Saturday, March 30, 2013

Post-PR Variety: Windmills, 1-leg DL's, side splits

I thought about lifting, but after a PR Front Squat 2 days ago, I still feel in need of more rest and recovery.

I had a chance to look myself over and stand on the scale today - I've got muscles in my quads, just above my knees, that I haven't had since I was a serious cyclist.  I've also gained a couple of pounds - weighed 155, almost 156 this morning.

Also thought about running but it didn't happen today.

Also thought about pistols and pushups but decided I needed a rest from those, too.  Decided against ab work, too, but did consider it.  A much needed rest from all the usual stuff, and that's appropriate on the weekend for me.

Walked a bit, perhaps 1 or 1.5 miles.

Worked the cossack sequence, then did it again later and continued into side splits - felt fantastic!

Did a few windmills each side with only 12 kg - I should do these more often.

Did a few one-leg deadlifts with a pair of 20 kg bells - not hard, did a single right, a single left, then 2 reps right and 2 reps left.  These also ought to be in my program more often, even as warmups.

Onward and Upward - we'll see what happens tomorrow, but maybe no lifting until Monday.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Week 3, Variety - pistols and 1-arm push-up

Walk early about 1.5 miles

Pistol, lf, 4 - recent best

1-arm pushup, rf, 3

5:00 rest

Pistol, lf,  2 but second rep deeper

1-arm pushup, rf, 1

5:00 rest

Pistol, lf, 1very deep - was hoping for a pause but was too unstable at the bottom.

1-arm pushup, rf, 1 - right better than left this time, which is backwards of usual for me.

Will try to walk again later.

Onward and Upward.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Week 3, Day 2 - FSQ New 8RM: 165 lbs.

Yesterday, Wednesday - a good day off from weights and got some bodyweight work done.  Walked a bit as well:  Didn't take pistols super-low, which I usually do, which makes them much easier.

Pistol: lf, 2

2-step 1A2L pushup, rf, 2

Pistol: lf, 3

2-step 1A2L pushup, rf, 1

Brought out an apple box that seems to be the right size for the steps, makes it easier not to hit my face at the bottom.

Today, Thursday, pump iron. :)  But first, on porch

Pistol: lf, 2 alternating singles each side, failed on 3rd attempt right.  Took these deep.

pushup as above: rf, 2 each way - getting stronger at these


135 x 1 deep and paused, 2 deep and paused

165 x 8 - a PR, up from 5 a few months ago

165 x 5 - restraint here, could have done more but the first set was a PR and I am having a bit of a slow day today, too, so we'll be happy with a set of 5, and we'll still try a 3rd set in a few minutes

165 x 1 - OK, I am tired, and I am tired of squatting today. - all three sets of FSQ

Previous bests were 170 x 4 and 175 x 3 so we'll try for 170 x 5 reps x 3 sets at our next session.

20: 1-hand swing, lf, 30 swings switching every 5, took about 1 min

WHEEL: standing, 4th step, 2, 3

Onward and Upward

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Week 3, Day 1, FSQ 160 x 8 reps x 3 sets

I took off Sunday and Monday - was tired after Saturday's 155 lb x 8 reps x 3 sets, and when I considered lifting on Monday, I found myself debating whether I should lift or take a nap - when that's the choice, the nap wins for me.

I did do some pistols and 2-step 1-arm pushups during those two days, however, just no weights.  I also walked about 3 miles Monday and 2 miles on Sunday.

Today, Tuesday, I forgot about my bodyweight stuff and did FSQ: 135 x 3, but then I went out onto the front porch and did:

pistol - lf, failed once each side at the bottom

pistol - hold toe with both hands, lf, 2

2-step 1A2L pushup, rf, 2

pistol - no toe hold, lf, 2 but not nearly as deep as we'd been doing

2-step 1A2L pushup, rf, 1

Back to FSQ:

160 x 8 - f@#$in' A, yeah!, x 8 - yes again, a little slower but still solid, x 8

Interesting today - before first set of 160, I did what I needed, which found me relaxing and my breathing rate slowed way down.  Then I opened my eyes, stepped under the bar, and got the job done.  Previous best FSQs are 165 x 5, 180 x 3, and 185 x 2.  I think 165 x 8 is looking good for tomorrow or Thursday

20: 1-hand swing, lf, 30 swings switching every 5, took about 1 min

WHEEL: standing, 4th step, 2, 2

Onward and Upward

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Week 2, Day 4 - FSQ 155 x 8 x 3 sets, Towel Pullups, Swings

Skipped lifting yesterday, today is Saturday and Day 4 of Week 2.

