Statement of Goals for Year: Lifting Deadlift: 400 Squat: 320 Bench Press: 285 Overhead Press: 170 10 Inverted Rows 10 Pullups: Running 24min 5K/3mi 2hr Half-Marathon 220 BW Statement of Goals for Cycle: Lifting Deadlift: 340 Squat: 260 Bench Press: 250 Overhead Press: 145 1 Inverted Row 1 Pullup: Running 30min 5K/3mi 3hr Half-Marathon 240 BW I'm starting my Deadlift and Squat 15-20 pounds lighter than the RMs of last cycle, to make sure I build up more slowly this time around and avoid any minor strains or pulls. In the uploaded chart, I've projected the gains and rep-counts for each eight-week cycle, and will do my best to adhere to them, and not get ahead of myself. I will try to add 10 pounds to the Deadlift and Squat, and 5 pounds to the Presses, at the beginning of each new cycle. I will also try to knock a minute off my 5K/3mi time, and 10 minutes off of my half-marathon time each cycle. If successful, I will meet my 2015 goals by the beginning of December, after six full cycles, with almost four weeks left over to deload, try something new, or continue with more of the same. In this cycle, I will try to implement a modified version of the Texas Method, scheduling a Volume workout on Monday, and Density/Assistance/Recovery workout on Wednesday, and an Intensity workout on Friday. Once again, each workout will be based on doing the six basic lifting patterns: Push up (overhead press) Push down (squat) Push out (bench press) Pull up (deadlift) Pull down (pullup) Pull in (row) I'm really going to try to let volume and frequency do just as much work as intensity, and let the gains come to me, rather than chasing after them, but I still find it difficult to trust the process. ---------------Week 1: Cycle I--------------- 15.01.04--01.10 Sunday - 01.04 AM Running 1.7 mi, -2F/-25F windchill, -32C Halfhearted fartleks around Como Lake. Only one out mid-morning, enjoyed the loudness of the cold. Monday - 01.05 AM Running 3.5 mi, -11F/-29F windchill. Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit. My shins were surprisingly sore from Sunday's short fartleks, so I just walked the whole way. PM Mobility & Flexibility 5-10 minutes. I'm going to build an identical straddle traction contraption for home use. Hurts so good. My shins were very painful when I rolled them with 'the stick.' Funny how just the little running I did on Sunday could make the lower leg muscles so tight. I'm really out of shape. Lifting -- Volume Deadlift: 3/3/4 x 215 Cable Row: 2 x 10 x 150 OH Press: 4 x 5 x 85 Squat: 3/4/4 x 125 B Press: 3/3/4 x 200 N. Pulldown: 2 x 5 x 150 Kept everything light or at reduced reps or both. Deloading stinks; everything felt heavy and/or sluggish. I wish I could've gotten in two more light workouts last week, so that I'd be ready to go this week. Oh well. I'll keep bringing things up gradually. No sign of the hip/glute pull, but I stretched between almost every set to make sure everything was nice and loose, and kept the squats to a minimum, even though it was "volume day." The garage felt cold at first, but I eventually got down to my shorts and t-shirt. I felt great afterwards--good to be lifting again. Geek alert: I really enjoyed using my smaller rubber grip plates for the first time. It's aesthetically pleasing when all the plates look the same, and I like the feel of the soft rubber, and the softer sounds while loading. Makes it easier to get in a meditative state without the clanging. Tuesday - 01.06 Early PM Running 1.7 mi, Como Lake. 8F/-5F windchill. Nice, brisk walk. Gonna wait until my shin tightness is gone before I run again. Little by little . . . I got a whole year now. Wednesday - 01.07 PM Lifting -- Density/Assistance Reloading Deadlift: 2 x 5 x 250 OH Press: 2 x 5 x 105 Squat: 5 x 150/125 Dips: 2 x 5 x BW+Green Band N. Pulldown: 2 x 5 x 150 Garage was like a refrigerator, and I was still a little sore from Monday's session after so much time off, so I just continued reloading/priming everything, building back up slowly. It's great having a long-term, yearlong perspective on this. So glad we reset for 2015. Really helps keep my OCD impulses in check. On the last rep of the first workset of squats, I felt the slightest hint of a fledgling niggle in the upper right glute/hip area, so I reduced weight for the second set. Still learning how to do dips with an band. Hopefully I'll be back to doing unassisted dips by the end of this cycle. Thursday - 01.08 Friday - 01.09 Saturday - 01.10 AM Lifting Deadlift: 4.5 x 270 Bench Press: 2/2/3/3 x 215 Squat: 3 x 85 OH Press: 3/3/4 x 110 N. Pulldown: 2 x 5 x 170 I was trying to get my workout in before the family began to wake up, so I didn't warm-up as much as I should've. Then I felt a little brash and added 30 pounds onto Wednesday's deadlift workset weight. It felt pretty easy at 270, but then on the fourth rep I felt a little something in my problem area. Very faint, almost non-existent. I probably should've stopped right there, but I wanted to get in the final rep, and then a sharp pain shot through my hip/glute area and I had to put the bar down quickly. I had aggravated that area again, only this time it hurt a lot more. Cripes. This was very frustrating. I'll have to rehab all over again and go even more slowly once I'm able to do deadlifts again. I got through most of the rest of the workout, but I wasn't very motivated. I could almost hear Dama mocking me. And then when I told my wife when she woke up, she asked me how lifting weights could possibly be good for me if I get injured doing it. Telling her that I must be doing something wrong failed to convince. So what am I doing wrong? I think not warming up enough, but also not running. I think running really helps recovery and keeps things loose. Then later in the day it occurred to me that I used to do deadlifts last, but I got this pull after I started doing them first. So