Welcome to Cycle VI! This will be our last eight-week cycle, followed by a shortened four-week cycle to finish up the year. As always, everyone is welcome to participate, either by entering their logs or commenting as topics come up. The only criterion for entering a log is that it should document both an aerobic and anaerobic component, done concurrently, usually within the same training week. Note: Although I can no longer run, I have kept the title unchanged, for continuity. But perhaps it would be more accurate to call this thread "Concurrent Strength & Aerobic Training . . . " ? ----------------------------------------------------------------- ---------------Assessment of Cycle V--------------- Last cycle was very successful for me. The biggest achievement was being able to train consistently without any rehab or illness issues. Aerobic I was able to establish cycling as a good substitute for running, after I found out in the previous cycle that I have degenerative meniscus cartilage. So far, my knees have been tolerating cycling very well, and I’ve ridden up to 30 miles without any problem. Anaerobic Emphasis. Lifting-wise, bringing up my squat was my main focus. I was able to go from a 215-pound 5RM to a 245-pound 5RM, a gain of 30 pounds, which projects to going from a 253-pound 1RM to a 287-pound 1RM, a gain of 34 pounds. I think I have another 30-50 pounds of fairly easy, consistency-based Squat gains in me. Experiments. I experimented with maintaining a strict 3x5 set-rep scheme every workout, which ended up working well for me. Mentally, it’s nice not having to think too much about varying lifts or reps/loads. The workouts become fairly mindless and Zen-like. Physically, I think it was easier for my body to adapt via microloading when the stressors were held nearly constant. Nonetheless, towards the end of the cycle, I did feel possible effects of overtraining, as the second or third weekly workout often felt a little sluggish. It can also get a little boring doing exactly the same thing every workout. Loading. Microloading the Squat 5RM 2-3 pounds per week, or about one pound per workout, I was able to surpass my 5RM PR towards the end of the cycle. Soon after, I decided to align the Presses with the Squat using the Iron Ratio, which meant bringing the Overhead and Bench Press loads down. Finally, I experimented a little with Olympic or conventional Deadlifts, but on the whole, I’ve found Stiff-legged Deadlifts are the easiest on my knees. ---------------Programming for Cycle VI--------------- Aerobic The nature of urban cycling makes it difficult to set specific training goals. I will simply continue to improve my aerobic capacity and perhaps work in a few sprints or tempo rides occasionally, and perhaps try longer-than-30-mile rides once in a while. As it gets colder, there’s a 50-50 chance I’ll make good my threat to start swimming regularly. If I do, then I will probably develop some goals for the following cycles. This will be easy, since I’ll be starting at virtually zero swimming ability. Anaerobic Experiment. I will continue to use the Iron Ratio (OHP : BP : SQ : DL = 2:3:4:5) to guide my loading. But in contrast to last cycle, where I kept the set-rep scheme nearly constant at 3 x 5 for every workout, in this cycle I will return to my 3 x 5/8/3 rep scheme. Taking up Abide’s suggestion to use each training cycle as an opportunity to experiment with and/or tweak our plans, I want to see how reinserting rep-count variation will feel after following a unchanging rep-count plan. Plus, towards the end of Cycle V, once I surpassed my old 1RM PR (as projected from the 5RM), and the 5RM loads began to feel relatively heavy while de-racking, I became curious to test my single, and also handle heavier loads more frequently. So having a 3RM day may satisfy these needs, or at the very least better prepare me to test a single, or a single at the 2RM load, within a few weeks. I lift without a spotter, and I’m still a little unsure about what my knees’ limits are, so I don’t know if it’s a good idea to test singles once I’m over 300 pounds. Triples might be a good proxy. It will also be nice to work in heavier loads for the Presses once a week while I’m waiting for the Squat to catch up to them, Iron Ratio-wise. Loading. Also in contrast to last cycle, where I microloaded my 5RM, and projected the 1RM using that, I will return to microloading my 1RM, as I had done in previous cycles, and then take percentages of that to determine loads for each rep count. For Monday’s five-rep sets, I will use 85% of the 1RM. For Wednesday’s eight-rep sets, I will use 75%, and for Friday’s three-rep sets, I will use 90%. Emphasis. What’s more, and once again in contrast to last cycle, where I focused on building up my Squat, in this cycle I will focus on building up my Pullup. I would like to include it in the Iron Ratio at a 1:1 correspondence with the Bench Press. To that end I will begin each workout with Pulldowns, and may try drop sets on the third set (fairly easy to do with my cable pulldown loader), and then between other lifts, work in either assisted Pullups or slow eccentrics or both. Back to Loading. So, initially, using the Iron Ratio, I will try adding one pound per week to my Pullup/Pulldown 1RM, two thirds of a pound to my Press, a pound to my Bench Press, and a pound and a third to my Squat. Theoretically, I will also add one and two thirds pounds a week to my Deadlift, but I don’t know how much I may actually test it in practice. The net effect of focusing on getting my Pullups stronger will be to slow the rate of weekly load increase. Whereas last cycle I was adding one pound per week to the OHP 5RM, for example, in this cycle I will be adding just 85% of 2/3 of a pound. The idea is to incorporate Dan John’s concept of “easy strength,” along with Jim Wendler’s recommendation of slow, gradual progress, while pursuing Poliquin’s ideal of “structural balance” (https://www.t-nation.com/training/achieving-structural-balance). Hopefully, building a balanced base more slowly over time will allow me to go further in the end. Every workout should be about moderate intensity, and load increases will be contingent on making progress in the Pulldown/Pullup. One More Experiment. Finally, in this cycle I think I will try to work in more assistance stuff in earnest. If the workouts do in fact become easier, then this should be possible, in terms of time, if not necessarily in terms of motivation. I will also try to make Wednesday’s 8-rep day more of a lift variation/ROM day, subbing in things like Overhead Squat for the Back Squat, and Dumbbell Presses for Barbell Presses. So the basic scheme is as follows (essential lifts in boldface): Monday – 3 x 5 Neutral-grip Pulldowns (N PD) Back Squat (SQ) Pullups (PU) – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Tall Kneeling Overhead Press (TK OHP) Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Stiff-legged Deadlift (SLDL) Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Bench Press (BP) Pendlay Row (P RW) 2x8 1DB Row Back Extensions Landmine Twist Wednesday – 3 x 8 Close-grip Pulldowns (CG PD) Overhead Squat (OH SQ) Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics One-hand Dumbbell Press (1DB OHP) Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Stiff-legged Deadlift Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Two-hand Dumbbell Bench Press (2DB BP) Pendlay Row 2x8 Dips Pullovers One-hand External Rotation Friday – 3 x 3 Supine-grip Pulldowns (S PD) Back Squat Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Tall Kneeling Overhead Press Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Stiff-legged Deadlift Pullups – one set assisted or slow eccentrics Bench Press P Row 2x8 1DB Row Back Extensions Landmine Twist Of course, all this could change after the first week. As Mike Tyson said, "Everyone has a plan, until they get hit." Overall, I think I've found three different set-rep schemes that work reasonably for me, in terms of results and motivation. First, there's the full-body split, which alternates deadlifts and squats along with two of the four main upper body lifts (OHP, BP, RW, and PU/PD). I did these 3x1, 3x3, & 2x5 for each of the three lifts in a workout. Second, there's the full-body, six lifts 3 x 5/8/3 scheme I'll be trying a second time this cycle. Finally, there's the ultra simple full-body, six lifts 3 x 5 scheme I did last cycle. Hard to say if any one of these is superior. Perhaps the best way to go would be to do a different one each cycle? ---------------Week 1: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: Note: the numbers for the OH Squat, DB Press, and DB Bench Press and some of the assistance lfits are first-approximations. I'll find out Wednesday how close they are to my actual capacity. Sunday - 10.11 AM Bike Commuting. One mile. Cycling. 