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  • Monday, 4 February

    Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
    Spoto Press 265*5*4@7.5, 8, 8.5, 9
    Barbell Overhead Extension 99*10*3@8
    Echo Bike 13 min, 4.2 mi

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    • Tuesday, 5 February

      Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
      Deadlift 551*5@10
      375*5@annoyingly hard
      Squat 375*5*@9, 10
      Overhead Press 154*5*2@8

      Deadlift 551*5@10 on Instagram

      Yeah, so that murdered me. I don't know why the AI program figured that doing 212.5*5*4 would be possible after deadlifting 5@10, but it definitely did not work for me. Maybe it's the whole fast-twitch thing, or maybe the AI just has some bugs to work out. We'll see how it works for bench on Thursday. Shouldn't be as bad.

      Look what arrived today.


      Got some light reading to do.

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      • Thursday, 7 February

        Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
        Bench 303*5*1@10
        286*5*3@9.5, 10, 10
        Paused Squat 292.5*5*2@8
        w/Reverse DB Fly 30s*15*3@8.5
        Stiff-Leg Deadlift 265*10*3@8
        w/DB Skullcrusher 85*10*3@8

        Incidentally took about 9 minutes of rest after the top bench set, so the first back-off set wasn't so bad. "Only" took 4 minutes rest for the next set, and that 5th rep was one of the grindiest benches I've ever completed.

        Paused squats and SLDLs were a great example of how fatigue from one session can affect the next ones, and why it's best to keep in mind the whole block rather than one particular workout. My mid-back erectors are still trashed from that single set of deadlifts, and I had to lower the weight to something significantly lower than planned due to that.

        No bike today, ran out of time. I might do some after work, or, if the weather stays as nice as it is, I'll probably go throw and then run a lap or two there. I'll do a longer write-up this weekend, but yes, my knees (actually my brain's perception of my knees) are at the point where I can even do some running without them dying. Not fully there quite yet, but definitely seeing real progress at last.


        Saturday, 9 February

        Exercise Weight x Reps @ RPE
        Squat 331*5*2@6
        w/Incline Press 171*5*1
        Romanian Deadlift 298*8*1
        w/DB Curl 40s*10*3@8
        Snatch-Grip Deadlift 237*10*3
        w/Pull-up BW*8*2@10
        BW*4*2@not 10

        First day of the deload, and after last week, I need it. Sub-70% work shouldn't even be @6 for a set of 5, but oh well. Moving forward, I'm going to keep breaking up the pull-up sets into whatever I can do with good form, since flailing around for the last few reps kind of defeats the purpose.

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        • I've been meaning to do a longer write-up on a few topics for a while now (meaning over a month), but I kept getting new inputs that I wanted to incorporate, so I kept putting it off. But that's a good recipe for never doing it at all, so here we go. Since nobody actually reads walls of text, I'll split it up into several sections (each of which may still be a wall of text, but at least they'll be smaller walls).

          I'll put a tl;dr at the end of each.

          -------------------------------

          So, first off, the mental side of things. Mostly pain. I'm not going to go over my history of pain (if you want that, see my post from June 2017), but the short version is that I'd had back and knee pain to some degree or another since about 2007. After watching one of Austin's videos and reading some useful stuff, I'd pretty much sorted out the back pain, but the knees were more stubborn.

          Now, finally, I'm getting significant results for my knees as well. Over the last two months or so, I've finally convinced myself that there is no reason for me to have knee pain, and I've broken through enough to get the subconscious side to start taking action on that thought. I'm even running now. It's just 400 meters at a time, and it often hurts during the running itself, but I'm not dying afterward, and it's not stopping me from doing things I want to do. I'm running, I'm throwing shot, and I'm not afraid to kneel down, even if it's my bare knees on tile. So I've still got room to improve, but I've made a huge step in the right direction, and that's also helped me get back to being more generally athletic, which is something I've missed for a long time and at times figured was pretty much gone for good.

          Perhaps more importantly (though maybe not. That knee stuff is a game changer.), I'm realizing how broadly this mindset/subconscious stuff can affect just about everything. Suck at remembering people's name? Well yeah, if I think I do, I'm going to. Extremely light sleeper? Well, if I already have that picture of myself, my subconscious is more than willing to help me maintain that self-image.