maybe when the deadlifts are last I'm better warmed up. So another vote for warming up better overall. In any case, nothing I can do about it for a while. I can barely walk right now, the pain is too much. Nothing to do today except massage it, stretch it, and watch football while I play with the kids. ---------------Week 2: Cycle I--------------- 15.01.11--01.17 Sunday - 01.11 Monday - 01.12 Tuesday - 01.13 Wednesday - 01.14 Thursday - 01.15 Friday - 01.16 Saturday - 01.17 ---------------Week 3: Cycle I--------------- 15.01.18--01.24 Sunday - 01.18 Monday - 01.19 One mile or so walking through the neighborhood after dropping my daughter off at a friend's house. Tuesday - 01.20 Early morning Chiro, felt great for the rest of the day. Late afternoon: 1.7-mile walk around Como Lake. A little pain was constant, but I was able to walk at a pretty brisk pace. Felt good, but then at night it hurt like a fother-mucker. Must be all the somewhat atrophied muscles tightening up and pulling on the injured area. Still, I think a more active rehab is probably the way to go at this point. Wednesday - 01.21 Lots of massaging and stretching throughout the day. Late afternoon: 1.7-mile brisk walk around Como Lake. Pain is decreasing, I'm definitely on the mend now. Might be able to start running as early as next week . . . Thursday - 01.22 Afternoon: 1.7-mile brisk walk around Como Lake. Not enough massaging and stretching throughout the day, apparently, as I had to stop a handful of times during my walk to try to stretch the knots out, with limited success. Even so, the pain is less sever / not as debilitating. Friday - 01.23 PM 1.7 miles around Como Lake, 38F/33F windchill, barefoot for the first time in a while. Lots of residual salt but the asphalt foot path was mostly dry. Extensive massaging during the day with my Homedics back massager really helped loosen things up. I even ran 20-39 steps, but I could feel it was premature. Saturday - 01.24 AM 3.5 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit. 28F/25F windchill. Once again bare, my feet felt a little too numb towards the end. Would've been fine if I could've run. It's been encouraging this week to feel the injury heal significantly. At this rate of improvement, I think I should be able to start running short distances and do light squats by the end of next week. ---------------Week 4: Cycle I--------------- 15.01.25--01.31 Sunday - 01.25 Monday - 01.26 PM Lifting Bench Press: 2 x 5 x 125 Squat: 2 x 5 x 85 N. Pulldown: 2 x 5 x 100 Earlier in the day the Chiro gave me a clean bill of health. Over the weekend the pain had all but disappeared. Frequent massaging since my last visit and the daily walks seemed to have done the trick. Unfortunately, she told me I had bruised some muscle in my mid back as a result of overly enthusiastic use of the Homedics back massager. I had thought the pain was tightness, so I was probably making it worse each time. I think this week I'll just bring up these three lifts--bench press, squat, and pulldown--because they put the least stress on the back. OK, the squat stresses it a bit, but I think the full ROM stretch is good for it. And doing squats for a week before I try deadlifting is a good way to make sure I use the squats as a gauge for my deadlifts, as planned. During my rehab, building the loads back up, I'm not going to let the deadlift weight exceed the squat weight until my squat weight is back up where it used to be. Then I'll gradually shift the 1:1 ratio to more of a 4:5 ratio, squat to deadlift. I had intended to go for another walk before the ST, but didn't have time. I know I have to get better about warming up though as I add to the loads. I'm also going to use this period of lighter loads to try to hone a bit more on good technique. Overall, making a greater effort at 'beginner's mind' and forgetting whatever long-term goals I have. Hopefully I've learned now that the real keys are consistency and injury-prevention. Tuesday morning there's a mild, dull ache in the glute, so the squat worked that area a bit. Will start massaging it presently, but will spot it on the lower back only. Tuesday - 01.27 PM Running 3.5 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit. 34F/28F windchill. I ran about 10-15% of it, in 5-6 short segments, sort of slow Fartleks, which is a contradiction in terms, but what's Swedish for 'slow play'? The rest of the way was walking. There were a fair amount of small wet patches crossing the path with melt-off, and my feet were fairly numb by the end. I think that's the most barefoot walking I've done at that temp/windchill. I didn't feel my sacroiliac injury at all while running, but I wanted to keep it minimal my first day back in the game. I'll add a bit each day now. Wednesday - 01.28 AM Running 1-mile run-commute, 27F/16F windchill. I ran a block or so, and the legs felt fine, but then decided it was prudent to walk until I had a chance to roll and stretch out whatever tightness I might have from the previous day's outing. Baby steps . . . The surfaces were mostly dry, so I went bare again. PM Running 1-mile run-commute, 31F/?F windchill. I just walked back. Since the weekend I've had this strange soreness/tenderness on the inside of my right thigh, above the knee but in the soft tissue. At first I though it was where my son was hitting me to see if he could get a reaction, but there's no bruising. I don't think it's related to the SI injury. I'll give it this week and if it's still bothering me maybe go back to the Chiro next week. Doesn't hurt during movement, so I'm not too worried, but it's strange I can't pinpoint a cause. Lifting Cable Row: 5 x 100/100/150 Squat: 2 x 5 x 85 OHP: : 2 x 5 x 85 N. Pulldown: : 2 x 5 x 150 Bench Press: 2 x 5 x 175 The Cable Row at 150 lbs and the light Squats hinted at just a little discomfort in the Sacroiliac joint, but everything