T Nation

Albo's Log


#1

So: about a year ago, I went through some stuff which left me miserable. For a while, I practically gave up on looking after myself like a responsible adult. I stopped lifting, or paying any attention to my eating habits. Managing a restaurant certainly didn't help this, but ultimately I found myself flung into a rut I had no interest in hauling myself out of.

This all means that I've become fat, slow, weak, and weak-willed. My work capacity and conditioning is beyond a joke. I get out of breath running for a bus. I look in the mirror to find I have a gut! I haven't had a gut since I was a kid.

This is where that ends! It's not a cure-all solution by any means, but it seems that having some pride in myself, and not generally being a useless oxygen thief is a forward step. This log is to keep me honest and accountable.

Exposition over, here's the plan:

I'm going to spend a few weeks re-learning and re-grooving some basic lifts. I'm going to lift three times a week, building up my work capacity, and eventually adding in a couple of conditioning sessions. After that, I'm going to transition into some 5/3/1 cycles.

Here is the initial structure:

1) Power Snatch - Work up to 3 rep max
Deadlift - Work up to 3 rep max
Squat - 5x10
Abs

2) Overhead Press - Work up to 3 rep max
Incline Press - 5x10
DB Row - 5x10
Arms and Upper Back - whatever

3) Squat - Work up to 3 rep max
RDLs - 3x10
Lunges - 3x6
Abs

4) Bench - Work up to 3 rep max
Overhead Press - 5x10
Pullups - 5 x max reps
Arms and Upper Back - whatever

I'm looking forward to it.


#2

Alright, Day 1!

Power Snatch - Work up to 3 rep max

Given the technical nature of the lift, I was a bit concerned about diving straight back into these. But considering, It actually went pretty nicely - the muscle memory kicked in, and I remembered the hip 'pop' pretty quickly. Had to duck under the bar a bit more than I'd like for a power snatch, but this was encouraging.

Deadlift - Work up to top set

Coming back to the gym, I'm going to have to contend with the knurling on the bars taking all the skin off my hands for a while. Not pretty.

Squat - 5x10

Honestly, the weight I used on these was laughable, but that's the point for the first few weeks. No doubt I'll still be sore tomorrow. I'll tell you one thing - 5x10 left me gassed. Yikes.

Abs

Just a few sets of cable crunches and deadbugs. No big.

Music of the day: Clutch. Because we're doing this RIGHT!


#3

Overhead Press - Work up to 3 rep max

Long limbed as I am, these have always been my nemesis. But I was inspired by the guy in the rack next to mine who was power cleaning/push pressing 225 for considerable reps, so I worked up to a weight that I wasn't totally embarrassed to be seen struggling under.

Incline Press - 5x10

Again, the weight on this was fairly light. Got the work done, a little sticky on the last few reps of the last two sets, but nothing too bad. I can fairly accurately predict that my triceps strength is going to need some work: the lockout on these, and on the overhead press beforehand, sucked.

DB Row - 5x10

Forgot how much mental resilience doing longer sets of unilateral work takes. You finish one side, and you've got a whole other side to will yourself through. The last couple of sets almost had to be done rest/pause style. Pulling is going to need some extra work.

Arms and Upper Back

I just did a circuit of curls, rope pressdowns and facepulls. Just one round today - I was getting hungry, I was already fairly pumped from the previous exercises, and the car was running out of time in the lot.

Music of the day: Pantera. I feel like they're pretty much the apotheosis of a heavy, aggressive rock band, but what I like about them is that it's so well thought out and directed. As a result, they groove like hell. What I listened to during the top set:


#4

Squat - Work up to 3 rep max

I think there's now an indelible groove on my upper back from where the bar rests when I squat. Cause it felt so right to be squatting again. With my old bar placement slotted in, it didn't take long for me to find the right hip/knee angle. The feeling of being tight and deep in the hole, blood forced through your head...how I've missed you.

RDLs - 3x10

In hindsight, this probably isn't the optimal order of exercises. Felt an awesome stretch in the hamstrings which would probably be most beneficial after all the leg work is done. Right?

Lunges - 3x6

Damn you, bilateral exercises. It seems mentally easier to think as 'lunge left' and 'lunge right' as separate exercises that you're supersetting rather than two halves of one bitch of a set, somehow.

Abs

Just did cable crunches and Pallof Presses.

A solid day's work. Music of the day: High on Fire. There are about 3 riffs in this tune which sound like heaviest thing in the world.


#5

Bench - Work up to 3 rep max

Ok, this is the first time when I've felt that lack of technique really holding me back. The setup wasn't as solid as I'd like, unracking was as if I'd never done it before, and the bar path was all over the place. As a result, the bar felt heavy as fuck, and I was very very weak on the lift. Did some extra work trying to ingrain the pattern. But this is going to require some extra attention.

Overhead Press - 5x10

Nothing special, got the work done, I love overhead pressing. It doesn't love me back: I suck at it, but that's ok, cause it feels awesome.

Pullups - 5 x max reps

I got 21. Bodyweight. Not good, not as bad as I'd feared. I'm going to aim to get at least one extra rep overall week-by-week.