          I really can't get the importance of this across in words, which I should not be surprised by. It's not as though I hadn't read anything to this effect before, but it never connected to any experiences I'd had, so it didn't stick. Galileo is quoted as saying "You cannot teach a man anything, you can only help him to find it within himself." Well, until I'd worked through the experience with pain, I didn't have it within myself. And now, I'm excited to share it, but I know most people either already get it or don't have the capacity to get it yet. But maybe this will reach one or two of you, and if so, I'm glad I can pass it along.

          To sum it up, there are so many things I thought were inevitable that I now realize were limitations I put on myself. Not consciously or by choice, of course, but still self-imposed. I liked the tighter position of thumbs-around squatting, but "couldn't" do it in the past without elbow pain. Now, no problem. I just wonder how many people I've accidentally harmed, even with something as simple as telling them to keep their knees in line with their toes to avoid knee pain. I meant well, and to the best of my knowledge at the time, I was helping people, but I can't help but think that I introduced a seed of pain expectation that may later bloom into a problem. But I'll do my best and keep learning, and over time I can only get better at this.

          tl;dr - My knee pain issues are finally subsiding, and the process of working through them has helped me understand just how powerful our subconscious expectations can be.

          Comment


          • Sunday, 10 February

            Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
            Spoto Press 226*5*2
            Barbell Overhead Extension 77*10*3

            Took all of six minutes.

            Monday, 11 February

            Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
            Deadlift 419*5*3
            Squat 325*5
            Overhead Press 138*5

            I'm taking a week off caffeine along with my deload week, which means I can do these in the afternoon without affecting my sleep. Does anyone else feel noticeably better lifting when the sun is up? I'm not sure how much of it is actually the mental effects of the sunlight and how much is circadian rhythm, but I definitely prefer it.

            Despite being a deload, today's deadlifts and squats felt kind of hard, but given last week's workouts, that's not surprising.

            Comment


            • Since people are asking about it anyway, I'll address Starting Strength as my next write-up topic here.

              Apparently this comes as a surprise to some people, but Rip doesn't particularly like me anymore. Recently, it's grown to the extent that he's reverted my title on the forums from "Starting Strength Coach" to "Member" and taken down my listing on StartingStrength.org so as not to advertise my affiliation with the brand, as well as kicked me out of the Slack chat, so that I don't have further access to discussion there.

              Based on the reply I got from Nick when I noticed those things (I was not notified) and asked what was up, it's because they do not consider me a good custodian of the brand, and the straw that broke the camel's back was pointing out that Rip said the shortest SSC written test that's ever passed was 35 pages (and the average was 50), despite my own passing exam being only 29 pages.

              I didn't get a reply when I asked whether I'd said anything untrue or just things Rip would rather not be pointed out, but since I'm careful about the former, I'm assuming it's the latter. Nonetheless, I remain a Starting Strength Coach, and while I try to be diplomatic, I have no issues with pointing out things that need to be fixed as well as things that are being done well. So while I can't go into everything without writing a novella, I'll summarize here.

              Good:
              1) A clear message
              - For those who have not already done so (i.e. most of the human population), simple, hard, consistent work on a few compound exercises will get you more results in a few months than years of aimless work on a wide variety of exercises.

              2) A requirement to actually coach
              - Though the recent quality control of this can and has been debated, prospective coaches must at least show that they can actually train someone to move competently. This is a component that is conspicuously absent in most (all?) other certifications.

              3) Making strength training more accessible
              A) The book - Starting Strength: Basic Barbell Training, despite critiques of being verbose, lays a very convincing case for how to lift. Whether this way is ideal or not, it is clear and understandable, and has helped a lot of people shift away from much less useful (or a complete lack of) weight training.
              B) SSOC - A lot of people do not have access to a competent coach nearby. For those who benefit from session-to-session form checks, which is a larger group than I think most people realize, SSOC provides a valuable service. Regardless of whether you agree with the programming, SSOC is helping a lot of people who would otherwise lift very poorly or not at all.
              C) Franchise Gyms - I can't claim to be a fan of the equipment, but the idea is great. While there are more black-iron gyms nowadays, it's still hit or miss on what you'll get at any one in particular. As with McDonalds, Starting Strength gyms tell you upfront what to expect. You go in knowing how you're going to be coached, what equipment you'll be using, and what's expected of you. And overall, despite issues such as upper-body pressing progress, going through an LP with a coach will still get you further than what you'd get at the large majority of physical gyms.