29.5 miles, same route as last long ride, along both banks of the river. This time, however, I didn't go down onto the trails along the river banks, but rather stayed up on the bluffs when given the option. My family was anxious to go on a picnic this last summery day of the season, so I tried to be quick about it. Nonetheless, I was stopped after crossing over the bridge from downtown St. Paul to South St. Paul by a photographer of bicycles. He asked if he could snap a few photos of my bike and we chatted a bit about bike paths and our respective knee issues. He used to race road motorcycles and screwed up an ACL, had to graft some cartilage to fix it, but it's still weak. Here's one of the photos he took. You can see my horn, pump, and the blinkers mounted on my front fender and a little of the one mounted on the back: I'll take a photo of the handlebar do-dads one of these days. Monday - 10.12 My son's daycare took a day off for professional development, forcing many of us parents to take a day off as well. So I stayed home with my son. I got in two miles or so of barefoot walking around the neighborhood. Later, I tried to squeeze in my first workout, but I was dehydrated and my son distracting. N PD: 5/5/5 x 185, 5 x 180/175/170 SQ: 2/1 x 247 The pulldown drop-sets went well. I remember doing this at the University of Chicago gym with the lat pulldown's stack and pin set-up. Felt a little strange to start the workout with pulldowns instead of squats though. Might have to rethink that. On the second rep of squats I felt a head rush coming on. My head felt like it was swelling up like a hot air balloon, so I racked the bar. I felt OK after a bit however, so I tried another set, but the same thing happened on my first rep, so I called it a day. I think being dehydrated two days in a row may have increased my blood pressure or something. Just as well, my son was getting antsy to go pick up his sister at her school, so I wasn't likely to get through the whole workout anyway. Now I have to decided what to do Tuesday or Wednesday. Go through with the eight-rep day, or try this workout again. That's the nice thing about the unchanging 3x5 daily plan. If you skip a workout, you just do it next time. With weekly plans, you need some kind of flow chart to deal with contingencies. I may try to do this workout again today (Tuesday) and then try the lighter assistance stuff tomorrow. Not a good start to the cycle . . . Tuesday - 10.13 AM Bike commuting. One mile. PM 2.6 miles Thought about not cycling and doing Monday's missed lifting, then thought about not doing Monday's lifting and cycling to pick up the kids, then ended up doing nothing when I had to pick up my daughter a bit early and then she wanted to come along and pick up her brother (cycling to pick up the kids only works if I pick up my son first). OK, in order to avoid this indecisiveness and intrusion, the flow chart for the 5-8-3 plan has to be 5-8-3 > 5-3 > 5. This can also be thought of as a Medium-Light-Heavy sequence, sort of, so M-L-H > M-H > M Or Medium Intensity/Medium Volume -- Low Intensity/High Volume -- High Intensity/Low Volume > Medium Intensity/Medium Volume -- High Intensity/Low Volume > Medium Intensity/Medium Volume If I miss a workout, I do the five-rep and three-rep workouts on the two remaining, normally scheduled lifting days. The eight-rep workout is the first to go, in keeping with the Texas Method idea that the five-rep workout is the cornerstone of the workout week, and intensity day, on Friday, is used to test any strength gained on Monday. TM's Wednesday workout is supposed to be an easy or light day, but I've given it a twist by making it more of a higher rep and assistance/ROM variation day. I've also subbed in three-rep sets for TM's intensity day, at a percentage of 1RM that assumes a similar effort level as on Monday, but at a higher load. So I keep TM's variations in intensities, but keep the overall effort level about the same workout to workout. Anyway, following the same logic, if I miss two workouts, I should still do the five-rep workout on the one day remaining, since it's the most important rep-count of the week, the one that combines volume (higher reps) and intensity (higher loads) into a happy medium. So, basically, if I miss Monday, I do five reps on Wednesday and three reps on Friday. If I miss both Monday and Wednesday, I do five reps on Friday. It screws things up if I try to switch aerobic and lifting days around. Best to keep the M-W-F = lifting, T-Th-Sa/S = aerobic schedule intact. This way, if I miss a workout, it effects the next equivalent workout, not the next workout day. And I think if I miss more than one lifting workout, then I should probably not microload the next week, but rather repeat the same loads. OK, got that straight . . . simple, but important. Besides regular, feasible scheduling and a willingness to work out even when you don't feel like it, another key to consistency is having a back-up plan. And consistency is the only parameter that really counts. The various configurations of intensity, frequency, volume, selection, and order mean nothing without it. Anyway, looks like this week I'm doing everything five-reps on Wednesday. Wednesday - 10.14 AM Bike Commuting. Two miles. I have been thinking about taking the SLDLs down a bit, because they seem to take more out of my lower back than Squats. Reading around a bit, a lot of people put the SLDL to DL ratio at 80%. Mine has been closer to 90%, because I had the SLDL pegged to the Squat at 1.1:1, and the Deadlift pegged to the Squat at 1.25:1. I think I'll try the more common 80% as an convenient and perhaps valid excuse to bring the SLDLs down. So now the Squat and SLDL loads will be the same, both 80% of the conventional Deadlifts. More Iron Ratio tweaking . . . Press x 1.5 = Bench, Pullup/Pulldown Press x 2 = Squat, SLDL Press x 2.5 = Deadlift Just have to figure out where Rows fit in. Right now they're somewhere between the Press and Bench Press/Pullup. PM Lifting. SQ: 3/5/2 x 248, 2 x 218 CG PD: 5/5/5 x 170, 5 x 160/155/150 SLDL: 3/5/5 x 248 PU, slow eccentrics: 5 PU, assisted (Green Band=50lbs): 5 TK OHP: 2/4/5 x 124 P RW: 5/5/5 x 157 MG BP: 3/5/5 x 185 Did Monday's workout, five-rep sets, except I put the Squats back in the beginning, because the multiple warm-up sets required and the Squat's full-body nature make for a much better warm-up than Pulldowns. My right kneecap felt a little pressure however, so I cut two of the sets short. I tried the eight-rep load to see if that felt better, but the patella still wasn't happy, so I called it a day. Strength-wise, the squats felt fine, and I didn't have any head-rush issues like I did on Monday, despite being a bit sleep-deprived. I was thinking I may be reaching my squat limit, but Monday was just a bad day, probably just dehydration. The drop-sets on the Pulldowns continue to feel very good, even though I screwed up the loading a bit, and did the first drop-set ten pounds lighter rather than five. But the idea of doing slow eccentrics or assisted Pullups in between the following lifts probably isn't going to work. It's just too much, and I'm already at my limits energy-wise with a six-lift, full-body workout. Maybe at the end of the workout I can do something like that, but I might just rely on the drop-sets to bring my Pulldowns/Pullups up for a while, see how that goes. It felt good to have lowered the SLDL load to match that of the Squat, plus it makes it simple to think about the load. The exact plates are already out and for some reason it's somehow satisfying to do the same load two different ways. It felt a little weird to do my Presses after the Deadlift, since I have been doing the SQ-OHP-DL order for so long, but I still had enough juice to get through them no problem. The Rows and Bench Press were relatively easy, although the first set of Bench Press was a little cranky in the left shoulder due to having missed the movement for over a week. I think the emphasis on Pulldowns may already be having some carryover to the Rows. With a limited ability to do conventional Deadlifts, I may have to think about making Rows my next lift of emphasis. Maybe next cycle . . . OK, just noticed that the Rows are pretty much exactly between the OH Press load and the BP load, so the Iron Ratio is complete: Press x 1.25 = Pendlay Row Press x 1.5 = Bench, Pullup/Pulldown Press x 2 = Squat, SLDL Press x 2.5 = Deadlift Or 2:2½:3:4:5 For the formalist mind, this is extremely satisfying. It inspires this diagram, a sideways Iron Cross: Kind of like an Orthodox Christian cross from Ethiopia: Instead of training, I'm crusading. Overall, despite bailing on the Squat sets, the workout felt pretty balanced and the effort-level about the same for all the lifts. I think structural balance has been achieved, and I really don't mind doing the presses at lower loads while I wait for the Squat and Pulldown/Pullup to catch up. I think it's the right thing to do and I will probably achieve better results this way in the long run. I may just repeat this week's loads next week, to solidify the new plan, depending on how Friday's workout goes. At night I slept like a baby as I felt my whole body engage in protein synthesis. BTW, got this http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00JYNJBS6?