Thursday, December 17, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 7 Squat/Week 8 Bench Press

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

December 16:
12" Front Box Squat: 60x12, 75x10, 95x8, 115x6, 130x5, 140x5, 150x5, 160x5 (Rep Out Set)

Hammer Calf Machine: 140x10x4

Assisted Pistols (Average Bands): 4 sets of 6

45-degree Hyper: BWT x 12 x 4.

Leg Curls: 90x12x4

Assisted Situp (Light Bands): Sets of 20, 16, 12, 10 reps

December 17:
Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 30x12, 35x10, 45x8, 55x6, 60x5, 65x5, 70x5, 75x6 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 75 lbs assistance x 9 reps x 2 sets

Assisted Chinup (Light Bands): 6 sets of 2

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Out): 80x13x2

Preacher Curls: 60x8x4

Behind The Back Shrugs: 120x10x4

Monday, December 14, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 7 Military Press

Assisted Pullups (Light Bands): 5 sets of 2

Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 55x10, 65x8, 80x6, 95x5, 100x5, 105x5, 115x6 (Rep Out Set)

Hammer ISO High Rows: 80x10x4

Trap Bar Shrugs: 116x10x3
Pushups w/Feet Inclined 4": 20, 16, 12 reps
Reverse Curls: 60x8x3

Wrist Roller: 10x3x3.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 7 Deadlift

Sumo Deadlift w/35s: 115x10, 130x8, 160x6, 185x5, 195x5, 210x5, 225x6 (Rep Out Set). For my last "3 weeks" of sessions (a session everyday until Dec 22, then I'm outta Djibouti on the 23rd), I'm doing the same lift that I used 45s to test but using 35-pound plates instead for a longer pull. It went well, albeit a little tougher: my lower back was tested more so I was more deliberate with the reps.

Hammer Calf Machine: 120x12x4

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Foot Elevated: 4 sets of 13

Assisted GHR (Light Bands): 5 sets of 8

Assisted Situps (Light Bands): 5 sets of 20, 16, 14, 12, 10 reps.

Saturday, December 12, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 7 Bench Press

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 30x12, 35x10, 45x8, 55x6, 60x5, 65x5, 70x5, 75x6 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 75 lbs assist x 8 x 2

Assisted Chinup (Light Band): 5 sets of 2. 2 was all I could do for each set and I wanted a minimum of 10 reps. No pain, so life's good.

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Out): 80x12x4

Preacher Curls: 60x8x4

Behind The Back Shrugs: 120x8x4

Friday, December 11, 2009

Ending Week Six in One Workout

I got up at 4AM to do this workout . . . . ack. I was motivated by the urgency to get week 6 finished and by my idea to just use the essential movements only. I would have been really pumped if I wasn't so sleepy and grumpy.

12" Front Box Squat: 55x12, 70x10, 85x8, 105x6, 120x5, 130x5, 140x5, 145x5 (Rep Out Set). I wanted more but at least I hit the minimum.

Assisted Pullups (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 6 sets of 5. Time to take the monster mini bands off.

Sumo Deadlift: 115x6, 135x6, 155x6, 175x6, 195x6, 215x6, 235x5, 245x2.
Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 50x10, 65x8, 75x6, 90x5, 95x5, 100x5, 110x5 (Rep Out Set)

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Backblogging The Rest of Week 5

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

December 3:
Sumo Deadlift: Worked up to 235x4. It's all starting to come back to me.

Hammer Calf Machine: Worked up to a 220 1RM.

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Foot Elevated: 3 sets of 12

Assisted GHR ((Light/Monster Mini Bands): 3 sets of 9.

Lying Leg Raises: 3 sets of 15

Assisted Situp (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 3 sets of 15.

December 5:
Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 50x10, 65x8, 75x6, 90x5, 95x5, 100x5, 110x6 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Pullup (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 5 sets of 5

Hammer ISO High Rows: 80x10x4

Trap Bar Shrugs: 106x12x3
Reverse Curls: 50x10x3
Pushups: 3 sets of 20, 16, 12 reps

Wrist Roller: 10x3x2, 10x2

December 7:
12" Front Box Squat: Worked up to 165x4

Hammer Calf Machine: 110x15x3

Assisted Pistols (Average Bands): 4 sets of 5

45-degree Hyper: BWT x 10 x 5.

Leg Curls: 75x15x5

Lying Leg Raises: 3 sets of 15

Assisted Situp (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 3 sets of 15.

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 6 Bench Press

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 30x12, 35x10, 45x8, 55x6, 60x5, 65x5, 70x5, 75x5 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 90 lbs assist x 10 x 2

Assisted Chinups (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 6 sets of 5

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Up): 82.5x12x4

Behind The Back Shrug: 100x15x4

Preacher Curls: 50x12x4

Monday, November 30, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 5 Bench Press

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 25x12, 30x10, 40x8, 45x6, 55x5, 60x5x2, 65x6 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 90 lbs assist x 10 x 2

Assisted Chinups (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 5 sets of 5

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Up): 75x12x4

Behind The Back Shrug: 100x13x4

Preacher Curls: 50x11x4

Sunday, November 29, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 4 Squat

12" Front Box Squat: 50x12, 65x10, 80x8, 100x6, 115x5, 120x5, 130x5, 140x6 (Rep Out Set)

Hammer Calf Machine: 110x12x4

Assisted Pistols (Average Bands): 4 sets of 4

45-Degree Hyper: 4 sets of 12

Leg Curls: 90x10x4

Lying Leg Lifts: 3 sets of 15

Assisted Situps (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 3 sets of 15

Saturday, November 28, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 4 Military Press

Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 55x10, 65x8, 75x6, 90x5, 95x5, 100x5, 110x5 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Pullups (Light/Monster Mini Bands): Rep out set to 6 reps, then 3 sets of 5

Hammer ISO High Rows: 70x12x4

Trap Bar Shrugs: 106x11x3
Pushups w/Feet Inclined 4": 3 sets of 19, 16, 12 reps
Reverse Curls: 50x9x3

Wrist Roller: 10x3, 10x2x2

Thursday, November 26, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 4 Bench/Deadlift

I've been pretty lazy this week, and sleeping like shit.  And today was Thanksgiving.  So I did two days of workouts in one day (took me 2.5 hours), then took a good shower and ate what must have been my smartest Thanksgiving meal ever.  Either my stomach is smaller, or I wasn't that hungry, or I was afraid of what would happen if I pigged out. 

As of today, 25 days and a wakeup left in Djibouti.

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 25x12, 30x10, 40x8, 45x6, 55x5, 60x5, 60x5, 65x6 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Chinups (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 1 set of 6, 3 sets of 5.  The band combination was the next weakest down from the average band.  As I did before, the first set was a rep out set, then I left one in the tank for the other sets.

Sumo Deadlift: 115x8, 135x6, 160x5, 170x5, 180x5, 195x8 (Rep Out Set)

Hammer Calf Machine: 100x15x3

Assisted Dip Machine: 105 lbs assist x 12 (felt too easy), 30 lbs of assist x 2 (weighed myself with shoes, lunch in my gut, ipod, and headphones at 223 pounds, Brzycki's formula came up with a 198 pounds computed max), 90 lbs assist x 10 x 2.

Hammer ISO Row (Elbows Up): 75x12x4

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Feet Elevated: BWT x 12 x 3.  Am not only continuing to gain reps, but it is now getting easier to hit depth.

Preacher Curls: 50x10x4

Behind The Back Shrugs: 100x12x4

Lying Leg Lifts: 3 sets of 14.  I felt as if I needed something to do besides assisted situps, and these felt safe enough.  No long pauses at the bottom, controlled motion, and no hip thrusts towards the ceiling.

Assisted Situps (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 3 sets of 15.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 3 Squat

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

12" Front Box Squat: 45x12, 60x10, 75x8, 90x6, 105x5, 115x5, 120x5, 130x7 (Rep Out Set).

Hammer Calf Machine: 175x2x12

Assisted Pistols (Average band): 4 sets of 4

45-degree Hyper: BWT x 11 x 4. One more rep per set than last week.

Leg Curls: worked up to a 120 lbs 5-RM

Assisted Situps (Average Bands): 4 sets of 21

Saturday, November 21, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 3 Military Press

All notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 50x10, 60x8, 75x6, 85x5, 90x5, 100x5, 105x8.  Took me two weeks but I finally got my extra rep with 105 pounds.  Yes, it was THAT important!!!

Assisted Pullups (Average Band): 6 sets of 5

Hammer ISO High Rows: 60x14x4. 1 more rep per set than last week.
Pushups w/Feet Inclined 4": 4 sets of 18, 15, 11, and 8 reps.


Trap Bar Shrugs: 96x11x4
Reverse Curls: 40x11x4

Wrist Roller: 10x3, 10x2x3. 

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Situps: 43
Pushups: 34
1.5 Mile Run: 13:29
Grade: Satisfactory High

Not the greatest I've ever done on the Navy physical readiness test (PRT), but I was happy.  Of course, I was nervous for the days leading up to the PRT:  I had started run/walking just 2 weeks before, 2-3 times a week on turf.  Running sucks, but it sure is effective and a lot less boring than the elliptical.  And I wasn't sure about how much my gym work, particularly my assisted work, would translate into more reps with bodyweight stuff after 3 weeks.  And more importantly, I was worried about my abs not being strong enough to take it: warfare pin or not if I so much as felt or heard something tearing, I was ready to quit.

