Welcome to Cycle IV! As always, everyone is welcome to join in with reports or logs or discussions about their approach to running and lifting concurrently. ___________________________ Goals for Cycle IV: 1) Re-establish a decent lifting routine after my bout with shingles; 2) Re-establish a decent running routine after more than 18 months of sporadic running and declining running fitness. Both goals are contingent on how quickly I can rehab my mysterious right knee stiffness/soreness. Once it's 100%, I will continue with the same basic lifting scheme I used in Cycle II, which produced good results, but start at 90% of my 1RMs at the end of that cycle when calculating the different rep-count percentages, to account for the degradation in my strength and work capacity over the course of Cycle III. I will also try to end each workout with some accessory work. Running-wise, I will at least attempt a mile per day 5-6 times a week once my right knee is runnable, then either build up the distance uniformly, or EOD, on a Tuesday/Thursday/Saturday schedule. ---------------Week 1: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday - 06.21 Monday - 06.22 Tuesday - 06.23 Wednesday - 06.24 PM Lifting - 5R BP: 2 x 5 x 125, 2 x 5 x 175 OHP: 3 x 5 x 85 N PD: 3 x 5 x 150 Right knee is still painful, so no squats or deadlifts. I'll see an Orthopedist on Thursday. Just did upper body and everything light, in preparation to building things back up. Thursday - 06.25 Friday - 06.26 PM Lifting - BP: 215 x 2/2/3/4/5 Well, seems like there hasn't been too much drop-off on my Bench, so far. It took a few sets to activate the muscles, but by the fourth and fifth sets things were feeling close to normal. Felt too lethargic to do anything else though. It's just hard to get motivated for a workout without any squats or deadlifts. Saturday - 06.27 PM Lifting N PD: 150 x 5/5/5 S PD: 150 x 5/5 A little priming in anticipation of doing fuller upper body workouts next week. ---------------Week 2: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday - 06.28 Monday - 06.29 PM Lifting - 5RM BP: 3 x 5 x 215 N PD: 3 x 5 x 170 TK OHP: 3 x 5 x 125 P Row: 3 x 5 x 125 Was mainly concerned with established a full, upper body workout and figuring out what my baseline percentages should be for the Bench Press and OH Press. Both 215 and 125, respectively, felt about right. Screwed up the Pendlay Row. It was supposed to be 145, but I forgot to add the 10-pound plates. Overall, I felt really de-conditioned, but it was good to be back at it. I think the shingles has stopped sucking up all my energy and motivation. Tuesday - 06.30 Wednesday - 07.01 PM Lifting - 8RM BP: 3 x 8 x 190 CG PD: 3 x 8 x 150 TK OHP: gave up after warm-up sets, just didn't feel like it. Thursday - 07.02 Friday - 07.03 PM Lifting - 5RM Seated OHP: 125 x 3/3/4/4 S PD: 170 x 5/5/5 BP: 215 x 3/3/4 SLDL: 125 x 5/5/5 P Row: 145 x 5/5/5 B Ext: BW x 10/10 Everything felt heavy, but it was good to get in something resembling a full workout. I tried the Stiff-legged Deadlifts for the first time. Felt pretty good actually. Right knee felt a little funny on the second set of Back Extensions, so called it a day. Saturday - 07.04 Walked in our neighborhood's 4th or July parade, and then was on my feet a fair amount the rest of the day, and the knee held up pretty well, so definitely on the mend. ---------------Week 3: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday - 07.05 Monday - 07.06 PM Lifting - 5RM BP: 215 x 5/4/5 N PD: 190 x 3, 180 x 5/5 RDL: 175 x 5/5/5 S OHP: 105 x 5/5/5 P Row: 146 x 5/5/5 Bench Press felt a little better than on Friday, but the OHP still feels heavy, so I took it down to where it was easy. I guess I lose a lot seated, compared to the tall kneeling position. I was also under-fueled. I started out too heavy on the Neutral Pulldown before I realized one of the kids must have put extra plates on. I tried the Romanian Deadlift (RDL) for the first time. Felt OK, but I think I prefer the Stiff-legged Deadlift (SLDL). Rippetoe thinks the RDL is a superior exercise, because it works the hamstrings' stretch reflex, but I like starting from the floor and resetting after each lift. I think either one of