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TCam's Log - The Road to Elite

Focused - Week 18 - Day 2

Paused Squat w/ Belt:
1x405
1x455
1x475 - Much better than last week’s 455
3x5x405 - Benchmark PR for 5s

2" Conventional Block Pull w/ Belt/Straps - Stiff Bar:
3x6x495

A1 | DB Split Squat:
2x12/12x120

A2 | DB RDL:
2x12x135s

Seated Leg Curl:
15x140
12x160
10x160

Standing Cable Ab Pulldown:
3x12x110

Much better heavy single here today. Last week I tried to avoid hip pain by taking a narrower stance while warming up and it didn’t work well. This time I just stuck with my normal stance and did more hip warm-ups as the sets progressed. I was very solid during my usual sticking point, so I’m happy with it. Volume sets were tough, but I got through it.

Block pulls continuing to feel pretty good. Still keeping the lower RPE and not shooting for AMRAPs.

Focused - Week 18

Day 3

Mid-Incline DB Bench:
8x125s
2x6x125s

Tempo Bench (3:1:0):
6x3x275 - Alternating comp grip (middle fingers on rings) and medium grip (pinkies on rings)

A1 | Incline JM Press:
3x12x135 - Slow eccentric for progression this week

A2 | Machine Lat Pulldown w/ Angles90 Grip:
8x270
3x12x230

B1 | Landmine Press:
12/12x75
8/8x100 - Woof, very hard at this point in the workout

B2 | DB Spider Curl:
15/15x30
15/15x40

Cable Curl:
3x12x90

Duffin Upright Row:
2x12x60

KB Facepull:
2x12x60

This was tough. 125s did not feel as easy as expected compared to the 120s last week. I can feel the fatigue building a good bit, so I’m not expecting 130s next week. Only if I’m feeling great.

Tempo bench felt alright. Just a bit better than last week.

Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
3x1x585 - Not good, fatigueeee
2x5x495 - Paused, hard

SSB Pin Squat w/ Belt:
6x3x340

Belt Squat + KB Goblet:
10x180+35
6x270+35 - KB needs to be heavier for balance
2x15x180+60

HS Low Row:
3x12/12x180

Seated Hamstring Curl:
15x120
15x140 - Cue cramping

Not a great couple of days here unfortunately, but we’ll see if my little autoregulated deload for this day helps for week 3. I had precisely zero power off the floor for sumo, so I just tried to practice positioning for a few heavy singles. Didn’t really work lol. SSB and belt squats were okay-ish though.

Focused - Week 19

Day 1

Tempo Bench (3:3:0):
1x365 - Normal tempo/pause, not easy enough for 385 today
2x3x315
6x315 - Not counting as a PR, last rep was not as on-tempo

Machine Dips - Plate Loaded:
12, 12, 15 x 230

HS Iso-Row:
2x12x320

Machine Preacher Curl - Plate Loaded:
2x15x70

Incline Cable Curl:
20x40
15x50
12x60

Band Overhead Triceps Extension:
20, 15 x 2 Lights

Band Rear Delt Fly:
25/25xMini

I wasn’t well recovered for this one or mentally prepared, just after a couple of long work days. Weight felt heavy and it didn’t move nearly as easily as the previous two weeks. Could have pressed 385, but since my goal was to make it more solid, I knew it wouldn’t feel the way I wanted. Reduced the 315 sets to triples and went for that PR on the third. I know I could do it easily on a more solid day at least.

Rest of the workout had a few exercises where I repeated the previous week and others I just went ahead and backed off.

Day 2

Paused Squat w/ Belt:
1x405
1x455
1x495 - 20 lb PR
2x5x405
8x405 @ RPE 8 - PR, surprisingly easy

2" Conventional Block Pull w/ Belt/Straps - Stiff Bar:
2x6x495 - Dropped a set for my low back’s sake

DB RDL:
2x15x140 - Goal achieved, solid and deep

DB Split Squat:
10/10x110 - Front foot elevated
15/15x110 - Normal

Seated Leg Curl:
2x12x160
8x160 + 6x120 + 8x80 - Drop set

Standing Cable Ab Pulldown:
2x10x110

Surprised by this one considering the last few workouts and the work week I’ve had. I knew I wanted to get 495 for a paused single, I just wasn’t sure if I could going in. It was definitely harder and not as solid as last week’s 475, but it got done and then I blasted up 405s. For sure had 10 in me on the last set.