I had looked in the OPNAVINST 6110.1H, the Navy's physical readiness instruction to see what I would need to hit just to pass . . . . . that's it.  For a satisfactory-medium grade I just needed 40 situps, 33 pushups, and a 14:45 1.5 mile run.  And that was all I was going to go for, to be on the safe side. I'm happy to say that with every rep being as deliberate as I could make it, my goal for the situps and pushups was right on the money.  The run was not easy: I paced off of someone who eventually finished with a 12:30 run so I ran the first half strong, and struggled on the second half but sprinted enough on the end to save me.  I think that being 18 pounds lighter than on my last PRT (January 2008) didn't hurt, either.  I was so out of breath but my abs felt normal, so it was a winded sigh of relief for me.

The situps were graded SATISFACTORY HIGH and the pushups were graded SATISFACTORY LOW.  The run was graded GOOD LOW, so I got an overall grade of SATISFACTORY HIGH.  A little better than planned, and I can only get better . . . . .


Monday, November 16, 2009

Past 24 hours

Today was weigh-ins and bodyfat testing for Navy personnel.  While I had all the hope in the world to pass I took no chances, especially since I just started back up again recently.  So I did today's workout (sumo deadlifts) last night w/ a few extra sets thrown in for good measure.  Since I knew the neck measurement would be my trump card, I did my upper body day today.  My last meal last night was a cup of coffee with 30 grams of chocolate whey protein thrown in, to keep my stomach empty and cut the carbs while the workouts did the rest.  I got up this morning at 4, to do the workout - - - measurement was at 7-9AM.  I weighed in at 212 pounds, which was 10 pounds more than I weighed when I left Germany in October.  My neck was 17 inches with a 38 abdominal measure, or 22% bodyfat by Navy standards.  Fine by me.

Right now, I just want to take a nap.

All notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Sumo Deadlifts: 115x8, 135x6, 155x5, 165x5, 180x5, 190x8 (Rep Out Set).  One more rep than last week.

Hammer Calf Machine: 170x4x7

Bulgarian Split Squat w/Front Feet Elevated: BWT x 11 x 3.  1 more rep per set this week. 

Assisted GHR (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 4 sets of 7.  Almost as many reps as last week but with less band tension.

Assisted Situp (Light/Monster Mini Bands): 4 sets of 19.  Payday.

Behind The Back Shrug: 120x8x5.  Didn't have to do this but I thought I would just to slam the yoke for measurement day.


Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 25x12, 30x10, 35x8, 45x6, 50x5, 55x5, 60x5, 60x8 (Rep Out Set).  One more rep than last week.

Assisted Chinups (Average Band): 6 sets of 5

Assisted Dips: 105 pounds of assist for 3 sets of 11.  Almost as many reps as with the 120 pounds assist.

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Out): 80x10x4

Behind The Back Shrug: 95x10x4.  This time it was done on a Smith machine, for more reps.

Preacher Curls: 50x8x4
Wrist Roller: 15x1x4

Saturday, November 14, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 2 Squat

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

12" Front Box Squat: 45x12, 60x10, 75x8, 90x6, 105x5, 120x3, 135x2, 150x1, 165x2 (Rep Out Set).  I didn't do them last week, I didn't want to run in the evening, and I wanted to see where I really was vice guessing.  So, I didn't do the single leg work and I put my effort into doing the front squats.  My guess was pretty much on the money: when I started training again, I had guessed a 165 front squat at 12" height and I got two reps with it in the second week.  Felt good to squat again even if I had no pop, and my abs held out pretty good.  But no more test, just to be safe.

Hammer Calf Machine: 155x6x5

45-degree Hyper: BWT x 10 x 4.  One more rep per set than last week.

Leg Curls: 75x12x4

Assisted Situps (Average Bands): 4 sets of 18

Friday, November 13, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 2 Military Press

All notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 50x10, 60x8, 75x6, 85x5, 90x5, 100x5, 105x7.  Did not get the extra rep I wanted, but there is next week.

Assisted Pullups (Average Band): 5 sets of 5

Hammer ISO High Rows: 60x13x4.  1 more rep per set than last week. 

Pushups w/Feet Inclined 2": 3 sets of 18, 15, 11 reps.  I actually did better than last week with my feet on the floor, and these felt harder still.  This made me feel vindicated for not getting that extra rep on the shoulder presses.

Trap Bar Shrugs: 96x11x4
Reverse Curls: 40x10x4

Wrist Roller: 10x3, 10x2x2.  Once I can get three reps for all sets, the weight will go up slightly.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 2 Deadlift

Today was like payday for me.  As I've said before, I either want to add weight or add reps and today I got some.  Pain-free.

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Sumo Deadlift: 115x8, 135x6, 155x5, 165x5, 180x5, 190x7 (Rep Out Set).  Smooth, and my inner thighs didn't strain.

Hammer Calf Machine: 140x8x4.  Since my calves are lagging, this is about the only lift right now where the weight will vary from light to heavy.

Bulgarian Split Squat w/Front Feet Elevated: BWT x 10 x 3.  1 rep more per set than last week, and the rust wasn't there.

Assisted Situps (Average Band): 3 sets of 18.  3 more reps per set than last week . . . . hurrah!  Next week, I think it's time to switch to a light band/monster mini band combo.

Assisted GHR (Average Band): 3 sets of 10.  1 more rep per set than last week.  Like the situps, It's time to lower the band assistance.

Monday, November 09, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 2 Bench Press

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press: 25x12, 30x10, 35x8, 45x6, 50x5, 55x5, 60x5, 60x7 (Rep Out Set).  One more rep than last week.  Hurrah!

Assisted Dip Machine: 120 pounds assistance x 13 reps x 2.  No increase in reps but, then again, I weighed 5 pounds more than last time.  Weak excuse, but I'm sticking to it;)

Assisted Chinups (Average Bands): 5 sets of 5.  Rather than up the reps, I upped the sets.

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Up): 60x12x4

Preacher Curls: 40x13x4.  Upped the reps instead of the weight.

Behind The Back Shrug: 80x15x4

Sunday, November 08, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 1 Squat

Being that this was my first week back in the weightroom, the deadlift day crucified my legs.  Today I was almost recovered from it, but my inner thighs were shot from the sumos.  So I skipped the front squats today as a precaution and attempted 6 sets of 3 on the assisted pistols w/average bands.  I managed to get 5 sets: on the 6th, I had nothing left to control my descent.

45-degree Hyper: 4 sets of 9.  I was worried about these, since I'm still babying my abs.  But my abs are starting to come around and these went pain free.  If anything, my lower back needs the work: I got a pump just from the first set.

Leg Curls: worked up to 90 pounds for 5 reps and a 105 pound 2RM.

Hammer Calf Machine: 110 for 5 sets of 10.

Assisted Situps (Average Band): 3 sets of 15.  Hurt and burned less today, even when I was more deliberate, so my abs are starting to wake up.  Note: these are done on a slant board, just because they lock my legs up solid.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 1 Military Press

All Notation: weights x reps x sets

Behind The Neck Press: 45x12, 50x10, 60x8, 75x6, 85x5, 90x5, 100x5, 105x7 (Rep Out Set)

Assisted Pullup (Average Bands): 1 set of 6, 3 sets of 5

Hammer ISO High Rows: 60x12x4

Pushups: 3 sets of 15, 12, 9 reps

Trap Bar Shrugs: 96x10x3
Reverse Curls: 40x9x3

Wrist Roller: 10x2x3

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

5/3/1 w/WSFSB III Assist Template: Week 1 DL

Sumo Deadlift: I had guessed last week that 240 would be my max and I guessed good.  I slowly and carefully worked up to a 225 3RM (Brzycki's Formula calculates that to 240) not because I wanted to, but because I thought I might be able to nail the 5RM. This, after a 205x5 set. 

Hammer Calf Machine: Worked up to a 180 3RM.

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Foot Elevated: 3 sets of 9 w/BWT.  Rusty, very rusty.  Didn't even need weight and my legs were on fire.

Assisted GHR (Average Band): 3 sets of 8.  After this, my legs felt tingly in a good way.   Heck, I could have skipped the deadlifts and situps and leg day would have still felt like a success.

Assisted Situp (Average Band): 3 sets of 15.  The first set, I felt a little burn where the incision on my abs was done.  After that, it was less.  I know if I fire up some muscles that I haven't used in a while that I will feel it, I am leaving what I think may be a rep or two in the tank.

Yeah, I'm weak all over!!!

Sunday, November 01, 2009

Baby Steps

It felt like Christmas Eve.  You know, when you're anticipating what is under the tree, what is in the box.  It has been just about 6 weeks post-op, and I was hyped.  A little subdued, too.  First day back in the gym today.

During the week, though, I had started to assess where was strength wise and range of motion wise.  I wanted to start on the right foot.  I didn't do full workouts, just test of some lifts with light weights and extra care in technique.  It was another lesson in having to eat humble pie: in the bench press, I could only triple 155 pounds, about 60-70 pounds less than my competition max (This is what surgery and very rapid weight loss will do to you).  And it took a lot of focus from me to do it, my abs let me know about it but not too bad.  I can now do one chinup but I had to be very careful doing it and I was contracting my abs from the very beginning.  I tried the ab crunch machines but they just didn't do it for me, and I couldn't get a feel for ab pulldowns.  So, brainstorming and having my green bands with me today, I tried to do incline situps with a green band over each shoulder and attached to the apparatus (I will try to film this). Eureka, it gave me just the right amount of assistance to take the initial jarring out of it.

Rather than spend this post explaining the structure of this workout, I will reveal it little by little. I am following Westside for Skinny Bastards III template: I'm trying to get muscle back but with less weight and more conditioning and the higher rep range for the assist work will accomplish that.  As Murph suggested, I am doing 5/3/1 for the main movement minus the 3 and the 1, to ease my body back and not fuck up the surgeon's work.  A few more machines here, for stability.  Less training to failure.

Let's do it.

All Notation: weight x reps x sets.