these deadlift variations, coupled with rack pulls, will give me the same benefit as conventional deadlifts, as long as I can also squat to get the hip extension. I'm not going to try squatting, however, until I consult with the second ortho. Rip says lots of people squat with meniscus tears, and he continues to squat even though he's missing one of his ACLs. I think I can live with giving up running, although it's still a bit mind-numbing to contemplate, but giving up both running and squatting is just a little too much. At least I know I got some form of deadlifting in the bag. The Pendlay Row felt pretty good. I've started microloading it, getting back in the weekly groove. As soon as my presses stabilize, I'll start the weekly microloading on those too. Overall, I think I'm seeing I won't have to modify my regimen that much to accommodate the knee issue, although my mental approach seems to be shifting a bit from what Rippetoe calls "training" to "exercising." My goals are becoming more ones of general fitness, rather than load PRs in lifting, or distance and/or time PRs in running. Kinda sucks, but fitness is actually more important, and without the burden of constantly increasing my loads, I can scale back the eating a bit and focus more on losing weight. I need to get better at lifting in a semi-fasted state, in other words, at the end of the afternoon, even if that means lifting a little less, or improving a little more slowly. Right knee feels close to 100% just walking around. It's great not to limp anymore. Shingles are still there, but the pain is very minor now and easy to ignore most of the time. No more Gabapentin and minimal Ibuprofen and I'm sleeping very well these days. Tuesday - 07.07 Wednesday - 07.08 PM Lifting - 8RM S OHP: 3 x 8 x 105 SLDL: 3 x 8 x 175 BP: 3 x 8 x 175 CG N PD: 3 x 6 x 150 P Row: 3 x 5 x 130 Rack Pull: 5 x 175, 2 x 5 x 215 Felt mildly nauseous throughout the workout for some reason. Nonetheless, the workouts continue to improve in terms of energy and motivation. Used knee wraps on the SLDL, felt pretty good and was surprisingly easy to get a good wrap without much effort. I'll probably use them on squats too if and when I'm able to do those again. Close-grip Neutral Pulldown felt heavy, so just did six reps each set. Pendlay Row, just did sets of five for some reason. I dunno, sometimes I wonder if I should just do sets of five all the time. Make things real simple. Rack Pull didn't feel right. I'll give it a little more time to solidify, but perhaps I'd be better off doing high pulls? In any case, it felt good to end with more of a back complex. Maybe I'll put 2-3 accessory back exercises at the end of Monday and Friday's workout, and do accessory 'front' on Wednesday . . . I used my stiff lever belt on the OHP and SLDL, but then the 3-ply nylon belt for bench press and rack pulls. I like the latter for the bench because I can tighten it after I've laid down and my belly drops in a bit. Overall, a good workout. Just have to work out a few tweaks and I think I'll have a good modification of what I was doing in Cycle II. Once I can do squats again, it will feel like a good full workout, but with a little more emphasize on back development, a little less on legs. Thursday - 07.09 PM Rowing 7:40 minutes, did it very gently to see how the knee reacts. Friday - 07.10 AM Weighed myself for the first time in months. I've lost ten pounds since I got shingles, down from 256 to 246. PM Lifting - 1-3RM S OHP: 1 x 150, 3 x 3 x 126 SLDL: 3 x 3 x 215 BP: 1 x 253, 2 x 240 S PD: 3 x 3 x 190 P Row: 3 x 3 x 158 The OHP single was a disaster, but I had set it ten pounds too heavy. I was thinking the bar plus two wheels was 115 instead of 125. Then for the triples I noticed that my elbows were out. After I brought them in a bit, it felt easier. I guess I've been letting them out too much since switching to the Seated OHP. Still, there seems to be a significant drop in load going from tall-kneeling to seated overhead presses. Stiff-legged Deadlift felt pretty good at 3 x 3 x 215. I might start increasing the 1RM by 5 or 10 pounds a week until I find my limit. Bench Press single also went badly, but it was mostly a lack of concentration. I