2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 8 – Confidence, Nostalgia and Gum

2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Week 8 – Confidence, Nostalgia and Gum

Feb 17, 2015

Laying in bed Monday night, thinking about the weeks training and how things had been going, I had one of those epiphanies that always seem to happen just as you’re drifting off to sleep.  I haven’t been completely satisfied with how things have been going in my training.  I’m worrying about all kinds of stuff from the weirdness in my squat to the fact that my bench has been running a bit lower than I’d like it to (and occasionally lower than the same point last cycle.)  I keep thinking that if I don’t get my shit together, I’m not going to do as well at the Arnolds as I’d like.  And then two thoughts hit me.  First, it doesn’t matter what I want.  You can  train as hard and smart as possible but at the end of the day, you get what you get and you have to learn to live with that.  Second, beyond that, my biggest problem is still what it’s always been:  confidence.  The first time a lift goes south at a weight or rep scheme I should totally have been able to handle, I get all in my head and start doubting that I’m as strong as I thought I was.  This, to put it bluntly, is bullshit.  And it’s long past time I stopped doing it.


So I hit the gym on Tuesday looking forward to hitting my first heavy squat single of the cycle.  Except that I was late getting to the gym again.  Seriously, this happens so often, I don’t even know if I should call it late anymore.   So once again we started with bench.  The goal for the day was to take 4 sets and working at 4-6 reps work to a heavy 4.  They were feeling good.  When 205 went to 6 without to much drama, we went to 215……  and only got 3.  Still, they felt good so we’re going to call this a win.

My goal for squat was to get to at least 435.  In spite of the failure at 415 last week, I know I should be able to hit something like this for a solid single most days.  I managed to work up to 440 and it felt really good.  And then I remembered the back off sets….


So 3 x 3 at 375.  And the second and third set only felt a tiny bit better than the first.


Before we get to Thursday…….

Wednesday night, this came in the mail.

It's gum!  The best gum ever!

It’s gum! The best gum ever!

I know it’s just gum but this brings back a whole mess of memories from my first year or so of training (which wasn’t as long ago as it seems sometimes) when there was a giant tub of this stuff sitting on the front counter at the gym and you popped a piece before you started your warm up.  Back when nearly every day was a PR and a lesson (and still not easy.)  When Saturdays were for doing the Gauntlet or Death by Prowler with the sun on your shoulders and then trying to offend the folks at Five Guys by the sheer volume of food we ordered.  When shit was talked and people got squat-darded.  When the team I was on lost a work out we should have won because I couldn’t chug a Guinness.  When someone might have accidentally OD’d on that gum but had the best squat session ever (at least until the heart palpitations started.)  When you learned that the weight on the bar made you strong but the friendships made you stronger.   Before training was about getting ready for the next meet.  No matter how wrapped up I get in competing, that first year is the reason I lift and it will be even if I were never to step foot on the platform again.

And now that I’m all done with the mushiness and the PlowOn has been packed in my gym bag, let’s get to the deadlifts…….

Another week, another bar loaded with fractional plates.

Another week, another bar loaded with fractional plates.

This week it was 419 for 4 singles with as much rest as I needed.  But I know me.  And I know how my brain works on heavier lifts.  So I capped the rest at around 4 minutes to keep from getting all weird (Ok, weirder…….  Whatever….) about this.  These were not especially pretty deadlifts.  My form was good but they were all at least a little slower than I would have liked.  After the third one, my coach looked at me and asked “Could you make that look any more dramatic?”  I pointed out that I still had one more so we were likely going to find out.  Thankfully, it wasn’t any worse and might even have been a tiny bit better, probably because I knew that was the last one.   I can’t really complain though.  I feel like these are definitely on the right track and I’m looking forward to seeing how this translates into PRs on the platform.



I walked in and found this…..

In case you don't know, this is *not* a coat rack.  No, really....

In case you don’t know, this is *not* a coat rack. No, really….

But by the time I’d warmed up, all of this has been relocated so I didn’t have to do it.

Squats on Saturday were a good bit less successful.  I was supposed to work up to a heavy triple and in my brain, I was thinking something around 415.  Based on my warm ups, I should probably have backed down my expectations some but I was sure I’d be fine.  Right up until I failed on the first rep because I got loose at the bottom.  When this happened last week, I wrote it off to trying it too close to my deadlifts.  But this week I can’t say that.  So it drives the question of whether or not I’m actually recovering from my deadlifts and what do we need to do to make sure that I am so it stops effecting my Saturday squats.  And because of that failure, we skipped all the backoff sets.  If I am failing because I’m not recovering, doing them is really just digging the hole deeper and that doesn’t buy us anything.

Bench went better.  Mostly.  Once I got past the warm-ups.  You forget some times that it doesn’t have to be heavy for something to go wrong.  So I went to rack my warm up set at 170 and it bounced out of the hook on the left side and came pretty much straight for my face.  Thankfully, my spotter was paying attention and between us we managed to get it back up  (Thank you, Alan.  I totally owe you a beer) without it doing any damage because that definitely would have left a mark.  On the upside, even after this, I still managed to get that 215 for 4.  Even if it was the slowest rep I’ve probably ever done.

And on Sunday, Mother Nature decided she hated us.


I’m used to working out in the gym when it’s cold.  Doing yoga in a cold gym is a whole different thing.  You know it’s really wrong when it’s cold enough that I willingly wear socks.  But you have to do what you have to do.


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