Hammer ISO Super Incline Press (weight is per movement arm): 30x12, 40x10, 45x8, 50x6, 55x5, 60x5, 60x6 (Rep Out Set).  Safer than the bench for now, and I get to work each side individually.

Assisted Dip Machine: repped out at 13 and 12 reps with 120 pounds of assistance (so I was only lifting 88 pounds).  When I can get 15 reps per set, I'll decrease the assistance.

Assisted Chinups (Average Band): 1 set of 6 reps, 3 sets of 5 reps.  With the average band to start with, I had no ab pain.  I didn't try to crank them out: I took it nice and easy, with a dead hang each rep.  The first set was to see how many I could do, then I left one in the tank for the other sets.  As my body adjusts, I'll switch to weaker bands.

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows Up)(weight is per movement arm): 55x12x4.  In WSFSB, this movement should have been a rear delt movement instead but since I wanted to get muscle back, I wanted to move more weight.  So the second back movement will be a row, chest supported.

Behind The Back Shrugs: 80x15x4.  I didn't want to test every lift, as this was a sure route to get injured.  I have a structural balance spreadsheet with how all my lifts compare with the bench at its most optimal (I had to go through all my workouts to crunch the numbers).  So I computed a 165 1RM for the bench (155x3) using Brzycki's Formula, and the spreadsheet computes the max for the other lifts then I just figure the sets out from there.

Preacher Curls: 40x12x4

The workout went great.  No pain, didn't tear up anything, felt blissfully exhausted.  Now, we'll see how leg day goes.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Day 4: July 12-Restoration

Today, we said goodbye to Christian Burger. Woke up early and gave him a ride to the train station for a 3+ hour train ride to Helsinki. Christian, I really wish you could have stayed at least one more day. For good conversation over some beers, to hear more about your travels or to talk shop. And because of today's "restoration" workout.  If you do The Gathering 2010, stick around for it.

I was pretty sore and not too eager at first: legs and entire backside was shot.  But Kris said this would be good for me.  We set up the Buffalo Bar and a burst-proof ball (I asked Kris about that and he promised, but he promised the candies were tasty so, you know. . . . ) and basically squatted to the ball for reps with light weight.  This actually hit the spot: I had a more gradual stop at the bottom and a bit of bounce out of the bottom to help me up,  I had a good pump out of it, legs actually felt better.  Even after we started adding chains to it, and a bit more weight.  The Buffalo Bar is everything Louie Simmons says it is: not tlike the Safety Squat Bar, but it was definitely easier on the upper body.

We then started to do bench presses with weight releasers, which I have never done before.  For the uninitiated, look at the pictures: it is a rod that attaches to the bar, with weight attached at the bottom.  It essentially increases the eccentric portion of the lift and when the bottom part of the releaser touches the ground, it pops off, but your body still thinks that the extra weight is on so you explode AND THEN SOME.  Kris, Mans, and I did a few sets with just the weight releasers just to get a feel for it: I have got to get a pair of these.  And then we went gonzo with it, to the point where you wonder where the restorative part was.  We added monster minibands and chains to the setup: the article that describes this better than I ever could was written by Dave Tate for T-Nation and can be found at  Dave Tate's Tool Box #6. Essentially, you would be lifting with almost 140% of your max at the top, the weight at your chest before weight releaser drop-off will be around 80-85% of your raw max. After drop-off this will drop to around 55-60%. The reloaded weight at the end of the press will finish up around 70% of your best raw max (the reason for the chains).  The bands slow down the explosion from the bottom.

One of the pictures is the final setup that we worked up to.  Kris would have to tell me what the weight was on there because it was in Kilos.  I will tell you that, if memory serves me right, Mans might have been the only one to finish it and it didn't come easy.  I wish I had videotaped when I attempted it.  I needed a liftoff and when the bands engaged (HOLY CRAP!!!), I controlled it like a champ on the way down and that was it.  The funny part came when Kris and Mans where yelling at me to lift it and I squeaked out, "I CAN'T!!!"  The bar would not budge, and they had to take it off of me.

Note (posted today 24OCT2009): I grabbed this from the comments section, Kris just left it and it describes this setup (thanks Kris): The weight on the bench? Well, 70kg/154lbs straight weight, 10kg/22lbs on the weight releasers... each... for a total of about 25kg/55lbs, two pairs of these chains aside add about 6.5 kg/14 lbs according to my calculations... we had three pairs at each end so that's a total of 10kg/22lbs at lockout (and a few kilos at the bottom)... finally, the minis should add about 40kg/90lbs extra at the top (and about half that at the chest). So roughly 145kg/320lbs when unracking, about 93kg/205lbs at the chest after the releasers popped off and then 120kg/265lbs at lockout. Good isometrics right there.

The last thing we did was band rows from the top of the rack using the monster mni bands.  These felt great, too, not the asskicker that was the bench.

One of the other things notable about the day was a trip we took to Kris' old dojo.  If you ever sneaked around in the woods as a kid looking for treasure or playing Manhunt, this was like that with some SPEC OPS flavor thrown in.  As Kris and Mans explained, the remains of the dojo was a boat trip away at an old friend's house.  The family that owned the house was away and some people who were renovating the house was watching it.  They hadn't done too good of a job because it looked like it was in a state of disrepair but we had to make sure that they were not outside to see us.  So we made one pass to recon the area and after we found the coast to be clear, we went back.  As we approached the are, Kris put the engines on low and we gently coasted to a nice landing spot.  We carefully parked the boat, then snuck through the woods silently until we had reached the spot.  Wish I had my camera for the place: it was a makeshift tent made of tarp and lumber.  Time had taken it's toll on it, with so much  growth on the roof that I was afraid to step inside.  Kris went in and showed that a lot of the dojo stuff like posters still remained.  After that, we snuck out and carefully made our way back to the cottage for some dinner and for Kris to do some more coding work. 

Day 3: Virtualmeet - July 11

For meet videos, best to see the video on Kris' site using this link:
I did this since other people lifted besides us, and I think videos are better than still shots. So the pictures I post will be of other things.

So, what can I cover differently than that?

We all weighed in before breakfast: I weighed in at 213 pounds, Mans at 196 pounds, Christian at 205 pounds, Kris at 211 pounds. After weigh in, Mans and Kris prepared us a mix of yogurt, muesli, and vanilla/lemon protein powder (w/Casein and Whey) that was as much a healthy dessert as it was a great breakfast. Yummy! And of course there was the usual cheese, bread, butter, coffee, and jams. So much healthier than my last VirtualMeet meal of Burger King, Coke Slurpee, and energy drinks!!!

Being the considerate powerlifter that he is, Kris went around the other cottages in close proximity to tell (warn?) them that we would be having a powerlifting meet and that we would be playing some loud music, and he asked if there would be any issues. Issues? Nah: some of them even showed up to watch!!! That alone would guarantee some extra adrenaline flow. It was nice to have them and Kris' family watching.

As you could see from the photos, the setup was simple but extensive. Mans provided a high definition video camera, and had bought a nice Logitech speaker system w/subwoofer that brought the noise. Kris had a Panasonic digital camera that was mounted on a tripod to film video that would provide an alternate angle for the judges. 3 iPods for music. Lots of energy drinks, plus protein drinks for afterwards (Mans mixed 'em up). A calculator for me, so I could convert pounds to kilograms. Kris also let me use his weightlifting belt: I have a Valeo velcro one that I bought in 1994, and now I could see why a real belt is worth the investment.

Personally: maybe because this was a big meet for me and I wanted to see what I could do at a lighter weight (for VirtualMeet September 2007, I competed at 240 pounds.), I took a few risks that I probably shouldn't have. I usually open at 295 pounds but decided to give it a go at 308 even though my squat workouts had gotten worse in training, and got stapled on the first attempt. My ego bruised, and remembering that you can't lower attempts, I pushed all day on the second attempt and nailed it but we noticed afterward that I forgot to take off my warmup pants, so the lift was not legal. Imagine, spent to fuck and facing a bomb-out on the first lift at the Gathering, so I asked Kris if he could call depth for me. If it looks like I dive bombed it, I was just spent and decided to put my all into coming out of the hole. Success!!!

Based on my last training numbers, I played it safe this time and benched 220 with a good pause on my first attempt (I had not trained with a pause, stupid me). I nailed 231 pounds for a second attempt but was called for insufficient pause (I knew it was a no go). I should have stayed with that weight for a third attempt, because 242 only went halfway up. On the plus side, I based my training max for this 5/3/1 cycle on that 231.

Deadlift was also one of those lifts that gave me fits in training: I put too much time into deficit deadlifts, severely overtrained, and my bests prior to this in training was 335x3 on June 17 (conventional) and 345x1 on June 29 (reverse band conventional). So I decided on an opener of 363 pounds and would decide the other attempts based on how fast it went up. It went up so fast that I went for a 396 second attempt, and I got it. In retrospect, if I had played back the vid and seen how much lower back I used on that lift (a lot), I might have been more conservative on my third attempt (about 405). Instead, I went for broke on 418 pounds and barely nudged it.
I totaled 925.6 pounds. Per pound I was stronger than the last meet, a little bit of consolation for the fact that I lifted 45 pounds less than the last meet. I made so many training mistakes that I deserved what I got . . . . . and now know how to proceed with 5/3/1 this time.

That, and it was hella fun to do the meet here in Finland. Kris looked technically better in his lifts than I had seen in his last meet, especially his squats and deadlifts where he had a much better back arch (he hadn't trained much due to injury and work). Christian showed me how the IPF do: I would have killed for that 463 deadlift and I think if I hadn't mistakenly misloaded the right side of the bar on his second bench attempt (sorry, Christian), he would have tied Mans for best bench. Mans gave Christian a run for the money: for a guy who is more bodybuilder than powerlifter by his own admission, his lifts looked clean and effortless. Lastly, it rained as predicted but even the gods smiled, since it chose to rain after we had packed all the equipment away.