hurt my left thumb a bit while bringing the failed lift down to the safety pins. My wrist sleeves were tight and too high I think, putting pressure on the thumb. Pulldowns and P Row felt good. The workout felt top heavy without the squats though. Both presses went badly for singles, and it felt kind of dumb to even be attempting them. I guess I'll stick to triples on Fridays until the singles mojo returns. I think I will favor density and volume for a while. With the knee issue, losing more weight will probably be the most immediately beneficial. Saturday - 07.11 ---------------Week 4: Cycle IV--------------- Template for this week: I'm keeping the presses steady until they start to feel easier. I'll continue raising the SLDL by 5-to-10-pound increments until it feels a little harder. The P Row will continue microloading two pounds per week. Hopefully, by the end of this cycle, all the main lifts will have solidified and be back on the microloading protocol and I can look forward to steady, relatively effortless progressive overload once again. Additionally, this week I'll do my best to incorporate two assistance complexes into my routines. On Monday and Friday I'll do a back complex, and on Wednesday a front complex. These are marked off between dotted lines. Then, at the end of the workouts, I'll try to finish with two ab or core exercises. Getting through everything is predicated on the main lifts going fairly quickly and smoothly, which hasn't been possible so far due the experimentation and finding my loads again after the long shingles layoff from harder workouts. Squats are cued but I probably won't do them unless I get cleared by the orthopedist on Thursday. Sunday - 07.12 Monday - 07.13 PM Lifting - 5RM SQ: 5 x 125 S OHP: 3 x 5 x 119 SLDL: : 3 x 5 x 215 BP: 3 x 5 x 213 N PD: 3 x 5 x 180 P Row: : 3 x 5 x 151 Well, I couldn't resist, I tried an easy set of five squat reps. Felt fine, although the knee did click once in a while. I put on the knee wraps and kept them on for the whole workout. S OHP and BP were just manageable, so I think I've found the new percentages. Next week I'll start microloading both by a pound per week. I also found a good way to brace my legs while doing the seated overhead press. I think the shingles took ten pounds off of both my presses, and then doing the overhead press seated instead of kneeling takes another ten pounds off. The Stiff-legged Deadlift felt very natural. It's already become the way I deadlift. I didn't even have to think about not crouching down more for a conventional deadlift. The weight is beginning to feel challenging, but I think I will go ahead and raise the load by five pounds for at least another week before I begin to microload it. I didn't do the assistance stuff even though I had some time left over. I guess it was enough to get in something resembling a full body workout and have all the loads feel challenging but doable. I'm hitting the training sweet spot again. In the evening I ran 50 feet on the way down to the park with my son. Tuesday - 07.14 Wednesday - 07.15 PM Lifting - 8RM SQ: 2 x 5 x 125 S OHP: 3 x 8 x 105 SLDL: : 3 x 8 x 195 BP: 4/6/8 x 188 CG N PD: 3 x 8 x 150 P Row: : 3 x 8 x 134 B Ext: 10 Added another set to the squats, once again everything felt fine. I'll add one more set on Friday, and then begin adding weight next week. I focused a little more on maintaining my knee absolutely in line with the rest of the leg, pulling it in just a bit. This seemed to help. I also checked the verticality of my shin and whether or not the knee is going past the toes. Everything seemed OK. I really like starting the workouts with squats. They get everything else warmed up and primed. So even if I can never squat heavy again, I would still like to start each session with light squats just to warm up and get a good stretch. The Seated Overhead Press is starting to feel better. The SLDL feels great. On the Bench, my left thumb is still a little sore, but I don't think the lift aggravates it. It just hurts a bit from the pressure. A thumbless grip would probably be the way to go, but way too risky. P Rows are really coming along, and the Close-grip Neutral Pulldown continues to be