Tuesday, May 8 – Wednesday, June 20

Ups and downs (sometimes literally)

I’ve been much better at maintaining a regular gym schedule during these six weeks than had been the case. In part it’s because my hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer have gotten less onerous, in part it’s because the workload at my main job has been pretty reasonable, but mostly it’s because of good, old-fashioned determination. I’ve gone to the gym at least three times each week, more often four or five. Even when we were in Vermont for five days, staying at a hotel whose fitness center was largely devoid of weights, I used the elliptical every evening.

So, what about progress? Well in one exercise I’ve made amazing progress in this time span. Pull-ups, generally with the neutral grip, have been one of those off-and-on exercises for me for years. I’ll do them for a while, lose interest, start up again sometime later, lose interest, rinse and repeat. You get the idea.

Well, right about when we got back from Vermont in late May I decided that I was going to do more pull-ups, no more excuses. At that time I could manage sets of no more than four, and usually my form on the last rep would be pretty bad. In a little over three weeks, to my amazement, I’ve doubled my count – that’s right, I can now do a set of eight, and with decent form too. While I’m not yet able to do multiple sets of eight, I have done 8-7-6-5 progressions. Next up, a set of ten. I’m confident it will happen soon.

Not everything has gone so well, unfortunately. My progress on deadlifts has been very slow, so slow it’s barely above “nonexistent.” I’m considering ditching the standard bar entirely and using the trap bar in its place. In the past that worked well for me, hopefully it will get me out of the rut I’m now in.

As for other exercises, my troublesome shoulder is mostly better, and I’ve resumed barbell bench pressing. Just to avoid trouble I’m not trying to set any records. I top out at 225 and usually don’t do more than a few reps at that level. I’m also relying on pec deck flies and, more recently, dumbbell pullovers for chest work. While the pull-ups are my main back exercise, I supplement them with one-arm dumbbell rows, now keeping my feet next to each other as that’s better than one in front of the other as I had been doing. If I have a few minutes to spare I’ll do some cable pulldowns, but just as auxiliary work. s for legs, I mainly do machine stuff, leg presses and seated leg curls, though I’ve started doing squats once again, nothing heavy, and also do stiff-legged deadlifts.

In addition to my exercises I’ve been doing a good deal of research on supplements, and currently I take Redcon1 Total War pre-workout and Big Noise pump before I go to the gym, and whey protein and creatine afterwards. There’s no doubt that whey protein and creatine are highly useful, and while the two Redcon1 products aren’t as proven they do get good reviews and are worth a try.

Published in: on June 21, 2018 at 1:52 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, April 30 – Monday, May 7

About that deadlifting …

So predictable. After my grand return to deadlifting I didn’t do any more during this week. I wanted to, I really did, but with the busy season at the Major Home Improvement Retailer in full swing I’m just too enervated for such a taxing exercise. On Wednesday the 2nd I worked an excruciating 4:30 to 11pm after a typical seven hour day at my main job.   The next day I didn’t have the MHIR but was too wiped out for the gym. Friday I was able to make it to the gym but just didn’t have the energy to deadlift. As for Saturday and Sunday, not only did I work eight hours each day but I started at the ghastly hour of 5am on Saturday. Ick. Sunday was a slightly more tolerable but still too-early 7am start.

Which isn’t to say that I did nothing at the gym. I made it there three times in this time period, and while I didn’t deadlift I was able to do some decent upper-body work. Because of some lingering shoulder soreness I’ve stayed away from bench presses in favor of a decline press machine. I know, machines < free weights, but I’d rather use a machine that doesn’t cause any significant pain. I’m not a masochist.

In any event, I have two weeks off from both jobs at the end of May, we’re going to Vermont for four days and the rest of the time I’ll just give myself a much-deserved break from all the hours I’ve been working. Definitely no excuse not to deadlift.