And, unlike past meets, we had a sauna to fix us up afterwards. I decided to follow Kris' advice and do a contrast: sauna followed by a dip in the "lake", 2 or 3 times. The lake part knocked the breath out of me, it was so damn cold!!! As Mans explained to me, since it was fed by the Baltic Sea, it was a sea and not a lake so the water was colder. After that (and running a bit of a fever that night), I pretty much stayed away from the sea/lake for the duration of my time in Finland.

The other 3 guys were almost non-chalant about the water.

Dinner was great, a barbecue and lots of beer. I had told Kris before I came to Finland that one of the things that I wanted to do was to break bread with his family, and this dinner exceeded my expectations. Kris' parents were way cool, and I also walked away thinking that as a whole Europeans travel a whole lot more than Americans do. Between all of us we have been to Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan, Tibet, China, America, Europe, and more . . . . lots of stories to go around.

After dinner, we went to work converting the video for upload, and Kris was probably the last to go to sleep that night since he was already at work coding for VirtualMeet.

Day 2: July 10

I slept solid, awakened by the sounds of Kris' adorable kids, Rufus and Renee playing. This is where I also met Saana, who had breakfast ready and was helping the kids get used to the stranger in the house . . . . . me. Turns out Saana also helps the kids with their computer skills, because they navigate the computer pretty good for their age. She is definitely the Ying to Kris' Yang, with lively eyes but an earthy demeanor. I should note that this was also my introduction to Finnish breakfasts: very simple stuff like eggs, bread and cheese, cut veggies, cloudberry and lingonberry jams, coffee. If you ever had the pulp from a passion fruit, then cloudberries are close to that, but less musky. The lingonberries are like cranberries but sweeter.

Today, we would meet up with Måns Rinne and pick up Christian Burger, flying in from Austria. If you look at Måns, you can tell who is the bodybuilder among us. Christian looked a little bigger than his 205 pounds, and he actually competes in the IPF. Both are very affable guys with Christian being warm but measured, and Måns being animated with mischievous eyes. Christian works for Siemens, which is one really huge company, and is very well traveled. We were able to hit it off right away since he has traveled to the States quite a bit.

After a stop at Chicos to get burgers, Måns and I went in one car and Kris and Christian went in another. From there it was on to the supermarket to stock up on stuff. Remember what I said about the Finns and their little hidden surprises? How about a supermarket that sells lifting chalk, ammonia, and kettlebells? Sweeet. Not so sweet was Måns introducing us to Salmiakki, or salted licorice. Christian was the first to try it and I wish I had videotaped it because the look on his face was classic: the look of disgust slowly evolved on his face with every suck, cracked me up. Not wanting to be left out of the suffering, I gave it a shot. Then I looked at the label to see what the cause of that ammonia tail in its taste was and sure enough it was ammonium chloride!?! What the hell?!? EVIL CANDIES!!! Everything else we bought was normal, energy drinks and grub.
Måns and I talked quite a bit. For one, his accent is so faint that you could almost confuse his accent for American (He has been there). Like Kris, he did compulsory military service (Military Police, Kris was a Field Engineer). He is also a personal trainer. And when I asked him if it was true about an ad I saw at a train station in Helsinki that said about Finns finding love at dances like waltzes and tangos, he mentioned that Kris and Saana met that way. Couple with the fact that he met his Emma through his only try at online dating and you wonder if anyone needs to ever be a pickup artist.
We made a stop in Rauma, to check out the Old Town, and what remained of a very old church that burned down to the ground. We also stopped by a really old bridge where Kris and Måns got us to try the Turkish Peber, which was like Salmiakki but it had hot chili pepper powder in the center. Ack!!! Candy is supposed to be SWEET!!!
Once we got to the pier in Vaasa, we loaded up the boat and took a nice boat ride to the cottage. There we met Kris' parents, and we took a tour of Toffee's Gym which was every bit as nice as we've seen on the Web. Måns and Kris then started taking off the oils that was protecting the bars and uncovering the racks. Kris then showed us all the equipment: Buffalo Bar, Safety Squat Bar, chains, bands, weight releasers, a Rolling Thunder lurking about plus other grip stuff, and a pit with additional weights that could be used for belt squats. Kris joked that it was supposed to be a dungeon for me before he had a change of heart;)
We were assigned cottages to sleep in and after a very good dinner, we went to sleep. Psyched up for the next day.

Day One - July 9th

If it wasn't because I knew I needed to get as much sleep as I could, I wouldn't have been able to get any. I was both excited and nervous in equal measure. Sometimes, I gather to meet someone else from the blogosphere is like meeting someone you see on the TV, almost surreal. And, in what would become one of our little jokes during the trip, the thought kept creeping in my head of Turistas, Hostel, Taken, and Craiglist.

But once I stepped off the plane and got my luggage, it was as if we knew each other all along. I recognized the face before the shirt!

From all the emails we had exchanged, Kris had remembered that I liked Sushi so he had made a reservation at Kabuki, in Helsinki. Until that reservation, he showed me a bit around Helsinki to most of the important places: railway station, bus stop to catch the airplane shuttle, some landmarks, movie theatre, the church that had Punttis Gym underneath it (the band was playing New Orleans-style jazz - - - cool!!!). Sometime during our walk, it started to drizzle but we made it to Kabuki, a Japanese restaurant with some Finnish Hockey Team gear on the walls. With the church jazz band and now this, Finland was already winning points for little surprises at every turn. And the food? Well, it tasted as good as the photo. Even the scallop nigiri, which I had never eaten before, was a revelation, as was the green tea ice cream. Aside from talking about the meet to come and the road trip, Kris started filling me in what he was doing for the second version of VirtualMeet. And later that night, once we got to his apartment (an Ikea furnished pad with one of those hidden refrigerators), he showed me the extent of all the coding work: by the time it goes live, it looks like it will have over 10K lines of code. He demonstrated the work needed to post page design, making the PM (private messaging) work, etc. It never ceases to amaze me how much work a programmer has to do, the attention to detail required, just to make a website easy to navigate and powerful to use for the rest of us. All this, while also doing coding work for IRC Galleria, the largest social network in Finland, rivaling even Facebook. Busy guy.
A side note: aside from showing me his collection of books, he showed me the kettlebells in his closet. I asked him if he was afraid that his kids might find them, and he said they've already lifted one of them. Even little Renee. Funny, it must be in the Finnish genetic code to lift heavy shit . . . . . .
"Must. Lift. Must. Lift."


Sorry it took me so long to begin this blog about The Gathering. I was busy living it up on the roadtrip, and I was partying my ass off in Helsinki. I also didn't know whether to do this as just a meet writeup, or a travelogue.
Then, I got back to Djibouti and spent 3 weeks working 4AM-12PM, then I spent as much time as I could with one of my best friends here before she left last week.
I loved Finland!!! Another place joins Australia as the place I would have to revisit more than once in my lifetime.
Mostly, though, I had a hard time figuring out where to begin. That's because this trip was a revelation, a shot in the arm, and just about everything I needed right now.
I will have been in Africa for almost two years when I leave in December 2009. I've been through a lot, and some parts of my old life won't survive it, despite my best intentions. I've looked to the future nervously, trying to figure out what my first steps should be. I might even be developing a job itch.
And I've been there before. When I headed off to college, when I signed papers to join the Navy in 1993, when I left for Africa in 2008 knowing I would be gone from my wife and child for a long time. Each time hoping If I was doing the right thing.
In Africa, I found joy and simplicity. My life was stripped bare, and I learned how to make that work for me. And I met a few people (a Filipina, a Marine, the Puerto Rican National Guard (ie. the 1/65th Infantry Battalion, Bravo Company, etc.) who gave my perspective a makeover.
My trip to Finland changed me the second I realized that it was mostly made up of things that I did not plan. Oh, I planned the weight training stuff that led up to it, and the VirtualMeet, meeting Christian and Måns,and the trip to Finnish Lapland. Maybe even some skirt chasing in Helsinki (Wink! Wink!).
But I never planned to trek through Norway or North Cape, didn't plan too much of the camping stuff much, or some of Helsinki. I didn't plan on seeing so much, as evidence by several hundred (over half a K) pictures. Come to think of it, I never planned on any of this happening when found, I emailed Kris in early 2000-something on his first website, or seeing Toffee's Gym. I never planned on getting married, ever, but I did. I didn't ever think that Africa would put this trip within my reach. In the grand scheme of things, I didn't see of a lot of things happening in my life as they did, and yet not seeing it did not lessen my enjoyment or appreciation of it. The biggest thing I take away from all of this is that I don't have to see, know, predict, or control everything. I just had to be ready to respond to it. And that the best things in life come with some discomfort.
After everything that has come before, long plane ride, sore, being tired after a 4+K hike, legs on fire, tired, face wet and cold after being rained on, that's why I'm smiling in this picture.
And to Kris, Måns, Christian, Sanna, Emma, Kris' mom and pops; my wife and Marissa; Dan: my son Eric; The Navy, for the plane ticket; Kris' brother Andreas for the crazy discount on a hotel suite at the Sokos Hotel; the Turkish guy at the kebab place close to the hotel; to the people I met at Butterfly. . . . . . thank you.
And to Minna, a girl I met on my first night in Helsinki, thank you and I'm sorry in equal measure.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Gathering 2010?

Being that blogging about aerobics and trying to eat right every day is bound to make me lose my mind, but I still have to keep up a blog, I've had to come up with other things to do.  For one, I still would blog about that but nowhere near as often.  I will also study hard to earn my Expeditionary Warfare Qualification while I am here (warfare quals in the Navy are a big  deal), especially because I don't have a heck of  a lot of time to do this: I had started in September but my illness made me lose a month's ground.  I also have another blog that I write under a nom de plume. 