Focused - Quick Catch-Up

Don’t remember all the specifics of the accessories over the last week, but here are the main points.

Skipped Day 3 of Week 19, feeling beat up and very unmotivated on the day. Haven’t done this in a long time, but it was necessary after a taxing week mentally and physically.

Week 19 - Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
1x635 - Not as easy as the double I did a couple of weeks ago
2x2x585 - Lumbar positioning shitty and painful

Paused SSB Squat w/ Belt:
3x340
3x390
4x3x340

Week 20 - Deload - Day 1

Paused Bench:
2x10x275

Plus machine OHP, pushdowns, and some row for a couple sets each for 20-25 reps.

Week 20 - Deload - Day 2

SSB Squat w/ Belt:
5x5x340

RDL w/ Belt/Straps:
2x8x405

Cable Standing Single Leg Curl:
2x15/15x60

A1 | Bulgarian Split Squat w/ Rear Foot Band Support:
2x20/20xBW

A2 | Weighted Planks:
3x0:30xBW+70

Dealing with some low back pain over the last week since around the last post or just before. Thinking the belt squats have something to do with it, since I was getting a lumbar pump, which is unusual for me. The belt forces me into lumbar extension, which I should have focused on getting back into my neutral position with bracing. It forces a traditionally “good” position, but it’s not within my current capacity to just let it be there and squat. The sumo during the workout following the 495 paused squat exacerbated it a bit.

I’m doing my own form of “rehab” for this. It’s basically presenting as moderate muscle guarding / spasms of the QLs, mostly on the left. So I load it and assess. SSB squats and RDLs felt okay, not great, and I still have some pain, but no more than before them. Going to keep taking it slightly easy on intensity and volume and do “corrective” work until it’s good. No more than 1 week probably.

Also dealing with that left hip pain again. Fixed it intraworkout by doing some isometric right hip external rotation at the bottom of a BW squat. I have pretty much corrected my inability to internally rotate on the left side, now I’m going to maintain that and start working more on my lack of ER on the right side.

"Focused" - Week 20 - Deload - Day 3

Incline Bench:
2x8x225

HS OHP:
3x8x140

Incline Overhead Triceps Extension w/ Rope/DB:
3x12x55

Lat Pulldown - Wide Semi-Pronated MAG Grip:
15x110
15x140
12x170

Some band drills for my low back

“Focused” in quotes because I’m not at all over the past few days. No big deal, just need to use this week and maybe next to chill mentally before hitting it again. Sometimes this mental wall just sort of comes with training and I’ve learned to accept it for what it is and not let it frustrate me while in the gym, otherwise it will last longer. I let it be a relaxed time for a week or 2 and then move on.

Focused - Week 20 - Deload - Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
5x3x495 - Practicing setup primarily

Squat w/ Belt:
3x315
2x3x365 - Back pain made this feel heavy
2x3x315

Squat Press:
2x12x540

Lying Leg Curl:
2x15x75

Weighted Planks:
3:0:30xBW+70

Having this back pain is making me really try to dial in the deadlift set up. I’ve cycled through different set ups throughout the years and I’m thinking this one I settled into today is probably the best. Get into full sumo position, pull out the slack, extend knees while keeping slack pulled, then sit hips back and down into position while continuing to pull slack out and then starting the pull as I get to the actual start position to break off the floor. Will keep practicing and hopefully have some good pulls to film with it.

Focused - Week 21 - Day 1 - Start of Wave 6

Paused Bench:
4x2x335
6x335 - Video here

Weighted Push-Ups:
20xBW+45
12xBW+90
12xBW+90 + 6xBW+45 + 6xBW - Drop set

A1 | Cable Low Row - Wide Semi-Pronated MAG Grip (Upper back focus):
2x15x180

A2 | Cable Triceps Pushdown:
2x12x120

B1 | Cable Lateral Raise:
15/15x40
15/15x50

B2 | Cable Single Arm Curl:
15/15x40
15/15x50

90/90 Hip Lift + Mini Crunch and Shoulder Blackburns at the end

Simple workout here with the focus being on the volume with heavier bench now. Removing a secondary open chain bench with the closed chain push-ups, hopefully keeping the shoulders and pecs feeling good. Pecs are quite sore following this regardless. 335x6 isn’t a PR, but closest ones are 345x6 @ 9 and 340x7 @ 9.5, so we’re nearing something.

