Been a while.
I don’t write here often. Trying to change that. The last time I provided an update on what I’m up to gymwise it was May. Remember May? We were so cute back then.
Since then I finished a 28-week training plan. Six months, baby. Four days a week. Epic journey, long strange trip, & so forth. I am as surprised as anyone that I managed to stick to a training program for half a year without shrugging it off or losing interest or suddenly looking over there & seeing a butterfly & going ooo that’s interesting let’s go chase it…
Anyway. I thought I’d start providing some regular, short updates over the coming weeks & purge some thoughts that are taking up too much room in my brain. All backed up in there. Need to shit out some ideas. Plus, a few people have asked.
A bunch of numbers & jargon
The training plan was from Jim Wendler’s “Beyond 5/3/1” programmed for 28 weeks, in 6-week cycles of progressive overload with a deload every 7th week, increasing the base training max by 10 pounds each cycle for squats/deadlifts & 5 pounds for presses/bench. Holy shit. Breathtaking, isn’t it?
It’s not as complicated as that sounds. Easy to follow once you’re ankle-deep in it. By the end I was breaking all my personal records, packing on muscle, & getting genuinely terrified. I’d put 285 pounds on the bar after already having warmed up & done some working sets & have to squat it for reps. That’s nothing for some guys but a lot for me. Instead I’d stare at it, thinking Jesus, I could actually die here if I do something wrong. What if I collapse & it rolls forward & breaks my neck? There’s my little tip for people who say lifting weights is boring: Put more fucking plates on. Put so much weight on the bar that you have to focus your entire body & mind on what you’re doing or an accident might kill you. It becomes not boring.
I kept to the same training plan for 6 straight months because I treated it like a job. You show up for work if you want to get paid. You show up at the gym if you want to get stronger. Muscles don’t just appear after you buy the equipment. The rare occasions I missed a workout (like 4 or 5 times max in 28 weeks), I skipped it & moved on. No starting over. No cramming in workouts last-minute or pushing workouts back a week or shifting anything around to suit my whims. Used to be notorious for that. Now: The plan is the plan. It stands above the petty concerns of my life. It is my responsibility to arrive in the gym ready to do the plan as written, & my job to remain uninjured & not too sore to move. Buttercup.
Since I finished up the 28-week plan, I’ve been doing the same thing again. Of course I fucking am. Because it works. Why would I do a different plan if this still works? Over the past 6 months I PR’d my deadlift, squat, bench, power snatch, & overhead press. I didn’t test anything else. I’d improve more if I got 10 hours of sleep a night, got regular massages, ate fresh fish all the time, had no emotional, professional, & financial stress, could train more often, & if I were 15 years younger having already been training since I was 14, but if wishes were [insert cliche here].
I stopped CrossFit kind of
The biggest thing that’s happened over the last 6 months is that I’m not really doing CrossFit anymore. Neither is Nik. The whys/wherefores are boring: It took a lot of time out of our daily schedule. End of story. I’d come home from work at 1 a.m., get to sleep around 1:30, wake up at 6:30 or 7 so we could get everybody fed, dressed, & on the road by 8:10, spend most of the next hour in rush-hour traffic to Providence, we spent 2 hours doing back-to-back CF classes at 9 & 10, we’d get home around 11:45, eat lunch, try to get the girl to take a nap, fail at getting her to nap, maybe get an hour or two in of playtime with her before I’m packing my dinner at 3:30, & back at work by 4 p.m. Whole goddam day evaporated. Which is why we stocked the garage with equipment in the first place. So we quit, & now lift in our garage only. It sucks to miss our CrossFit friends & not sweat with them & watch their progress. On the other hand, now I have time to shit & shower. Also: Money. Not enough of it. Need more.
These days I exercise less like a CrossFitter, more like a powerlifter. Most of the time I warm up, stretch a little, lift, & get the fuck out. I do WODs only maybe twice a week. I don’t call them WODs — it’s conditioning. Figuring out what to do for conditioning isn’t hard. Kettlebell swings, jump rope, heavy sandbag loads, pull-ups, push-ups, dips, step-ups, sprinting, burpees, farmer’s carries, dragging heavy shit, putting heavy shit overhead repeatedly, lifting heavy shit & putting it down over there. I don’t know. Pick a few of those, make them tough, do them with intensity for 5 to 15 minutes. Job done. I hear little voices going Hey Dan isn’t that basically just what CrossFit is anyway? My answer is a definitive: I guess sort of.
What I did this week
- Deadlift: 5 x 135, 5 x 155, 5 x 185, 5 x 210, 5 x 242, 5+ x 275 (easy 7), AMRAP @ 210 (very easy 10)
- Press: 10 x 45, 10 x 55, 5 x 67, 5 x 77, 5+ x 87 (easy 7)
Boring But Big, 5 x 5 @ 82#
Notes: I’m doing a variation of 5/3/1’s BBB accessory work — instead of 5 x 10 @ 50%, I do 5 x 5 @ 80%. That’s just for upper-body lifts. For lower-body lifts, I finish with AMRAP at my first working set, usually capped at 10. My reasoning is I’d rather do hypertrophy sets to build bigger, stronger shoulders, & my ass is big enough so I’d rather do First Set Last there.
Supersetted, 8 x 3, short rest between sets:
- power snatches/clean & jerks @ 90# — alternate lifts every 2 sets
- dumbbell rows @ 65#
2 rounds, 30 sec on/15 sec off/90 sec between rounds
- kettlebell swings @ 60#
- DB presses @ 30#
- jump rope, singles w/ DUs
Notes: I do this metcon scheme a lot, usually 4 rounds. But I was sleepy & hungry, plus I think I’m fighting off a cold.
- Squat: 5 x 95, 5 x 135, 5 x 155, 5 x 180, 5 x 210, 5+ x 237 (very easy 7), AMRAP @ 180 (easy 10)
- Bench: 10 x 45, 10 x 65, 5 x 85, 5 x 107, 5 x 125, 5 x 140 (moderate 8)
Boring But Big, 5 x 5 @ 132
Notes: I got the purple fuck out of there right after. The garage is freezing.
Found this little gem on T-Nation on how to keep up conditioning during shitty weather. Always looking for different conditioning options I can use in the garage, especially during the winter when the inside of my garage is ~5 degrees warmer than it is outside & I can’t take hanging around too long. Thinking about putting a bike out there on a trainer, to use for warmups & bike sprints. It’s a good option & it’ll keep me warm, too.¶