Arms and Upper Back

Circuit of curls, pressdowns and facepulls. Three times around.

Music of the day: Queens of the Stone Age. I think the new album is magnificent.


#6

Power Snatch - Work up to 3 rep max

These were just fine. Nothing spectacular.

Deadlift - Work up to 3 rep max

I am trying to be conservative with my weights right now, but I felt strong on these, so I indulged myself.

Squat - 5x10

Heavier weight than last week. Still pretty easy, and very tempting to bump it again next week.

Abs

The AC was broken in my gym, and Chicago is disgustingly muggy right now. I made it through two sets of hanging leg raises and blast strap fallouts before I called it. Not bad though.

Music of the day, cause at heart I'm just a 90s rocker:


#7

Overhead Press - Work up to 3 rep max

Always fun. These felt decent - managed to figure something out about keeping tight, which definitely helped.

Incline Press - 5x10

Dear God, do my triceps suck. But they were much more solid.

DB Row - 5x10

Getting better - actually had to bump up the weight in order to feel it in my lats, which is encouraging.

Arms and Upper Back

Keeping it simple, doing a circuit of curls, pressdowns and facepulls.


#8

I like this workout, as it can be done entirely in one power rack.

Squat - Work up to 3 rep max

I've definitely gone back to squatting much more readily than any other exercise. Worked up to a decent weight for three.

Lunges - 3x6

I've decided to throw in one pull-up every time I finish a leg set. Get to get a tiny bit of extra work in. The weight on these is too light, will have to be bumped for next week.

RDLs - 3x10

Swapping the order of these exercises from my original plan does have some of those DC style benefits of stretching the pumped muscles, but as these get heavier, lower back might start being a limiting factor.

Abs

Pallof Presses, Cable Crunches, then done.

What we have here is a perfect squatting song. 2 minutes of brutal aggression to psyche you up, then you unrack the bar as the slow, dirty groove hits. Destroy the set, then fling the bar off your back and bellow "FOR I AM THE LORD OF THE DEAD"


#9

Bench - Work up to 3 rep max

Still lame. But I had read Jim Wendler's cue of "squatting the weight up" recently, and this helped a lot. Taking a big belly full of air and getting really tight made the drive much more solid, and as a consequence, the bar felt less like a demented butterfly trying to get away from me.

Overhead Press - 5x10

I'm supersetting this and pull-ups from now on. No need to waste time. The weight on this needs to be bumped next week.

Pullups - 5 x max reps

Hallelujah, 22 reps. Actually really wasn't that bad. Broke it up into 5, 5, 5, 4, 3. Adding an extra rep on the end of that isn't going to be an issue.

Arms and Upper Back

The old faithful combination: curls, pressdowns and facepulls. Triceps are a weak point, so I might figure something different out on this for next week.

I just discovered Truckfighters. Ridiculous name, but fun stuff:


#10

Power Snatch - Work up to 3 rep max

Meh, ok this week. I'll admit I'm no master technician at Olympic Lifts, but it gets me thinking quick and explosive going into...

Deadlift - Work up to 3 rep max

These felt strong. Deadlifts have always been my strongest suit, so much so that in the past I've been worried about them running away from my other lifts (in hindsight, why did I ever think being stronger was something to worry about?) It seems that my squats and deads are roughly progressing at the same rate right now, which is fun.

Squat - 5x10

A much more challenging weight for this week, but it still felt good. I guess if anything was going to come back strong, I'm glad it was the squat.

No Abs today. Going home to read the Beyond 5/3/1 e-tome. Man is it a wealth of training knowledge and ideas, but man is it unfocused and difficult to digest. Well worth putting some time into.


#11

First update in a while, but have been training hard in the interim. Now I'm back new and improved with numbers!

Bench

Bar x a bunch
95 x 5
135 x 5
155 x3
175 x 3
185 x 3
195 x 2 - could easily have hit a triple, but have bigger fish to fry
205 x 1
215 x 1 - went up just fine. You know when you're doing a ME bench, and a tiny droplet of saliva shoots directly upwards due to the tension, and it slowly, inexorably drifts back down onto your face? Well, I managed to catch my spotter right in the eye with mine. Brave man, hit in the line of duty.

Overhead Press - 5x10 supersetted with
Pullups - 5 x max reps

85 for all OHP sets. Nothing too difficult, tempting to go to 95 next week, but I think I've got at least one more sessions I can usefully milk this weight for.

Pullups = 6,5,5,5,5 for a total of 26. Again, fairly easy. And again, tempting to bump up the reps for next week, but this one extra a week deal seems to be working fine.

Arms and Upper Back

I supersetted pinwheel curls with overhead extensions. Major forearm pump, and overall triceps pump. This is a good combination that I'll be keeping around for a while. I followed this up with 50 rear delt flyes, done in two sets. A masochistically pleasant end to a positive session.


#12

I ditched the power snatches. A tweaked lower back a couple of weeks persuaded me that I don't really know what I'm doing with these to do them productively/safely at higher weights. So instead, I did some jumps during my mobility routine. 5 sets of 3. Felt great, looking forward to building these up.

