Welcome to Cycle III! All are welcome to join, either in logging their strength training workouts, or in contributing to discussions. -------------------------------------------------------- This Cycle, I will continue with the basic plan developed in Cycle II. In that plan, Monday is Medium Volume & Intensity, Wednesday is High Volume/Low Intensity, and Friday is Low Volume/High Intensity: This creates a nice weekly wave of varying volumes and intensities. Each workout's volume is calculated by dividing the workout's repetitions by the total weekly repetitions and then normalizing it as a percentage. Each workout's intensity is calculated by dividing the workout's average intensity by the total weekly average intensity and then normalizing it as a percentage. Average Intensity is measured by dividing total weight lifted by repetitions. I will also try to add a set to most of the lifts. If this is too much, I will either fall back on the volume level of Cycle II, or reduce the weight of the performance lifts, either across all rep counts or just the five and eight rep-counts, to accommodate the greater volume. I may just increase the squat sets to five on Monday and Wednesday, and then hold the three other performance lifts and the pulldowns to three sets a piece, and the two different kinds of rows to two or three sets a piece. The OH Press has very nearly caught up to the Bench Press, so perhaps just slowing the increase of the Bench Press, rather than maintaining greater volume for the OH Press, will be enough to bring them in line by the end of the year. I've also reset the 1RMs a little so that three of the lifts start out nice and even. The Squat is the normal increase to 250. The OH Press stays at 160, and the Bench Press goes up a pound more than it should to 260. The Deadlift, however, will increase 2.5 pounds to 312.5. Initially I will add 2.5 pounds to the Deadlift each week, two pounds to the Squat, one pound to the OH Press, and a half pound to the Bench Press (but with a one-pound increase in weeks 4 and 8). This projects to the following strength gains in Cycle III: Deadlift: 20lbs Squat: 16lbs Bench Press: 5lbs OH Press: 8lbs Here are the projections in chart form for Cycle III: As can be seen, in this cycle the Squat load will catch up to the Bench Press load. Here are projections of strength gains for 2015 and 2016. The second table for each year is for ratios. Holding the OH Press at a constant value of 2, I use the ratios to manipulate the rate of load increase so that, by the end of the year, the OH Press to Bench Press ratio would attain the idealized 2:3 ratio, since the OH Press's rate of increase is greater. Once this ratio is attained, I will relink Bench Press load increases to OH Press load increases so that any increase in the OH Press would automatically trigger an increase in the Bench Press at a 2:3 ratio. Meanwhile, the Squat and Deadlift are also increasing more rapidly than either of the presses. Then, somewhat implausibly, I continue the manipulation until the Iron Ratio of 2:3:4:5 has been attained for all four performance lifts by the end of 2016. All this is a way of saying that, in general, I'm feeling pretty good about the presses. So now I would like to work a bit harder on the Squat and Deadlift. The Deadlift has felt pretty good the last two weeks of Cycle II, so I think I can push it a bit more. I feel more confident that I'll be able to catch any sort of issue or niggle one or two reps before it becomes a problem, so I'm more willing to up the deadlift intensity more than I have since my injury in December and January. In other words, I'm more or less declaring myself healed until my body tells me otherwise. Still, I will count on greater volume in the Squat to help drive gains in the Deadlift. The Deadlift will not receive greater volume than the other lifts. If I'm not able to sustain a good rate of increase in the Deadlift, that will be fine too. I don't want to increase its volume so I will reduce the rate of increase if I have to. In any case, these are just projections that help guide weekly and cyclical planning. Adjustments can and will be made at any time, if I get feedback telling me to. Running-wise, the goal will be to continue to improve my aerobic fitness, and gradually integrate some variety in my weekly running. Ideally, I will end up with a schedule of Tuesday=Hills, Thursday=Tempo, Saturday=Long Run. ---------------Week 1: Cycle III--------------- Template for this week: Sunday - 04.26 More helping my wife and daughter set up their garden, and then stump removal so I can finish putting up the monkey bars. This project is taking way too long. Monday - - 04.27 Feel very sore from the