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=od_aui_detailpages00 in anticipation of learning how to swim better this winter. It's great because you can control the buoyancy, so as I get better, I can decrease it, eventually swimming without the vest, but in the beginning, it will be nice to have some extra buoyancy so I can relax and concentrate on technique. Kind of like microloading the buoyancy. I thought of this because I actually first learned how to swim snorkeling in the Caribbean when I was 24. The extra buoyancy of sea water gave me the confidence to go out a little farther each day while I stayed with my grandfather's cousin in his tropical paradise on St. Vincent Island. Thursday - 10.15 AM Bike commuting. Two miles. Had a nice route planned out, but I decided to spend the time getting other stuff done. Plus my knee felt a little sore, so I thought I'd save it for the Squat and SLDL triples on Friday. Friday - 10.16 AM Bike commuting. Two miles. Toes felt a little nippy, about time for some kind of footwear it appears. PM Lifting SQ: 3/3/3 x 261 S PD: 3/3/3 x 196, 3 x 191/186/181 SLDL: 3/3/3 x 261 TK OHP: 3/3/3 x 131 P RW: 3/3/3 x 167 MG BP: 3/3/3 x 196 Everything felt smooth and solid, not too easy, not too hard. A good ending to the first week. Saturday - 10.17 Four hours barefoot in the woods, 40s. ---------------Week 2: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: I got rid of the assisted Pullup sets in between lifts, but may try them after doing all six of the main lifts. This week I'll also try to do dumbbell OHP and BP on Wednesday and see if they're worth doing, for greater ROM, or if it's best just to keep honing my technique on the barbell presses. After that, the plan for the cycle should be set--pure microloading the six lifts, following the Iron Ratio, with the Pulldown load as the base unit. Sunday - 10.18 Nap with the kids after I got back from my retreat. Monday - 10.19 PM Lifting SQ: 5/5/5 x 248 N PD: 5/5/5 x 186, 5 x 181/176/171 My daughter was home with the stomach flu and my body started feeling a little achy towards the end of the afternoon. So it was a relief when my wife and son came home and interrupted my workout just as I was doing a 175 warm-up set of SLDLs. My left hip area didn't feel right, so I was OK with calling it a day, although it would've been nice to get in the presses and row. I got in the two essential lifts, that should enough to set up Wednesday and Friday's workouts. Tuesday - 10.20 AM Bike Commuting. Two miles. Starting to really miss my longer rides . . . Wednesday - 10.21 PM Lifting SQ: 219 x 7/7/8 CG PD: 5 x 171/171/171/166/166/161 SLDL: 219 x 7/8/8 2DB S OHP: 25 x 8/8, 30 x 8, 40 x 5 P RW: 137 x 8/8/8 2DB N BP: 40 x 8/8/8 Back Ext: 8 x BW, 8 x BW+25 Felt good to do Squats and SLDLs at higher reps, although mentally the last rep was hard to complete. With the lighter load, I could really concentrate on form and doing the reps with a steady rhythm. If I had a higher ceiling, I might swap the Squats for OH Squats but maybe I should still do a set of them with just the bar after completing the low-bar sets. It felt good to do both the OHP and BP with dumbbells; I liked the fuller ROM and slightly different leverages. I did relatively easy weights to get a feel for where I'm at. Next week I'll try to get it up to optimal resistance, but I may sub Dips in for the BP Dumbbell Press. Seems like a similar ROM, but I think I would get more benefit from Dips. I think I should probably do dumbbell rows on Wednesday too, because it seems a little pointless to do Pendlay Rows at lighter loads. So it could be considered a kind of a hybrid higher rep day for the lower body lifts and dumbbell substitution day for two or three of the upper body lifts. This brings it more in line with the Texas Method's "light" day in the middle of the week, and it felt good to have a relatively easy day. Should set me up nicely for Friday's heavy day. I've been feeling for the last month or two that three full workouts per weeks is a bit much. Two and a half, effort-wise, might be better. I guess with the dumbbells though, I'm getting away from Rippetoe's idea that you only need barbells to build basic strength. I think the dumbbell variations will contribute directly to my development, and I've always been mystified that he doesn't place more emphasis on chin-ups and rows. Seems like they really help drive gains in the presses, but who am I to argue with 30 years' experience? Just feels right for me. Got in some Back Extensions assistance finally. Feels like I should be doing some 'core' stuff more regularly. As my Squat and SLDL loads move up, I want to make sure my lower back and stomach are plenty strong for efficient power transmission. Next time I'll try some hanging knee tucks too. And if I can incorporate Dips and DB Rows into my regular six lifts order, then maybe I can manage doing just two assistance lifts after each workout, like Back Extensions and LM Twists on M-F, and Pullovers and Upright Rows on W. All Abide's talk about his traps has me wanting to target them a bit more too. Upright Rows are supposed to be bad for the shoulders, but I don't know. If I feel something, I'll switch to shrugs, but I used to like Upright Rows quite a bit as a finishing exercise. Thursday - 10.22 AM Bike Commuting Two miles. PM Cycling 30.93 miles. I did the reverse of the route I did on the first Sunday of this cycle. I missed the peak colors, but the route was still pretty beautiful, and I came down off the bluff to the river banks whenever I could. This led to a few nice, short climbs in my little-used granny gear. Despite not cycling much for 10 days, my legs felt fine. Once again, it's more my upper back that gets fatigued. I went out in my Sugoi tri-shorts and missed the padding of my regular cycling shorts. I only slept three hours the night before, so I cycled about as much as I slept. This helped me sleep like a baby the next night. Friday - 10.23 PM Lifting SQ: 3/3/3 x 263 S PD: 3 x 197/197/197/192/187, 5 x 182 SLDL: 3/3/3 x 263 TK OHP: 3/3/3 x 131 P RW: 3/3/3 x 165 MG BP: 3/3/3 x 197 This is getting to be my favorite workout of the week. Heavy loads but not too fatiguing. It's pretty gratifying that my Squat triple is approaching my old 1RM PR. I thought about trying some conventional Deadlifts and seeing how much above 300 I could go, but I'm enjoying the relative ease of SLDL loads matching my Squat loads, and treating them like a Squat 'tonic' as Dan John calls them. The presses felt a little cranky. I've been taking them for granted, but I guess I need to practice the movements regularly or else it takes my shoulders a workset or two to lube up, even though the loads for both the OHP and BP are still below my capacity. My knees are coming up off the floor on the Supine Pulldowns. The time to begin proper Chin-ups/Pull-ups is drawing near. Triples are supposed to be 90% of a 1RM, and my 3RM chin-up is now close to 200 pounds, so I should be able to do one Pullup at a BW of about 220. I'm still over 245 however, but it might be worth giving it a try, even if I fail. And Supine Pulldowns seem to engage the biceps more than proper Chin-ups, so perhaps my back muscles, if fully engaged, could already be ready. Saturday - 10.24 ---------------Week 3: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: I think I may have finalized Wednesday's variation/higher rep/ROM/light workout. Moving Dips and 1DB Rows into the main lifts allows me to program just two optional assistance lifts for all three workouts, so hopefully I'll be better able to get around to the latter a bit more often. Otherwise, more of the same on Monday and Friday: relentless microloading. Sunday - 10.25 Getting my daughter's new room ready. Monday - 10.26 PM Lifting SQ: 3/5/3 x 249 N PD: 5/5/5 x 187, 5 x 182/177/172 RDL: 2/5/5 x 249 TK OHP: 3/5/5 x 125 P RW: 5/5/5 x 157 MG BP: 3/3/3 x 187 My right kneecap felt a little something on the Squats, but the actual load felt fine. I'm getting more comfortable with the feel of these heavier loads. I tried a slightly wider stance on the last set, and this seemed to help relief pressure on my kneecap. So perhaps I need to experiment a little with stance once again. Then I got interrupted for 30 minutes, and really didn't feel like lifting again after I lost my warm-up, but I also didn't want another half-workout to start out the week as in Weeks One and Two. So I got through everything and