else felt good. 175 is a good weight for tweaking my bench press technique. I might stay there for a while until I got it down. I'm mostly messing with degree of elbow tuck, but also the arch in my back, seeing what degree, if any, feels good, and also with bar position, trying to come down a bit below the nips. Thursday - 01.29 PM Running 3.5 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit. 27F/12F windchill. Ran 3-4 segments, a few at an above-aerobic pace, then ran last mile continuously before stubbing my left toe a bit on Marshall Bridge. So I walked the last quarter mile or so back to my car. I guess I was a little fatigued, or maybe my feet had gotten too numb. The benefit of numbness is that the stubbing didn't hurt at all. Friday morning now the toe hurts a bit, but hopefully it'll be good to go tomorrow. It felt so good to run for real, now I want to see how two continuous miles feels. Really looking forward to getting back into running. My injured area felt 100% fine. A couple passed me at one point, just before I began the longer segment, and the dude turned to give me an enthusiastic thumbs up. I was listening to loud music, so I didn't hear if he said something too. His female partner had a nice round tush for a runner. They turned around at the end of Marshall Bridge and were coming toward me just as I was at the bridge's halfway point, a few steps after I had stubbed my toe. Once again he gave me a very enthusiastic thumbs up. I probably should've pulled out an ear bud to hear what he said. I think I saw his lips move. Earlier in the day I went to a 'bodywork' massage therapist. My brother had given me a groupon coupon for my birthday back in August, and it expired that day, so I finally went. The guy was good, but I can't say I felt any better afterwards. I guess one needs to make a habit of it before long-term benefits set in. Anyway, he said I was "well-balanced," whatever that means, but my traps were a little tight. It was interesting he sort of scoffed at the Chiro's diagnosis of my sacroiliac injury. He thought it might just be tight muscles after a minor pull apparently. I wonder if I would've healed quicker if I would've started massaging that area right away, instead of waiting 10 days. Maybe I should've used the coupon right after my injury, but I waited until it no longer hurt to walk. Stretching was the Chiro's main recommendation, but it didn't seem to help much. Anyway, it's good to get a second opinion I guess, and it made me hopeful that the injury was indeed very minor, and will be very manageable as I build the loads back up. Friday - 01.30 The visit to the bodywork guy got me thinking. I did a little searching, and apparently a pulled piri formis muscle can cause the same pressure on the sciatic nerve as a sacroiliac injury can: http://www.spine-health.com/video/piriformis-syndrome-video A diagnosis of piriformis syndrome seems more consistent with my experience: 1. Not warming up properly in a cold garage. 2. Receiving a little warning on the rep prior to the acute pain along the sciatic nerve on the subsequent rep. If it were the joint, maybe the injury would've been more likely to occur all at once? 3. The piriformis stretch did the most good. 4. The Chiro's massaging did more good than her technique of supposedly popping the SI joint back in place. I never felt anything pop back into place, and if it did, wouldn't it hurt? 5. I began to heal quickly once I started self-massage and walking. And experienced no healing progress in the 10 days prior to beginning this self-therapy. It seems like a joint injury wouldn't respond so quickly or completely in that time frame. Of course, it could be both things, a strained joint and a tight muscle in response. I would think I'd still feel some pain in the joint when I'm running now if the joint was really injured. Plus, if a relatively immobile joint like the sacroiliac was unable to sustain a load of 270, how come it could sustain a load of 355-365 several months ago? That is, if it's a structural weakness, why would it be weaker now than before? I don't think my technique has changed. PM Lifting Cable Row: 2 x 10 x 150 Squat: 2 x 5 x 100 OH Press: 5 x 85/100/100 N Pulldown: 2 x 5 x 180 Bench Press: 2 x 5 x 190 1DB Row: 2 x 5 x 80 Deadlift: 2 x 5 x 100 Added in the One-hand Bent-over Dumbbell Row and Deadlift, and brought up the other lifts a bit. I've really atrophied on the OH Press. Did the prescribed Intensity Day weights for Pulldown and Bench Press. Bench Press felt light, but it was a good weight to work on technique. I slide up a bit on the bench, so that the bar is just clearing the bolts that hold it when I derack. This puts the bar right over my sternum, which is perfect for getting my elbows to tuck just right, I think. I have a slightly different order now, with the Squats coming first after the warm-up rows. Then the vertical press and pull are paired, as well as the horizontal press and pull, so that I can do them as alternating sets if I feel like. Might be a good option on Volume Day. Deadlifts are last again, so I do them after everything is good and warmed up. Everything felt good, and it felt good to exert myself a bit more. Next week I'll bring the squat up 10-20 pounds, and keep tying the Deadlift load to the squat load at a 1:1 ratio, even though it feels like I could lift a lot more. Patience, patience . . . Saturday - 01.31 One-mile walk-commute, to and fro, 21F/23F respectively. Stubbed toe still stiff, but getting better. I consider the numbing walk a form of icing it. Overall, a solid week of rehab. Should be in a good place by the end of this cycle. ---------------Week 5: Cycle I--------------- 15.02.01--02.07 Sunday - 02.01 Monday - 02.02 PM Lifting - Volume Day Squat: 4 x 5 x 130 OH Press: 3/5/5/4 x 105 N Pulldown: 3 x 5 x 170 Bench Press: 2 x 5 x 180 1DB Row: 2 x 5 x 105 