yard work and stump removal on Sunday. I good reminder about the specificity of training. During the yardwork, I felt it most in my lower back, but today it's mostly in my upper back. PM Lifting - 5RM Squat: 5 x 5 x 213 TK OH Press: 3 x 5 x 136 Deadlift: 3 x 5 x 266 B Press: 3 x 5 221 N Pulldown: 3 x 5 x 182.5 P Row: 3 x 5 x 145 1DB Row: 2 x 5 x 105 This might have been my hardest workout yet, mentally, so I'm proud I got through it. I think I was dehydrated from the yardwork and mild sunburn, then my upper back was really starting to hurt, especially the left shoulder blade. Pretty much after each set until I got to the Bench Press, I was thinking about quitting. Even the first squat warm-up with an empty bar was hard. I really should've stretched out during and after the yardwork. I think the digging and whacking the stumps really took it's toll, but a little stretching Sunday night probably would've taken care of things. Anyway, after the second squat workset, things started to loosen up a bit. I got through all five sets OK. The first one felt as heavy as a single though. The OH Press was the same weight as last week. It was challenging but definitely doable, maybe a little easier than last week, so hopefully my one-pound per week increases will prove too conservative after another few weeks. I expected my sore shoulder blades to interfere with this lift, but it didn't seem to have any influence at all. Strange. I thought on the Deadlift, surely the sore upper back would make it impossible, but I got through the warm-ups fine, and I felt super confident on the worksets. The loads are heavy enough now that I have to pay more attention to technique. On one rep I felt a little strain in my lower back when I got sloppy. On the Bench, it was once again pretty close to my limits. Hopefully it will get easier with the half-pound increases. My powerlifting technique feels pretty automatic now. Everything else finished up OK, but it took me 90 minutes to get through the workout. I took really long rest intervals and had to refuel three times, and drink about a half gallon of water. Overall, I think this is a pretty good workout routine--five squat sets, but then everything else pretty much three sets a piece. More than a volume approach, it's a squat-centric approach. I'll do the same on Wednesday. I guess my conversion to the Rippetoe/Bill Starr Squataholic school of lifting is complete. Tuesday - - 04.28 AM I could barely sleep, the pain in my left shoulder was really bad and I couldn't find the handheld vibrating massager. PM Running – Wednesday - - 04.29 Late morning 3 miles, to Franklin Bridge and back, about a mile run? I thought a little postural exercise my help loosen up my stiff and painful left shoulder blade. Not really, but hopefully this outing will prime me for something better on Thursday. PM Man, the left shoulder blade is getting worse. I gave in to painkillers, scheduled an appointment with a Shiatsu massage therapist friend. I might see the Chiro again too. Really mystifying how a non-acute, post-use soreness could get like this. I think I'll treat this set-back like the sacro-iliac issue, which led me to microloading and a few other tweaks that were useful. This time around, I'll interpret the time I need to take off as a sign to back-off a bit and give the greater volume idea a good try. I think it's also a sign I need a little bit more variety in my exercise selection. It's hard to imagine this happening if, for example, I had been doing my dips and Landmine Twists. Maybe I also need a little more plyo/conditioning work. So I'm back to thinking about making Wednesday a more diversified workout, and leaving Monday and Friday the same. Thursday - - 04.30 AM Saw both a Chiro at my neighborhood clinic, and a Shiatsu/Reiki massage therapist. The Chiro couldn't do much for me, but the massage really helped. He found tons of painful knots. I'm going back on Friday for another 20-minute session. I'm sleeping a little better, but still pretty much immobilized, as I can't bend my back without pain. I'm taking Ibuprofen. I might start stretching on the weekend, but for the moment, I'm trying to give the muscles complete rest for a few days, to see if they can heal themselves more. Very frustrating, but I know it's actually a very minor thing and I should be good to go by next week sometime. Might have to skip weights for another week though, so I could see myself trying the daily running for a week to try to push past the initial sucky threshold of regaining running fitness. Man, this is turning into a saga. It's not supposed to be this hard, right? Giving more thought to making Wednesday an assistance/variation day. Would two days a week for