But an email from Kris at reminded me that I have yet to finish my entries about Virtualmeet: The Gathering 2009 so this will be my huge priority starting this weekend.  In that email, Kris is seriously looking at doing another Gathering at Toffee's gym in 2010.  This was also posted on Twitter (


I'm not sure if it would be like this year's Gathering where we also took a long road trip through Finnish Lapland, Sweden, Norway, and Nordkapp (North Cape).  But if he does, it would be the icing on an already sweet cake.  Finland was one of the most beautiful and charming places I have ever been to (and as a sailor, I have been to many).  Helsinki is a happening city if you like food, drink, and clubs.  Finnish Lapland was beautiful and vast, as was Norway (I'm sure Sweden is nice, but we didn't go too far there.).  The Finnish people are cool and if you are a lifter, a place like Punttis or Voimapuoti would be like heaven (P.S. ask the owner at Voimapuoti to spot you on heavy benches, I dare ya!).  It was all beautiful, and Kris and Mans and Christian made it fun.  You would be lifting with people who really appreciate and love to lift heavy shit.  And the hospitality provided by Kris' family on Vaasa and Kris' home was awesome, and very tasty.  Oh, and did I mention delicious Finnish candies?

I looked up a flight using current dates just to get an ideaFrom Seattle, It would cost from $930 to $1351 roundtrip to get there, less if going from the East Coast, and even less if in Europe.  If it weren't for a looming divorce and my brother's wedding, I would strongly consider going myself.  I would probably take a Navy job in Germany and stay a few extra days so I wouldn't have to pay for the flight;)  If you can go, do so.  Maybe some of us Virtualmeeters may want to consider signing up and doing satellite gatherings, if you can't make the trip to Finland.  But I would try to make the trip at least once.

As I post during the week, I may even make some entries to post extra photos.  For now, here's a few:

Sunday, October 11, 2009


Thursday, I arrived in Djibouti.  As soon as I stepped off the plane, I was hit by a hot humid blast of air.  I don't want to say it was good to be home, but I almost did.  Here's why: I was going stir crazy in Germany.  That and while the flight from Frankfurt left at 11:15PM, the bus leaving Landstuhl barracks to the airport leaves just once at 6:00AM.  That's a long ass wait for a plane.  And in Ethiopia, it was a nine hour layover.  But it was better than the alternative: had I flown Space A, they don't fly to Djibouti often (not much does) so I would have made many stops and would have taken longer.  And I did spend a few hours in Frankfurt at the USO: Ethiopian airlines put us up at the Riviera Hotel there for a few hours so I got to charge up my laptop and iPod Touch and catch a nap and get a lunch, on their dime.  I was just glad to stop the travel and beging working for my last month and a half here.

My last flight will be the one that takes me home!

I used this weekend to catch up on sleep.  But tomorrow I begin the very boring task of getting back into training mode.  I weighed myself this afternoon at 205 pounds.  Not bad.  My goal is to maybe even drop into the 190s.  That's really it.  Since I'm not lifting or running, I cannot eat the same or else I would just blow up.  So every morning will start with a long walk, then a 30 minute session on the elliptical and some mobility work.  My diet will be cleaner with some carb cycling thrown in but gone will be the few beer sessions a week and the associated late night trips for a soup and sandwich at the galley.  No Gatorades, and less sugar in my coffee.  Maybe every once in a while, I might substitute a meal with a protein shake.  That's it.

While I was in Germany, I emailed questions on what to do to Elite FTS' Q&A, and I received answers from C.J. Murphy, strongman from Total Performance Sports.  What luck: he had been through the same thing! I figured I would just enclose it, as is.  Considering how much time I have here until I leave coupled with two weeks leave in New Jersey, I won't be touching a weight until January 2010 (it almost kills me to think about that).  But on the good side, it will be in my  garage gym and a ten minute ride from Submarine Base Bangor's gym, so I will be set.  

9/30/2009 5:35:54 PM - Alberto Caraballo
I recently had surgery to remove my gallbladder, with a 4-inch incision made in my abdomen (could not safely be removed via laparascopy), right side. The staples come out in a week, followed by 6 weeks of light&limited duty (Navy orders) where they don't want me to lift anything over 30 pounds or do anything too strenuous. After that, how do I best rehab and ease myself back into powerlifting? Before that I was following 5/3/1 protocol, WSFSB III for assistance work. Last Maxes were 315 squat, 415 deadlift, 232 bench, 5 bwt pullups.

Thank you for the assist, as always.

I had my gall bladder out a few months ago so I'm in a good position to help here.
One thing to remember is that they were rooting around in your gut ripping your gizzard out. Your abs were shifted around, so they will be a little weird for a few months after. You need to take it slow and let them get strong again.
Take the Doc's advice and do not lift anything over 30 pounds. I made the mistake of picking up my son (about 45 pounds at the time) three or four days post surgery and almost dropped. It felt like everything tore inside.
Once you are cleasred to go back in the gym try out the following:
I modified 5/3/1 and did all the work as the program called for, except that I based it all off of 5 reps maxes instead of 1 rep maxes.
My squat was around 225, so it was very light. It did the trick though. If I didn't commit to following the percentages, I would have been back to heavy singles and injuries.
I did three 1 month cycles of this and then established 1 rep maxes and went with a 5/3/1 Strongman template.
I think this was the best thing that I could have done, as I have a tendency to be an idiot in the gym.
This kept me disciplined and allowed me to get stronger without injuring anything the Doctors fixed.


10/7/2009 7:43:36 PM - Alberto Caraballo

I wanted to thank you for your answer, it was perfect. I just have two last questions. When you started training again, what kind of ab work did you do to start out with that got you back up to speed? I'm thinking along the lines of planks, side bridges, and pallof presses . . . . nothing like situps or leg raises, more like stability work. And during my six weeks of light & limited duty, is there any kind of bodyweight work that I can safely do?

I statrted with crunches and pulldown abs. I addedin rotation a fbout a week after I came back. I use things like TGU's, windmills, russian twists. I'm not a fan of planks if you can hold one for more than a minute, which I can even then. Thay are just not that hard. Add situps in when the pain goes away in your gut.

During the limited mobility time, go as tolerated. YOur body will tell you if it's too much. Remeber, this is rehab, not max effort so go slow and low the first few weeks.


Sunday, September 27, 2009

Bring It On!!!

As I was waiting for my que to come up for surgery, I remembered an ESPN show on Picabo Street, an Olympic-level skier. About a decade ago, she ripped up all 3 of the ligaments in one knee in a high speed skiing crash. After the surgery, she wrote down a date and kept it close: it was the date of the next Winter Olympics. As soon as she could move even a tad, she began rehabbing. Even down the hospital halls, bands around her legs, bandages around the knees.

I have nothing that severe, luckily. But as I found out post-op, being cut up changed everything. I learned why, after the staples come out, I'm being put on 6 weeks of light & limited duty - - - essentially, medically ordered to not lift anything too heavy or too strenuous, and to keep my activity easy.

I realized how much my abs are used in even the most innocuous tasks. I needed help to sit-up, much less get up. It took me 5 minutes on one occasion to take a pee, and that left me slightly winded. It is recommended that you try to walk within 6-8 hours post-op, to begin strengthening the abs: after nearly 10 minutes of slow walking, I felt wiped out. I'm mainly a side sleeper, I can't sleep well on my back. Thanks to the morphine there, because I couldn't turn myself or sleep on my side even when I could. For a guy who just a week before could easily run 2 miles and do pullups and lift heavy shit to be reduced to this was frustrating. But, like Picabo, I had a date and a goal. I also had milestones I had given myself. Things like sitting myself up, walking an extra lap a day, turning to the side, getting off the IV, etc. I'm pretty damn patient. I also remind myself that had I not already been in pretty good shape, that things would have been worse.

They also gave me a breathing apparatus with a ball in it with adjustable resistance (fancy that). Inhale, and keep the ball levitated as long as possible. I was to do this 10-15 times an hour. That sucked, too. Like the walking, this was to strengthen my lungs. After surgery in the abdomen, ab muscles are asleep, the diaphragm weakens and it hurts to breathe so one begins to breathe shallow. Do this long enough and your lungs weaken, fill with fluid, and pneumonia sets in. This will either lengthen your hospital stay or increase your chances of not walking out of the hospital at all. I caught myself thinking that I was a weakling there, too;)

The other stuff was just manageable inconveniences. I was on a liquid diet for the first few days, again, gentle and clear. A couple of days post-op and I had my sister get me a can of Sprite, which I thought was safe but that bloated me up pretty bad so I learned sodas were not part of the plan. So there went my plans to have my brother get me a Coke Icee at Burger King! The fruit juices seemed almost too sweet and they scrambled my stomach up. Between the IV and all the liquid, I was wizzing a couple of times an hour: this I guess meant getting up a lot. They also had something attached to my calves to massage them, to prevent blood clots from forming. Not bad, and it felt great, but it added steps to me getting up because it was attached to a machine with hoses.

I didn't lose my humor or wit, and that kept me smiling. I would joke that one day I would con the nurses into getting me a cheeseburger (never did get the cheeseburger, did get cookies as I got better). In phone conversations, I was still silly. I watched a lot of German TV and Comedy Central. Phone cards were free. The morphine made my pain tolerable and my sleep possible. And thanks to my laptop, everyone was either a chat or email away.