On the front porch

Crane Pistol x 1 alternating single each way, 5 breaths at bottom of each

Elevated 1A pushup on second step, right first, one each way

Crane Pistol x 1 alternating single each way, 3 breaths at bottom of each


135 x 2 - paused and exhaled

155 x 8 , 8 , 8 all bounced

After reading about something like this in PTTP Professional:

Back-off sets: background: normally have pins on hole #8, safeties on hole #3.

Safeties on hole #6, to pins with release and quick recatch, 185 x 5

Safeties on hole #5, to pins as above, 185 x 2

A good introduction to backoff sets with heavier weights and to the rack pins.  Weight represents a 20% increase over work sets, approximately +30 on 150 lbs.  Will check book for guidance on weight and pin height.

No presses today.

Towel pullup, 2 singles, switch sides of towel between but no additional rest - body rotates towards whichever side is at back.  Grip started to slip on second rep but still got chin over bar.

WHEEL: standing, 4th step, 3 - made first rep not full extended and made each rep a little better

24: swing, lf, 1-hand, 5L+5R+5L+5R in about :30.  Left hand grip unsteady, need to work on it.

Onward and Upward

Friday, March 22, 2013

Week 2: Variety/Off Day

It's Friday, I'm tired.  I walked a bit in the cold this morning with my wife and I'm going to skip weights and most bodyweight exercise as well.  The weather is more like February here than almost April - enough, already!

I did some stretching earlier, and also did a crow pose for about 30 seconds, the longest I've held it.  I did it with my elbows inside my knees, much like one would do a goblet squat in terms of where your arms and legs meet.

Took a trip to Corrado's in Clifton, NJ, today - an iconic grocery store, full of everything under the sun, in huge quantities, and at fantastic prices.  We used to go there a lot, haven't been in a decade or more.  It's about a 20 minute car ride and we're spoiled because we can walk to three different grocery stores.

Will walk more and stretch more later today, and hopefully hit the bodyweight stuff and/or the iron tomorrow.

Onward and Upward!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Week 2, Day 3, FSQ 150 lb. x 8 reps x 3 sets

Walk w/ my wife to warmup - a cold, gray day but not so bad once we walked a bit.

I still have a cold but it's getting better - can breath through my nose again.

On the porch:

1 Crane Pistol each way - form ever improving, solid pause at the bottom of each, hips square, still working on getting front of foot involved at the bottommost position on left side.

1 1A2L pushup on the second porch step - much improved form as well.

Decided to not push things but perhaps to get another set of singles on each in later in the day if possible, otherwise it will wait - a good finish, and good progress on both.

Now on to weights

Bat Wings: 25 lb. dumbbells x 10 seconds x 3


bar: franken x 5

135 x 1 - felt slow, lower back feels stiff

150 x 8 paused, x 8 paused, x 8 bounced - no more 10-12 reps on the last set, me thinks ...

24: mil press, lf, 3 + towel pullup x 1 - hands slipped down on the towel a bit, maybe the exercise in the cold dried out my skin ...

Repeat - kept grip but didn't quite get chin over bar.  Interesting day w/ these.

Out of time.

Edit - came back an hour later and did exactly 1 standing ab wheel on 4th step.  These put my back into a good place - always.

Onward and Upward.

Week 2, Day 3 - FSQ, KB Press, BW-only

Starting to do some math - Team StrongFirst meet will be June 22, that means a 13-week cycle would start the last week in March.  We'll have to see how everything is going over these next few weeks.  There is also a USAPL meet I could do in May, hmmm...

Tired, didn't sleep terribly well last night - my wife coughing again with a cold she's having trouble shaking.

