2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Weeks 1 thru 3– The Holidays and Getting Back to Work

2015 Starting Strength Pro Raw Challenge Weeks 1 thru 3– The Holidays and Getting Back to Work

Jan 14, 2015

It’s been a minute (Or maybe more like 2 or 3) since I posted something.  So let’s see if we can get this thing caught up without it being like 10 pages long (yeah, yeah…. I know…….)  Maybe I’ll just stick to the highlights.  Maybe  I also apologize for the lack of pictures.  I’ll try to be better next time.

After the American Open, we started putting together a plan to get ready for the Arnolds (duh.)  The first priority was to rehab my slightly  re-strained IT band and sort out my hips.  Then, we started talking about how we could get the most bang for my buck out of the relatively short amount of time we had.  We decided probably the best use of our time was to try to bring up the obvious weaknesses that are holding back my bench and deadlift.   And that influenced all the assistance work that’s being done this cycle.

I took one whole, long week completely off because of some work stuff.  I had hoped that the rest would make some of my stuff feel better.  But it didn’t.  Commuting a couple hours a day plus sitting in conferences made my hips tighter.

Week 1

Tuesday we started back to work.  I’ve never started my working weights so heavy at the beginning of a cycle.  Sure, we pulled them back a little from what we would normally do but we also normally take a couple of weeks to ramp in slowly.  But since there wasn’t really time for that…..  I was nervous about it but I was ready.  Or at least I thought I was.

My squats started off with 5 x 2 at 345.  My goal for the day was to work up to 385 but I didn’t quite make it.  My knees didn’t feel great thanks to the tightness in my hips and some in my quads that I didn’t know was there.  And then on my first rep at 375 it felt like something crawled up through the middle of my knee.  It didn’t hurt but it did freak me out.   I decided another 10lb jump probably wasn’t a good plan so I finished the day at 380 and moved on to the assistance stuff.

Obviously the gym was closed on Thursday for Christmas but I managed to get in Wednesday morning.  Which made it a little rough going back to do more squatting and deadlifting.  Front squats are more awful when you haven’t done them for weeks and weeks.  The new deadlift programming sounded like it would be pretty easy at least:  15 singles at 315 with 30 seconds of rest between reps.  We can call these singles but by the end they sure didn’t feel like singles.

We’re also putting in some sumo deadlift this cycle for assistance.  I’m bad at these.  We’ve played with them a couple of times but they’re still a long way from feeling natural.  Right now we’re still playing with the weight a bit to see what’s heavy enough to get some training benefit without killing me.  Oh and making sure that I’m doing them right.  So at least these started off fairly light.

My Saturday benching was at least pretty non- dramatic.  Just a little 8 x 3 starting at a light 135.  I managed to get up to 205 and they barely even slowed down.  Close grip was a bit more dramatic just from the fatigue.  I failed on my last set but I’m OK with it.  We’ve also added some strict press back in to Saturdays.

And then there was the push-ups……  The goal was to do 100 in as few sets as possible.  I was optimistic that I could crank these out in maybe about 12 sets, with most of them being sets of 1o reps because I’d managed to get 4 sets of 10 on Thursday just fine.  I was wrong.  Horribly, horribly wrong.  I got 16 (in sets of 10, 5 and then 1).  Total.  And then there was nothing.  Seems I really badly underestimated just how fatigued I was going to be.  But I’m too contrary to quit so the rest of them got done on my knees.  It sucked.  A lot.

Sunday morning it took me 3 tries to be able to bend my arms enough to pull up my hair for yoga.  So clearly this is something to work on.

I would have blown yoga off entirely but I needed to deliver a Christmas present to our teacher……


Week 2

Squats went better on the second week.  My knees and quads had decided to get their hit together so the only real issue was the tightness I was still chasing around in my hips.  So even though my hips think I’m an asshole, I worked up to a triple at 320 with minimal whining.   The paused squats actually felt the best.

