Tuesday, September 11 – Sunday, September 30

I’d characterize my gym progress over these not-quite three weeks as generally satisfactory if not outstanding. My bench press maximum remains at the 265 I got in early September. I failed at 275, and for the last couple of weeks have done sub-maximal work. Once I’m more accustomed to doing multiple sets at 225 I might make another attempt at 275, and if I’m successful I’ll start a run for 300.
Most other exercises are going well. I’ve really gotten into a groove on one-arm dumbbell rows, now up to a 100-pounder, and dumbbell pullovers have become sort of my new favorite exercise. With the safety squat bar remaining unrepaired, and as I’m not willing to risk shoulder trouble by doing ordinary squats, I’m using mostly machines for legs, coupled with SLDL’s and (sub-maximal) trap bar deadlifts. Oh, and as for standing calf machine shrugs? I’ll have to try something else, as I’m at the machine’s maximum weight of 450 pounds 🙂

Published in: on October 2, 2018 at 1:12 am  Leave a Comment  

Thursday, September 6 – Monday, September 10

One good, one bad

Three gym trips in this span, on Friday, Saturday and Monday to be specific. Thursday was a rest day and Sunday I worked a full shift at the Major Home Improvement Retailer.

Friday wasn’t really much. No weights, I just used the elliptical for a while and did yoga-type stretching work on the mat. Saturday was a different story, I went in the evening and did some pretty hard back work. First came one-arm dumbbell rows, 5 x 8 x 90/90. This wasn’t an increase in weight from last time, but that’s okay because 90 still represents a lot of effort. Then came dumbbell pullovers, 5 x 8 x 70. Five pounds up since last time.  Onto the standing calf machine for shrugs, 4 x 10 x 350, and I ended the session, sore but exhilarated, with seated cable rows at 4 x 8 x 165.

As for Monday, I did leg work, but not much of it. I couldn’t deal with the pain that would result from using the poorly padded safety squat bar and am still concerned enough about my shoulders to avoid ordinary squats. Instead I used the squat press machine I’ve been using, 4 x 8 x 550. What with the gym being so crowded on Monday, even though I went at 4pm, there was a wait to use this machine and when I was on it there were people waiting. I hate it when the gym’s mobbed. Anyway, that represents an increase of 50 pounds from last time out. I then did SLDL’s, 3 x 8 x 175, fewer total reps than last time and 10 pounds less on the top set. My lower back was so sore I couldn’t do any better. Ugh. In an attempt to salvage something from the session I did some work on a seated back extension machine and on a leg extension machine, not even keeping track of sets and resistance levels.

Published in: on September 12, 2018 at 3:07 am  Leave a Comment  

Wednesday, September 5

Only 35 pounds away

No gym on Tuesday, but Wednesday’s session went very well. Arriving a little before 4pm I had a bench-only session. Having reached 255 last time out I decided to go for 265 this time, and did fewer reps on the way up so I wouldn’t lose too much strength along the way: 2 x 135, 2 x 165, 2 x 185, 2 x 205, 2 x 225, 1 x 235, 1 x 245, 1 x 255, 1 x 265, 6 x 225, 4 x 4 x 225.

265 felt really good, I was almost tempted to go for 275 but decided that slow and steady wins the race, just like they taught you in elementary school. Now the Holy Grail (aka 300 pounds) is just 35 pounds away, which is a pleasant thought. Another thing I liked about this session is that I had a total of 28 reps at 225 or better, even considering that I did fewer reps on the way up to 265. Finally, except for the sixth rep on my drop set at 225, none of the reps were really difficult, and even that one was only a minor struggle. Hopefully that bodes well for my quest to get to 300.

Published in: on September 5, 2018 at 9:19 pm  Leave a Comment  

Monday, September 3

A new start for Labor Day

After neglecting this blog for so long I’ve decided to be more diligent about keeping it updated with my gym training results.  Since the last update in late June I’ve made reasonable progress with some exercises.  My bench press is now at the point where reps at 225 are unremarkable. To give you an idea, at my most recent session on Saturday, after some warmup sets I did 4 x 225, 3 x 235, 2 x 245, 1 x 255, 2 x 4 x 225, 2 x 3 x 225. Looking at it another way, my top set of 255 is just 45 pounds away from the Holy Grail of 300. Next session I’ll go for 265.

Back work is also going well, in addition to neutral grip pull-ups I’m up to doing one-arm dumbbell rows with a 90 pound dumbbell. I came across a tip for making this exercise more strict, namely keeping my feet parallel. Another exercise that I’ve taken to doing are dumbbell pullovers, I’m up to sets of ten with a 65-pounder.  About the only major exercise where I’m not making much of an effort are deadlifts. Just can’t get into them.

As for today’s session, it was leg work. I did some light squats using the safety squat bar, 6 x 155, 6 x 175, 3 x 4 x 225. Next I used a squat press machine I’ve gotten to like, 10 x 450, 4 x 10 x 500 … if only I had those numbers on real squats! I ended with straight-legged deadlifts (SLDL’s), 8 x 145, 8 x 165, 3 x 8 x 185.

Published in: on September 4, 2018 at 2:08 am  Leave a Comment  

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  Comments (1)  

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