of course was glad I did afterwards. I considered blowing off the presses, but I think with the full-body concept, everything contributes to everything else, a sort of multiple, intertwining carryover, so I shouldn't be so dismissive of the presses even though the loads are below my capacity. They are still contributing to overall development, and need to be done together with the other lifts for optimal effect, I think. Plus, the microloading approach relies on consistent frequency to get results. Otherwise, if I miss lifts or workouts, it would probably be better to go to more of a full-body split, higher intensity workout. Still didn't get in my assistance or core work. Oh well, some day . . . Wondering if I should just focus on Supine Pulldowns (Chin-downs?) while I make this push. Neutral Pulldowns are harder. Might be best just to try to get better at one technique first, then add variation in grips, I dunno. Tuesday - 10.27 AM Bike Commuting. One mile. Crap another slow leak in my new Schwalbe tubes. Must be a spoke or something poking through. The rip on my second flat tube was just a confounding factor. It felt good to get back on the bike after many days off. Looks like they're just about done restructuring the road I go on every day. Just have to do the final surfacing looks like. They've been at it for months, but they've always found a way for pedestrians and cyclists to work their way through the construction, so it's been nice cycling half the route without any traffic. PM Cycling 11.2 miles, Office to Ford Parkway to Franklin to UM bus route home. I didn't have time to repair my new slow leak in my rear tire, so I hoofed it throughout the ride, stopping three times to reinflate the tire as the rolling resistance became too much. Felt good to cycle at a tempo pace. I had already thought about this, but I think this may be the way to go for my weekday rides, but without the leak. I went from a 10-12 mph average to more like a 13-15mph average. Knees handled it well and it was less fatiguing for my upper back. ------------------------------------ Thinking once again about scheduling some kind of mini session in my office Tu-Th-Sa/Su, maybe shift the Pullups, Dips, Back Extensions, and Ab stuff out of M-W-F so that I actually do them, together with some kind of mobility work and perhaps HIIT on the rower. Perhaps an everyday frequency would work to keep me more limber, and doing Pull-downs one day and Chin-ups the next would help grease the groove as I push to make progress on those. So, Mon Squat: 3 x 5 Neutral-grip Pull-downs: 3 x 5; 3 x 5 dropsets Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 5 Tall-kneeling Overhead Press: 3 x 5 Pendlay Row: 3 x 5 Medium-grip Bench Press: 3 x 5 (Assistance) Landmine Twist: 3 x 5 Tues Mobility: 10 mins Chin-ups: 5 mins Dips/Plyometrics: 5 mins Back Extensions: 5 mins Hang Tuck/Crunches: 5 mins Rowing HIIT/Short Bike Ride: 30-40 mins Wed Squat: 3 x 8 Close-grip Pull-downs: 3 x 5; 3 x 5 dropsets Romanian Deadlift: 3 x 8 Two-hand Dumbbell Press: 3 x 5 One-hand Dumbbell Row: 3 x 5 Pullovers: 3 x 5 (Assistance) Two-hand Dumbbell Shrug 3 x 5 Thurs Mobility: 10 mins Chin-ups: 5 mins Dips/Plyometrics: 5 mins Back Extensions: 5 mins Ab Wheel/Crunches: 5 mins Rowing HIIT/Hill Running: 30-40 mins Fri Squat: 3 x 3 Supine-grip Pulldowns: 3 x 3; 3 x 3 dropsets Olympic Deadlift: Singles or Doubles Tall-kneeling Overhead Press: 3 x 3 Pendlay Row: 3 x 3 Medium-grip Bench Press: 3 x 3 (Assistance) Landmine Twist: 3 x 5 Sat/Sun Mobility: 10 mins Long Bike Ride/Swim: 1-3 hours This would work especially well in the Winter, when I won't feel like riding my bike three times a week, and I'm doubting already whether I'll feel like dealing with the rigmarole of swimming more than once a week. Wednesday - 10.28 PM Lifting SQ: 220 x 8/8/8 CG PD: 5 x 172/172/172/167/162/157 RDL: 220 x 8/8/8 2DB S OHP: 35 x 5, 40 x 5/5 1DB RW: 105 x 5/5/5/5 (one set = one hand) Pullover: 45 x 5, 65 x 8 Squats felt easier, with no knee issues. The slightly wider-than-shoulder-width stance seems to be an improvement. Even if my knees won't permit me to go much heavier, it's reassuring to know I can probably do loads in this range without any issue. It's probably enough for general fitness. Getting over 300 will just be frosting on the cake. I did all of the warm-up sets unbelted, did the Squat worksets belted, and then took off the belt for the rest of the workout. I'm thinking Wednesday's workout should probably be unbelted throughout. The Two-hand Dumbbell Presses felt great. Not sure if I should try to make these 8 reps too. It felt really good to do the One-hand Dumbbell Rows again after many months, as well as Pullovers. These could also be done 8 reps, to satisfy my formalist mind and have the whole Wednesday workout be eight reps again. Plus it's probably good for a little hypertrophy. My family came home just as I was about to do the third Pullover set, and everyone wanted Daddy's attention. I tried to finish the workout 20 minutes later, but the motivation had left. I also wanted to try the Dumbbell Upright Rows/High Pulls, sort of a reverse Dip, as assistance. Oh well. Overall, I was quite pleased with this workout. It was definitely time to work in more exercise and ROM variation. Thursday - 10.29 PM--throughout Pullups, Green Band Assisted: 2/2/2/2/4.5 Back Extension: 28 lbs weighted vest x 8 The grease the groove pullups worked well. I tried to do a set every 30-60 minutes. At first I just did two, but on the last set I almost did five, so I guess four reps x five sets will be the initial volume. It would be interesting to know how much weight I'm actually pulling up at the bottom. I'd guess at least 190, but I could be way off. I did some back extensions too, but I woke up at 2:30 am and I felt like crap, so I blew off the rest of the extensions and the other stuffed I had planned. Oh well, the good news is that I think some version of this non-lifting day workout is going to work. Friday - 10.30 Sore throat and body aches, weird dreams and lethargy. Saturday - 10.31 Flu, but managed to get through trick or treating. ---------------Week 4: Cycle VI--------------- Sunday – 11.01 Flu Monday – 11.02 Starting to feel better. Tuesday - 11.03 Flu symptoms gone, just sore throat, some congestion, and fatigue. Knees feel great from inactivity. PM One mile walk commute. Wednesday - 11.04 Thursday - 11.05 Friday - 11.06 Saturday - 11.07 Could've worked out Friday or Saturday. I could feel my muscles getting primed again, but stuff came up, and it was easy to blow it off. I'm reaching the dangerous point now where the urge to work out can be overtaken by the dread of getting back to it. ---------------Week 5: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: I'll just be repeating what I planned to do for Week Four. Actually, given that it took several weeks for this cycle's plan to solidify, I could almost consider this Week One in Cycle VII and take it to the end of the year. Sunday – 11.08 AM Walk commuting. One mile walk commute, 38F/32F Windchill. Felt good to get the feets a little numb. I walked because my bike was still in my office, checking to see if the air pressure would hold over night so I can get in a bike ride. Noon Cycling 10.1 miles, Office-Ford Parkway-Marshall-Home. I noticed a little bulge in my sidewall while stretching out on Ford Parkway Bridge's handrails. I had a hell of a time getting my tire off and damaged the rim and tire a bit. I let out a little air, tried to tuck the wire bead back in, and made my way home nervously, cutting my route short. Crap, now I've got something else to trouble-shoot. No more slow leak at least. Monday – 11.09 AM Bike-commuting Two miles. PM Lifting SQ: 1/2 x 250 After more than a week off due to my mild flu bug, I was going to ease into the five-rep squats by going 1/2/3/4/5 x 250, but my right hamstring felt a little tight and then stretched on the second set. I did another rep, but it still felt sore, so I called it a day. I know from past experience that getting back into it after some time off is when I'm most vulnerable to injury. So I'll spend some time stretching it out before trying it again. The load didn't feel too bad though. I thought it would feel too heavy, but it was manageable. Tuesday - 11.10 AM Bike commuting. One mile bike commute. PM Cycling. 