Published in: on May 11, 2018 at 2:31 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, April 28 – Sunday, April 29

Both days were full 8-hour shifts at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, but rather than miss two gym days I made a quick visit early on Saturday before work. For reasons I can’t explain, my strength level was very low. After a couple failed attempts to move any decent kind of weight on a decline bench machine I threw in the towel, so to speak, and did pec deck flies and triceps cable pushdowns. Decidedly unspectacular numbers on both of them. Still, it’s something.
I didn’t go at all on Sunday, however I did such an endless amount of heavy lifting and carrying at the MHIR it hardly mattered!

Published in: on May 1, 2018 at 1:00 am  Leave a Comment  

Friday, April 27

Return to deadlifting

[Note] After being so neglectful of this site for so long, my plan is to keep it going as a gym training log. My general ranting is at Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/peter.rosa.71
Thank you]

With a day off from both jobs today I decided that I’d better get back on the stick and do some deadlifting. It’s been way too long. It turned out to be a decent, reasonably pain-free session, very low numbers but after such a long time away that’s fine by me. I used the conventional stance, some people prefer the sumo stance but it’s always been awkward.

  • 4 x 185
  • 4 x 205
  • 2 x 225
  • 2 x 235
  • 2 x 245
  • 2 x 255
  • 2 x 265
  • 1 x 275

While doing the second rep at 255 I was still cruising along and had hopes of making it to 305. Unfortunately, the set at 265 suddenly got much harder, and getting the single at 275 was a struggle. Soon enough, I’m sure.

I did other back work, specifically seated cable rows (4 x 8 x 165), Hammer Strength high rows (6 x 6 x 90/90), and finally shrugs on a deadlift machine (4 x 8 x 270).



Published in: on April 28, 2018 at 1:03 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 27 – Friday, February 16

Progress in fits and starts

My gym progress during this period has not been entirely satisfactory, but not unsatisfactory either. One slight obstacles is that my main job has gotten much busier than in the past. Instead of working from 7am to around 2pm with a couple of breaks, it’s been more like 7 to 2:30 or 3 with maybe a single 5-minute break if I’m lucky.  What I’m finding is that when I work that hard during the day it’s harder to do well at the gym in the evening. Not impossible, of course, especially since my hours at the Major Home Improvement Retailer have been rather light, but more difficult.

Most upper-body work has been going well. I’ve been managing sets of four at 225, and can get up to 12 to 15 total reps at that weight. Yes, I know, I’ve done better in the past, but after a too-long stretch of doing too little I find this a reasonable degree of progress. I’ve yet to go for sets of five, but that will come soon enough. For back work, I’ve been concentrating on one-arm dumbbell rows, at this point I’m using a 75-pound dumbbell  with good form and don’t see any obstacle to further progress. Hopefully 100’s won’t be too far off.

It’s with lower-body work that I’ve been lagging. A couple of attempts at squats haven’t gone well, too much soreness the next day, and I’ve not been motivated to try deadlifting at all. As a result I’ve been using various leg presses around the gym, as well as seated leg curls. That’s better than nothing, of course, but I really should be doing more. It’s really just a matter of motivation, or the lack thereof.

Published in: on February 18, 2018 at 3:37 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 22 – Friday, January 26

Barely found time

This was one tough week at my main job. It was a tough work cycle, which is odd in a way because it was the second week of the 2-week cycle and usually the second week is easier. Not now, and I’m actually not sure why.  I was able to make it to the gym on Monday and Friday evenings, with two relatively decent sessions: leg work on Monday, upper body work on Friday. I know I should have done squats or deadlifts for leg work, but I just didn’t have the urge and did machine stuff instead. Leg presses, extensions, curls, the usual suspects.

After a rather dull shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer on Wednesday evening, I returned to the gym on Thursday for some bench presses and auxiliary work. It went surprisingly well. After getting started with 6 x 135, 6 x 165, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, I managed 3 x 225, 2 x 2 x 225, 1 x 225. My first triple in a while. After the 225’s I finished with 4 x 205, 6 x 185. I then did pec deck flies, 4 x 8 x 145, and finished with dumbbell French presses, 4 x 8 x 55. An increase of five pounds on the French presses from last time.