great for working the edges of the upper back. I still didn't get in much assistance though, just a set of ten Back Extensions. The workout fell full enough as it is, and today (Thursday morning) I feel nice and sore. I'm also wondering if I should even do Landmine Twists, since they torque the knees a bit. Maybe a more realistic approach to assistance would be to limit them to two each workout, like 1DB Rows and Back Extensions on Monday and Friday, and Dips and Pullovers on Wednesday . . . Thursday - 07.16 Friday - 07.17 Saturday - 07.18 PM Lifting - 3RM SQ: 3 x 3 x 175 S OHP: 3 x 3 x 126 SLDL: : 3 x 3 x 228 BP: 3 x 3 x 225 S PD: 3 x 3 x 190 P Row: : 3 x 3 x 160 Pretty good workout. I raised the squats more than I had planned, emboldened by the second Orthopedist's recommendation to continue squatting. I wore my new Rehband knee sleeve then put the wraps over it. My knee felt super secure. I ordered one knee sleeve L and another XL. The Large fits well, so I'll return the Extra-large an get another Large for the other knee. I took off the wraps after the squats, but kept the sleeve on for the whole workout, to keep the knee nice and warm. Everything else felt pretty good. The SLDLs could probably be a little heavier, and I'll continue increasing the squats until I get back to where I was, but everything else seems about right loading-wise. Definitely feeling like I'm back in the game. ---------------Week 5: Cycle IV--------------- Template for this week. I'll continue to bring up the Squat and SLDL in bigger jumps, but everything else is coming up just two pounds, except the pulldowns, which I'm leaving constant until they start to feel a little easier. Sunday - 07.19 AM Aerobic - Cycling Two miles commuting, just to see how the knees react. PM About a mile walking around on sand and pebbles down by the river with the family. Felt good to walk on the rocks and get a little plantar stimulation. Monday - 07.20 PM Aerobic - Cycling 6.2 miles picking up the kids from day care and discovery club. Woke up at 2am, stomach a little queezy later, so I blew off the pm ST and decided to ramp up the post-running routine a bit. Knees felt fine, but I'm a little sore from my hard seat. Need to build up the butt calluses again I guess. Tuesday - 07.21 PM Lifting - 3 x 5 SQ: 3 x 5 x 200 S OHP: 3 x 5 x 125 SLDL: : 5 x 225/225/265 BP: 3 x 5 x 215 P Row: : 3 x 5 x 153 N PD: 3 x 5 x 180 Took up all the performance lifts a little to a lot heavier than I was planning. Wait a minute, I'm not sure I'm still going with the performance lifts concept. Even though they're harder to judge for technical fail, I would like to work equally hard on getting my pulldowns and rows up. Anyway, took the squat up to 200, which projects to a 1RM of 235, just 40 pounds off where I was before the meniscus tissue issue. Felt hard, but solid. I'm still not trusting the knee 100%, but I think I can continue increasing in 5 or 10-pound weekly jumps until I get back to my 1RM PR of 275, then continue to build to up over 300, unless surgery intervenes. I put the knee sleeve on for the whole workout, but used the knee wraps on top of it only for the squat. I took the OHP up just four pounds, to a nice even 125, which is one wheel on either side with my 35-pound bar. Just didn't want to deal with all the little plates, but it turned out to be about right. Now I'm just 13 pounds off my old 1RM of 160. Ten pounds is probably due to the seated position, so I'm not far off from where I was. I'm working a little bit on finding a better seated position, better bracing for the spine, butt, and legs. The SLDL felt too easy at 225, so I put on two 25-pound plates for the third set and brought it up to 265, which projects to a 1RM of 312. Nice. Maybe I can get to 400 lbs this way. The BP I took up just a few pounds, once again to get a nice even two plates on each side. My left thumb still bothers me on the presses, but it's getting better. My family came home right when I was finishing up with the Bench Press. I considered blowing off the upper body pulls, but since I'm starting to give them equal importance, I tried my best to get through them with my son hanging around. Unlike some of the other