Deadlift: 2 x 5 x 130 Did close to a full version of volume day. Everything felt pretty good, although the OH Press was still 10 pounds lighter than it's supposed to be. The six lifts +/- loaded carries is really a pretty good workout, I wonder if I really need a recovery/density/assistance day. Maybe just varying the volume and intensities of these basic lifts is enough? In any case, I'll give the density day as drawn up on my chart a chance tomorrow. My big toe is a lot better, but still a bit painful. Hopefully I can start running again on Thursday or Saturday at the latest. Over the weekend the inside of my left knee got sore from all the walking on the outside of my left foot, avoiding putting pressure on the injured big toe. A feeling of fragility is beginning to invade my consciousness, and I don't like it. Tuesday - 02.03 Wednesday - 02.04 PM Lifting - Density Day Squat: 5/7 x 130 OH Press: 3 x 105, 6 x 95 N. Pulldown: 2 x 7 x 150 1DB Row: 2 x 7 x 90 Deadlift: 7 x 130 Got a new idea for Density Day, but wasn't able to implement it due to time constraints. Following up on a comment made a day or two ago, and in keeping with the desire to make workouts as workaday as possible, I'm thinking of making Volume Day all five-rep sets, Intensity Day all three-rep sets, and Density day all seven-rep sets. It did kinda suck to do more than five reps, and I wasn't able to make seven on the OH Press at the projected load, but I think it's probably a good rep variation. I'm not interested in hypertrophy per se, but from what I've read, higher rep sets do confer unique benefits that may help make me stronger over all. We'll see. In any case, seven reps is on the lower end of the hypertrophy protocol, right? Right now I'm working off the percentages of 95%, 90%, 85%, and 80% for 2RM, 3RM, 5RM, and 7RM, respectively. I'm also thinking of tying the assistance lifts into a percentage of the main lifts, so, for example, the Farmer's Walk, which uses the traps in a way similar to the deadlift, will be a certain percentage of the Deadlift 1RM. As my Deadlift gets stronger, so too should the loaded carry, goes the thinking. Others are a bit more obvious, like tying in the DB Bench Press to a certain percentage of the barbell Bench Press. The assistance lifts would still be done on Wednesday, Density Day, since it only took me twenty minutes to get through most of the main lifts at 7RM. Thursday - 02.05 Friday - 02.06 PM Lifting - Intensity Day Squat: 3 x 3 x 145 OH Press: 3 x 3 x 100 N. Pulldown: 3 x 3 x 180 B Press: 3 x 3 x 200 1-DB Row: 3 x 3 x 105 Deadlift: 3 x 3 x 180 Power Clean: 3 x 3 x 90 Squat weight was just right with the extra depth I've been going for. Funny how adding a few inches below parallel makes the squat a lot harder. I wonder if I should only go for greater depth on Density Day, when I'm doing a seven-rep count . . . OH Press formula was wrong. It was a 1:2 ratio to the Bench Press, when it's supposed to be 2:3. I didn't realize it until I was done. I just fixed the Excel doc. Still, 100 lbs felt heavier than it should have. I hope I don't have to wait too long before I can get the OH Press back to where it was at the end of last year. Pulldown was a little heavy at a 1:1 ratio to the Bench Press, so I brought it down to 90% of the Bench Press. That felt just right. The 1-DB Row felt light, but I can do it with stricter form at 105 for triples. Deadlift felt absurdly easy, but that's OK, it can wait for the squat to start coming up. Next week I think I'll add 10 pounds to the squat weight, and hopefully keep adding 10 pounds per week for the rest of this cycle. The Power Clean at a 1:2 ratio to the Deadlift, which in turn is at a 5:4 ratio to the squat, also felt light, but my technique stinks, so it will be good to train light while I wait for the squat to come up. Overall, the workout didn't feel that intense for intensity day. Hopefully everything will start to click in a few weeks, but this reset approach feels correct. Until the end of the current cycle I'll just focus on getting the weights and ratios right, continue rehabbing my SI issue, and not really worry about pushing anything until next cycle. Saturday - 02.07 Lots of walking with my son, but my stubbed toe is still a little tender, so no running for at least a few more days. ---------------Week 6: Cycle I--------------- 15.02.08--02.14 Sunday - 02.08 Early PM Rowing 15 minutes, easy effort. My knees protested a bit in the beginning, then everything settled down and I got into a nice, relaxing rhythm. This will have to do until I can run again. Then the rower will serve nicely as a st warm-up. Although it's great to have an aerobic exercise that works the back and arms as well as the legs. Later, another mile or so walking around with the kids, still limping a bit. Monday - 02.09 PM Rowing Five-minute warm-up, 1100 meters, easy to moderate effort. Lifting - Volume Day Squat: 3 x 5 x 160, 5 x 150 Tall Kneeling OH Press: 4 x 5 x 105 N Pulldown: 4 x 5 x 170 Bench Press: 2 x 5 x 175 Cable Row: 2 x 5 x 170 Deadlift: 2 x 5 x 185 Power Clean: 2 x 5 x 95 Good workout, everything felt pretty well-balanced. The five-minute rowing warm-up was just right. I did 10 pounds more than I was supposed to on the first three sets of squats before I realized it. 160 felt OK, but I want to stick to small load increases, and give each increase at least a whole week to work through the three different rep-counts of 5, 7, and 3. Another four weeks of ten-pound weekly increases and I'll be close to squatting what I was doing last fall. But I may want to go slower than that. I reorganized my chart so that now all the loads are contingent on my OH Press. I also tried the "tall kneeling" version of the press, which more closely mimics the Standing OH Press than the (Unsupported) Seated OH Press. I figured if I'm going to work off the 2:3:4:5 general guideline