11.2 miles. Office to Ford Parkway to Franklin to UofM bus route home. I pushed the pace a bit throughout, sort of a tempo pace, and that continues to feel like the best way to approach these shorter fitness rides. Had to pick-up my daughter at the end of the ride and then walk .4 miles home barefoot. The fall textures felt great. Wednesday - 11.11 AM 242 pounds. Alright, the weight is starting to come off. I was starting to get frustrated when a few months of cycling weren't having any effect, and hadn't stepped on the scale for at least a month. This good news may also explain why going from 240-pound to 250-pound 5RM squats hasn't felt too hard. It's because I'm simply adding weight to the bar that's been lost around the belly. My belt has also begun to feel looser. Hopefully I can bring it in another notch before this cycle's over. Good lord, do I still have a chance of getting down to 210 again? It would be nice to see more of the muscle I've been building under the skin fat. PM Squat: 2/3/4/3/3 x 250 N Pulldown 5/5/5 x 180 I guess this will count as a priming session. The squat load felt fine, but I didn't have the stamina or mental fortitude to complete a five-rep set. So try again on Friday. At least I got in my 15 reps total. On the Pulldowns, I just did 180 lbs to prime the upper body muscles for Friday. After that I was starting to run out of time anyway, so I called it a day, but I could've gotten in the RDL and OHP if I had really wanted to. Slacker. Thursday - 11.12 AM Bike Commuting One mile, light rain, colder. PM Felt pretty sore from Wednesday's squats, so I blew off the afternoon's bike ride, but then regretted it as I biked to pick up my daughter on my way home. Legs felt fine for cycling and its more limited ROM. Oh well. So PM about one mile bike commuting and .4 miles walking barefoot probably Winter Challenge eligible but I forgot to check the temp. Friday - 11.13 PM Lifting SQ: 5/5/5 x 250 N PD: 5/5/5 x 188, 5 x 183/178/173 RDL: 3/3/5 x 250 Squats felt a lot better after Wednesday's priming and I got through the sets no problem. Definitely ready to start the microloading again. The Pulldowns felt a lot easier than on Wednesday too, but on the last set my right shoulder felt a little sore. I was cautious on the Romanian Deadlifts, viewing the sets more as primers for next week than proper worksets, but I got in full reps on the last set. When I warmed up with the bar for the Tall kneeling Overhead Press, my right shoulder still felt a little sore, so I called it a day. Hopefully a weekend of rest will take care of it. I think it's just rust. Saturday - 11.14 AM Bike Commuting Two miles ---------------Week 6: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: I've gone ahead and microloaded the Pulldowns by one pound, which automatically raises everything else according to the Iron Ratio. So I effectively only lost a week's progress due to my flu bug, even though I didn't get much done the week (Week 5) after I had recovered from it. I probably have at least a few pounds reserve on all the lifts. Having lost a week, I will not hit a 1RM of 300 for the Squat until the first week of Cycle 7, instead of the last week of Cycle 6. I doubt I'll test the single anyway so who cares . . . just feels good to be progressing in this fundamental lift. Still hoping for unassisted pullups by the end of the year. Sunday – 11.15 AM Bike commuting One mile Noon Cycling 11.2 miles. Office to Ford Parkway to Franklin to UofM bus route home. Very pleasant late fall day. I changed my rear tire because the Specialized tire had a damaged sidewall from taking it on and off so many times with the slow leak problem. Those tires are really tight on the rim and hard to get off. The damaged spot bulges when the psi is over 60, and I like to ride close to max psi, which is 80 for those tires. I replaced the Specialized tire with a Schwalbe (http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B004T86UXU?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o08_s00). It went on a lot easier, and it's slight larger (26 x 1.75 versus 26 x 1.5) so the max psi is 70 but it feels smoother with about the same rolling resistance as the Specialized. The two studded tires I got for winter are also Schwalbes. Hard to say after just one ride, but Schwalbe could become my go-to tire brand. A good combination of fast and comfortable. In the afternoon, maybe a couple of miles riding and walking barefoot with my son and daughter. We were supposed to work on my son's room, but the weather was just too beautiful to be inside. There will soon be plenty of winter weather for inside projects, got to enjoy this amazing November while we can. Monday – 11.16 PM Lifting SQ: 5 x 252 Was just getting started when something came up. Oh well. Another day of rest for my right shoulder I guess. Tuesday - 11.17 PM Lifting SQ: 5/5 x 252 N PD: 5/5/5/5 x 150 It was raining steady all day, but I would've rode anyway, I think, except I remembered that on Sunday's ride my rear derailleur wasn't working properly. I musta been bumped it while changing the tire. So I rode Sunday with just the three gear changes available on the crank derailleur and the rear sprockets in the lowest (smallest) gear. Kinda like we talked about earlier, you can get by with fewer gears. Basically I had an uphill/headwind gear, and middle gear for cruising, and a downhill/tailwind gear. Nontheless, those two factors--rain and limited gearing--were enough to dissuade me from riding so I just primed the lifting more with two sets of squats and then a bunch of pulldowns at reduced weight. My right shoulder felt OK so I should be good to go for Wednesday's session. The squats felt easier, maybe there is something to be said for squatting everyday. So I think my extended contingency plan now is: 1) Miss one workout in a week, then skip the 8-rep workout and just the 5- and 3-rep workouts 2) Miss two workouts in a week, then skip both the 8- and 3-rep workouts and just do the 5-rep workout. 3) Miss a whole week, then the next Monday start with 5 reps but at 75% instead of 85%, to prime, then 5 reps and 3 reps at normal percentages on Wed and Fri. 4) Miss two weeks, then on the Mon and Wed workouts do five reps at 50%, five reps at 75%, to prime, then five reps at a normal 85% on Friday. Also, it just doesn't work to lift on the weekends, with the family around, so if I miss a lifting workout, the next day do the normally planned aerobic workout, instead of trying to slide everything one day over. That rarely works. So today I should've gone ahead with the aerobic workout and then done the five-rep workout on Wednesday, which is what I may end up doing anyway. Wednesday - 11.18 AM/PM Bike commuting Two miles. I went to adjust my rear derailleur, but quickly found out it was a mini shock cord caught up in the gears that was causing the trouble. Once removed, everything worked again just fine. It must have got knocked off my rear turn signals when I removed the wheel to change tires. Lifting RDL: 5/5/5 x 252 2DB OHP: 5/8/8/5? x 40-40 1DB RW: 5-5/5-5/5-5 x 105 Pullover: 5/8/8 x 65 2DB Upright Row/Shrug: 5/5/5 x 40-40 CG PD: 2 x 180, 5 x 170/170 5-5 = five reps for both hands 40-40 = forty-pound dumbbell in each hand I decided to continue Tuesday's workout, so I started off with the RDL. Sometimes I wonder if pegging them to the Squats at a 1:1 ratio is the right thing to do. They could definitely be heavier. The Two-hand Dumbbell Overhead Press went well, a nice variation from the barbell OHP, with apologies to Mr. Rippetoe. I ended up doing most of the rest of the workout as my 8-rep/ROM/variation workout as scheduled for Wednesday. It had been a while since I first tried it, and I wanted to see how it felt again. Felt pretty good. On the Two-hand Dumbbell Upright Row, I raised my hands along my sides, up to a little below nipple height. Then for the last two sets, I continued by straightening out my arms and doing shrugs for five more reps. Felt like a nice combo and it didn't really add any time. This is definitely a good finisher mini-complex, and I got a little bit of a pump. I had a little extra time, having skipped the Squats and Pulldowns, so I did a few Close-grip pulldowns to test out the shoulder. It felt OK, although I flubbed the load on the first set. I think what happened last week is I used too much arm and didn't retract my lats enough, and this put pressure on my shoulder somehow. Anyway, felt great to get in a semi-complete workout. I'm back in the game. Thursday - 11.19 AM Bike commuting Two miles. 32F/14F WC. Winter is coming. Time to figure out my winter cycling gear. Rowing. 