              Bad:
              1) Inconsistency
              - Mostly from Rip himself, there are issues such as simultaneously bashing push press for taking away from upper body work, yet embracing a large double layback on the grounds of allowing more muscle mass to do more work, or having SSOC coaches who use RPE both descriptively and prescriptively, yet calling prescriptive RPE "malpractice".

              2) Elitism
              - As contrasted by RTS or JTS, who are extremely competent and aware of that fact, yet acknowledge their shortcomings and the strengths of other coaches and systems, Starting Strength largely espouses the view that only Starting Strength Coaches know how to train people effectively, and all other methods only work for exceptional people. This is also in contrast to 5-10 years ago, when other coaches would frequent the seminars or do interviews for the site, and there were even guest coaches on the forums.

              3) Double Standards
              - Perhaps most notably, whether strength is, in part, a fair standard for determining competence. Recently, Rip held up Ronnie Coleman, Dorian Yates, and Ed Coan as evidence that simple, brutal programming is effective, yet the success of people like MikeTuchscherer, JordanFeigenbaum, and Austin are dismissed as the results of genetic freaks.

              4) Lack of real discussion
              - Despite the claim that discussion is invited, and sometimes open calls for it, as in the case of the Press Double Layback video, disagreement and debate are clearly no longer welcome. This goes beyond giving a consistent message to an unwillingness to engage other ideas. This is made very apparent by the amount of censoring, including deleting years worth of good discussion to purge any trace of a disloyal user, and ad hominem attacks, even changing the meta-data of the site to insult people, not only for disliked users, but also those who once held the SSC such as Hanley. Contrast this with someone like Mike T, who openly invites his podcast guests to share where they disagree, so he can learn from them, despite already being a world-class coach.

              tl;dr - Starting Strength is not the worst program ever, and Rip is not the next closest thing to Hitler, but it has plenty of room to improve. As my discussion with Les helped me clarify, the main reason people are frustrated with the brand is that it had such promise at the start, but has in many ways changed to become far more closed-minded and stubborn, rather than remaining open to learning and continued improvement.

              Comment


              • Wednesday, 13 February
                Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
                Bench 231*5*2
                Paused Squat 254*5
                w/Reverse DB Fly 25s*15*3
                Stiff-Leg Deadlift 209*10*3
                w/DB Skullcrusher 65*10*3
                Done with the deload week. Onward to peaking and back to morning workouts on Saturday.

                On another good note, my new SBD belt (and flexible wrist wraps) are on their way. Given the cost of the first one, I wasn't planning on buying another one, but I'm on the last set of holes for some of my lifts, and I'm planning on cutting down a bit further after Military Nationals.

                Also, even if I were to keep my weight/waist the same, the amount of belt overlap on the inside means I have to place the buckle way over to my left, and that puts it at a super awkward/difficult angle to close. So yay, belt number six. I'm starting to feel like Cody.

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                • Saturday, 16 February

                  Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
                  Squat 470*1@7
                  425*3*3@7
                  DB Overhead Press 50s*8*4@7
                  Back Raise 45*8*4
                  EZ Curl 65*10*4@7-8
                  Pull-up BW*4*6@7
                  Snatch-Grip Deadlift 275*10*3@6

                  Squat felt pretty good. Just a bit out of practice, but not with that "oh crap" feeling I've sometimes gotten in the past when unracking a heavy squat after a period away from higher intensities.

                  470 Squat on Instagram

                  I've been meaning to check out Tucson Strength for a while now, but haven't been up here in a few weeks. Good place, very similar to what I'd envision if/when I open up my own place. The owner was there while we were lifting and we talked with him some. He seems like a good guy. I may try to get a job there and learn the business side, rather than jumping in on my own right away.

                  Always more to learn. Actually, I think I'll do a write-up on that topic tomorrow.

                  Comment


                  • So, learning. Kind of an important thing for continued self-improvement.

                    I'm currently re-reading The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and the last habit is to "sharpen the saw". In other words, don't be so focused on the task at hand that you miss the opportunities to become more effective, both at that same task and others.

                    I've been making a particular effort recently to do that, but one more level back. Learning new things is a way to become more effective at whatever you're doing, but I'm focused right now on improving my ability to learn. I don't know if the physics analogy makes sense to other people, but for me, I think of the task as "position", your skill at the task as "velocity", and your ability to improve your skill as "acceleration".

                    Point being, I'm making an effort to expand my own ability to learn, as well as the resources I learn from. For example, I recently signed up for Skillshare, as well as MASS Research Review. I'm being more selective with my social media usage (including forums, hence why I seldom/never post on SS any longer), and I'm using physical books instead of Kindle versions more and more often, since they seem to improve my ability to focus on what I'm reading.