for lifting ratios, with, in my case, everything based on OH Press = 2, then I should do the OH Press that most of the people do when using those guidelines. Unfortunately, my garage ceiling doesn't permit Standing OH Presses, so Tall Kneeling OH Presses are the second-best option. It felt better than the Seated OH Press, more stable and natural. Everyone says one should be able to do more weight with the Seated Press than with the Standing Press, and this seemed strange to me until I realized most people do the Seated Press with back support. The Unsupported Seated Press is harder, in my opinion, than the Standing Press. Anyway, I'll continue doing the Tall Kneeling OH Press for the time being I think. In my Excel Sheet I was calculating the Bench Press at 1.6 times the OH Press, but maybe I should do a strict 1.5 times and take the bench press and upper body pulls down a little bit further. I've read that there are no real good arguments for emphasizing the bench press, it's just become tradition because it's more weight than the OH Press and easier to judge. Maybe the OH Press is better for pure strength training, insofar as it demands a greater shoulder ROM and engages the stabilizers, back extension, etc., more. I like Cable Rows better than 1-DB Rows on Volume Day. Otherwise it gets to be a lot sets switching between left and right hands. Maybe just do 1-DB Rows on Intensity Day, and Inverted Rows on Density Day? Deadlifts still feel too easy, and Power Clean technique still stinks, but it feels good to end the workout with those two lifts. Just have to figure out Density Day a bit better now, and I think my bastardization of the Texas Method will be all set. Tuesday - 02.10 Wednesday - 02.11 AM One mile walk-commute in Sockwas. Fresh coating of snow, ran a bit, but toe still a bit tender. PM One mile walk-commute. Lifting--Density Day Squat: 2 x 7 X 150 TK (=Tall Kneeling) OH Press: 2 x 7 X 105 N Pulldown: 2 x 7 X 170 Bench Press: 2 x 7 X 160 Cable Row: 2 x 7 X 170 Deadlift: 2 x 7 X 190 Everything felt great, and the workout only took 30 minutes or so. Seven reps of squats felt challenging, even at 150 lbs. Higher reps is definitely a different training stimulus. My squat technique is coming back and the lift is feeling more natural and automatic again. Still trying to maintain good depth a few inches below parallel. I didn't realize I had 10 pounds too much on the cable pulls, but 170 felt fine, so I'll bump those and the bench press up. This gives me a 1.6:1 ratio to the OH Press instead of the 1.55:1 ratio planned for the day. Ideally it should be 1.5:1, or 3:2, but if the Pulldowns and Rows get stronger than the OH Press, I won't fight it. I think they're just as important in supporting the Bench Press and preventing shoulder issues as the OH Press, so as long as they're tied to the Bench Press at a 1:1 ratio, I should be OK. I think the Bench Press/Row/Pulldown-to-OH Press could even rise up to 1.7:1 and I'd still be OK, but hopefully with continued emphasis the OH Press will keep getting stronger and the ratio will end up closer to the idealized 1.5:1 or 3:2. I'm still enjoying the cable row a lot more than the 1DB row. It's easier to set up, since it's set at the same weight as the pulldown, and it's easier to maintain stricter form so I can really target the lats and retract them at the end of the movement. The initial stretch might also have more carryover to the squat and deadlift. So I might just do heavy 1DB rows on Intensity Day. Deadlift still feels too light, but the load is enough now that I can feel some benefit/pump, especially since it comes towards the end of the workout. I think for the remainder of this cycle, I may limit Density Day to just the main lifts, which will make it more just a Recovery day. This way I can get a good idea of how the three different rep-counts--4x5, 2x7, 3x3-- work as a weekly whole. I want to make sure this is sustainable before I introduce new variables, but it feels like it should be OK to add in some other exercises. Time-wise, the six main lifts at 2x7 only takes 30 minutes or so. If adding in assistance exercises on seven-rep day gets to be too much effort-wise, I could lower the seven-rep percentage to 75% instead of 80%. It would be nice to do some assistance once a week I think, but I don't want to mess with the basic scheme too much as long as I'm making progress. It would be nice to settle into a workable program for several months now, but I might suffer from chart-tweaking withdrawal if I did. It's funny, but I'm realizing now that with my latest tweaks, the six-lift program has really become a three-lift program, as the deadlift, bench, and row wait for the squat, press, and pullup, respectively, to catch up. I kinda like the simplification. My mental and physical focus is mostly on the first three lifts of the workout, after which I can coast and relax a bit. It can be dangerous though--a few workouts ago I caught the bar beginning to drop forward on the bench press when I got caught in a daydream. Thursday - 02.12 AM Was going to try a walk down by the river, with a few short stretches of jogging to see how the toe's doing, but the windchill was -20F. I don't really like walking that much anyway, and I don't know if it really helps prep me for running again, so I let the cold convince me to blow it off. I guess I'll probably wait to get the running up and running again next week. By then my toe should be good enough for half-assed fartleks at least. Eventually I think I'd like to adapt the same mix of light, medium, and heavy intensities I have for ST with the running. Maybe something like this M: Medium (volume) ST Tu: Heavy (intervals/hills) Running W: Light (density) ST TH: Medium (Tempo) Fri: Heavy (intensity) ST Sat: Light (LSD) Running Friday - 02.13 PM Lifting -- Intensity Day Squat: 3 x 3 x 175 TK OH Press: 3 x 