27 minutes, moderate intensity? Had to bring some books to my wife that she forgot, so cycled home, drove to her college, then felt too complacent to go back and get the bike, so rowed in my office instead of going out and biking. Just as well, a cold Arctic wind is blowing today with up to 50 mph gusts. Ordered some Pearl Izumi amfib tights for winter cycling. Still, rowing isn't a bad alternative. The first few minutes I hated it, then I got into the movement and put on some music and time passed quickly. Also 3 sets of five-rep assisted pullups. Felt good. Groove greased. Friday - 11.20 PM Lifting SQ: 3/3/3 x 266 S PD: 3/3/3 x 200, 3 x 195/190/185 RDL 3/2 x 266 Interrupted once again. Man, it's been happening a lot lately. I was really looking forward to the barbell presses and getting in the Landmine Twist. Oh well, maybe Saturday afternoon if my son allows it. Anyway, Squats felt fine, Supine Pulldown a little hard, and RDLs fine, with no real temptation this time to increase the weight. The Pulldowns are getting close to my limit, so it will be interesting to see if they start to stall or if the grease-the-groove assisted pullups on my off-days are enough to maintain progress. If not, I may have to consider decoupling pullups/pulldowns from the Iron Ratio. I don't want to slow Squat progress down too much. It's been feeling like I could be pushing them a bit more. Saturday - 11.21 AM/PM Bike Commuting Two Miles. Tested out my new Pearl Izumi winter tights. Pretty good, but I don't think they'll be warm enough when it gets cold in serious. I'll first try putting long underwear underneath, and if that's still not enough to keep the wind out, then I'll get some snow pants or something like that. I also got some snow goggles and really warm gloves on the way, and those shoe covers Abide recommended. I think for the moment I'm planning on getting through the winter with a combination of cycling and rowing. Swimming seems like too much rigamarole right now, and I'm sort of looking forward to the adventure of winter cycling. It's always good to embrace the elements, and it's the only way to get through the winter without cabin fever. PM BP: 2/2/2 x 200 TK OHP: 2 x 125, 2/2 x 130 Had a few minutes in the afternoon kidfree so I thought it would be good to prime the presses, since I hadn't really done them since getting the flu bug a few weeks ago. This coming week I'd really like to get in complete workouts so once again I deployed the "priming" concept, and I think there's something to it. After a week or more off, I think the attachments stiffen up, especially as we get older, so it's worthwhile to spend a workout or two priming the various movements at reduced loads to make sure everything is stretched, lubed, and ready to go for normal loads in another workout or two. I noticed I'm much more injury-prone when I've had time off, hence the importance of priming, for me at least. Now everything should be ready to go for a couple of hard, solid weeks to finish out what has been a mediocre cycle for me. ---------------Week 7: Cycle VI--------------- Template for this week: More of the same; relentless microloading. I'm thinking of starting out some of the lifts' worksets with a heavy single or double at 95% to 100% 1RM. But I may quickly bail on the idea. It gets back to the idea I had in my old 1/3/5 routine, where the heavier lift primes the neural drive and recruits maximal muscle fiber, which sets one up for more intense 3- or 5- rep worksets. I dunno, worth trying again after more than a year's training has passed. Maybe get a new perspective on it. Not sure, if I go through with it, whether I'll do two or three worksets after the heavy single or double. I like the safety of 3/5/8-rep sets, but sometimes I miss the intensity of singles and doubles. So maybe singles at a double load (95%)? Sunday – 11.22 AM/PM Bike Commuting Two miles, wearing shoes and warm gloves now. PM Rowing 33 minutes. Listening to tunes in the dark. Very relaxing actually, but I need to do higher intensity once in a while. Monday – 11.23 PM Lifting SQ: 5/5/5 x 253 N PD: 3/3/3/3/3 x 190, 5 x 185/180/175 RDL: 2/3/5 x 253, 1 x 305, 1 x 345, 1 x 325 TK OHP: 1/2/3/4/5 x 126 P RW: 5/5/5 x 158 BP: 1/3/5 x 190 Best workout in a while. Squats felt really solid and I was able to achieve pretty good depth on all the reps, even pausing a bit in the hole once in a while to get a good stretch, and then coming out nice and monophasic except on the fifth rep a couple of times, where I leaned just a bit forward at the sticking point. Pulldowns felt heavy, and I didn't want to re-strain my right shoulder, so I just did three reps at top weight, before fatigue could set in. On the dropsets I did five reps though. This 3>5 shift might be a good way to go in general. It ensures all the reps at top weight are quality reps, and it doesn't take extra time to do five sets instead of three, because my rest intervals are shorter when I just do three reps at a time. Kind of like Abide's doubles @ EMOM protocol. Still, I'm getting the feeling that progress on the pulldowns is going to start slowing down a lot pretty soon, so I might have to decouple them from the Iron Ratio, or maybe change them to 90% of Bench Press instead of 1:1, but I'll keep at it for another week or two and give the dropsets and nonlifting day assisted pullups a chance to accelerate progress, see if they can keep up with the other lifts, especially the squats. The RDLs felt a little too easy after I got good and warmed up, so I thought I'd see what it felt like with three wheels on. Felt good. I'm not sure how much more I bent my knees, but I don't think I got down into a true deadlift stance, but it probably didn't qualify as a proper RDL either, by any definition. I then added 40 pounds and although I could feel I had it, I dropped it back down after raising it an inch or so. I reminded myself not to let my exuberance get the better of me. There would be plenty of time to get my deadlift up if that's the direction I wanted to go. For today, best just to test things out and get a feel for where things are while avoiding any injury risk. So I reduced by 20 pounds, to 325, and that went up nice and solid. I was going to do a few more one-rep sets at 325, but I thought it best to see how the knees felt afterwards and the next day. (Next day: knees feel fine). It felt really good to handle a plus-300 load. And with deadlifts, there's little risk involved lifting without spotters, so perhaps instead of testing singles on Squats once in a while, I'll just do it on Deadlifts. I'll still get the benefits of maximal metabolic stress and muscle recruitment on one lift in a workout, which is probably enough. So Squats and Deadlifts could be complimentary to each other, with the right programming. Squats functioning as a warm-up, primer, driver, and mobility lift with more volume, and Deadlifts being more of a test of total strength (120-125% of the Squat load) but with reduced volume. So anyway, that little experiment was cool, and it really set up my back for a nice finish to the workout as I went through my presses and Pendlay Row. Conventional, or close-to-conventional, Deadlifts hit the upper back much more than RDLs. My shoulders were still a little stiff from Saturday's press-priming session, so I laddered up to five reps on both the OHP and BP, but everything felt OK by the last, full set. I sometimes take the presses for granted, but I have to keep after them, and the workout felt much more satisfying and complete with them back in. Got to get in all six force/direction pairings for an optimal strength stimulus. Hopefully by the end of the week any lingering soreness with have worked itself out. So, the first full workout in a while, and I felt fantastic afterwards. I might be due for a period of greater gains now. Just have to figure out how to work in the conventional deadlifts without risking aggravating my meniscus. The knees have felt so good lately, I don't want to do anything to screw things up. Maybe something like this: Squats could continue on the M: 3 x 5, W: 3 x 8, F: 3 x 3 schedule, but Deadlifts could be M: RDL 3 x 5, W: RDL 3 x 8, then F: DL 3-5 sets x 1-2 reps, at around my projected triple (90%) load, based on the 5:4 ratio of DL to SQ. That puts my 1RM DL at a little over 370, and my 3RM at 335. With a few weeks to build up to it, should be possible to so several sets of singles or doubles at my triple weight. Then with microloading, wow, a 400-pound DL might be in the cards after all, maybe by the end of next year. I will also have to evaluate the pulldowns protocol by the end of the cycle, try to decide whether or not to continue as I have been, or let the other lifts race ahead. Right now my gut tells me to reduce the weekly increases to a half-pound instead of a pound, but we'll see. Tuesday - 11.24 AM/PM Bike Commuting Two miles I dunno, somehow talked myself out of a nice afternoon ride. Wednesday - 11.25 Finally, a statement about TUT that makes sense to me: https://www.t-nation.com/training/new-science-of-time-under-tension OK, knowing it might be possible to do conventional deadlifts again, and get the back benefit from that as well, and being a little suspicious that my dropset + grease the groove pulldown/pullup program isn't going to be enough to keep up with the other lifts, and having read this article (http://www.strengthvillain.com/bringing-up-the-back-part-one/) and been reminded of the 2:1 pulling : pushing ratio that a lot of people recommend, I think I will try to add more back exercise volume, although as it is, I'm already taking close to an hour to get through my routine. But