T Nation

Chronicles of the Wolf


#1

Been lurking here for some time now, and I figured it was time to take the plunge and start a log.

Stats:
Height: 6’0”
Weight: 102kg (this actually fluctuates pretty wildly, but that’s not a bad estimate)

Recent maxes:
Front squat: 90kg
Overhead press: 50kg
Deadlift: 110kg

The first two were set about two weeks before Christmas. The deadlift was a bit earlier, maybe towards the beginning of November. The numbers are a bit low for my liking, but that’s why I’m here.

I keep a very comprehensive paper log, so I’ll probably only update here every week or so. Maybe a little more often. We’ll see what how it goes.

I’ll outline my current training plan, as well as some background, in the next post. Stay tuned.


#2

OK so before I start, I’m going to get a bit of rambling out of the way. Fair warning; this post is going to be long. You won’t miss much if you skip it, but it’s for my reference as much as anything else. It also just provides a bit of context for what I’m doing now for anybody who’s interested.

Training history -

Played sport as a kid, and through high school.

2012 – finished high school. At this point, I had never lifted, but always been active. Not ‘muscular’ by any stretch, but ‘athletic looking’ is probably a good way of putting it.

2013 – first year at uni. Spent the first half partying every weekend, eating way too much crap, stopped playing sport etc. I don’t know the numbers, but I undoubtedly gained fat and lost muscle during this period. Didn’t become massively overweight, just stopped looking athletic and started looking like a marshmallow.

Circa July/August 2013 – realised I couldn’t go on the way I was. I’d been walking past the campus gym on my way to class every day, so one day I actually stepped inside. Googled ‘how to lift weights’ or something equally moronic and was lucky enough to stumble on to T Nation. Never looked back.

October 2013 – Started my own bastardized version of a 5x5 program. This is when I started keeping a training log, so I can’t accurately comment on anything I might have been doing before then.

April 2014 – tore the EHL tendon in my right foot, had it surgically repaired, commenced a long rehab process. No squatting or deadlifting for 8 weeks, and then started with the empty bar and worked back up. The thing about this was that because I had been walking around in a moonboot type thing since my surgery, my hips were uneven. This meant I couldn’t hit depth when back squatting, so I tried front squatting and discovered that not only was it much easier to get to the proper depth, but the movement kind of felt ‘self correcting’ in the sense that my body almost had to sort its position out so it could actually complete the movement. On the other hand, I could just have kept grinding out uglier and uglier reps on the back squat until I did myself another injury.

Thanks to a good physio, my hips are pretty unfucked now. To this day though, I very rarely back squat. The front squatting is just a habit I never got out of – except throughout 2015 (keep reading)…

January 2015 – my university gym had to temporarily relocate due to construction work. They had very little space in the new location, so could only bring limited equipment. Somehow this meant I had access to a smith machine and a preacher curl rack but not a squat rack. They didn’t even bring a proper barbell with them (someone in the gym management hierarchy had really messed up priorities). I had to deadlift with an EZ curl bar. I also did goblet squats, kettlebell swings, and DB pressing from various angles.

I consider that two good things came out of this. Firstly, I started using the smith machine for hip thrusts. This turns out to be a really good idea that I might well not have stumbled on to otherwise. The second is that it really drove home to me that you can always find a way to train in a suboptimal environment. I spent that whole year with limited equipment, limited space, funny opening hours, inconvenient location and as many other things as I could find to complain about. But I made progress and I managed not to rip anyone’s head off.

In short: find a way. Not an excuse.

February 2015 – started playing football (soccer, if you prefer) again. I did pre season training the previous year, but then injured my foot and couldn’t play.

February 2016 – gym moves back into its proper location. I can finally (front) squat heavy (by my standards) again. At this point I was basically just doing 531, up until:

July/August 2016 – two surgeries in 5 weeks to repair an abdominal hernia. Once I got back into the gym I just radically lowered my training maxes on all my 531 lifts and went from there. I didn’t progress very fast, because it’s really taken me a while to feel confident in my ab strength. I’m getting there now though. This takes us up to when the gym closed for Christmas a month or so back. It reopened on January 9, which is when the current block of training started.