Very short qigong into 2 alternating crane pistols each way with several second pause at the bottom.  On first rep each side, took several breaths at the bottom, second rep, just paused.  Progress - same reps as yesterday but on less rest.  Maybe 3 alternating singles tomorrow.

Did all this on the front porch in 34 degree weather and without a coat, came in to warm up.

1A1L pushup -

tried on bench in rack, right first, 1 - right side decent, left side lousy.  Repeated, assisted up from bottom position with other hand.

This is too much change from the porch railing - will now try with 2 feet instead of 1.

1A2L pushup - went left first, got 2 reps each side, this is what we'll work on for now, could feel other foot starting to lighten up on second side, which is, of course, just fine.


bar x 12 - getting left wrist/hand in better position

115 x 1 - paused, exhaled

130 x 8, 8, 11 - same protocol w/ first 2 sets paused, 3rd set bounced.  Might have gotten a 12th or more rep but the going was starting to get difficult so I decided, since I want to do this again tomorrow, to stop where I did.

Tired now ...

24: mil press, lf, 3, 4

WHEEL, standing, 4th step, 2, 2, 2 - high rep count, progress, getting a little further out.

Onward and Upward

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Week 2, Day 2 - FSQ 145 x 8, 8, 10

On the road Monday, have a cold so off on Tuesday, today is Wednesday and lifting w/ my son who is using 120 lbs.  Cold is better than yesterday but not great.

Warmup: 2-hand swings, 32 kg, 20 reps


bar x 3

95 x 1

145 x 8 paused, 8 mix of paused and bounced to show my son the difference, 10 bounced.   I'm still good for 3 sets of 8, I can tell, not for a long while longer but we're going to keep with it while the keepin' is good.

NB: Old log shows 165 x 5 as 5RM, we will aim to beat that this time around.

BP: 115 x 3 long pause, 155 x 3 1-sec pause

WHEEL; 4th step, standing, 2 reps - felt a little foreign today

Onward and Upward

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Week 2, Day 1 - A Day Early, FSQ 140 x 8, 8, 11

My wife is off for two weeks and we're out all day tomorrow, helping her almost 92-year-old Aunt in PA, so do the usual Monday things today, Sunday, instead.

Crane Pistol on the front porch: 3 alternating singles each way.  Working on keeping some weight on ball of foot at bottom of left side - that's why my strength is weak at the bottom there - all the weight is on my heel.

1A2L Pushup, alternating singles, right first, 2 on bench.  Right shoulder is clearly not doing what it's supposed to, and when I try to make it do what it's supposed to, it hurts, so work some assisted reps on the right side.


140 x 8 paused, x 8 paused, x 11 bounced

24: mil press, lf, 2, 2

bw - towel pullup (after reading Bill Fox's post about doing 50 of them in a single workout) - 1

24: mil press, lf, 2 + towel pullup x 1

24: mil press, lf, 4 + towel pullup x 1 - very interesting that towel pullups intensified my grip which, in turn, enabled me to do more presses with the same effort.

WHEEL: standing 4th step, 2, 3 - a lot of soreness in my abs, and the set of 3 weren't as low as usual but I feel like I need to keep juggling the intensity and the volume, so we'll try to get some better sets of 3 in the days ahead.

Onward and Upward

Friday, March 15, 2013

Week 1, Day 4 Pistol, FSQ

Forgot to do 1A pushups today, maybe will get them later

Pistol: bw only, 2 alternating singles on the front porch, each as my Crane Pistol, each with a decently long pause at the bottom.  Went left first, and on the third rep, I got down but didn't have the strength to come back up again so skipped the right side.  Trying to really dorsiflex is costing me some bottom position strength, but it's also highlighting that I am much weaker on my left side in this very deep position, something I'm hoping more regular pistol practice will fix.

FSQ - short on time, so:

95 x 3

135 x 8 paused, 8 paused, 11 bounced.

I videotaped all 3 sets - rather boring watching if you ask me

Nothing else today.

Onward and Upward.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Week 1 Variety/Off/Easy

Walk 3 miles

Pistols and 1A1L pushups on the porch

bw - crane pistol x 1 each side, right first.

