The Off Season – Craziness, Changes and Catching Up

The Off Season – Craziness, Changes and Catching Up

May 17, 2015

So , ummmmm…….  Hey!  Long time no blog, I know.

There’s apparently been an unreasonable amount of craziness in my life just lately.  I was aware of most of it.  But I was kind of unaware of how long it’s been going on.  Like how the hell has it been nearly 2 months since I managed to get a blog out?  Where did all of that time go?  What have I been doing with my life (since it clearly it wasn’t writing a blog)?

Changes

Everything changes eventually.

Since I first started powerlifting, I’ve been training on Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday.  It was what I did.  If you were looking for me  on those days, you could find me at the gym.  Period.  But there have been a couple of things that make this the time to make some changes in the schedule.  A big part of it is my work schedule.  It’s getting harder and harder to escape from work on Tuesdays and Thursdays because of meetings and what not.  That means leaving work late, sitting in more traffic and leaving the gym late.  That affects how late I eat dinner and how much sleep I’m getting.   After test driving it, I’m realized I’m not having those problems on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays (usually).  I get out early/on time, have half the commute and walk into an almost empty gym.  I’m going to miss some of the folks I’ve been training with but this looks like it might really be the answer.

The downside of course is that I have to get up earlier to get to work.  It’s only about an hour earlier but it’s an hour in the morning when it’s still dark.  No chance I’m just going to naturally wake up on my own at that hour.  And I hate alarm clocks.  Seriously.  If alarm clock throwing for distance was an Olympic sport, I would win everything.

We’ve also made some changes to my programming for the first time in like 2 years.  This time, we started off with a lot more volume than I’m used to.  And by a lot more, I mean all of it.  Like we might as well just call it cardio (ewwwwwww……) and be done with it.  But sick as this sounds, I’ve actually kind of enjoyed it.   I definitely enjoyed the extra volume on my bench and I’m looking forward to seeing what this means for my lifts as we start to ramp my weights back down for my next meet (We’ll get back to that…….)

Craziness

There’s work crazy of course.  Because really, what fun would a job be if you didn’t occasionally want to push a co-worker down the stairs?

Sadly, there has also been diet craziness.  My most recent check in with my nutrition coach was less than stellar.  She was gracious enough to not just look at me like “Dude……. The f&%$?” but that doesn’t change the fact that I’m not where I wanted to be.  I’m just going to go ahead and blame the volume for at least some of this because there were seriously days when there was not enough food anywhere.  We’ve re-looked at some of the goals and some of the plan to get there and we’re going to try a slightly different approach going forward.

What?  This isn't an appropriate post-deadlift snack?

What? This isn’t an appropriate post-deadlift snack?

And then there was the body crazy……..

About 3 weeks ago, I woke up one fine Friday morning only to discover that my right hip and lower back were so locked up that I couldn’t get out of bed.  I finally managed to roll/slide out of bed and get myself into an up right position but it sucked pretty bad.  My chiropractor was able to get me in as one of his early appointments where we discussed all of the various things I could have mangled and how I might have done it.   There weren’t any real concrete answers but the going theory was that I strained my psoas (based on where and how I was in pain) and I was cleared to bench that night if I could get on and off the bench comfortably and multiple follow-up appointments were scheduled.  There was no benching that night.  I did one set with the bar and then got stuck trying to sit back up on the bench.  I spent the rest of my time at the gym that night pissed off, alternating between laying on an ice pack and doing mobility work trying to get stuff to let go.

There was a bit of a silver lining to all this though.  That weekend was the same weekend I was volunteering at the MAAC.  That meant that I would have access to all the massage therapists and chiropractors there to treat the athletes competing.  So in the end, I had 3 adjustments and 1 stretching/mobility intervention in 4 days and was back to squatting (though at a lower weight than we’d planned) by Monday.  By the end of the week I was back on my program like nothing happened.  Bullet officially dodged.

