples.  365 was fine.  I jumped to 395 and only got 2 reps and both of those felt wrong.  Really, really wrong.  I don’t think I actually hit depth on the first one and I got forward on the second.  I didn’t fail but after the second one felt possibly worse than the first, I just racked the bar and walked away.  I also had a couple of sets of back offs but we just decided that as bad as everything felt, there probably wasn’t any value in struggling through them.  This, added to the spottiness of the last couple of weeks really kind of freaks me out.  Squat is usually the one lift I can totally rely on.  When it goes wrong, I really start to worry.

Bench for the day was a heavy 3 x 3-4 and these at least went better.  I went 185 x 4, 205 x 4 and then 215 x 3.  I really think I could have gotten a 4th rep at 215, which would have been awesome since last cycle I couldn’t even hit it for a double.  But we’ll never know for sure because I got a cramp in my hamstring and lost all of my leg drive right as I was finishing the 3rd rep.


I was supposed to work up to a heavy triple and then do 3 more sets of 3 at that weight.  Things were going fine and then I failed the first rep at 365.  This is a warm up weight for me usually.  Seriously.

I don’t normally lose my shit over a missed lift.  Stuff happens.  Things get weird.  Some days just aren’t your day.  But after Tuesday’s epic squat failure, it was just too much.  It was very apparent that what I wanted to do most was to throw something (like the barbell.  You know, if I could have picked it up.)


I got told to take a walk.

When I came back and we talked about what happened and all the weird in my hip.  So I spent like 10 minutes trying to role it out with one of the mobility balls (dear gawd……….) and then had another go at 365.  This time it worked fine.  So did the set at 395.  After that, we decided that while I needed to get in a little bit more deadlift work, there probably wasn’t a lot of value in trying to hit 3 more sets at 395.  So we cut the weight by 15% to 335 and did 3 x 3 there just to get in a little volume and work on the movement.

Then I went home and tried to get my head right.

Getting My Head Right

Instead of walking away from a bad work out and letting it be what it was, I’ve been kind of freaking out and telling myself that I *have to* make up for it next time.  I have to lift more.  I have to hit all my reps.  I have to get to where I thought I would be at the end of this cycle.  No, it doesn’t matter that I may have a strained IT band and that the best thing to do it rehab it as much as I can between here and the meet.

Can you hear the crazy in all this?  I sure can.  Finally.

There’s nothing productive about this thought process.  You can’t make up for training that’s done.  Trying to just makes it worse.  You suddenly find yourself in this death spiral of missed lifts and  strained muscles.  And then the confidence starts to go.  Which makes you more likely to miss a lift.   Less likely to recover.  More likely to strain something else or just not heal.  It’s a nasty trap and even though the way out seems really simple when you’re standing on the outside of it (basically, stop missing lifts and freaking out), it’s not so easy to convince yourself that it really is that easy.


Saturday morning, I had mostly gotten myself turned around attitude-wise.  We came in with the goal of not failing any of my sets.  Even if that meant not hitting the weights I wanted.  The goal was to hit a heavy double that felt good and then just stop before stuff had a chance to get weird.  So we worked through 365, 395, and finally 415.  I would have liked to hit 425 but at that point even though everything felt good, the reps had gotten slow enough that it was pretty obvious, nothing above that was going to feel good.  Also, some one had the good sense to tell me I was done and save me from myself.  So I walked away with the first mostly successful squat session in over a week.

And because squat worked out, bench decided to be a little fickle.  The goal was to work to a heavy paused triple.  185, 205, 220…. all went fine.  I even managed to get two reps at 225 but stuff got a little weird on the third rep and I lost it back towards my face.  I do think though that I could have done it if I’d hit some different warm up weights.  I think the triple at 220 was just too close and took too much energy.  Either way, I walked out of the gym in a generally better mood than I had.


Stuff isn’t right and while this isn’t catastrophic, it is really, really frustrating.  And I’ve let that get to me a bit.  More than I probably should have.  That’s made what would have been some tough workouts under the best of circumstances even harder.

It’s also the reason my blog is so far behind.

It’s easy to write about the good stuff.  You pulled a PR?  The video is going on Facebook or Instagram right-damn-now.  Training is generally going awesome?  I’m telling everyone.  But when it isn’t going well?  I don’t want to even really think about it.  I don’t want to write it down in my notebook and I sure as hell don’t want to write about it for everyone to see so we can all wallow in it together.  Writing about it and dwelling on it gives it more power somehow.

But it’s also kind of good to look at it outside the gym and the emotional response to stuff going wrong.  And writing this kind of lets me do that.  It’s also a good reminder that lifting, no matter how much you love it, isn’t always going to be all roses and sunshine, or unicorns and rainbows.  Sometimes it sucks.  But what you do when that happens is important to.

So I leave you with some silliness after all the serious.  A picture of Sunday morning yoga where we were playing with headstands (which I can’t do) and I got reminded that even when you suck at something (even temporarily), it can still be fun.


Just before I tried to kick into a an actual headstand and wiped out.....

Just before I tried to kick into a an actual headstand and wiped out laughing….


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