5 x 1A1L pushup on porch railing - time for something lower

bw - 1 pistol each way, left first this time

Batwings - 25 lb. dumbbells, don't think holds were 10 seconds, more like 5, did 5 reps.

Onward and Upward

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Week 1, Day 2 - Repeat Yesterday

Again, Crane Pistol each side but this time, able to spend a few shallow breaths in the bottom position.  Again as part of a quick qigong routine, and again followed by 1A1L pushups on the porch railing, but this time the reps were better - 3 each way and not alternating, just 3 right arm and 3 left.


bar x 12 - pause

125 x 8  - paused, 8 - paused, 10 - bounced,  Weight is +5 from yesterday, same set/rep/pause-bounce scheme.  Hands not happy under the bar today, probably just need to stretch them a little more after the pushups.

My previous cycle started with 135 x 5 - this is a lot more reps with basically the same weights and it's what I need.  A little muscle on my skinny thighs won't hurt. :)  If I lift Th/Fri this week and the goin' is still good, I'll hit 135 x 8 reps x 3 sets on Friday

24: mil press, lf, 3, 3, 2 - total 8, best yet this cycle, form continues to refine itself and improve.  The clean is everything, and when my clean gets better, my press will, too.

WHEEL, standing 4th step, 2 - no more time today

Onward and Upward

Monday, March 11, 2013

More of the Same - Sets of 8 in the FSQ

Took it easy on Saturday.

Yesterday, Sunday, walked 3 miles with my wife, and just before dinner, decided to do a pistol each side on the front porch and got my best pistols to date of the last few months - yeah!

This morning, a quick Crane Frolic qigong, including the Crane Pistol, on the front porch.  Finished with 3 1A1L pushups each side using the porch railing.  Didn't feel great on my back on the second side, which was left hand and right leg, bit of pressure on the herniated disc.  I'm thinking that all this one-sided, bw-type stuff needs to happen as warmup and/or finishers, and I'm hoping that warmups done this way will make the heavy lifting go better.

OHS - stick, a few bouncy reps


bar x 8 - pause

120 x 8 - paused, 8 - paused, 10 - bounced,  Weight is +5 from Friday, and if I keep going +5 twice a week, I'm going to be one very strong camper 10 weeks from now.  That might not happen but I'm going 3 sets x 8 reps until I can't do it, and right now, I'm not close to my limit.  I am definitely feeling it where I need to, front of thighs, a good thing - not so much during but later in the day and on rest days.  This is the desired effect.

FSQ'ed Mon/Tue/Wed/Fri last week, that's 4 days.  Maybe we'll go for that or maybe 3 days this week, we'll see how tomorrow feels.

24: mil press, lf, 3, 4 - long rest between sets (phone call)

WHEEL, standing 4th step, 2, 2 - video 2nd set

Notes - my head is tucked in a little too much to get truly full extension, but this posture is also more protective of my back, and I'm still getting out there pretty far.  I just started doing these last week and I will straighten out the bottom as my strength and confidence in this movement returns.

Onward and Upward

Friday, March 8, 2013

More Easy Lifting

I was tired yesterday and took the day off - not so much from lifting as from the fact that my wife's cold has been waking her up in the middle of the night, coughing, and with it, me, too.

Today, Friday:

24 kg: mil press, lf, 3, 3


bar x 6 Franken

115 x 8 - some paused, some bounced

115 x 8 - bounced - first few felt really good, fluid.  These get my heart rate right up there

115 x 8 - bounced - first time for 3 sets of 8 in one workout, had been feeling it, in a good way, in the thighs after Mon/Tue/Wed of fast FSQ, hopefully this help.  It certainly helps the fear factor of squatting quickly with my lower back.

Going to have to give up on pistols after FSQ - dear abbies are tired

Assisted one-arm, one-leg pushup - progress!  Still table/hip height but 2 reps each side, right arm first, form improving.

No wheel or other ab work today, either - again, abbies just got a good workout with the pushups and we'll call it a day here.

Onward and Upward - it was a good 2nd week after a meet.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

More Easy Lifting, Post Meet Week #2, Same 5 Lifts as Yesterday

This is another day of plan-less lifting, kind of have Easy Strength on my mind, though.  I'm going to basically repeat yesterday's exercises:  kb mil press, barbell FSQ, bw pistol, bw assisted one-arm pushup, wheel rollout.