lifts, it's not dangerous to have him close by. The P Rows continue to feel really good, and the pulldowns are almost back to where they were. I would really like to focus on getting a strong back, so the upper body pulls are just as important as the upper body presses now. Overall, a very good workout. PM walk down to the park Wednesday - 07.22 Was going to pick up the kids with my bike again, but I felt pretty sore from Monday's ride and Tuesday's lifting. Still looking for my cycling shorts . . . PM walk down to the park Thursday - 07.23 Still a bit sore, getting a lot of work done, and I know how hard it is to lift on the weekends with the kids around, so I decided to blow off the planned Thursday/Saturday lifting sessions and just get in one more on Friday. It's funny, but if I don't get in that initial Monday workout, the whole week gets out of kilter. PM walk down to the park Friday - 07.24 PM Lifting - 3 x 3 SQ: 2 x 3 x 216 S OHP: 3 x 3 x 132 SLDL: : 3 x 3 x 282 BP: 3 x 3 x 228 CG N PD: 3 x 3 x 190 P Row: : 3 x 3 x 162 Had both of the Rehband knee sleeves on for the whole workout, and wraps for the squats. After the second set of squats, my left knee felt a little sore, so I stopped. Perhaps I've jumped up in weight too soon? I'll see how it feels on Monday, and if it still feels a little too much for the knees, bring it down some. I'm still struggling with Seated OH Presses, trying to find a way to brace my legs better to provide greater stability. I think I might take the load down a little until it feels super solid. I wore my new Rehband wrist supporst for the first time--much better than wrist wraps, but it's harder to loosen them in between sets. The SLDLs went really well. Really felt my whole body involved, and had total confidence in my back holding up. But I'll start microloading it from now on, to protect myself from my own exuberance. The wrist supports irritated my mildly sprained left thumb on the BP, so I took them off. Like the SLDL, the BP now feels close to max weight, but still very solid and comfortable. Sometime it seems like upper body pulls, and perhaps all the lifts, could be done simply five reps across every workout, a la Bill Starr. Maybe I'll try that next week and see how it feels. That would simplify things even further. Then I could really microload stuff, increasing just a half pound or a pound from workout to workout. Saturday - 07.25 2 miles walk commute 15 minutes easy row. ---------------Week 6: Cycle IV--------------- Template for this week: I took the OHP down a few pounds, but everything else has been microloaded up either one or two pounds from week five. Toyed with the idea of just doing 3 x 5 each workout, but for time being, I'm sticking with the 5-8-3 weekly wave. Sunday - 07.26 Monday - 07.27 AM/PM Two miles bicycle commute. PM Lifting - 3 x 5 SQ: 3 x 5 x 206 S OHP: 3 x 5 x 125 SLDL: : 3 x 5 x 267 BP: 3 x 5 x 215 N PD: 3 x 5 x 180 P Row: : 3 x 5 x 155 I misprinted my Excel sheet so I was a little off on some of the loads. I remembered the squat load, and they felt fine, almost too easy. Seated OH Press felt too hard still, but it was two pounds too heavy. Perhaps I should add another set in again. A little extra volume might help. That is, now that my loads are stabilizing, I'm starting to think again about weak versus strong lifts, and structural balance. Seems like my press, even seated, is weak compared to the other lifts. SLDL was awesome, it's getting to be my favorite exercise. Probably just the novelty of it, but by taking the knees out of the equation, everything else ends up doing more work it seems. BP was one pound too light. But it's in the right range now, feel just about right. On the Pulldowns I went back to kneeling on the floor, which feels a lot better. I figure with 180 pounds pulling me up, there's little actual load on the knees. I'm halfway tempted to try Tall Kneeling Presses again too, but not worth the meniscus risk. The seated presses just never feel that stable. Good for the core I guess. I tried 175 for the P Rows, just to see what it felt like, and it felt way too heavy, even as an 1RM. I think 3RMs are the lowest I can go with P Rows. Anyway, I guessed at the proper 5RM