if I can add in two more back exercises, like DB Rows or Face Pulls, every workout, perhaps I could make quicker progress. I may also relax the 1:1 ratio of Pullup to Bench Press that Bruno recommends, and try the easier Pullup = 90% of Bench Press ratio that Thibaudieu suggests. The latter is more realistic anyway. I may therefore switch to adding just a half-pound to the pulldowns each week, since they are now at 100% of Bench Press. After many months, as the Bench Press increases at 1.5 pounds per week, the 9:10 ratio will eventually be reached. PM Lifting SQ: 2/4/3 x 224 CG PD: 3/3/3/3/3 x 174, 5 x 169/164/159 RDL 8/7/7 x 224 2DB OHP: 5/5/5 x 40 HS BO RW (Head-supported Bent-over Row): 5/5/5 x 125 Pullover: 5/5/5 x 65 My right meniscus felt slightly aggravated by the squats, so I cut them short. I did three-rep sets on the Close-grip Pulldowns like I did on Monday's Neutral-grip Pulldowns, as my right shoulder is still just a little bit sore. The RDLs felt fine, but mentally, I hate doing that last, eighth rep. I think I change things to a 5/7/3 weekly wave. Odd numbers look more badass anyway. Hopefully my program will get confused with Wendlers 5/3/1 program sometimes, and I'll make a million. Still liking the dumbbell press and pullover substitutes for the barbell presses. I tried Abide's idea of head-supported bent-over rows. I kept it fairly light to see how my neck would react. If I keep this as part of my Wednesday workout, I will gradually add 5 or 10 pounds each week until I reach a comfortable resistance. Not sure if there's any real advantage over the Pendlay Row, but worth experimenting with to find out. So, really liking this lighter/variation/ROM day. It fits in well between the heavier, more purely barbell workouts on Monday and Friday. Almost like Wendler's bodybuilder day. I should probably keep the weights the same for a while and work on getting everything up to seven reps per set. Thursday - 11.26 AM Bike Commute One mile. AM Cycling 11.2 miles Nice ride in flurries, got to test out my clear goggles. Worked really well. Also got to test out my new gloves, which worked pretty well too. I didn't use my new cycling tights because I'm thinking of returning them and using the same Pearl Izumi model with a bib and padding built in. Toes got a little numb in my Sockwa G4s and thin thermal socks. Friday - 11.27 Lazy family day. Saturday - 11.28 AM Bike Commuting Two miles PM Lifting SQ: 2/3/3/3 @ 268 S PD: 3/3/3 @ 181 DL: 1/1/1 @ 309 TK OHP: 1/3/3 @ 134 P RW: 3/3/3 @ 167 BP: 1/2/3 @ 202 Hips and right shoulder felt a little cranky, so my sets were a mess, but I got through everything and it should work as a good primer for Week 8. Squats continue pretty automatic, despite the increasing loads. The pulldowns, now at 90% of BP, were too light, but perhaps with greater volume they will feel more satisfying. In any case, it was nice to have plenty of gas for the rest of the workout. I gained a little more confidence on the Deadlift. My right knee felt a little sore during and after Wednesday's session, but everything felt fine this time around, so just continue to monitor things I guess. Hopefully next week I can do doubles, but I'm coming around to Abide's idea of EMOM. I was kind of doing that with the singles. It might take me a while to gain enough confidence to do triples. Right now I'm kind of waiting for feedback after each rep, but everything seems to be handling the greater load OK. Anterior shoulder still felt a little something on the OHP, so even though the load felt manageable, I just did a single on the first workset to make sure everything was in order. Maybe I should add a warm-up set in between my 85-pound warm-up set and my 5- and 3-rep worksets, like 105? Bench Press likewise, I laddered up to the last workset. Actually, doing the first set as a single isn't a bad idea with these heavier weights, but it was mostly because everything felt cranky. Maybe I was dehydrated? ---------------Week 8: Cycle VI--------------- Thinking more about symmetric strength or structural balance. Also, thinking about the old 2:1 ratio of Pull to Push in terms of volume. One thing, Bruno's recommendation of a 1:1 ratio between the Bench and Pullup is an outlier. Most people seem to be close to 1:.9, or 10:9. With this adjustment, I'll bring my pulldowns/pullups down, which is convenient, since I feel like I'm nearing the upper limit of my pulldowns already, even though my Bench Press is still a good 35 pounds below where it could be if I ignored the ratios. So, bringing down the pulldown artificially may give it a chance to (1) catch up using more volume, and (2) allow for strength gains in the other lifts to transfer, over time, to the pulldowns/pullups, provided that the theory of structural balance/carryover is correct. So a bit of a long-term experiment if I stick with it, but in the short term, it allows me to progress on the other lifts at a more natural pace of strength increase. Basically, it's the Squat again now that's holding everything back, and I've felt for the last few weeks that it could be increasing faster, if it weren't all pegged to the (unrealistic) Pullup ratio. Blah, blah, blah. So, anyway, for the time being, using a combination of sources (Poliquin [https://www.t-nation.com/training/achieving-structural-balance], Thibaudieu [https://www.t-nation.com/training/know-your-ratios-destroy-weaknesses], and Symmetric Strength), I'm fixing the Iron Ratios at OHP = 1 P Row = 1.25 Pullup = 1.35 BP = 1.5 SQ: 2 DL: 2.3 The basic 1:1.5:2 or 2:3:4 ratios for the Presses and Squat remain intact. Symmetric Strength and the actual totals that raw power lifters achieve (according to Thibaudieu) has allowed me to bring the DL to Squat ratio down from 2.5 to 2.3, for an Iron Ratio of 2:3:4:4.6 instead of 2:3:4:5. Then it's just a matter or tweaking the upper body pulls. Pendlay Rows are about 83% of BP, and Pullups are 90% of BP. Others besides Bruno have suggested that both Rows and Pullups should be 100% of BP, but I think lower percentages + higher volume (of pulling to pressing) will work better for me. Using these ratios, the weakest lift will always provide the base unit. Right now, the Squat is my weakest lift, so I use that as the base unit, halve it to get the OHP 1RM, and then multiply that by the various numbers to get the other 1RMs. The assistance lifts are also based on ratios, but they aren't as fixed and are probably more arbitrary. The Pulldowns right now are closer to 1.45 times OHP, so I'll bring it down gradually to 1.35, by sometime in March, as my gains on the other lifts increase. If I were to bring it down to 1.35 immediately, I'd lose close to 20 pounds of sweet gainz. The idea is that strengthening the other lifts will have some carryover to my pulldowns, and everything will even out eventually and it will be easier for the pulldowns to keep pace with the other lifts. Or not. Given all this, the tweaked template for this, the last week of Cycle VI is: I've doubled the "Pull" volume so that the Pull-to-Push volume is now 2:1, although in a actual workout the extra pulling exercises will be the first to go if I'm pressed for time. I've tried to keep the assistance lifts on the lighter side to increase the likelihood that I may actually do them. Since the Squat is weakest, I'll also added a set to accelerate its ability to 'catch up' to the other lifts. Perhaps I should also take a set away from the strongest lifts, like the Bench Press, I dunno, but it never feels right to do less than three worksets on a lift it takes several sets just to warm-up to. I've also reincorporated the conventional or Olympic Deadlift, I'll either do them once a week and do RDLs Monday and Wednesday, or do a set of conventional DLs after the RDLs on Monday and Friday. This conforms with everyone's warning not to do DLs too much, but also jibes with Dan John's idea of using RDLs or SLDLs as a tonic to the Squat, my lift of emphasis, as well as Thrall's ideas about the relation between DLs and RDLs: Basically, Thrall argues that practicing RDLs teaches you how to fully engage the glutes and hamstrings on Olympic Deadlifts. So, given the fact that I probably shouldn't be doing Oly DLs as often as the other main lifts anyway, as a general rule, and probably shouldn't be doing them as much given my knee issues either, it makes sense to do more RDLs than Oly DLs. Oh, also this week, I hit a projected 300 1RM Squat. A hallow victory without testing it out for real. But it will be cool in a few more weeks when I hit a 3RM of 275, which is my old (tested) 1RM PR. I'm pretty sure now I will be able to hit a Squat 1RM of 350, which might be a nice end-goal, although a 400-pound Squat and 450-pound Deadlift would really be the nun's tits. Adding two pounds a week to the Squat for another year and using the Iron Ratios gets me to a pretty ideal 467 DL, 406 SQ, 