Catching up

So I could do a whole run down of all the training but let’s be honest, that would be like another 1000 words easy and no one really wants to read all that.  Especially since most of the funny stuff that’s happened in the last 2 months is totally escaping me at the moment.  So I’ll just skip to the highlights.

Squats

We started the volume bit of the training cycle with 10 sets of 5 at 255lbs (about 55%) and worked up to 10 sets of 3 at 350 by the end of the cycle.  I’ve already mentioned that I kind of enjoyed it.  But I’m not sure “enjoyed” is the right word.  Maybe it’s more of a sense of satisfaction.  I’ve never hit this much volume this heavy (or possibly at all) so it’s good to see that it’s possible.  And that it won’t kill me no matter how much whining I do between sets.

So many squats...........

So many squats………..

I’ve started to transition into some of the heavier sets now as we start to ramp down towards meet prep.  I’d like to say they were going better but honestly, my first heavy day was garbage.   Everything felt off and I didn’t even manage to get in a set at 400lb which was my goal for the day.  I’m mostly over it now and we’ll see how thing work out over the next couple of weeks.

Bench

There isn’t a lot to say about bench except that, well, there’s been a lot of it.  Aside from hitting some volume similar to my squat, we’ve also added in a good bit of assistance work.  Close grip, wide grip, incline, dumbbells, incline dumbbells……..  Pretty much if we think it’s going to help my bench, it’s shown up.   And it seems to be working.  In the last couple of weeks, I’ve managed to hit 175 for a set of 10 followed nearly right away by another set of 9.  This week, I hit 230 for a nice double and while that’s not a PR, the last time I hit a double that heavy was at the end of meet prep for the Arnolds.

Deadlift

After changing some of the deadlift programming going into the Arnolds, we learned some stuff.  First, that I really, really like to do singles.  My set up feels more consistent and I’m definitely getting in more volume without stuff getting sloppy.  Second, I think we peaked out too late going into the Arnolds.  So we’re running basically the same programming again this cycle but we’re going to peak out  a week earlier than we would have in the past to give me some time to recover.

Counting Deadlifts

Because counting is hard

So how’s it going?  We’re still working through sets of 15.  This week, I hit 387 and I’ll just say that shit got real in a hurry.  For about the first 7-8 reps I was able to lie to myself that I was totally going to get through all of them on  the rest scheme that was planned.  For the last 3 reps or so I ended up taking nearly twice the rest.    And the last rep took about 15 seconds to lock out (as a comparison, my early reps took like 4 seconds.)  It was slow but I finished it.  And it was super smooth.  There was a time pretty recently when I would have hitched to finish it instead of pulling smoothly through my sticking point.  So this is s definite improvement.  As I was laying on the floor trying to recover and maybe get my soul to return to my body, I realized that I was going to have to do the same thing next week except heavier.  There may have been some slightly hysterical laughter at that point.

The other stuff

PRs aren’t just for competition lifts.  Especially when we’re talking about lifts that make up the core of my assistance work.  As things get heavier with these lifts it gives me a pretty good indication of how my main lifts are going to progress.

I’ve been chasing some solid front squat and press progress and in the last couple of weeks I’ve finally started to see it.

Last week’s front squats  were 275 x 3 and this weeks were 285 x 3.  My previous max was 290 so……..  We’re going to run these out for a couple more weeks and see if I can get over 300 for reps.  My only concern is that they’ll start to interfere with my deadlift since I front squat as part of my warm up.  So we’ll see what happens.

Press has gone similarly well.  I was able to triple my previous max of 140 as well as hitting 142.5 for a triple the following week.  This week I failed 145 on the third rep so I’m going to take the weight down a bit and start working some 5’s and see where we end up.

So What Now?

Earlier I mentioned my next meet……  A couple of weeks ago, I got an invite to compete with Team USA at the NAPF Regional Championship in Saskatchewan, Canada in July.  So it looks like my off season is over and it’s back to work.

And finally………  Congratulations to Crossfit 12 Labours Columbia who are headed back to the Crossfit Games with a 3rd place finish in the Altantic Regionals!  Y’all are awesome!

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