Bodyweight was light this morning - 151.something, feels good, have been eating very clean and only as needed.

Warmup - walk, cossack stretch, other mobility work, e.g., hip circles, Egyptians, etc.

24: mil press, lf, 2, 3

FSQ:  105 x 8, 8 - getting better.  First rep of first set still always weird, have to try to figure out a way to deal with this in a warmup in a competition setting, would be nice to figure that out in training, too - maybe when the weight gets heavier, I guess, since my work sets are only warmup weights, anyway, right now.

bw pistol, right first this time, 2 alternating singles each way, not as deep as yesterday but happy to get 2 each side.

bw pistol, toe hold, rf, 1 negative each way - hip flexors a little fried

assisted one-arm, one-leg pushup, right arm first, 1 each way on laundry room table - better, especially right side

Wheel: standing, 4th step, 1 set of 2 reps - better than yesterday by a small bit

Onward and Upward.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Back to Lifting, Day 2

To warmup, a little Cossack stretch then

24: mil press, lf, 2, 2, 2, 2 - continuing to work on better rack position, no lean to side or back during press, and more straight up groove.


105 x 8 for speed - first 5 were fast, lost a little balance, rest weren't as quick.  All pause, no exhale.  Maybe a little too fast, right lower back felt a little funny in that pressure-on-the-nerve sort of way

105 x 5 - same but with pause and exhale, good, back feels better, made an effort to stay tighter on the way down.


Crane Pistol, lf, 1

Assisted 1A1L Pushup - RALL first, 2, using laundry room table - about hip high, just working on mechanics

Wheel Rollouts - standing, 4th step, 2 singles - not bad

Onward and Upward

Monday, March 4, 2013

Easing Back Into Lifting

After a tired, exhausted last week, the weekend found me on the road again.  I think the last time I had a normal weekend at home was in January and it's now March.  The four of us (me, my wife, and our 16- and 20-year-old sons) went to visit my wife's 91-year-old step-mother.  She cooked dinner for us - she insisted - on Saturday night and we took her out to brunch on Sunday.  Good stuff, but a lot of time behind the steering wheel and not exactly restful.

Today, more driving as I took our 20-year-old son to a musical instrument store about an hour each way away for something his teacher said he needs to have.

Also feeling a little bit under the weather today.  Both my wife and I seem to have mild versions of what our 16-year-old had last week and is still getting over.

This afternoon, here's what I did, and I hope to get back to a more regular lifting schedule the rest of the coming week.

OHS (overhead squat) - bar x 1, 1 - I have lost what ability I had at this movement and I want to get it back.  I don't need to do more than an empty bar or a just a little weight, but these felt pretty awful.

FSQ: looking for explosive upward movement

bar x 6

95 x 8 - the missing ingredient for me is having the weight centered on my feet.  I tend to keep the weight on my heels, which means I lose strength right when my quads should be kicking in.  I did the reps with butt tucked under at the top, quick to the bottom and a bounce down there, then quick up and the bar bounced on my shoulders at the top.

24 kg: mil press, lf, 2, 2, 2 - slightly narrower stance on last set.  My rack position is still not what it could be.

No swings, today, would just result in a lot of coughing ...

Onward and Upward

Friday, March 1, 2013

Crash Time

Well, after a couple of days of light exercise after my meeting, my busy Winter finally caught up to me.

I took 2 naps on Wednesday, cancelled my last lesson on Wednesday night and was in bed at 8 PM.  One more nap on Thursday (yesterday), felt decent but still not 100% by last night, again turned in earlier than usual, this time at about 9:30 PM.

Today, Friday, the sun is finally shining here in the NYC area and I feel rested and good.

Experimenting with one-arm, one-leg pushups on an elevation - interesting that my left works better than my right.

Also getting back into pistols - did a few negative-only this morning, just looking for a slow, controlled descent to rock bottom.

Tried some 1A1L pushups from totally vertical or almost so - standing, against a wall in front of me.  Also enlightening.  My issues aren't strength - no real differences this way and from close to 90 degrees away.

Onward and Upward.