the main lifts be enough for continued progress? Friday - 05.01 Saturday - 05.02 AM I noticed a red rash and welts on my chest and arm pit Friday. Went to Urgent Care when I saw my blood pressure was 170/110. Mystery solved: I have shingles. ---------------Week 2: Cycle III--------------- Sunday - 05.03 Monday - 05.04 Tuesday - 05.05 Started to feel a little bit better. Wednesday - 05.06 Energy seems to be returning. First day with no nap since Saturday. All of the blisters seem to have popped, and the rash feels like a sunburn. I think I've escaped the worst symptoms. Must have a mild version. My body is craving a workout of some kind, but I think it's best to wait until I'm 100%. Shingles can have longterm effects if not treated right. Thursday - 05.07 Friday - 05.08 PM Lifting - 8RM Squat: 125 x 5/5 1DB Press: 25 x 8, 30 x 8 Dips: BW-blue band x 5/5/5 Pullover: 55 x 8/8 Curls: 55 x 8/8 Back Extension: 1/2BW x 8/8 Last day taking antiviral, decided to do some light weights to see how the body reacts. If it reacts fine, then it's a way of priming the body to begin fuller workouts next week. Squats felt awkward with the bar across the crusting sores, but it felt good to squat again. After the last set, I could feel my hammies cramp up a bit, like elastic recoil. Then, since I just wanted to do light lifts, I decided to experiment a bit with some of the proposed lift variations for Wednesday's 8RM Day, most of which are inherently lighter lifts. The 1DB Press felt like a nice variation of the press. I thought about trying the Arnold Press, but it seems if I'm going to institute Wednesdays as variation day, then some unilateral variation is a good thing to add to the mix, along with different ROMs. The blue band assistance on the Dips was perfect. It's the least resistant band I have, but it's just enough to allow me to ease into doing full dips again without putting stress on the shoulder. Focused on technique and not letting the shoulder come forward at the bottom of the movement. Felt good to be doing Pullovers too, curls, not so much. But they use the same EZBar and load, so it's convenient to do them together. I finished cutting a hole in my back extension bench pad, to make room for my 'junk' as the kids say nowadays. That worked pretty well. The extensions are a lot more comfortable now. I'll try to finish the monkey bar project this weekend, and, if the body still feels OK, try to get back into my normal st routine on Monday. I still have a fair amount of residual pain, but it doesn't seem to affect muscle function, and the fatigue is lifting, so it should probably be OK. Saturday - 05.09 Started to feel burning itching. A new shingles phase. Blisters mostly healed though, and fatigue is lifting. ---------------Week 3: Cycle III--------------- Sunday - 05.10 Burning itchy is almost unbearable at times. Monday - 05.11 Woke up at 2:30am from itching. Start using Calomine spray with topical analgesic in the morning. Seems to help a bit. Thought about lifting, because my energy levels seem to have returned to about normal, but just didn't feel like it with all the discomfort. Tuesday - 05.12 Had a pretty good day, but then at night I woke up to the burning itching again. This thing is hard to figure out. I guess because it's a virus of the nerves, it doesn't follow the usual recovery pattern. I hope I'm not one of those unlucky bastards who has this neuralgia drag on for weeks or months. There are almost no traces of rash on my arm and back now, just my chest and armpit. You'd think the pain would have the courtesy to wrap things up too. In the afternoon I was a race monitor for my daughter's school one-mile fun run. 240 participants! All top 15 boys ran between 6 and 7mm, and I think the top 15 girls were all below 8mm, and a few below 7mm. So there's the sad truth: I'm slower than elementary school kids. Wednesday - 05.13 PM Lifting - 5RM Squat: 3 x 5 x 175 TK OHP: 2 x 3 x 125 Deadlift: 2 x 5 x 225 B Press: 2 x 5 x 175 Had really bad painful itching throughout the day. I tried a skin oitment that almost made it worse. But I felt good otherwise, so I decided it was time to start getting back at the ST. I just did light loads. Everything felt heavy, nonetheless, but no niggles, so I'll push it a little more on Friday. Maybe continue building up through next week? I think I will target next Friday as my return to full loads and sets. The sweat on the bench press dripping onto my upper back felt quite painfully. Stung by my own sweat. Evening: about a mile barefoot walk to and from park. Thursday - 05.14 Evening: about a mile barefoot walk to and from park. Friday - 05.15 PM Lifting - 5RM SQ: 215 x 5/5/5 TK OHP: 125 x 5/5/4/5 DL: 265 x 2/2/3 BP: 