#3

Speaking of which:

January 2017 – decided to ditch 531 for a while in favour of an EMOM protocol. Everything about the way I’m training at the moment was pieced together from here

and here

I do one main lift per session – deadlift, front squat or overhead press. I do 2 reps per set for lower body and 3 reps for upper, per CT’s recommendation in the link above. I shoot for 12 EMOM sets with a given weight. If I get it easily, I increase the weight next session. If I fall short, or if I get it but it’s a real grind then I don’t. If I get fewer than 8 good sets, I decrease the weight next session. Pretty standard stuff.

So far I’m really liking it. I feel more technically solid on each of those lifts. I feel more explosive. And my conditioning has improved. Conditioning is something I’ve been neglecting since my operations last year, and it’s something that I’ll focus on in this log. That’s actually unlikely to mean more than a couple of sessions a week of hill sprints. Not sure whether or not I’ll play football this year, so no need to go nuts.


#4

Looks good, I’m in. I like to throw EMOM stuff in here and there too and used it quite a bit coming back from injury when I wanted to limit the amount of weight I was working with. Never thought about using it as the base for a program, interested to see what you and @furo think of it.


#5

@MaazerSmiit thanks man. Welcome along.

Yeah that’s partly why I’m doing it. Lowering 531 maxes is all very well, but takes a different kind of willpower to walk out of the gym feeling like the weights were too easy. I’m definitely avoiding that problem now haha


#6

Tuesday January 31 - Press
20kg x 10
30kg x 5
35kg x 4
about five sets of band pull aparts

WORK SETS:
42.5kg x 4 x 3 EMOM
40 kg x 8 x 3 EMOM
more band pull aparts

Had to drop the weight after the first few sets because I was really struggling to get the reps done. Last time I got ten sets at 42.5, but I was using quite a bit of leg drive by the end. Today the reps were all strict. Historically this lift has been extremely slow to increase for me, so I’ve taught myself to be patient with it.


Wednesday February 1 - Deadlift
60kg x 5
70kg x 4
80kg x 3
(superset with KB swings - 20kg x 4 x 10) That’s the heaviest kettlebell my gym has, unfortunately. I’ve been on that one for a while and I’m starting to feel like I could use a heavier one.

WORK SETS
87.5kg x 10 x 3 EMOM

I felt my form slip a little on the last set, so I called it a day. Good intensity here. I weighed myself after I was done and I came in at 99.8kg, which is down from 102 point something yesterday. The only explanation is that I was sweating buckets by the end of the session.


#7

Almost every big pull I’ve ever done has been in a wolf shirt.

Welcome!


#8

@twojarslave That’s no coincidence. Wolf power is a very real thing. Thanks for stopping by man :slight_smile:


#9

Good to see you finally starting up a training log.

Im interested to see how you go on your program. This is something I would like to try once I get rid of a few of my niggling injuries.

IMO, conditioning once a week is probably sufficient, unless you have some more specific conditioning goals. How long and steep is the hill that you use? I love hill sprints, but Im waiting until my back is a little better before I start doing them again. Do you have access to a sled? Skipping rope?

Uncle Bird.

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#10

My only conditioning goal at the moment is to not get out of breath when I walk up the moderately long and steep hill between two of my regular haunts, which I’m ashamed to say has happened more than once in the last six months. I’ve almost settled on not playing football this year, particularly as pre-season training has already started.

I can’t see myself not playing sport, but it’s probably just going to take the form of showing up to the casual handball/basketball/football/volleyball/badminton sessions that my uni gym puts on every week. I want to start boxing again too, but right now my abs still feel a little too delicate for me to be hit in the stomach. So that might have to wait a little.

The hill I use is um… somewhat long and somewhat steep. I honestly don’t know. I tend to measure things in terms of football fields (I’m sure you can relate) - at a guess the section I run is about thirty metres, and steep enough that 10-12 back to back sprints was a challenge even when I was at peak fitness (at one point I became a sucker for punishment and started bear crawling rather than walking down the hill between sprints).

I don’t have access to a sled. I do have a skipping rope, which I use every day. I don’t count it as conditioning, or even record it, though, because I rarely do more than five minutes and I don’t necessarily push my heart rate up too much. It’s just practicing being light on my feet.