115/120/120 N Pulldown: 3 x 3 x 190 B Press: 3 x 3 x 190 1DB Row: 3 x 3 x 120 Deadlift: 3 x 3 x 215 Very satisfying workout. At the end, I felt like I had won a small prize. The Tall Kneeling Overhead Press felt very good, close to pre-mishap levels. I added five pounds after the first set, but even 120 felt pretty good, like I could do it five-rep instead of three. So next week I'll boost each rep count 10 pounds and see how I do, from 105/110/115 to 115/120/125 for seven, five, and three reps. If it's too much, I'll come down five pounds. Now that my press has caught up, in strict 2:3 ratio to the weights I've been using for the bench press, pulldown, and cable row, it will be interesting to see if I can keep this ratio, or get impatient and maybe cheat a bit. The bench press feels too easy. On the other hand, the upper body pulls are about right. Ideally, I'll let the OH Press and upper body pulls come up gradually to meet my bench press potential. My left shoulder feels great these days, so mis' well keep strengthening all the muscles worked in the overhead press and upper body pulls, because these are the ones that support the bench press. I'm convinced a stronger back is half the reason my shoulder issue has cleared up. The other half is probably improved technique. Squat felt good. I should probably raise it ten pounds next week, but I think I'll keep it the same because my form was a little shaky on a couple of the reps. I would like to progress with immaculate technique and good depth if possible. I decided to go with heavy dumbbells for the rows. I used a cheating form with a little torso torque to generate initial momentum. For cable rows, however, I think I will continue to try to use strict form and really target the lats. The bar looked good with four wheels on it for the Deadlift. I was a little nervous though. I felt good and warmed up but I still made sure to stretch everything out real well, and I pull on my nylon belt (I bought a cheap nylon belt http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00074H7Y6/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o05_s01?ie=UTF8&psc=1 because it feels better than the stiff leather one on everything but squats, plus it's easier to get on). The weight went up pretty easy and I didn't feel any niggles in my sacroiliac area. Still, I thought about quitting while I was ahead after two sets. I did the third set just fine though, trusting that I would get a warning sign before injury if I was pushing things too fast. So that was a real confidence booster. With a 45- and a 25-pound plate on both sides of the bar for the squats, and two 45-plates on the deadlift, I fell like I've achieved a rehab base of some sorts. I can start to build on it, but I feel like I'm already getting enough resistance to make the workouts feel complete. I'll start adding five or ten pounds a week whenever the squat feels solid and a touch easy, but even if I never go above these weights, I think I'm still doing adequate strength training for general fitness, so there's no hurry. If I can get the running going again next week, then I'll feel golden. Good lord, life sucks when you don't exercise every day. Saturday - 02.14 AM 3.5 miles, Franklin-Marshall Bridge Circuit, walking in my Merrel Bare Access. 0F/-30F windchill. Toe still feels a little tender on push-off, but I think my walking gait was close to normal. The wind was pretty fierce, especially on the bridges. I love the way running (or walking when you're preparing to start running again in this instance) gets you out in the elements. ---------------Week 7: Cycle I--------------- 15.02.15--02.21 Sunday - 02.15 PM Rowing 40 minutes, mostly easy effort. Started to move into medium effort for second half of the session but then was interrupted by bored son, so I stopped 20 minutes short. Monday - 02.16 AM Running One-mile commute, 10F/2F windchill. Ran the last quarter mile or so. Left big toe is still a bit tender, but it seemed to tolerate the short run OK. So I guess I'll try a bit more on Tuesday. PM Running One-mile commute, walking with light fluffy snow falling. Thought about running a bit more, but figured it was best to wait a day to see if the toe was at all aggravated by the morning's short jaunt. Lifting -- Volume Day Squat: 4 x 5 x 175 TK OH Press: 4 x 5 x 115 N Pulldown: 4 x 5 x 180 B Press: 2 x 5 x 190 Cable Row: 3 x 5 x 180 Deadlift: 5 x 215 Walked back home early. It was President's Day so the kids were home and my wife had to work at 2pm. I asked the kids if I could get a quick workout in before we did something. My son wanted to lift with me, but fortunately he got bored after I finished my squats. Then his playtime patience wore thin by the time I had gotten to my rows, he started to fight with his sister and kept coming into the garage crying, asking for mediation. So I came up one set short on the rows and only managed to get in one set of Deadlifts with him sitting on the bench behind me. I was a little nervous anyway about doing five reps of deadlifts with decent resistance for the first time since my second sacroiliac mishap in January. Having him hovering didn't help, so I figured no harm in getting in just one set. I'll probably do this same weight next Volume Day. The four sets of squats were taxing, but my form stayed pretty good throughout. 