305 BP, and 203 OHP by December next year. It will be interesting to see how long I can maintain this rate before I have to slow down. Everything else, in terms of program, feels pretty set, besides a few tweaks here and there along the way. In any case, I really like the idea of bring up everything together from now on. Sunday – 11.29 Noon Rowing 35 minutes. Boring, but felt almost therapeutic after Saturday's heavy day. Monday – 11.30 PM Lifting SQ: 2/4/4/4 @ 255 N PD: 5/5/5 @ 185 S PD 3/3/3 @ 185 RDL: 2/3 @ 255 TK OHP: 1/3/4/5 @ 128 P RW: 5/5/5 @ 159 BP: 2/5/5 @ 191 For some reason, just couldn't motivate for the last rep of the Squat sets, although the load felt fine and I got good depth on every rep. Thrall makes a good case for going as low as possible: I dunno what's happening with the pulldowns, I seem to be getting weaker. Overtraining? Not likely. Maybe I should just limit myself to three quality reps and do more sets. Volume over intensity, as Abide has suggested I think, for the upper body pulls. On the RDL, my left hip and glute area felt funny. Not really tight or sore, but it seemed liked it needed to be stretched out, but stretching it out didn't help either. So I gave up. It was about a year ago now that I had the sacro-illiac/glute pull injury, and I don't want to do anything to risk that happening again. Too bad, I was looking forward to trying a heavier set of DLs afterwards. The presses are starting to come, but still a little cranky in the shoulders. Hopefully another week and they'll be back to normal. The OHP load is starting to get up there again, so gotta have everything going smooth within a few weeks or I'll have to stall the increases while I wait for things to clear up. It would be cool to maintain the present rate of increase (two pounds per week for the Squat 1RM = one pound per week for the OHP 1RM), but if I slow down that's fine too. My wife and son came home just as I was getting to my two assistance exercises, the 1DB Row and Face Pulls. OH well. Tuesday - 12.01 Wednesday - 12.02 PM Lifting SQ: 6/5/5 @ 225 CG PD: 3/3/3/3 @ 180 S PD: 3 @ 180, N PD: 3 @ 180, S PD: 3 @ 180, N PD: 3 @ 180, RDL: 5/5 @ 240 DL: 5 @ 276 2DB OHP: 5 @ 40, 4/5/2 @ 45, 5 @ 40 Pullover: 5 @ 65 Man, I dunno, I just don't have the mental fortitude for higher rep sets. I was going to do five-rep Squat sets at 240 after I avoided the last rep of the first set, but then I just did them at 225. In the Texas Method, Wednesday is supposed to be easy day, so I guess that justifies it. I tried all three grips on the Pulldowns, and that seemed OK. Maybe that's the way to go? But it does seem like 190-200 pounds is a sort of natural limit for the Pulldowns. Something about the kneeling position or the cables feels like it's a threshold, above which I really need to be doing pullups/chinups. Or maybe I need to weigh myself down or affix a bar across my thighs. For a couple of years now, I seem stuck at about this level. So I dunno, maybe just stick to the volume approach on lifting days while I wean myself off assisted pullups during my non-lifting days. But if Pulldowns become more of an assistance lift (again), there's really no need to put them towards the beginning of the workout when I have the most energy stores. Might have to put the OHP back in second place, after the Squats, and place Pulldowns more at the end. Maybe adopt a Rippetoe/Wendler approach and view Squats, Deadlifts, and the Presses as the main lifts, and everything else as assistance, so just put together some blocks of assistance lifts after the four main lifts. Might try that during our upcoming mini cycle. I still felt a little something in the outer right glute while lowering the bar on the RDLs and DLs, but I went through with the sets anyway and nothing bad happened. I'm liking the mix of starting out with lighter RDL sets and then doing one heavier DL sets at the same rep percentage. And my knees seem to be tolerating it well as well. The Two-hand Dumbbell Presses felt good. I like the way they attack the shoulders and back differently than the barbell press. I'm almost ready to graduate to 45s, but they felt a little heavy. It didn't help that the family came home just as I was finishing my Deadlifts. I need a fair amount of concentration to maintain balance while seated on my bench. Should almost get a supported bench just for these, or rig something up. Might also be useful for the Barbell Presses and would save some wear and tear on my knees a bit. I got through one set of Pullovers and, after two weeks of priming the lift, was ready to up it to 85 pounds, but my daughter, who had been behaving herself and even asked me to help her do pushups, suddenly when ballistic about going over to a friend's even though it was dinner hour and the friend's mom hadn't answered my text message. After I finally calmed her down, my motivation had dropped and my body cooled, so I called it a day. My wife has clinicals so I've been dropping off the kids in the morning. Which means my day starts later so I've been trying to work out later, but this doesn't work very well because by then everyone is home, and the kids love to hang out with me while I'm working out, which never works out. So I'm not sure what to do. Only one more week of clinicals until next semester, so I guess for the time being I'll just put up with it or else come home during the day for my lifting workout. Thursday - 12.03 Friday - 12.04 PM Lifting SQ: 2/3/3 @ 270 TK OHP: 3/3/3 @ 135 RDL: 3/3 x 270 DL: 2/3 @ 311 BP: 3/3/3 @ 203 P RW: 3/3/5 @ 169 CG PD: 3/3 @ 185 N PD: 3/3 @ 185 S PD: 3/3 @ 185 1DB RW: 5(x2) @ 95 POV: 5 @ 65 LM TW: 5 @ 75 Wow, a great lifting workout to end the cycle. No crankiness in my right shoulder, no weird tightness in my left hip, and everything felt smooth and solid. The new order (SQ>OHP>DL>BP>RW>PD>assistance) flowed really well too. Feels very natural and logical to do it this way, and most of the online trainers I like the most seem to think that the Squat, Press, Deadlift, and Bench Press are the most important anyway. The upper body pulls in particular felt better towards the end of the workout. Especially the Pulldowns, which seem to work better when the whole body has been thoroughly warmed up. I guess this is because of the greater stretch involved in Pulldowns or Pullups, but it also gives a better pump this way. And doing quick, three-rep sets felt pretty good as well. I was planning on only doing singles, maybe doubles on the conventional DL, but the first set felt good so I did doubles, then on the second set the triples went up just fine too. I was going to do one more set of triples, but I reminded myself to keep everything gradual. I've only been doing conventional DLs for a short while. So next week, I think, I'll assume everything has been primed and try to do full sets each workout. It gives me a lot of satisfaction to think my knees may allow me to do conventional DLs at heavier loads again. It's just a tremendous feeling to lift that heavy bar off the floor, and the workouts feel more complete now. I really think 400 pounds might be possible sometime next year. I also managed to get in the proposed assistance lifts for Cycle VII, even though my family had come home by then. I think I will also add Dips to the assistance lift cluster at the end. I found these online: http://smile.amazon.com/gp/product/B00IZJIV68?psc=1&redirect=true&ref_=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00. I think I can mount the brackets on my power rack, so it will be relatively easy to set up. The key to getting through the assistance lifts at the end is to do them one after another with minimal set-up and rest intervals. So anyway, feeling pretty good after having given Cycle VII's proposed routine a test drive. It makes sense to put all four of the performance lifts first, and I think I've found a feasible way to get in all my favorite assistance lifts--the One-hand Dumbbell Row, the Pullover, the Landmine Twist, and Dips--along with the dumbbell variations of the Overhead Press and Bench Press, which will go on Wednesday's seven-rep/easy day. If everything goes well in Cycle VII, I doubt I'll change much as we enter Cycle I of the new year. Saturday - 12.05 AM/PM Bike Commuting Two and a half miles. ------------------------------------------------ Cycle VI Results: Lifting-wise, I essentially lost two weeks of gains due to the flu bug, but otherwise, with the microloading and Iron Ratio, the gains I did make were fairly boring and predictable: DL: 362.5>347 = -15.5 lbs Squat: 290>302 = +12 lbs BP: 218 >227 = +9 lbs OHP: 145>151 = +6 lbs P RW: 182>189 = +7 lbs PD: 118>119 = +1 lb The DL came down mainly because I changed the ratio of Squat to Deadlift, and then actually tested it with loads over 300 pounds. Cycling-wise, I probably lost some fitness after the flu bug when my riding became more sporadic.