215 x 3/3 I was going to work up to close to my 5RM of a few weeks ago in ascending sets of five reps, starting with the loads I used on Wednesday, but I felt strong despite only sleeping four hours (I woke up from the burning itching), so I went straight to the 5RM loads after warming up. I got a call from the dentist during the third set of my Overhead Press, so I did another set. Both the Squat and the Press felt pretty good, so I'll go back to my idea of using them to drive the other loads. Next week will therefore be spent trying to get the Squat and OH Press back to where they were, and, if I have enough energy and motivation left over, get the other lifts up at the same time. If it feels like too much, I'll just focus on the Squat and Press and give the other lifts another week or so to catch up. I'll use the time off from shingles as an excuse to give a slightly greater volume approach a try too. I may try five sets of Squats and Four sets of presses on Monday, then keep everything else at about three sets. Belt was about an inch tighter. My wife has commented that I've lost some weight from shingles. I just haven't had much of an appetite. I think I may try keeping the calories somewhat reduced as I begin to train again. Maybe I've been exaggerating the whole "ya gotta eat if you want to make gains" idea. Saturday - 05.16 Late AM Running 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshall Bridge Circuit. I ran about 2/3 of the way, at an ultra pace, the rest I walked. Better than I expected considering it's been 3-4 weeks off. I think I'll stick to a pure aerobic pace until I can run 4-6 miles continuously, then work the hills and tempo runs in? After 18 months of sporadic running, I think my aerobic base is pretty much depleted. Evening: about a mile barefoot walk to and from park. ---------------Week 4: Cycle III--------------- Here's the template for this week: I'm boosting the volume for squats, not sure about OH Press. I'm lowering the 1RM by ten pounds for both the Deadlift and Bench in order to accommodate the greater volume. I'm also going to try making Wednesday's 8RM Day more of an assistance/variation day. So these will be the two experiments of Cycle III. Sunday - 05.17 Monday - 05.18 PM Lifting - 5RM SQ: 5 x 215/221/221/221/221 TK OHP: 3 x 136, 5 x 125/125/125 Forgot to add the extra six pounds to the squats to bring them back to where they were three weeks ago. Sets 2-5 went fine, but I felt fatigued afterwards. I may have overestimated my recovery rate from the shingles. The OH Press felt pretty heavy at 136, which was my last 5RM load before the shingles onset. I only did three reps then brought the load down to 125. Crap. I didn't feel like doing any more lifting after that. Hard to say if it was the shingles or the fact that I only slept four hours due to the shingles pain. This is getting old. On a positive note, it was good to see I hadn't lost anything off the squats. Not sure now what to do on Wednesday . . . Edit: I just realized I had set my Squat 1RM for 260 instead of 250, so 215 for 5RM was close to the prescribed 213 (@85%). I guess this means I'm ready for 260. I always suspected that the squats were too light, now it's confirmed. Tuesday - 05.19 PM Running – Just didn't feel like it. Wednesday - 05.20 PM Lifting - 8RM SQ: 3 x 8 x 195 TK OHP: 5 x 120; 8 x 115 Just didn't feel like doing more. Almost no will power. I wonder if the pain from the shingles is wearing down my CNS. I felt good--well fueled and rested--but just didn't have the mental fortitude to continue. Thursday - 05.21 Friday - 05.22 PM Lifting - 1-3RM SQ: 1 x 265/275/265, 2 x 252, 3 x 245/245 TK OHP: 1 x 160/152, 3 x 140/144 DL: 2/3/3 x 265 BP: 3/3 x 215 N PD: 3/3/3 150 P Row: 3/3/3 x 125 Since my OH Press had gone poorly this week, I decided to test the 1RM to see where it was at. Since Squats come first, I decided to test that 1RM too. After warming up, I went for 265, a nice even two 45s and one 25 plate on each side. That went up easy, so I tacked on another ten pounds, bringing it up to my old PR of last year. That PR was probably a technical fail, because it went up pretty wobbly. This time 275 felt very solid, and I achieved good depth. So that was very encouraging after a lousy week. My true 1RM is starting to approach 300. Next came the Press. I managed 160, which was my pre-shingles PR at the end of last cycle, but it was a grind. I couldn't do the prescribed double at 252, but I managed the prescribed triple on the second set of those. So, hopefully, I just need a week or two more of full workouts to get the OH Press back up to speed and then I can start adding a pound a week again. The Deadlift and Bench Press I just did to