Published in: on February 3, 2018 at 3:15 am  Leave a Comment  

Saturday, January 20 – Sunday, January 21

Nothing record-setting in Saturday’s gym work. I did back stuff, starting with cable pulldowns, 5 x 8 x 150. Not too bad, though there is something about that exercise that just doesn’t float my boat, so to speak. It may be time to move onto something else. I also did SLDL’s, 3 x 8 x 155, and some machine work of no particular note.

Sunday was an 8-hour shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer, my first such shift in a while. I had forgotten just how long eight hours can be!

Published in: on February 3, 2018 at 3:01 am  Comments (1)  

Thursday, January 18 – Friday, January 19

Finally doing the auxiliary work

Thursday marked the end of the workweek at my main job and it was even tougher than the first three days had been. Ugh. I have one more week of this brutal work cycle to go, but it should be a bit more manageable as I will be at worksites that usually go well. At least I hope so.

No gym on Thursday, another rest day, but after doing some day-off chores on Friday I went in the early afternoon. It was surprisingly crowded given the time.  It had dawned on me that while I had benched on Wednesday I hadn’t done any of the upper body auxiliary work, so that’s what I now did. Some residual soreness in my right shoulder made dumbbell shoulder presses inadvisable so I did light machine shoulder work instead. Dumbbell French presses: 5 x 8 x 50. Up five pounds from last time. Hammer Strength shoulder presses: 4 x 8 x 70/70. Light, I know. Pec deck flies: 4 x 8 x 150. Yet again up five pounds from last time. All in all I made the best of a non-ideal situation.

Published in: on January 21, 2018 at 3:58 am  Leave a Comment  

Tuesday, January 16 – Wednesday, January 17

Making (slow) progress

Both of these were tough days at my main job, I’m very glad I wasn’t scheduled at the Major Home Improvement Retailer. Seriously, I don’t know how I would have managed. I didn’t go to the gym on Tuesday, I definitely needed a day off after Monday’s leg work, which left me quite sore. In fact I’m not looking forward to my next leg session, I’ll just have to figure out how to deal with it.

Wednesday I did bench presses, and made a concerted effort to progress from my last bench session at which I topped out doing four singles at 225. My effort worked out well. I did 6 x 135, 6 x 155, 6 x 185, 4 x 205, 2 x 2 x 225, 1 x 225, 1 x 225, 4 x 205, 6 x 185. That’s right, instead of four singles I managed two doubles and two singles. It’s slow progress but progress nonetheless.

Published in: on January 21, 2018 at 3:47 am  Leave a Comment  

Monday, January 15

Sobering numbers

It was a moderately difficult day at my main job, with the start of a new 2-week work cycle, but with some people having the day off for Martin Luther King Day traffic was noticeably lighter than usual. Nice, but of course that won’t last.

After a very long time away from them I actually did squats at the gym. It’s been so long I had no idea what sort of numbers I had done the last time out, so to play it safe I started with just 135 pounds. The good news is that I did six reps with very good depth, the bad news is that it was much harder than I had anticipated. A very sobering experience. I did two more sets of six at 155, and decided not to push it any further. If there’s a takeaway lesson in all this, it is that squats are not a “natural” movement, in other words it takes a while to get back to any sort of meaningful numbers after a long time away. Guess I’ve got a lengthy quest ahead of me.

I also did some machine leg exercises: Cybex leg presses, 6 x 330, 3 x 6 x 290, and Cybex leg extensions, 4 x 6 x 150. After all of that I did some stretching work on the mat. And yes, leg presses aren’t remotely comparable to squats.

Published in: on January 18, 2018 at 3:00 am  Leave a Comment