weight, and ended up getting it right at 155. I knew the 5RM was right around there. I was deluding myself into thinking the P Rows were probably too light, but actually the loading is just about right. So I'll continue with the one-pound-per-week microloading. Afterwards I felt really spent. The SLDLs right in the middle of the workout are killer, and overall, the six lifts give me a very complete workout. No assistance really required, but it would be good to work different angles/ROMs once in a while. Wondering if I'm 30 pounds overweight, does that mean I could add 30 pounds to the bar when I squat if I lost 30 pounds? Also wondering about how much friction is introduced on pulldowns, and how much weight does that translate into? Also, on pullups, one is lifting the weight above one's elbows, but on pulldowns, one is lifting the entire weight of the loaded plates, plus whatever friction is there. So perhaps I can already pull up over 200 pounds. I really need to start testing pullups again, but it's a little humiliating, even with these qualifiers. PM One mile barefoot walking to get daughter from Discovery Club and walk to store to buy present for friend's birthday party this Saturday. Store let me in barefoot, no problem. Tuesday - 07.28 PM 35 minutes easy rowing, very boring, but rowing is definitely a good full-body aerobic workout. The knees handled it fine, so I'll try to gradually increase the intensity. I'm thinking cycling one day and rowing the next might be a good aerobic routine. In the evening walked barefoot down to the park with the kids. Wednesday - 07.29 AM/PM Two miles bike commute. PM Lifting - 3 x 8 SQ: 3 x 8 x 182 S OHP: 1 x 5 x 110 TK OHP: 2 x 8 x 110 SLDL: : 3 x 5 x 236 CG N PD: 3 x 8 x 150 P Row: : 3 x 8 x 137 I started to feel nauseous sometime doing the OH Press, missed reps on the SLDL and cut out the BP. I got frustrated with the Seated OH Press and switched to the Tall Kneeling OH Press for the second and third sets. That felt a lot better and more natural. I've read the people who have to do a lot of kneeling for a living, like floorers, have a much greater incidence of meniscus issues, but with my knee sleeves and yoga mat folded twice, it felt like I had enough padding and the knees didn't feel anything wrong at all. Today, no soreness either, so I guess I'm back to doing Tall Kneeling Overhead Presses and Pulldowns kneeling on the floor. Maybe I'll give Abide suggestion of trying the Savickas Press a try, if I can do it facing out from my power rack. By the time I got to my upper body pulls I was feeling kind of sick in the heat. I ate a lot of vegetables just an hour before the workout, so that was probably the cause. Nonetheless, I started to get a real good pump on the Close-grip Neutral Pulldown. The cumulative consistency is starting to work its magic again. Thursday - 07.30 Friday - 07.31 AM Two miles bicycle commute. Saturday - 08.01 AM Two miles bicycle commute. ---------------Week 7: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday - 08.02 House and yard work. Monday - 08.03 AM Two miles bicycle commute. PM 6.3 miles bicycle, picking up the kids. My dry, hacking cough became a deeper, more productive cough last week, and I'm feeling very fatigued, so no heart for lifting, and I felt a bit queasy again as well. I'm sick of being sick. Tuesday - 08.04 AM/PM Two miles bicycle commute. PM 30 minutes rowing. Thinking alternating rowing with biking might work. Something like 30 minutes' rowing on lifting days, then 30-60 minutes biking on non-lifting days, plus almost everyday two-mile bike commutes. Then in the winter, maybe sub swimming for biking, but keep the rowing? Wednesday - 08.05 AM/PM Two miles walk-commute. Felt some instability in the left knee. Next Monday when I see the super doc, I'll probably ask to have an MRI done on that knee too, to see what's going on. PM Lifting - 2 x 5 SQ: 2 x 5 x 183 TK OHP: 2 x 8 x 111 SLDL: : 3/5 x 237 BP: 5 x 191, 5 x 125 c/ Fat Gripz CG N PD: 2 x 5 x 150 P Row: : 2 x 5 x 138 After a week off, I decided to do my 75% loads just five reps instead of eight, and just do two sets instead of three, since I was a little pressed for time and still recovering from my