                    What I'm running into more and more often, though, is frustration with the amount of time it takes me to get through things. I'm reasonably good at reading, with a speed of ~600-1000 words per minute, depending on the material, but it seems like more of an effort than it used to be to maintain that pace. It could be that I'm just reading more technical material now than when I was younger, but even so, it's something I seem to have hit a bit of a wall on increasing/maintaining.

                    Similarly, I watch most videos at 3-4 times normal speed, and when I can, I listen to audiobooks/podcasts at 2.5-3 times speed. For things like Stitcher, though, I run into the software limitations of capping it at 2 times. So if anyone knows how to play podcasts faster than 2 times normal speed, please let me know.

                    Anyway, I tried to keep this succinct and on-point, but I'm pretty sure I failed spectacularly. Point being, learning and refining what you know, as well as asking yourself why you think you know what you know, are vital aspects if you are more interested with improvement than being thought correct. I'm sure we can all think of examples of the latter, and even if you're not actually interested in updating your mental models, it's a fast way to lose respect when people realize that's what you're about.

                    tl;dr - There are many ways of learning, each with its own strengths and weaknesses. What matters is less how you learn, and more that you learn. If anyone has good resources that you'd like to share with me or anyone else reading this, feel free.


                    Primary resources I'm currently using:
                    1) Books
                    2) Youtube
                    3) Stitcher/Podcasts (Made it through all the RTS podcasts, almost done with JTS)
                    4) Skillskare
                    5) Duolingo
                    6) MASS
                    7) Social Media
                    8) Occasionally actually talking to people

                    Resources I've not yet used, but should probably look into:
                    1) Khan Academy
                    2) RTS Classrooms
                    3) Currently taking any suggestions, help me fill out this list

                    Seminars/events I need to get to soon:
                    1) Juggernaut Training Systems
                    2) Barbell Medicine
                    3) Reactive Training Systems
                    4) Something for throwing

                    Comment


                    • Tuesday, 19 February

                      Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
                      Comp Deadlift 551*1@8?
                      491*3*3@8
                      Comp Squat 386*3*2
                      Cable Pressdown 160*8*2

                      Huh. I slept particularly well and felt pretty good overall, but deadlifts kind of sucked. It seems unlikely that the 5@10 from two weeks ago is still impacting me after a deload week, but maybe? Squats were fine.

                      Last Deadlift Set on Instagram

                      Anyway, also got my new, smaller SBD belt in today. I'm wearing it right now to help break it in and help the dye wear off sooner. I've been pretty consistently around 106 kg for a couple weeks now, ever since I realized I needed to stay at 120 kg for the next meet.

                      New SBD Belt on Instagram

                      Comment


                      • Thursday, 21 February

                        Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
                        Bench 303*1@6
                        276*3*3@7
                        Romanian Deadlift 265*10*4
                        w/Reverse DB Fly 27.5s*15*3
                        Goblet Squat 85*8*2
                        w/DB Skullcrusher 85*10*3

                        Bodyweight was 104.5 this morning. Oops. Need to bump that back up.

                        Went a bit light on RDLs and goblet squat. For RDLs, I didn't realize until my last set that I never put the 15 kg plates on so... that was smart. And for goblet squats, I'm not sure I've ever done ever one rep before, so I was conservative for the first time. Definitely need to go up next time.

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                        • Saturday, 23 February

                          Exercise Weight*Reps*Sets@RPE
                          Squat 490*1@8
                          447.5*3*4@9
                          DB Overhead Press 50s*8*4@7
                          Back Raise 55*8*4
                          EZ Curl 65*10*3@7.5
                          Pull-up BW*5*2@8
                          BW*4*4@8
                          Snatch-Grip Deadlift 225*10*3

                          Squat single went pretty well, though I wasn't a big fan of my technique on the back-offs. Oh well, the single is what matters for the meet.

                          490 Squat on Instagram

                          Felt a bit of a twinge in my left hip, so I kept SGDL light and pretty much turned it into SLSGDL, since that felt better.

                          Even with that, I'm starting to get some confidence that this meet will go well. I probably won't hit my highest total, but I'm going in at the very bottom of the weight-class, so that's clearly not my only goal right now.

                          May be able to take my state deadlift record back though, which is largely why I'm not letting myself drop below 105 yet.

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