prime them for next week, since I hadn't done them at all this week. I did them at slightly lower weights than I had the triples at the end of last cycle. Now with the Squat up to 275, I'll have to start making more of a push on the deadlift. All of a sudden it's weaker than my squat! I've been holding the deadlifts back too much I guess, but it was good to give them plenty of time to rehab from the Sacroiliac injury. I've re-established my Squat PR, and have achieved new PRs in both presses, so now it's time to build back up to my old Deadlift PR of 255/265. Once that's established, I'll be PR-ing in all four performance lifts most weeks. In the meantime, I'll soon be PR-ing in three of them every week. It's a bit silly, but it's good motivation to get those micro-PR pats on the back. That's not really the point of micro-loading, but it's an added perk--weekly PRs. After the Bench Press, I then did the upper body pulls, also light, just to prime them for next week. With the Squats doing well, I need to make sure I have enough time and energy at the end of workouts to put in a good effort on the pulldowns and rows. With the shingles pain, it was hard to motivate, but I found once I got warmed up, the exercise seemed to alleviate the pain a bit. So no more excuses, got to get back to full workouts. PM Running 0.6 mile. Ran down to the park with my son, both of us barefoot. Then when he was done playing, we ran back. It's about a third of a mile each way. He only stopped at the stop signs to look both ways. Wow, I may have a running partner soon. Saturday - 05.23 Late AM Running 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshal bridge circuit. I kept to the ultra-slow pace of last week, and made it three miles without stopping. Opps, I forgot I stopped after about two miles to stretch out the ITB, which had begun to feel tight. So anyway, that felt very good; the running is coming back much quicker this time than at other times I've tried to get back into shape. Strange. And, like the weights on Friday, I didn't feel the shingles pains at all while running. So no excuse not to push the exercise while I'm waiting for the shingles to heal up. ---------------Week 5: Cycle III--------------- Sunday - 05.24 Template for this week: I brought the Bench Press 1RM down to 250 just to make sure I have plenty of energy to continue pushing the first three lifts. I've also reduced the squat sets to three on Monday and Wednesday, down from five, now that the squat is more advanced (according to the Iron Ratios) than the deadlift. I'll keep the OH Press sets at four on Monday and Wednesday at least until it's back to where it was at the end of last cycle, but maybe longer, since it's the lift that seems to benefit most from extra volume. This is a good basic template and workout order, so hopefully I can coast a bit now and just tweak volume and rates of increase as certain lifts become weaker or stronger. For the time being, I'll keep the sets as they are, and increase the lifts as follows: Deadlift +3 pounds per week Squat +2 pounds per week Presses +1 pound per week According to current projects, after a while, the Presses's rate of increase will slow to +0.5 pound per week, until, by the end of the year, they are at a 3:2 ratio, Bench Press to OH Press, after which the Bench Press increases will be tied to the OH Press increases at this ratio. The OH Press's rate of increase will continue at +0.5 pounds per week. Meanwhile the Deadlift and Squat will continue to increase at three and two pounds per week, respectively, until sometime next summer (2016) when they should align with the presses in the Iron Ratio. After that, all increases will be tied to increases in the OH Press at those ratios (2:3:4:5). Of course, the rates of increase may slow or speed up, and eventually I will plateau, but working off projections like this is a good guide for planning my weekly workout loads and percentages across all the lifts. Monday - 05.25 PM Lifting - 5RM Memorial Day nixed the workout. Tuesday - 05.26 Wednesday - 05.27 Thursday - 05.28 Friday - 05.29 Saturday - 05.30 Started taking Gabapentin for pain-management again mid-week, and this made me woozy and completely unmotivated to train. Helps me sleep though. ---------------Week 6: Cycle III--------------- Template for this week: I've decided to go with 80% and 70% for Monday and Wednesday's workouts, instead of 85% and 75%, respectively, for the performance lifts. I'll go back to doing just an extra set for the Squat and Overhead Press. That will be the extent of my volume approach. On Friday, I'll keep the 1, 2, and 3-rep sets at 100%, 95%, and 90% of training max. The idea is that I may have been doing this