Another holiday meant another early morning, day early deadlift session.  Front squats felt better.  Not good.  I’m not sure they ever really feel good.  But better.  Then there were more 12 x 1 at 335 deadlifts.  Now that I’m getting used to this, I’m kind of digging the singles.  I’m really only getting enough rest (45-60 seconds) to stand up, maybe chalk my hands and reset, but it feels good.  I’ve always hated high rep deads and this seems like it might be a good alternative.

Sumo didn’t go so well.  All of these just felt wonky and like I’d forgotten the tiny bit I know about how I’m supposed to set up for them.  And since I was training alone, there wasn’t anyone to help me sort myself out.  So the last set of 295 x 5 had 3 reps where I failed to even break the bar off the ground mixed in with 5 really grindy and horrible “successful” (yes, in my brain those are air quotes” reps.

I went directly from training to my chiropractor appointment on Wednesday morning and got fussed at when I got stuck trying to roll over on the table so he could adjust my hips.  Let’s just say he wasn’t amused.  I am under strict orders to come back if stuff doesn’t get better from the adjustment instead of waiting a month like I normally do.  And to be careful.  (I hear this a lot……..)  So it’s bad but not really a surprise for the first appointment coming out of a meet.

Bench on Saturday was one set of 8+ at 160 that turned into 14 reps before one of them got away from me.  Close grip felt better.  Press was good and then there were the push-ups.  I was a bit smarter about these this time and started mixing them in earlier in the workout between sets of other stuff.  So I managed to get all of them done as actual full push-ups.  Even if it did take like 16 sets.  Sort of.  I had not one, but two, coaches point out to me that my body wasn’t all going down as one unit and my hips were staying up.  Even after I tried to fix it.  Well, shit……..  I’m in push-up hell.

Week 3

Squats felt bad.  I only had a set of 8+ at 300 but even during my warm ups, I just couldn’t quite get comfortable.  I tried putting on the belt on my last warm up set but that actually seemed to make it worse so I just decided to do these without my belt.  I did manage to grind out 10 before things started to get all black and spotty.

After that there was a mess of assistance that included a bunch of stiff leg deadlifts and then there was a single conventional deadlift at 360.  I wasn’t supposed to be deadlifting at all but I ended up demo-ing set up and picked it up without really paying any attention to what was on the bar.  It might not have been the smartest thing to do but I will say that 360 felt really good considering I didn’t really warm up for it.

My actual deadlift workout was 10 x 1 at 380 and these are still mostly good.  Mostly.  I had a little form weird where my hips were coming up faster than usual.  I don’t know why it’s happening but I’m not going to worry about it too much unless it starts looking like it’s really going to become a habit.

Sumo went much better.  This is the first time I’ve had someone else’s eyes on it and it really helped me figure out why it felt so weird and make some adjustments.  We brought my feet in to the first set of rings (no idea why I’d moved them out so wide) and moving the bar a little bit further towards the front of my foot so I had room to really drop my hips.  My last set of these felt fantastic even though they’re the heaviest I’ve done so far.

Saturday was my first heavy bench day of the training cycle.  I worked up to a paused double at 220 that felt really good and I’m hoping this is a sign of good things to come for my bench.  More close grip and more press.  You know, the usual. To mix things up a bit, this week we mixed the push-ups in with bench dips and sit-ups.  Both the push-ups and bench dips were 3 sets for as many reps as possible and the push-ups were hand release to try and fix my form.  The sit ups were just 3 sets of 30.  This was bad.  There were faces made.  Worse, there were people laughing at those faces (pretty sure I don’t blame them and would have laughed too if I could have seen myself.)  It burned.  There are a couple of reps where I’m not sure I actually finished the rep and locked my elbows because I couldn’t feel them anymore.  And even as I’m typing this I’m still a little sore.

And the last little bit of news from the first couple of weeks was this e-mail:

2014 Powerlifting Watch Rankings

Which is pretty damn cool.  Now to get back to work and see if I can move up the list a bit………


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