115 was the perfect load for the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press. Actually all the loads felt about right for five-rep sets, so I guess I'm pretty much set. I'll just follow the chart and when things start to feel easier add weight. The Bench Press and Deadlift continue to feel light, but it's getting easier to trust my 'program' of bringing up the weakest lifts using the 2:3:4:5 ratios, and resist the temptation to go heavier on the BP and DL. My intention on volume day is to do four sets of the weaker lifts, and just two for the BP and DL. On the Bench Press I didn't notice that I had put a 10-pound plate on the left side instead of a five-pound plate, so I lifted 190 instead of the prescribed 185. My right hand felt stronger and I thought to myself, maybe those advocates of unilateral lifts are right, maybe bilateral barbell lifts disguise imbalances. Then I realized the mistake and the imbalance was explained. I always thought the unilateral/dumbbell argument was exaggerated--after all, if you have smooth, controlled form, both hands are lifting the same weight. Still, I think in the next cycle I may make Density Day more of a unilateral/assistance day. I think variety in exercise selection would be more beneficial than rep variety, that is, doing the same six lifts, at seven reps, that I do on Monday and Friday at five and three reps, respectively. I sometimes wonder if I ever need to do anything but three and five rep sets. They just feel so right. Tuesday - 02.17 Left knee was a little sore upon waking up, and windchill was -30F, so I blew off the planned walk/run. I wonder if the squat volume is getting to be too much? Or maybe it's time to get more serious again about stretching and massaging post-workout? I have a hard time getting around to it when I'm not running. The left toe felt pretty good, so maybe the previous day's short run was therapeutic? By the end of the day I was regretting not having tested it with some short fartleks. Wednesday - 02.18 PM Lifting--Density Day Squat: 2 x 7 X 165 TK OH Press: 2 x 7 X 110 N Pulldown: 2 x 7 X 170 Bench Press: 2 x 7 X 180 Cable Row: 2 x 7 X 170 Deadlift: 2 x 7 X 205 Managed to follow my chart's prescribed loads to a T, and they all felt just right, in a Goldilocks sort of way, except the deadlift, which felt too easy as usual. I'm starting to become convinced of the value of doing seven reps. Actually, sometimes I think maybe I should try to get in one more and make it eight, but I like the odd spacing of 3, 5, and 7 reps. Each rep-count feels a little different and is challenging in its own way. In any case, I think I'll stick with these loads for another week and finish out this cycle with them, although I should probably raise the Cable Row ten pounds to match the Bench Press weight, at 1.6 of the OH Press load, instead of 1.5, like the Pulldown. The Cable Rows felt a little too easy. Then I can start the next cycle with a somewhat challenging load increase of five pounds on the upper body lifts and ten pounds for the lower body ones. It's going to get kind of boring if I really do settle on this bastardized version of the Texas Method and start doing more punch-the-clock workouts according to the chart. For the last several months I've been constantly experimenting, either with rehab or program tweaks. I might miss obsessing over this stuff. Overall, the workout took me 50 minutes, but my rest intervals should probably be shortened so the workout only takes 40 minutes and I can finish with some assistance stuff. Garage was pretty cold with below zero (F) windchill temps outside and a poorly sealed door. I should almost claim some Winter Challenge credit for lifting barefoot on such cold rubber mats. Thursday - 02.19 Big toe felt completely healed, but my left knee was still a little sore, and it was frickin' cold out, so I blew of the initiation of yet another attempt to regain my running fitness for another day or two. Friday - 02.20 PM Lifting -- Intensity Day Squat: 3 x 3 x 185 TK OH Press: 2 x 3 x 125, 6 x 125 N Pulldown: 3 X 190/200/200/190 B Press: 3 x 3 x 215 1DB Row: 3 x 3 x 120 Deadlift: 3/3/2 x 230 Squat weight felt perfect again. Three reps was about all I could do; a little heavier and I would've had to have cheated the depth a bit. Hard to believe I used to do this 30-40 pounds heavier a few months ago, but maybe my depth wasn't quite as good? In any case, it might take longer than I thought to get back up there. I was pleasantly surprised, however, by how solid 125 felt for the Tall Kneeling Overhead Press. I went for extra reps on the last set and managed six. I guess I can bump up all its rep-counts by five pounds next week instead of waiting until the next cycle. The extra volume on Monday seems to be working its trick, or maybe it was the switch from unsupported seated presses to tall kneeling ones . . . 190 felt a little too easy for the Pulldowns, but 200 was a little too challenging on the third set, just barely getting the bar under my chin, so I added another set of 190 to make sure I was getting the bar all the way down to my clavicles for full ROM. Since the OH Press felt really good, I decided to go over my chart-prescribed bench press weight, and brought it up to two full wheels on either side, for 215 (four 45s + 35-pound bar). The last rep of each set was a little hard but doable. I might free up the 2:3 ratio of OH Press to Bench Press a bit more until I get back to 225 triples like I had last fall. As long as my left shoulder doesn't get sore, why not? The recent increases in the OH Press have given me some confidence that the two lifts might settle on the ideal ratio on their own, as long as I keep doing the OH press with greater volume than the Bench Press, so hopefully I can tap its potential without too much programming fuss. Constantly manipulating the formulas in my Excel chart is already starting to get old. It would be nice to just take each lift on its own and add weight when I start to 'own' it, as the young people say. 1DB Row was again done with cheating torque to gain initial momentum after each rep was deloaded onto the floor. And once again I'm wondering if I might be better off doing less weight with stricter form for more reps. A fair amount of people seem to favor lower rep intensity only for the performance lifts: squat, deadlift, bench and overhead press. Maybe I can include Pullups once I'm able