anyway, since I've often been surprised at how my 1RM is greater than its projection based on the 5RM. The 5RM is probably lower when done for multiple sets. It would also be nice if Monday and Wednesday's workouts were slightly easier, especially after all the time I've taken off due to the shingles. Sunday - 05.31 Mid-AM Running – Aerobic 6 miles, Ford Parkway-Marshall Bridge Circuit. Only about a mile and a half running. Beautiful weather, I found myself at the tail end of a marathon on the West Bank. Some poor bastards were running as slow as I was. Glad I didn't have to worry about sweepers like they did. I might make this my regular route, and slowly bring up the running portion until I can run the whole thing continuously, and then work on pace. Getting tired of the 3.5-mile, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit just north of it in any case. I was pretty high from the Gabapentin, which made this a particularly pleasant mid-morning outing. This was the last day, I decided, to take full doses of Gabapentin during the day. Supposedly, you can build up a tolerance to it, but this hasn't happened to me. This week I'll try to either do without it during the day, or reduce the dosage. I have no idea how much longer the shingles' post-herpetic neuralgia is going to last, but I can't afford to spend much more time knocked out from pain killers. Monday - 06.01 PM Lifting - 5RM SQ: 3 x 5 x 220 TK OHP: 3 x 5 x 128 DL: 3 x 5 x 248 I only ended up doing three sets a piece for the squat and overhead press instead of the prescribed four. Just didn't have much energy with the Gabapentin. I tried doing without it for a few hours in the morning, because the weekend had gone fairly well, but the stabbing pain returned. It's localized now in my left armpit and the underside of my upper left arm, so that's a sign of progress. Plus the skin isn't nearly as sensitive to touch as it was. So it's healing. Hopefully I'll be close to normal in another week or two. Anyway, all the lifts felt good and solid. It felt especially good to feel the squat movement again. I didn't have the energy or motivation to complete the workout however. I felt strong, but the stamina wasn't there. The Gabapentin makes you content and lazy. The Inzer belt performed great. After the first few squat sets, I took it in one more set of holes, and that felt perfect. I like how I can unlatch the lever in between sets to loosen it without the belt coming off. Overall, it's the best belt I've tried by far. 10mm is thick, but I didn't notice it digging in, even on the deadlifts. The purple gave me a feeling of strength somewhere between petite Prince and the mighty Vikings. Tuesday - 06.02 Noon Running – Aerobic 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit, about 2/3 running, beautiful day. Legs still felt a little tight from Sunday's run so I stopped to walk the rest of the way, but mentally, I felt like I could've run a lot longer. There was no urge to stop. So, just gotta keep pluging away and get a little better each time out. Shingles pain is mostly a dull ache today, which is totally putupable. The sharp, shooting pain is greatly diminished, almost nonexistant. So I stopped the Gabapentin and am just taking Ibuprofen. I feel a lot better this way, almost normal again. Wednesday - 06.03 PM Lifting - 8RM SQ: 8/8/8 x 193 TK OHP: 8/7/6 x 112 DL: 6/6/6 x 217 BP: 4/8 x 182 Man, I still don't have any stamina. I was gassed by the time I got to the Bench Press. I guess illness eats into work capacity much more than time off due to injury. Not sure how to proceed, but restoring a good work capacity would seem to be the priority. My strength levels aren't too bad. Hopefully I'll be back to where I was by the end of this cycle. Bringing up the running should help too. I still don't have much of an appetite, but I was pretty well-fueled for this workout--that wasn't the problem. Maybe I'll give myself two hours to complete Friday's workout, try to jump start things with a full and intense workout. After my squats and press, I tightened the Inzer lever belt one more set of holes, making it super tight, tighter than was possible with the buckle or velcro belts. During the deadlifts, I could really feel my ab muscles contracting against it, making me feel super supported, but I'll have to look into how tight you can go without causing problems. When I unlatched the belt in between sets, it's just loose enough not to squeeze at all, but still in continuous contact around my belly and back. Thursday - 06.04 PM Running – Aerobic 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshal bridge circuit, beautiful summery conditions, worked up a sweat. My knees felt a little niggling