And sure enough, milestones started to drop. 2 days post op and I was turning myself using the rails, my arms, and my back (thank god for chins and pullups, eh?). Next day, I was standing up by myself and my intestines were starting to wake up. Then came solid food (low fat diet) and the occasional cookies. The evening of the 26th, I was removed from the IV and the morphine, I only get hooked up for antibiotics. Tomorrow, September 28, the drain tube comes out and I become an outpatient for 5-6 days to see how I do. If that goes without a hitch, I'll be back in Africa to finish things up. I am now about 203 pounds, 16 pounds lighter than when I was admitted to EMF in Djibouti. Not the way I wanted to lose it, but I'll maintain.

Which brings me to the 6 weeks of light & limited duty. I tried to find ways to incorporate weights  but nothing big to start getting back in shape.  Ab stability training.  Submaximum weights with a 4-6 rep range.  But what I am starting to lean towards is just using the elliptical a few times a week, walking in the mornings, maintain the low fat diet I have here, and doing mobility work.  Might not sound great and it would be boring to blog about but what are 6 weeks of getting my body recovered and ready compared to what might happen if I rush things?  Sure, I might be skinnier and a little less strong but I know how to get that all back and then some.  And I don't need more, or worse, setbacks.

Besides, the 6 week thing amounts to a Navy order once the physician issues it.  Nice to not have choices, sometimes;)

Someone To Watch Over Me

I had a pain somewhat like this earlier in the year. It took me a little over a week to get rid of after hitting it with Cipro and some other drugs. So, much like last time, I thought that this was another bad case of food poisoning. After dinner on September 11 (beef stew and rice), it started with a little tightness and indigestion and I thought it would pass.

Then came a pain like I had never felt before. I couldn't even stand straight, and after an hour of waiting for it to go away, I went to EMF (Emergency Medical Facility). Since it was after hours, they were gonna give me a GI Cocktail until they asked me what my allergies were and one of the active ingredients was one of them. They gave me some medicine for my stomach, and told me to come in at 1300 the next day, when they were open. I went back to the office and felt so bloated and sick but couldn't puke. Still thinking it was food poisoning, I stuck 2 fingers down my throat and made myself puke. No relief.

That night, the pain was so bad I couldn't sleep in any direction, not even sitting. I now understood what some people mean when they describe a pain that only death could take away. I was scared and anxious, and I think that exhausted me enough after a while that I fell asleep - - - sitting up in bed.

September 12, they gave me some antibiotics along with Prilosec and an anti-emetic and told me to check in for a follow-up the next day. I bought some Mylanta, had a protein drink, and tried to get some sleep. At night, my temperature was starting to creep up. In the middle of the night, I had the antibiotics and a protein drink and seconds later barely made it out the door before I projectile puked it all out. On the follow up, after a battery of tests and an ultrasound, they admitted me and put me on an IV drip and antibiotics, and started giving me morphine. Based on the ultrasound alone, they saw swelling in my gallbladder and had decided that it needed to go.

Now, I could sleep. The one thing about morphine is that it doesn't cure your pain but it effectively disassociates you from it. Seconds after injection, after the rush, I felt like the pain was somewhere else. I still needed Tylenol for the occasional headache, but the morphine took a large edge off the pain and I was still lucid.

Just one hitch. Several blood tests indicated a rising bilirubin count, and my eyes were starting to yellow . The surgeons were now telling me that there was the possibility of a stone elsewhere, maybe even near the small intestine or liver that was causing that. Now, there was the possibility that I would have to be medically evacuated, which would mean a military flight to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany (via Ramstein).

The one other thing I learned from all of this, from the doctor here at EMF, was that the last episode was probably my gallbladder acting up, too.  But since it went away quickly, I might  have had some function left and nothing much may have been thought of it.  Looking back at this and other incidents where I ate something bad, I think I know enough now that if my kid gets something like this, I know what to look for.

All this time, too, I couldn't eat or drink anything by mouth, which sucked. I was told that since I would be intubated for the surgery, that my stomach needed to be empty to reduce my risk of aspiration. When the surgery was delayed, they did give me some light clear liquids but still no solids.

On the 15th, my surgeon talked to me and told that that I would be medically evacuated to Ramstein. Djibouti had the technology to get the gallbladder out but that was it. After consulting with Ramstein, it was decided that they would go in laparascopically, look for the other stone, get it, clean up, then take the gallbladder on the way out. Nice and neat. I was looking at a 30 hour flight. I know: Germany is 7-8 hours away. This plane would make a few stops and get some other people, too.

That got better. The flight scheduling was not going to work. so they found a C12 (kind of like a Lear jet) that could get me there direct and would be leaving at 2:30PM on the 16th. So after preparing all the meds that the medical staff would need on the plane, and having me pack (1.5 weeks worth of clothes and my laptop bag), they wheeled me onto the plane and off I went. To all the staff at Djibouti EMF who took care of me and kept me safe and comfortable (and even smiley) during this time, thank you. And thanks to my own department (J4-JMC) for checking up on me daily.

My sister Magali, oldest brother Israel and his son Antonio were on their way from New Jersey to see me, too. For financial reasons, my wife and son stayed at home. My wife basically coordinated things with my sister and brother via email and phone. The fam made me smile, and my sister even had some skills in home nursing that she used to help me move around with no pain (she was even able to show some of the female nurses to the point where they made it look easy to move someone almost twice their weight.). Thanks, guys.

I had barely landed when they got me a room, got me on IV fluids, antibiotics, and a morphine pump with a button I could press to dose myself (to a point, it wasn't buffet style). Few hours later at around 6AM on the 17th, I got an MRI and an ultrasound with less than an hour break in between. Next day in the early afternoon on the 18th, a slot opened up (Note: Landstuhl receives patients from all war theatres across the world so there are people here from Afghanistan and Iraq, some with unimaginable injuries essentially making this place one of the biggest trauma centers in the world) and up I went. Nervously.

After a wait, the anaesthesist showed up. I asked him what it would be like to be unconscious. He told me how anesthetics kind of wind time back a bit, that I don't dream, then told me that this conversation would be the last thing I remember. Sure enough, I don't remember even getting anesthesia. Next thing I knew, I was awake getting ready to be wheeled back to my room.

Turns out, from what was explained to me, that they had to cut me open after all. I was intubated, of course, so that a machine could breathe for me (that went well, I didn't even awaken with a sore throat.). They puffed my abdomen up with CO2, to give the laparascope more room to maneuver (that left me sore after the anesthesia wore off, but not so much). When they got to my gallbladder, it had no function left and was now gangrenous: it could no longer be "sucked" out. So they cut a 4-5" incision, cut it out, took out whatever else they needed to (including some tissue for analysis), cleaned and sanitized the area, then sealed and stapled me (16 staples) up and attached a small plastic container to drain the region out.

The next thing I will write about is therapy. Let's just say, I won't be lifting for a while but that may be a good thing.

And to the nurses and medical staff at Landstuhl Regional Mediacal Center, thank you for fixing me up and taking care of me. It almost seems like clockwork, how they go about their business, even with what they deal with here on a regular basis. Or maybe, they are just as brave as we are!

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 2 Workout 2

This picture was taken in my office (J4-Joint Movement Center) here at Camp Lemonier, Djibouti.  That's Corporal Dull, U.S. Marine Corps, representing.

Add to the list of hardcore things, like chalk in supermarkets, this.  Over the weekend our USMC colonel, LTC Sexton, had the Seabees build him a chinup station out of wood, metal, and tape wrap and then install it in the office.  This is what Marines do, I suppose.  We joking tell people now that when they enter the office that this is the tax that must be paid;)

So as a challenge (and, when in Rome . . . . ), I told LTC Sexton that by the time I leave here in December, that I was going to try to do as many pullups as he could do right now.  He then threw down the gauntlet by cranking out 28 pullups and almost a 29th.  Yeah, this is what my big mouth has gotten me into;)

I've dropped the chinups and pullups from my weight days.   Instead, on the days I work, at the top of every hour, I crank out a set to failure with bodyweight (about 11 sets).  One day is pullups, one day is chinups, and so on.  And if I should happen to pop in to hang out, as I do just about every weekend, I have to pay the tax and crank them out.  Today, I did pullups in sets of 3.  Towards the end, it got down to 2 reps.  Today, it's chinups (so far, 2 sets of 3).  I'll try to add a rep per week: coupled with trying to lose some weight, we'll see how close I could get.  The Navy will represent!!!

This was yesterday's workout, deadlift day of 5/3/1 (All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets):

Sumo Deadlift: 135x5, 150x5, 165x5, 195x3, 225x2, 255x3, 270x3, 285x5 (Rep Out Set)

Conventional Deadlift: 315x3x6.  Not exactly as bad as it looks.  Thanks to all the rep work I've been doing, this didn't leave me lying in a heap.  But after spending a good part of my day doing pullups (see next blog entry) and after the sumoe deads, I had little grip or launching strength left so I was really having to power these up.

Leg Extensions: 120x3x6

Hanging Leg Raises: sets of 5, 5, 4, 3, 2 reps
Decline Situps: sets of 17, 12, 8, 6, 4, 4 reps

Leg Curls: 150x3x6

Monday, September 07, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 2 Workout 1 (Slight Return)

Last week was very hectic week.  The last of my best friends here was leaving, and she wasn't even packed nor was her room cleaned yet.  So aside from spending a lot of time together, I was also helping her get rid of shit, clean, shit, and pack shit.  Guys, it's like giving a woman a big suitcase for a weekend trip only this was like a studio flat.  Shit, I've been here almost 2 years and you could put all my possessions into 1 sea bag, a carry-on, and 1 Tough Box.  After she left on Thursday, I caught up on a lot of sleep, and blogging.

Today, I began this workout all over again, as originally intended.  Didn't have to work, so I woke up at 1PM, worked out, and even started doing NEPA walks.