to do them unassisted. On the last set of the deadlifts, I felt a little stiffness in my right hamstring, so I gave the last rep a miss. Proud of myself for being so sensible, but I think I really have finally adopted the long view on this thing, always willing to retreat from the slightest hint of a waylaying niggle in order to live to fight another day. Still, I'm wondering if in a month or two it will be safe to decouple the deadlift from the 5:4 ratio to the squat a bit. It's such a great lift for overall strength, and I kind of miss that final hard effort at the end of the workout. Here's a photo capture from my Excel Log, minus the running part: Saturday - 02.21 AM Running 3.5 miles; Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit; 16F/0F windchill; light flurries. Managed to run about half the distance, in about 10 short segments. No niggles or sign of left knee soreness but my left big toe met began to feel a little tender after a mile or so and my gait might've been a little off because of it. Hopefully it will be 100% by the time I can run continuously again in a week or two. Pretty chilly headwind going north, but then a pleasant tailwind on the Minneapolis side. Felt great to do some aerobic exercise out in the elements again. ---------------Week 8: Cycle I--------------- 15.02.22--02.28 Sunday - 02.22 AM Two one-mile walk-commutes to stretch the legs. 5am: -7F/-23F windchill; 8am: -8F/-34F windchill. On the bridge over the railroad tracks coming home, I actually felt my eyeballs getting cold from the wind. Did some massaging and stretching. My left foot in particular had stiffened up after Saturday's light reintroduction to running. Monday - 02.23 Stomach flu, slept all afternoon. Disappointing, I was really looking forward to seeing if I could handle 4x5x120 OH Presses. Tuesday - 02.24 AM One-mile walk commute, close to freezing. Feeling a little better, needed to walk a bit after lying in bed so much the day prior. PM One-mile walk-commute, wind picked up, about 0F windchill. Still a little weak and tired so no ST. Wednesday - 02.25 PM Lifting - 'Volume' Day SQ: 5 x 175/180 TK OHP: 5/3/3 x 120 N PD: 2 x 5 x 150 BP: 2 x 5 x 175 1DB Row: 2 x 5 x 90 DL: 2 x 5 x 195 I was a bit hesitant about working out, but it went OK. Squats felt fine, but then on the second set of the OH Press I felt a little hallow from not having eaten that much. I think next week 4 x 5 x 120 should be fine though. I'm trying to understand how I've improved a bit on the OH Press after taking time off. Must be adopting the kneeling stance position. After feeling a little hungry on the presses, I did everything else a little light, viewing this workout as prep for Friday's Intensity Day more than a proper workout in its own. Doing the 1-DB Rows lighter allowed for me to do them with strict form, but I'm still undecided on whether this is a good thing or not. I mean, in real life, when you pull something towards you, you tend to yank it with rotational torque, right? By overloading the DB Row, I make it more of a full-body exercise. Same with Cable Rows. Felt great to get back at it in any case. I think I'm set-up well for next cycle. Thursday - 02.26 Friday - 02.27 PM Lifting -- Intensity Day Squat: 3 x 3 x 190 TK OH Press: 3 x 3 x 130 N Pulldown: 3 X 3 x 190 B Press: 3 x 3 x 215 Cable Row: 3 x 3 x 190 Deadlift: 1/3 x 215 I tried going a little lower on the squat than I have been doing, and I may have encountered the infamous "butt wink." I don't think it's a normal butt wink caused by inflexibility, but rather by going too low with a low-bar position. I think on Monday I may try some box squats to get a better idea of my depth. In any case the squats felt solid, I can tell I'm getting stronger and should be able to add weight in a week or two. The Tall Kneeling Overhead Press at 130 felt challenging but doable. That's probably a PR of some sort, and it felt like I should be able to raise that up five pounds in a week or two too. It felt rewarding to get the two presses more or less proportional. The OHP no longer has to catch up to the bench, and so I can progress evenly from here on out. I may even stop doing greater volume on the OHP, and just focus on pushing it a bit each workout. Did the Bench Press a little lighter than planned, was feeling a little lazy. One the Cable Row I got the bright idea of adding a little chain length so that I started the movement in the right position. Otherwise, my first rep is taken up with leaning forward to grab the handle beyond my feet, then pulling it back until I've re-seated myself in proper position. I don't know why I didn't think of this earlier. For some reason, it makes the ensuing reps easier to do with stricter form. On the Deadlift I felt a little strain in my lower back. Since I got the stomach bug on Monday, I haven't been stretching or massaging much, so it's probably just tightness, but I shut it down after one complete set to avoid any risk. I know the DL weight will come up pretty soon one way or the other, no hurry. Hopefully once I'm running again I'll start stretching regularly again too, and that will take care of the tightness. So that's a wrap on this cycle's ST. I'll go for a run/walk later. Everything's feeling pretty good, and I'm liking the rep-count alternations, so I'll continue with more of the same next cycle, except I think I may try ten reps instead of seven on Wednesdays, just to exploit the higher rep parameter a little more and see how it feels. I've always hated higher reps, but I think there's probably some conditioning benefit there, and it's also probably good for honing the patterning of each movement. Saturday - 02.28 No real progress this cycle, but I learned a few things technique-wise, honed a few things programing-wise, and feel like I'm in a good position to make some decent progress in all facets of fitness next cycle.