low-level virus. It only took about 30 minutes to get through. It might actually be good to have an easier day like this mid-week all the time. And it would be a little closer to the Texas Method programming that way. There's at least a half-dozen minor modifications that could be done to my routine and still yield the same results, probably. Once again, the squats seemed to have a therapeutic effect on my brittle knees--next day they feel fine. My right knee seemed to drift a bit out of alignment though, could my form degrade after skipping just two workouts? Tall Kneeling OH Press still feels OK on the knees. Felt a little tightness on the right hammie where it attaches to the knee, so just did three reps for the first set, but then five reps on the second set felt OK. The Bench Press continues to bother my sprained left thumb. So for the second set I took the weight down and tried my new Fat Gripz for the first time. Seemed like they helped. Next time, if I have more time, I'll experiment a bit more. This might be the way to go until my thumb is all healed up--lighter loads with the fat grip. This way I can continue to practice the movement while at the same time improve my grip strength and hone my overall technique. By the time I got to the upper body pulls, I realized I had enough time for three sets apiece, and was back in the groove enough to do a full eight reps, but I kept them at 2 x 5 and called it a day. This workout was more a priming session for Friday's workout, where I'll hopefully be back up to full strength and energy levels. Still, I have a slight urge to experiment with a few protocol changes as we finish out this cycle. I think I want the workouts, or at least the weekly workout rhythm to be a little be easier, but still intense enough to make steady progress. At the very least, I might seriously consider throwing out the higher rep day on Wednesday and do the same loads at five reps only, or maybe adopt a 5/5/5+ protocol, just blasting on the last set. Thursday - 08.06 AM/PM Two miles bicycle commute. PM 11.35 miles biking down by the river, from my office, between the Franklin and Ford Parkway bridges. Started out in a refreshing drizzle, then it cleared. Only one big hill, coming back, so a good route while I'm still getting back into shape. Nonetheless, my butt's a little sore from the hard seat. I really have to find my old cycling shorts with the Chamois, or just get a new pair. Another cool thing about cycling, versus running, besides the fact that you can cover a lot more ground, and can coast once in a while for a break, is that it should be a lot easier to get back in shape, since it's mostly muscle conditioning, unlike running, where you have to wait for the bones, ligaments, and tendons to toughen up too. It took me exactly one hour to cover the distance, so I guess the immediate goal would be to work on speed, then when the overall time comes down 10-15 minutes, maybe add distance. Friday - 08.07 PM Lifting SQ: 3 x 5 x 208 TK OHP: 3 x 5 x 126 SLDL: : 3 x 5 x 269 It did indeed feel good just to do more 3 x 5 sets. I felt fatigued and a little queasy again so I cut out the second half of the workout. Saturday - 08.08 AM 5.3 miles bike commute (forgot keys and had to return home, then picked up some stuff at the local mom and pop store). ---------------Week 8: Cycle IV--------------- Sunday - 08.09 Monday - 08.10 PM Lifting - 3 x 5 SQ: 3 x 5 x 209 TK OHP: 3 x 5 x 127 SLDL: : 3 x 5 x 270 BP: 5 x 125 c/ Fat Gripz, 5 x 175 normal N PD: 3 x 5 x 180 P Row: : 3 x 5 x 158 Everything felt pretty solid. I got a little queasy again though, not sure why. On the Bench Press I tried the Fat Gripz again, but this time it didn't really feel like they helped at all. Then when I took them off for 175, my wrists almost buckled forward. Scary. I think while my left thumb is still sore, I may try lower weights, like 175-200lbs, and work on bar speed, or dynamic effort training. Could be a good excuse to see what that's like. Tuesday - 08.11 AM 1-mile bike commute. PM 13.5 miles bike ride, down to Ford Parkway Bridge then up to U 0f M Minneapolis campus to home. New bike shorts felt great. Wednesday - 08.12 PM Lifting - 3 x 5 SQ: 3 x 