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Flat Bench Press: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x3, 145x2, 165x3, 175x3, 185x5 (Rep Out Set)

Smith Machine Behind The Neck Press: worked up to 125x3, then did 135x3x5.  Every bench near the dumbbells was taken, as was the bench press benches, and the shoulder press station.  (Did I mention that Monday is always Bench Press Monday?) So I did these.  Not bad, but I don't get the searing burn that I do with DBs so next week I will do the 70x3x6 that I should have waited to do.

Bodyweight Chinups: 5 sets of 3 reps.  I could always do at least 2 reps clean with no kipping but usually have to kip on the third rep.

Hammer ISO High Rows: 120x3x6

Trap Bar Shrugs: 196x3x6

Walked for over an hour.

Monday, August 31, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 2 Workout 1

Today, I worked out with two people from my office who knew that I liked to powerlift. One of them wanted to attempt a 270 max and needed a competent spotter, and they both wanted to try something different. So I brought my 2 & 3-boards along and we worked up to heavy singles today. I managed to work up to a 225 single, plus a set at 60% of Triceps Death (rep out with no board, 2-board, then 3-board all with no rest.

The other guy, Jesus, went for broke with 275 but only got it two inches off of his chest (After his 245 single, I saw maybe 265 tops in him). This blew his load because he tried a 265 single a few minutes later and it went nowhere. He did the Triceps Death with 155 and afterward exclaimed that there was no way he could do the rest of his chest workout.

The last guy, Devin, did the same as me but maybe not as easily. He cranked out a few more reps than me with the Triceps Death, though.

Afterwards, I did 5 sets of 3 with bodyweight chinups, then 15 minutes on the bike before calling it a day.

Saturday, August 29, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 1 Workout 4

12" Front Box Squat: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 130x3, 150x2, 160x5, 170x5, 180x7 (Rep Out Set). I woke up late and work was at 1PM today so this was all I had time for.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 1 Workout 3

Incline Bench Press: 60x5, 80x5, 95x5, 115x3, 135x2, 145x5, 155x5, 165x7 (Rep Out Set).

Assisted Pullups (Light Band): 10 sets of 3 reps

Hammer ISO Rows (Lat Emphasis): 80x10x4

Dips: 5 sets of 2 w/bodyweight. The assist machine was taken, so I had to do these outside on the dip/chinup station. 2 clean reps was about all that I could get, but that's 2 better than when I started in August so I'm getting there.

Behind the Back Shrugs: 120x10x4

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 1 Workout 2

Sumo Deadlifts (305 Training Max): 135x5, 145x5, 160x5, 190x3, 225x2, 240x5, 255x5, 275x7 (Rep Out Set).

Conventional Deadlifts: 205x10x4.

Leg Extensions: 90x10x4

Leg Curls: 75x15x3

One of my best friends here is going back home next week to the US after a year here, so we are spending as much time as we could before she does. So I shortened this workout.

Monday, August 24, 2009

5/3/1: Round 2 Wave 1 Workout 1

Flat Bench Press (200 Training Max): 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x3, 145x2, 155x5, 165x5, 175x7 (Rep Out Set)

DB Shoulder Presses: 45x10x4

Assisted Chinups (Light Band): 10 sets of 3 reps.

Hammer ISO High Row: 75x10x4

Trap Bar Shrugs: 126x10x4

Saturday, August 22, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Deload Workout 3&4

All Notation: weight x reps x sets

Incline Bench Press: 60x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x5

Assisted Dips: 90 lbs assistance x 15 x 3

12" Front Box Squat: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x5

Back Squat: 135x15x3

Assisted Pullups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2 reps

Hammer ISO Row (Lat Emphasis): 70x15x3

Leg Extensions: 120x5x5; 100x10x4

Leg Curls: 105x10x4

Behind The Back Shrugs: 95x15x3

Thursday, August 20, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Deload Workout 2

Sumo Deadlift: 135x5, 145x5, 155x5, 190x5

Conventional Deadlift: 170x15x3

Leg Extensions: Worked up to a 140 lbs double, then 80x15x3

Leg Curls: 75x15x3

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Deload Workout 1

Ah, deload. The first 3 weeks went really well: I think this time I have it dialed in just right and have estimated the poundages well. Today was well earned.

All Notation: Weight x Reps x Sets

Flat Bench Press: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x5

DB Shoulder Presses: 35x15x3

Assisted Chinups (Monster Mini band): 10 sets of 2 reps

Hammer ISO High Rows: 60x15x3

Trap Bar Shrugs: 106x15x3

Behind The Back Shrugs: 160x5x5. This was made up from last week.

Monday, August 17, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 3 Workout 2&3

The weather here has been hovering at a heat-factored 130+ degrees for a few weeks now, and we are starting to experience the occasional blackout. I went to the gym today at around 2:30PM and they must have been working on the AC because I started to sweat profusely just getting set up: no AC. This was going to suck.

I shortened my workout today. While my lower back felt great, I still felt drained. Maybe, I just needed to catch up on sleep. I am finally back to working my normal desk job after 3 weeks of working every day 0400-1200, and 6 months of doing physical security work. I had partied until late on Saturday, and slept a tad on Sunday. Maybe I should have slept longer last night: I woke up at 9AM vice the 12pm I originally intended. So with that in mind, I upped all the sets for the front squats by 5 lbs, kept the back squats the same, and ditched everything else. At the end of it, soaking wet and lightheaded, someone who had been watching me told me, "I feel really bad for your legs right now!"

Me, too.

12" Front Box Squat: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x3, 145x2, 155x5, 175x3, 195x3 (Rep Out Set).

Parallel Box Squat: 225x5x5

Friday, August 14, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 3 Workout 2&3

Since I've been lazy the past few days and am going out to party it up tomorrow, I combined two workouts into one even though a lot of the assistance work was 5x5. The only things I trimmed from the workout was the ab work, bulgarian split squats (did leg extensions), and the behind the back shrugs (I'll do them on Sunday with the squats).

Incline Bench Press (185 Training Max): 55x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x3, 135x2, 145x5, 165x3, 185x3 (Rep out Set). The plan was 140x5, 160x3, 180x1+ but I felt brave.

Assisted Pullups (Light Bands): 10 sets of 3 reps

Sumo Deadlifts (305 Training Max): 135x5, 145x5, 155x5, 190x3, 220x2, 235x5, 265x3, 295x3 (Rep Out Set).

Conventional Deadlifts: 285x5x5.

Assisted Dip Machine: 45 pounds of assist x 5 reps x 5 sets

Hammer ISO Row (Lat Emphasis): 115x5x5

Leg Curls: 135x5x5

Hammer Leg Extensions: 90x10x6

Monday, August 10, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 3 Workout 1

Flat Bench Press (200 Training Max): 60x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 140x2, 150x5, 170x3, 190x3 (Rep Out Set)

DB Shoulder Presses: 60x5x5

Assisted Chinups (Light Band): 10 sets of 3 reps.

Hammer ISO High Row: 105x5x5

Trap Bar Shrugs: 176x5x5

Saturday, August 08, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 2 Workout 4

12" Front Box Squat (200 Training Max): 60x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 140x2, 160x3, 170x3, 180x5 (Rep Out Set)

Back Squat: 160x10x4. Did these today with purple bands attached. I think I may have hit on something, cause it gave me a very uncomfortable pump

GHR: 30 reps in 6 sets

Reverse Lunge w/Front Foot Elevated: BWT x 10 x 4
Pallof Press Isometric Holds: 3 30-second holds with 15 pounds

Ab Roller Isometric Holds: 3 9-second holds

Friday, August 07, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 2 Workout 3

Incline Bench Press (185 Training Max): 60x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x3, 130x2, 150x3, 160x3, 170x5 (Rep out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 90 pounds of assist x 10 reps x 4 sets

Assisted Pullups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2 reps.

Hammer ISO Row (Lat Emphasis): 80x10x4

Behind The Back Shrug: 115x10x4

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 2 Workout 2

Sumo Deadlifts (305 Training Max): 135x5, 145x5, 155x5, 190x3, 220x2, 250x3, 265x3, 280x5 (Rep Out Set).

Conventional Deadlifts: 205x10x4

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Foot Elevated: BWTx10x5

Leg Curls: 90x10x4

Pallof Press Isometric Holds: 3 30-second holds with 15 pounds.

Ab Roller Isometric Holds: 3 9-second holds.

Monday, August 03, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 2 Workout 1

Flat Bench Press (200 Training Max): 60x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 140x2, 160x3, 170x3, 180x5 (Rep Out Set)

DB Shoulder Presses: 45x10x4

Assisted Chinups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2 reps.

Hammer ISO High Row: 75x10x4

Trap Bar Shrugs: 126x10x4

Sunday, August 02, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 1 Workout 4

12" Front Box Squat (200 Training Max): 60x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 140x2, 150x5, 160x5, 170x7 (Rep Out Set)

Back Squat: 130x15x3. Have begun to train the squat as a second movement, without the box, to try to raise it.

GHR: 30 reps in 6 sets

Reverse Lunge w/Front Foot Elevated: BWT x 15 x 3

Pallof Press Isometric Holds: 3 30-second holds with 15 pounds.

Ab Roller Isometric Holds: 3 8-second holds.

Friday, July 31, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 1 Workout 3

Incline Bench Press (185 Training Max): 60x5, 75x5, 95x5, 115x3, 130x2, 140x5, 150x5, 160x7 (Rep out Set)

Assisted Dip Machine: 105 pounds of assist x 15 reps x 3 sets

Assisted Pullups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2 reps. None easy, I think because of the dips.

Hammer ISO Row (Lat Emphasis): 70x15x3

Behind The Back Shrug: 95x15x3

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

5/3/1: Round 1 Wave 1 Workout 2.