at times, so I walked some, maybe a third of the way total. I guess it's time to get back into my pre-/post-running stretching and massaging routine. Funny how none of that is necessary when I'm just lifting. Anyway, it's encouraging each outing feels a little bit better. The sole sensitivity I developed on Sunday's run is all but gone. Looking forward to building my callus back up to respectable leatheriness. Friday - 06.05 Woke up at three with a stabbing pain in my armpit. Took more Gabapentin, but when I woke up again later, I felt high. This lasted throughout the day, evolving into a feeling of relaxation and laziness. I thought if I tried to lift, I might hurt myself in this state of relaxation and apathy, so I skipped the workout. Besides, I was a little concerned about the niggles I felt in my knees during Thursday's run, so a day off might not be a bad idea. Saturday - 06.06 AM Lifting - 1-3RM SQ: 1 x 275, 2 x 260, 2 x 3 x 247 TK OHP: 1 x 160/155/135, 3 x 5 x 128 DL: 1 x 310, 2 x 295, 2 x 3 x 279 I couldn't find my weekly workout printout, so I guessed at some of the percentages. The Squat continued to feel solid at 275 1RM, so next week I'll start increasing the 1RM by two pounds per week. I loosened the Inzer belt by one set of holes. The extra tightening I did last workout was a little extreme, and probably counterproductive if it limited the abs' ability to fully contract against the belt. One notch looser feels just right. The belt kinda dug into my sides, above the bone, so I used the Spud nylon belt after I finished my squats. I will take some time to break in the 10mm-thick leather, but overall, I'm extremely pleased with the Inzer Forever Lever Belt. I really like how easy it is to loosen the belt in between sets without having to take it off. The Overhead Press was a disaster. 160 and 155 felt super heavy. They weren't even grindable. I dropped 20 pounds but even 135 felt heavy as a single. So I brought it down to 128 for sets of five across, which I knew I could do because I did that on Monday. I should probably spend a week or two just doing sets of five, to build my work capacity up again. It's hard to figure out how the shingles could've caused a drop of at least ten pounds off my 1RM, but not have affected my squat and deadlift, unless the nerve damage in my upper left torso and upper arm is more than superficial. Maybe it's just a matter of the healing in that area interfering with my CNS's ability to fully activate the muscles. I think next week I may try a first set a bit heavier, to activate the muscle fibers, and then lower it for 2-3 more worksets, to build capacity. I'll maintain the fiction for the rest of this cycle that my 1RM is 160, and if it doesn't come up by the end of the cycle, I'll reduce it to a more realistic 150 to begin Cycle IV. The deadlift felt relatively easy and niggleless. So that's a relief, both my squat and deadlift are solid and ready to resume a weekly progressive overload via microloading. Those two lifts' improvement is the most important to me at this point, since the presses are still relatively stronger according the Iron Ratio. No harm done spending a few weeks recovering the presses while I make a push for new PRs on the lower body lifts. I'll get a new PR on the Squat next week, and then on the Deadlift sometime in September. I could push the Deadift harder, but I like the idea of building up a decent amount of volume before I start going for PRs. I'm still leery of hurting myself. ---------------Week 7: Cycle III--------------- Template for this week: I think on Monday and Wednesday, I'll do the first set of the performance lifts at 85% and 75%, respectively, and then the ensuing sets at 80% and 70%. I need to find some way to continue building volume in the main lifts without sacrificing the upper body pulls at the end of the workout. With the shingles, it's been hard to complete more than half of each prescribed workout, so it's kind of a Catch-22: I don't have the work capacity to build the work capacity I need in order to finish my workouts. Sunday - 06.07 Mid-AM Running – Aerobic 6 miles, Ford Parkway-Marshall Bridge Circuit. My left calf felt tight, probably from the prior day's deadlifts, so I began walking. But the calf never loosened up. And the lower hammie began to tighten as well. I stopped to stretch several times but the relief was brief. By the time I realized it was going to keep getting tighter and tighter, I was already to the halfway point, Ford Parkway Bridge. I tried to run some, but after a half mile I saw that I was just accelerating the cramping/tightening, so I went back to walking. By the time I got back to my car, I was limping a bit. I could feel the