#11

Man, I already love your for this choice of lifts


#12

Yeah I’m not a huge fan of the bench press for some reason. I’m not a powerlifter, so I see no reason to do it. The closest I come is the occasional set of DB floor presses. And I incline bench sometimes.


#13

Mooooore reps!


#14

You are quite tall, so you probably have longer limbs like myself.

I have always found dB bench press on a slight incline feels good.

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#15

Im considering doing some skip rope myself?

Do you do it as a warm-up?

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#16

The thing is that I do KB swings as a ‘primer’ exercise (a concept I stole from Jim Wendler, although he probably wasn’t the first to use it) - i.e. an explosive version of the movement pattern employed in the main lift for that session. 10 reps is probably already too high for that purpose. Too many more and I risk turning it into a conditioning exercise that serves no purpose other than to fatigue the muscles I need for deadlifting (or squatting).

I think I might try them one handed. By all accounts, that’s a pretty humbling adjustment to make


#17

I highly recommend it, for what that’s worth. I’m surprised you didn’t pick up the habit in your pro football days. I can’t quite explain the change that happened when I started jumping rope regularly, but it seems to have a magical effect on agility/atheticism.

I’d start out slowly, though, especially since you have a dodgy left ankle IIRC? It’s said to be pretty high impact if you’ve never done it before.

And no I don’t do it as a warm up. The first reason for that is that every time I fold my rope up to put it in my gym bag, it takes ages for the kinks to work themselves out and I keep tripping over it in the meantime. I prefer to just store it by hanging it over a rafter in the garage.

The other reason is that it’s specifically forbidden at my gym for the stupidest imaginable reason - the ceiling (so I’m told) is too low, and it would set the the sprinklers off. Anyway, that’s moot because finding the floorspace for it would be damn near impossible.


#18

Anyway, enough about stupidly designed gyms that don’t allow skipping ropes or stock heavy enough kettlebells. Onto today’s training:

Friday February 3 - Squat (in future, the ‘front’ will be taken as read)
40kg x 7
50kg x 5
60kg x 3

Superset with 1 Arm DB Split Cleans* - 17.5kg x 3 x 3 per side

WORK SETS:
70kg x 6 x 2 EMOM

This was not a good session. It was sweltering hot outside, so I only did a perfunctory warm up (I don’t think that was what caused the problem). I felt pretty good through the ramp up sets, then the first attempt at the working weight I was overcome by lightheadedness and wound up dropping the bar. Took a few minutes to gather my wits and tried again. Managed those six sets easily enough, making sure I took a mouthful of water between each of them. Then I attempted and failed a seventh, which was basically just a repeat of the first attempt.

I spent several minutes wondering why I was putting up such a shitty performance, then realised I hadn’t eaten anything except not quite a whole can of tuna in the last 18 hours. The heat and possible slight dehydration didn’t help either (I was already drenched in sweat when I took the first attempt at 70). This is actually the second time in as many weeks that this has happened, and last time it was similarly caused by insufficient food, I think. I can’t let that happen again. Funnily enough, that’s only ever a problem with squats. If lack of food has an effect on my deadlift or press, it’s extremely small.

I had planned to do some core work, but I decided to ditch that in favour of a swim in the ocean. I feel a hell of a lot better now. I think I made the right call.

*Nowhere near as complicated as the name implies. Regular DB clean, but landing in a split stance with the opposite leg forward. It’s possible they go by another name, which anyone is welcome to enlighten me on.


#19

Yeah, I used to do this - sets of 3 on the 40kg superset with the first few warmup sets on squats and pulls. I like it. If 15-20 reps would be easy for you to do, then I don’t think it’d do any harm - would definitely aid conditioning, and get you loosened up a bit, but at your current strength you might be right that it could be fatiguing. 1 hand swings is a good shout.


#20

Thanks man. Yeah I think you’re right about that. The other option is upping the reps, but switching it to the end of the workout. Recently I’ve been rotating KB swings with power cleans as a deadlift primer, so I’d be left with just power cleans - which probably wouldn’t do me any harm. It would mean more frequent technique practice anyway.

The other thing that occurred to me was dumbbell swings. Anyone have any experience with those?