Deadlift - Work up to 3 rep max

135x5
185x5
225x3
275x3
295x3
315x3 - this was no trouble at all. I then decided to see what pulling singles was like - it's been a while:
335x1
355x1
375x1 - I honestly feel like I could have doubled this if I had really needed to. I can't be too far away from 405, which is awesome.

Squat - 5x10

5x175 - Nothing to see here, just gettin the work done.

Dropped the mic, shouted PEACE, and walked out.


#13

TNation keeps swallowing my damn posts. Let's try again.

Overhead Press

Bar x Many
65 x 5
85 x 5
95 x 3
105 x 3
115 x 3
125 x 3 - This is a current PR, and it felt smooth.
135 x 1
145 x 1 - Last week this was a fucking grinder; this week it was slowish; next week snappy?

Incline Press

5x10x125 - Pec pump ahoy!

DB Row

5x10x75

Arms and Upper Back

Triple set of curls, pushdowns and facepulls


#14

Squat

Bar x A bunch
135 x 5
185 x 5
225 x 3
255 x 3
275 x 3
295 x 3
315 x 3 - Another current rep PR, reasonably happy, except for the fact I drifted a little far forward on the last
335 x 1 - Again, drifted forward a touch, but a PR is a PR. Even had a little left in the tank.

Lunges

3x6x175, supersetted these with abs. Why waste time in a dirty, swelteringly hot underground gym?

RDLs

3x10x175, again supersetted with abs. The weight was on the easy side, next time 185 for the assistance.


#15

Bench

Bar x undefined amount
95 x 6
135 x 6 x 2
155 x 3
175 x 3
185 x 3
195 x 3 - I revisited last week's bench post, and decided that I should probably get 195 for the triple as a max rep set. No real problems getting it
205 x 1
215 x 1 x 2 - Much snappier than last week, so I racked it, waited 30 seconds and did it again for good measure. 225 is for sure in my sights.

OHP

5x10x85 supersetted with....

Pullups

6,6,5,5,5

This sucked tonight. It was hot, I'd put a lot into benching, and everything felt heavy. Especially hauling my fat ass up to the bar. Got it done though.

Arms upper back

French press and pinwheels supersetted. Then 2 x 25 rear delt flyes. These suck, but the pump don't lie.


#16

Deadlift

135 x 8
185 x 5
225 x 3
255 x 3
285 x 3
305 x 3
335 x 3 - even triples feel unnatural on the deadlift, I much prefer pulling singles. But this was ok.

Squat

5x10x175 - These were too easy, I'm graduating the weight next week. I superset these with...

Shrugs

5x12x135 - Ever since I took out the snatches, I've been looking for a way to get in some extra upper back work. It slots in well with squats; if you've ever done 5x10 squats even with ~50% of your max, you'll know how sapping it is, and I don't think I could do abs in between sets. So lightish, high rep shrugs with a one second pause at the top are the order of the day.

Abs

3x12 superset of cable crunches and deadbugs

Tool is generally a terrible band to lift to, but this is an exception.


#17

I'm gonna do a current/future goals post. My top lifts have been:

Squat: 335
Dead: 375
Bench: 215
Press: 145

At the moment, my progression model isn't exactly well planned out - it's basically working up to a weight higher than the previous week, or doing extra reps at a top weight, or getting a rep PR. I understand that making this up on the day isn't 100% optimal, but it's working for now.

So unless I stall out (which is very possible), I am looking to get to weights of:

Squat: 365 (+30)
Dead: 405 (+30)
Bench: 235 (+20)
Press: 155 (+10)

I feel like this is appropriately conservative - none of my max lifts have been truly 100% max effort, and I haven't taken a deload in a while.

After achieving this, I'll move onto 5/3/1 with those numbers as my absolute maxes, and having some fun with some Joker sets and brutal rest/pause techniques. Also, at some point I'm going to have to get my conditioning up to par.


#18

Press

Bar x some
65 x 5
85 x 5
95 x 3
105 x 3
115 x 3
125 x 3
135 x 1
145 x 1 x 2
135 x 1

Incline press
5x10x125

DB Row
5x10x75

Arms Upper back
Curls, pushdowns, facepulls x 3


#19

Squat

Bar x lots
135 x 8
185 x 5
225 x 3
255 x 3
285 x 3
305 x 3
315 x 3
335 x 1
355 x 1 - This is where lack of training partner hurts me: depth was just borderline. I think I hit parallel, but when you're busting out a PR, it's hard to say.

Lunge

3x6x185
supersetted with decline situps 3x12

RDL

3x10x185
supersetted with rollouts 2x12

Assistance suuuucked today. Everything felt heavy, but I got through it. Only 10lbs off my squat goal though. Bench is going to be the asshole who is last to get there, isn't it?


#20

Bench

Bar x Lots
95 x 5
135 x 5
155 x 5
175 x 5
185 x 3
195 x 2
205 x 1
215 x 1
225 x 1

OHP

5x10x90

superset with...

Pullups

6,6,6,5,5

Arms

Pinwheels French Presses x 2