tightness all the way up to my right glute. It felt similar to the hammie strain I experienced last fall. I'm pretty sure the deadlifts provoked it. I have been pretty sporadic about doing them heavy. I'll avoid them during Monday's workout, stretch out a bunch, and see if the hammies, glutes, and calf muscles loosen up by Tuesday's run. Monday - 06.08 PM Lifting - 5RM BP: 2/3/4/5/ x 215 TK OHP: 5 x 125/130/130/125 With my right leg feeling strained/stiff, I decided just to do upper body stuff, but then my dad needed a ride to the eye doctor, so I just got in the presses. Need to recover my bench press and continue getting my OHP back up to speed. I guess that will be the mission until my right leg feels loose enough to do squats and deadlifts again. Tuesday - 06.09 PM Lifting N PD: 5 x 150/150/150/150 P Row: 5 x 125/125/135/135 It felt a little premature to run on my strained right hammie/calf, so I got in some upper body pulls. I haven't done these for a while, so I went light just to prime things. It's interesting lifting two days in a row, but I don't really like it. Wednesday - 06.10 PM Lifting - 8RM BP: 8 x 196/183/183 TK OHP: 2 x 121, 5/2 x 113 SQ: 5 x 85 DL: 5 x 175 CG N PD: 3 x 5 x 150 P Row: 2 x 8 x 130 Tried the Bench Press at 75% then 70%, felt pretty good to have the second and third set be lighter. I was going to do the same thing on the OH Press, but it just wasn't there. I think I was still tired from the previous day's pulls. I then did light squats and deadlifts just to see how my tight right knee and hammie area would respond. Seemed OK, might try for more on Friday. The pulls were a little hard doing them again without a day for recovery, but I got a little pump, the first pump I've felt in a long time, so that was nice. Hopefully now I'm primed, or nearly primed, for fuller workouts on Friday or beginning next week. Thursday - 06.11 PM Walking 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit, light rain. My right knee felt really stiff, so I only attempted to run a few steps. I was able to go the whole day without painkillers, so that was good, but then I succumbed in the evening when the neuralgia bounced back post-run. It was then that I noticed my right knee was swollen. I've read that Ibuprofen can lead to joint swelling, so maybe that's the cause. I'll continue avoiding Ibuprofen for a few days and see if that helps bring down the swelling. Friday - 06.12 PM Lifting - 1-3RM Stabbing pain throughout the day, no painkillers. I'm starting to wonder if the swelling in my right knee is caused by the Gabapentin, for which edema in the limbs is a known side effect. So off both Gabapentin at night and Ibuprofen during the day to see if that helps reduce the swelling. Meanwhile, the shooting pain has returned, so Friday was a bad day. I laid down for some bench pressing, but just didn't have the motivation to get past warm-ups sets. Saturday - 06.13 AM Running 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit, all walking. The knee is a little less stiff perhaps, but the second half was still a little gimpy, and it's hard to descend stairs. OH well, need some exercise to help me sleep through the night. ---------------Week 8: Cycle III--------------- Sunday - 06.14 Woke up at 2:30am, a lot of stabbing pain. I managed to get back to sleep for a few hours, then I was busy setting everything up and overseeing my daughter's birthday party, so I didn't notice the pain that much until I had a chance to sit down after it was all done. Monday - 06.15 Bad day, a lot of stabbing pain. Tuesday - 06.16 Woke up at 2am. Saw a doctor. He pooh-poohed the idea that the swelling in my right knee could be caused by either Gabapentin or Ibuprofen. He also didn't think it would be a problem for my kidneys or liver to take Ibuprofen for another month or so. So I guess I'll start taking them again, avoid squats and deadlifts and running until next week, and see if the swelling increases or continues to dissipate. The knee is feeling better everyday, and I can almost descend stairs completely normally now. PM 3.6 miles, Franklin-Marshall bridge circuit, all walking. Knee started to feel a little gimpy after a half mile, but I continued anyway. Wednesday - 06.17 Thursday - 06.18 Friday - 06.19 Saturday - 06.20 __________________________________ Cycle III Results: Somehow, my squat went up without despite the Shingles, but then I wasn't able to maintain it because my right knee started swelling. The swelling has mostly disappeared at the end of this cycle, but the knee is still painful. So I started the cycle with shingles, and ended it with a bum knee. The only good news is that I've lost a little weight from the prolonged recovery from Shingles.