Sumo Deadlifts (305 Training Max): 135x5, 145x5, 155x5, 190x3, 220x2, 235x5, 250x5, 265x7 (Rep Out Set). It's been such a long time since I've given the sumo deadlift this much attention, and it already feels as if I've found a long lost friend. Felt good, did notice that my glutes were tiring out pretty quick, though.

Conventional Deadlifts: 170x15x3. Who needs cardio when you have this?

Bulgarian Split Squats w/Front Foot Elevated: BWTx15x3. The original plan was 40x15x3 but due to the deadlifts or to not having done single leg work in a long time, 40 pounds owned me after 8 reps so I ditched the dumbbells. And even BWT owned me. So I'll probably just do 5 sets of 10 with something ridiculously light and keep adding weight every 2 weeks. Tomorrow, my glutes and quads are gonna scold me!!!

Leg Curls: 75x15x3

Pallof Press Isometric Holds: 3 30-second holds with 15 pounds. I was shot by the time I got to the ab work, and even 15 pounds felt tough.

Ab Roller Isometric Holds: 3 8-second holds. The goal was 15 seconds but even 8 seconds was pushing it. So I guess I know that stability is a weakness, eh?

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Back in the Gym Again

So after a week of doing bad things to my body in Helsinki (Booze, food, partying 'til the wee hours), I weighed in at 214 pounds this afternoon(I woke up at 2:30 PM today).

Hurrah!!! Only gained one pound over what I weighed in at for VirtualMeet.

This reminded me of a post from a blogger named Pastaqueen who took a trip through Europe, sampled many of their culinary delights, and actually lost a bit of weight. I know that the servings in Europe are not the same as America (they're much smaller), but much like her I think it may have been all the walking I did. Not only during the road trip but during my time in Helsinki. Lots and lots of sidewalks. Where I live in Washington, there ain't many of them. So much centralized in one spot in Helsinki that even clubhopping was a workout;)

It also didn't hurt that I did two workouts last week, so I wasn't idle much. Thanks to Måns Rinne, I worked out at Voimapuoti gym (formerly known as Metal Gym) and at Punttis Gym in Helsinki. And unlike previous times, no long layoffs. I started today.

I'll be running 5/3/1 until I leave in December. Since I have the time now and have enough testing data, I will actually be running it proper, right down to the deload weeks.. Of course, my goal will be to improve on my meet numbers, but I have two others. By the time I leave, I want to dip my bodyweight into the mid 190s. I also want to get a head start on a big goal for me: 500 DL/400 SQ/300 Bench by the end of 2010.

My main lifts will be the Flat Bench Press, Sumo Deadlift, Incline Bench Press, and 12" Box Front Squat. My main assistance movement for each day will be DB Shoulder Presses, Conventional Deadlifts, Assisted Dips, and Back Squats. For the Bench Press, Back Squat, and Conventional Deadlifts, I based my training max off of 85% of my meet maxes (I got this off of Phil Wylie from Bad Attitude Gym, who posted this on T-Nation's 5/3/1 thread). The other lifts are based off of 90% of my maxes last cycle or on what I tested on last week. Since I also wanted my chinups and pullups to be a priority, I dropped the direct biceps work and will start at 10 sets of 2, like I tried at the end of the last cycle. At the start of each wave, I'll add another rep (10x3, 10x4).

Today's session was pretty good. I felt a bit out of shape, but I'll also attribute that to some of the high rep work.

Flat Bench Press (200 Training Max): 60x5, 80x5, 100x5, 120x3, 140x2, 150x5, 160x5, 170x7 (Rep Out Set)

DB Shoulder Presses: 35x15x3

Assisted Chinups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2 reps. The last 4 sets were tough.

Hammer ISO High Row: 60x15x3

Trap Bar Shrugs: 106x15x3

Sunday, July 05, 2009

It's Miller Time!!!!

Today was my last workout. WooHoo!!!

I had many plans for what it would be like but ultimately, I did this:

Parallel Box Squat: 95x5, 125x5, 155x5, 185x5

Conventional Deadlift: 135x5, 165x5, 195x5, 225x5

With a week left, I felt I had nothing more to gain. And I remembered that the trip to Finland alone is at least 17 hours, which will also take a bit out of me (Luckily, as Kris pointed out, the time zone is the same). So I took it easy in the gym and walked away with a smile. Now, I can really relax.

Saturday, July 04, 2009

Workout 3 of Last 4

Incline Bench Press: 75x5, 95x5, 115x5, 135x3, 155x2, 165x5, 185x3, 205x1. 205 went up really slow: the spotter asked me a few times if he should take it but I waved him off.

3-Board Bench Press: 205x3, 215x0, 225x0. The plan was to do 3 reps at each of these weights. But I struggled with the 205!?! I can take either hint: I was still shot from the last bench session before this one, or I was tapped out. After the 205, I gave up on this one.

Assisted Dips: 60 pounds of assist for 5 sets of 10.

Hammer ISO Rows (Elbows in for Lat Emphasis): 45x5, 60x5, 75x5, 90x3, 105x2, 125x3, 135x3, 140x3.

Assisted Pullups (Monster Mini Band): 10 sets of 2

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Workout 2 of Last 4

12" Front Box Squat: 55x8, 75x5, 95x5, 120x5, 145x3, 165x2, 180x5, 200x0. At this point, I can say that I am done deadlifting. My back was not recovered from the last deadlift session. Now, I know that squatting or deadlifting first thing in the morning is not easy on the spine. But no amount of warming up or stretching could get my lower back right - - - hell, I even stretched in between sets. So my belt was cranked, and I still managed a very controlled 5RM with 180 pounds. I rested 5 minutes and racked 200 pounds clean and while I felt no pain, I felt as if I didn't have enough to lift it cleanly. And I didn't want to risk it, so I re-racked it and shut it down right there.

Trap Bar Shrugs: Worked up to a 206 5RM and a 226 2RM. If I wasn't gonna be deadlifting, then I may as well do something that would help it. I think that on workout 4, I will probably do something like this and not deadlift. And, of course, not push the back.

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Workout 1 of Last 4

2-Board Bench Press: 75x5, 95x5, 120x5, 145x3, 170x2, 180x5, 205x3, 225x1 (Rep Out Set). This was done with my legs up (I'll take a picture of the bench so you can see what I mean). I wanted to do something different. Last week's bench session left me feeling as if that was as good as it was going to get for a while, so I did this instead. That, and I got to put 225 in my hands again.

Hoist Assisted Dips: 45 pounds assistance x 7 reps x 5 sets

Hammer ISO High Rows: 45x5, 60x5, 70x5, 85x3, 100x2, 115x3, 120x3, 130x2. I'm thinking of adding the 5/3/1 workout structure to my mid-back work when I get back from Finland, so this was my flirtation with it. In return for the work, I dropped the shrugs. Which is OK, because they will pay on deadlift day.

Assisted Chinups (Monster Mini Bands): 10 sets of 2 reps

Monday, June 29, 2009

Something, Something, Deadlift (Slight Return)

Reverse Band Deadlift: 135x5, 170x5, 205x5, 240x3, 275x2, 310x1, 345x1, 380x0. Better than last time. I wanted to perfect this and give this a shot on July 5th as my last workout. After reading a few articles, I went into the gym today and tweaked my technique: I stood close enough to the bar where my shins were touching it, tightened up my setup, took the slack out of the arms before pulling, and pulled back as well as up. While 380 wouldn't go up, I might try it again next week but after a 365 single. We'll see.

Oh, and I went in and weighed myself at 212 pounds, putting me within 2 pounds of my 210 goal weight for this meet. What's odd is that I was able to drop some weight without the aerobics. So, maybe it's time to add them back in, eh?

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Something, Something, Deadlift

I experimented with Reverse Band Deadlifts yesterday, since I'm getting stale on just about everything else. Starting at 145 and working up in 35 pound increments, I got up to 285 for 5 reps but couldn't pull 320 off the floor. WTF!?!

As a consolation prize, today's Incline Bench Session went as planned:

Incline Bench Press: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x3, 145x2, 165x3, 175x3, 185x3 (Reps Out Set)

Assisted Dips: 45 lbs assist x 6 reps x 5 sets

Pullups: 6 singles with BWT, 6 singles w/Monster Mini.

Hammer ISO Rows (Midback Emphasis - Elbows up): 95x10x5

Behind The Back Shrugs: 155x10x5

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Flat Bench Press

Flat Bench Press: 75x5, 95x5, 115x5, 135x3, 160x2, 170x5, 180x5, 195x5 (Rep Out Set). I didn't push the last set. Maybe 1 more rep in the tank but I shut it down.

DB Shoulder Press: 50x10x5

Chinups: 6 singles w/BWT and 6 singles w/monster mini band.

Hammer ISO Rows (Lat Emphasis): 95x10x5

Trap Bar Shrugs: 166x10x5.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009


Today I tried to work up to a heavy triple maybe to see where I was. After last squat session's 270x3, I went gunning for 280x3 and got stapled instead. I just didn't have it. Or too long had gone by.

Now, I have two squat sessions left before the Virtual Meet. I'll stick to the 5RM and 3RM days and not do singles, but the question is what weight to pursue.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Back In the Saddle

Incline Bench Press: 65x5, 85x5, 105x5, 125x3, 145x2, 155x5, 165x5, 175x5 (Reps Out Set)

Assisted Dips: 45 lbs assist x 5 reps x 5 sets

Pullups: 6 singles with BWT, 6 singles w/Monster Mini. Didn't want to make this session too long so instead of bicep work, I did this setup for pullups - - - which smoked 'em!

Hammer ISO High Rows: 85x10x5

Behind The Back Shrugs: 155x10x5

Got tired kind of quick so I rested a bit more between sets. Have to shake off the rust. Still, not too bad: mentally, I left the gym on a high note.