2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 6 – Dysfunction and Choices

2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 6 – Dysfunction and Choices

Feb 3, 2015

Before we get into the training, there’s some other stuff that we need to talk about.   My hips and my lower back have been super tight and kind of painful off and on since before the American Open.  I figured it was just the normal stuff that happens as I ramp up for a meet.  I also figured it would get better and so away with a bit of rest and the lighter work I do at the beginning of a training cycle.  But it hasn’t.  At the end of last week, I was pretty smashed.  It was bad enough that I was really starting to worry about getting through the rest of the cycle and having a good meet at the Arnolds.  I decided it was time to get a little more help.  So while I was sitting in a karaoke bar on Saturday night, I scheduled an appointment with the PT that’s been working with a couple of my coaches.  Monday, I  went in and got everything assessed.

It was not great news.  It would appear that at some time in the past, some number of the muscles responsible for stabilizing my hips said screw it and walked out on the job.  Especially on the left side.  That means that even with very little weight on the bar, my left hip kind of turns in and collapses as I’m coming out of the hole on my squats.  As we’ve continued to work heavier, it’s gotten worse.  It is almost certainly why I have that little sticking point right as I come out of the hole and why my lower back and hips spend a fair amount of time feeling less than stellar.  By the end of the appointment, with some stretching and some exercises and a lot of concentration, I was able to squat with everything symmetrical at a whopping 135lbs.

bad squats

The Before and After.

So now what?  From a raw medical standpoint, the answer is for me to drop the weight down to something I can do without getting all twisty and then slowly work back up, retraining the movement pattern and building strength in all the lazy bits.  Doing this will probably take a couple of months at least (assuming my body isn’t slow on the uptake and I’m a good girl and do everything that I should)  That’s the right answer.

Except that I’m about 5 weeks out from a meet.  A meet I’ve been training and planning for since August……

So this leaves me with the type of choice I feel like a lot of competitive athletes (4 years and that still feels weird to say) have to make at some point.  I can cut back and fix things.  Or I can keep training heavy, while starting on the rehab work during my warm-up and lighter sets and do the meet knowing everything won’t be fixed and the heavy stuff is still going to get at least a little weird.

I don’t think any choice like this should be taken lightly.  Ignoring these kinds of things can lead to long term injuries and effects your longevity in your chosen sport.  Is pushing through something now worth the risk that you won’t be able to lift a year from now? Especially if stepping back means you’ll still be lifting in 10?  Everyone needs to make a personal choice and really think about it.  How big is the risk?  What might the consequences be?  Can you live with them?  And you have to be honest with yourself.  Like really, really brutally honest.  I own my choice.  And I own the consequences of that choice.

We looked at the risks and we looked at the likely outcomes.  In this particular case, continuing on for another couple of weeks doesn’t expose me to any greater risk of injury than training and competing does in general.  And while I won’t be able to rehab and retrain as completely or as quickly this way, I can still start to lay a good foundation for the really hard work after the Arnolds.  So we’re going ahead with the training plan and then heading to Columbus.  And because of that, you all get another training log.


Tuesday started with all of the new PT exercises and then really, really focusing on keeping my hips as stable as possible on at least my warm ups.  It went really well.  I managed to get all the way up to 315 with no problems.  But as soon as I started my working set at 345, I got all twisty.  So what was supposed to be a set of 6+ that I probably could have done 10 reps or so of became a set of 7.  There are a couple of reasons for this.  First, every rep I do “wrong” undoes the good of a rep I do “right” from a retraining stand point.  So we don’t want to do any more of them wrong than we have to.  Second, this shit is mentally and physically exhausting.  I don’t think I’ve had to think this hard about my squats since I first started.  And maybe not even then.  Add to that the extra physical and it was just bad.  By the time I got through my working set the little voices in my head were saying “Screw this.  Let’s just go back to doing this the lazy way.”  Sadly, there were still paused squats to do.  So I took a minute to get myself together and talk myself down and managed to work through my 3 x 5 going back up to 315 with about 90% good form and symmetry.

Then it was on to the SLDLs and sit-ups and some rolling out before we could call it a day.


I hadn’t considered it at the time but front squats on Thursday were another perfect opportunity to work on stuff.  They’re also lighter (3 x 5 at 210) so that means  it’s a prime opportunity to get in some good clean reps.  And that’s what mostly happened.  Except for the last rep on the second set when all of the contracting and activation of stuff in my glutes and abs turned into an incredible cramp in my abs.  I did manage to finish the rep so that’s the important bit and bent away once I racked the weight and walked it off.  At least we know stuff is working now, I guess.

Deadlift is still going up except that this week the volume didn’t go down any.  So 6 x 1 at 407lbs with 90 seconds of rest between sets.   I was a bit worried when we started but now that they’re done, I have to say that these probably felt better and looked faster than last weeks at 401.5lbs.  That makes me pretty happy.  Also, from a volume stand point, everything beyond this is pretty much a PR.  Sure, I’ve pulled more (even in the gym) but I’ve never done it for more than a rep or 2.  I’m starting to really be interested in what my numbers are going to look like at the end of the cycle.

And we finished out the day with sumo deads (I’m not sure I’m ever really going to like these), curls and leg raises.


Saturday proved that not all my choices are good ones.  This was my last heavy bench day before we start peaking and I really wanted to hit a double at 225.  Sounds good in theory.  Except that my first set was at 190, which meant my second was at 210.  So to get from there to 225 is a 15lb jump.  Based on my max, that’s a pretty big jump.  I got the first one.  I managed to get the second one off my chest.  Barely.  And that was the end.  Asking if I could try and do it again for another single just to get the volume in got me the one of those disapproving looks that kind of hints at the fact that I might have some mental health issues.

Maybe it was the failure and all the effort that took but my close grip bench continues to not work like it should.  For whatever reason, I just haven’t been able to get these to go up in weight even when we drop the rep scheme like we did this week.  It doesn’t make any sense.  Especially since I’m typically pretty strong with them.  But it is what it is.  Press at least felt good for 3 x 5 at 115.

We had some slightly inappropriate yoga on Sunday (I don’t know what else you call it when there’s that much giggling and multiple opportunities for a TWSS joke) and I called it a week.


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