5 x 210 TK OHP: 3 x 5 x 127.5 SLDL: : 3/4/3 x 271 BP: 2/3/2 x 218 CG N PD: 3 x 5 x 153 P Row: : 3 x 5 x 158.5 Squats felt a little easy. I think I had been overcorrecting for knee alignment. So I just did what comes naturally, looked down, and I think the knee still tracks pretty well over the foot. The squats went back to feeling super solid once I did this, and the load felt easier. So I may boost it 5-10 pounds next time. The Tall Kneeling OH Press is feeling pretty good. The SLDLs felt a little too hard, but it was mainly me being nervous about straining my lower back, glutes, and hammies. I think I can actually handle the load just fine, but I'm a bit jittery about injuries, so maybe I'll take the load down a bit and build back up. I would also like all the lifts to involve about the same effort level, although the SLDL has become more of a centerpiece to my routine. On the Bench Press, I think I finally found a good workaround for this nagging thumb sprain. It's about on the third rep that I start to feel it, so maybe I'll adopt a 5 x 2 protocol at my normal five-rep weight while I'm waiting for it to heal up completely. Once it's good to go, I'll start adding reps, but at least I'll be practicing the movement at decent loads in the meantime. The Fat Gripz didn't really offer a viable alternative, and I don't really want to get caught up in dynamic effort just yet, although eventually that might be a good midweek protocol. The upper body pulls continue to be awesome, and I get something of a pump when they follow the SLDL. So yeah, very satisfying workout, and the cumulative consistency is once again working its magic just doing the same damn lifts every time. Thursday - 08.13 AM 1-mile bike commute. PM 16 miles bike ride, down to Highway 5 bridge where the Minnesota and Mississippi rivers meet and back up the Minneapolis side through the U 0f M Minneapolis campus to home. Wow, I'm really liking how easy it is to get into cycling. After just a week or two, I can ride over an hour no problem, with little soreness. Friday - 08.14 Lifting Took a nap instead Saturday - 08.15 Short workout while the friend who used to own a serious bodybuilding/powerlifting/pro-wrestler (ok not that serious) gym came by to critique my form. All of the loads were less than I normally do for five-reps, I mostly did 2-5 reps at a time while my friend looked things over. He said: 1) Since I have long limbs and a long torso, the bar on my low-bar squats could come down even more, if it felt comfortable. It didn't, but I might give it another try when I have more time to experiment. He also said I should keep my chest up, or look up at a 45-degree angle, to help keep my torso more vertical. That cue seemed to work well. 2.) He said the same thing about looking up more on the SLDLs. 3) He said my bar path on the bench press was too vertical, and that I should try more of a "j"-shaped path. I tried it, but it didn't feel good. He said everything else looked pretty good, including my arch and elbow/forearm position. So that's nice. 4) He said my Pendlay Rows looked really good. 5) We also discussed One-hand Dumbbell Rows, and he like my full ROM and said doing them cheating style, to bring in the Obliques while rotating the torso, was fine. 6) He also said for older lifters, higher rep sets were the way to go, and liked my idea of doing everything five reps. He also suggested adding in some higher rep assistance at the end of each workout. He said getting a "pump," besides being nice way to end a workout, might also help with recovery by getting the blood pumping through all the muscles worked in the worksets. This jibes with my idea of adding in some quick sets of my favorite assistance exercises at the end of workouts. Just have to increase my work capacity a bit more to be able to handle it. I still want to keep everything to an hour max. ------------------------ So that's it for Cycle IV. Basically, not much was achieved, but I feel like I'm back on track after dealing with the meniscus tear, and lingering post-shingles fatigue. I'm also liking the idea, which came to me in the last week or two of this cycle, of simplifying things further by making each workout 3 x 5.