Focused - Week 21

Day 2

Slow Eccentric SSB Squat w/ Belt:
2x390
1x430 - Wanted 2 here, but I kinda bitched out because of fear for my back
3x430 - So I did it again
3x3x390

RDL w/ Belt/Straps:
2x10x405

Cable Standing Single Leg Curl:
15/15x45
2x15/15x60

Bulgarian Split Squat w/ Rear Foot Band Support:
3x10/10xBW+70

Weighted Planks:
2 clusters of 3 x 0:15 on / 0:15 off x BW+70

Weighted Bear Stance w/ Leg Lift:
2x8xBW+70 - Just hands and knees position but on toes instead of knees, then lift one foot briefly, trying not to fall over. Progression will be to lift the contralateral hand as well. Then actual bear crawling slowly with weight (maybe, likely unnecessary)

Good day for getting over the fear aspect of this back pain. I work as a physical therapist in a spine clinic and I’m constantly telling my patients to not be fearful of movement. While I wouldn’t tell them to go squat double bodyweight with a bar that puts considerable stress on the back, it’s important aspect of my “prior level of function” as it relates to this pain. Sometimes it’s a matter of understanding that the pain isn’t damaging and that it may just take some time for it to leave. I just need to focus more on my positioning and bracing to feel confident under the weight and then there’s no real pain.

Day 3

Incline DB Bench:
3x12x105s

HS Iso-Row w/ Angles90 Grips:
2x12/12x135 - Standing w/ arm support on the seat, lat focus

A1 | Machine Preacher Curl - Plate Loaded:
2x12x75

A2 | Alternating DB Curls:
2x8/8x30s

Dips:
2x20xBW

B1 | Lying Crossover Band Triceps Extension:
2x15x2 Minis

B2 | Lying Crossover Band Rear Delt Fly:
2x25x2 Minis

This day for the wave is going to have lower intensity than the previous waves, due to the average intensity increasing on the main bench day. Not shooting for a particular goal on anything other than for this day to feel good and for it to support my next heavy bench day.

Focused - Week 21 - Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
2x1x545 - Real slow
3x5x405 - Slow concentric + Slow eccentric = Death

Squat w/ Belt:
3x315 - Very trash, hip and back telling me to drop it for the day

Unilateral Leg Extension:
2 x 10+8+6+4+3+2+1 per side alternating x 70

Lying Leg Curl:
10+8+6+4+3+2+1 per side alternating x 25 - Much harder than extension, no 2nd set

Squat Press:
2x12x540

In direct opposition to my last post, this day was just not telling me to keep going through the pain. 545 is my 10RM PR and I did it for a couple slow, shaky singles today. Positioning was actually alright and pain wasn’t excruciating or anything, but I wasn’t getting any power out of the bottom half of the movement. Sometimes pain inhibits strength and that’s what it seemed to be doing today.

The 405 sets were really tough. May be good for me in the meantime to focus on maintaining positioning and essentially not skipping over sections of the movement due to a lack of control.

Focusing some more on at-home rehab daily and we’ll see where we get.

Focused - Week 22 - Day 1

Paused Bench:
4x2x340
6x340 - Video here. About as hard as last week’s 335x6

A1 | Cable Low Row - Wide Semi-Pronated MAG Grip (Upper Back Focus):
15x160
2x15x190

A2 | Cable Single Arm Curl:
15/15x40
12/12x55 + 8/8x40 - Drop set
10/10x55 + 8/8x40 - Drop set

Weighted Push-Ups:
15xBW+90
15xBW+90 + 6xBW+45 + 6xBW - Drop set

B1 | Cable Lateral Raise:
15/15x40
2x12/12x55

B2 | Triceps Pushdown - Slow Eccentric:
3x12x125

Cable Rear Delt Fly:
2x20/20x35

Good bench day here. Reaching very close to 5 year old PRs. First 4 reps were really good, but I misgrooved the 5th and it made the 6th harder than it should have been. I will need to clean it up to keep the momentum going.

I won’t have the usual day 2 this week. I’m traveling for NYE and going to see how my back feels with a bit of extra recovery time without the squat or deadlift loading.

Focused - Week 22

Day 2

Skipped as explained above

Day 3

Incline DB Bench:
3x12x110s

HS Iso-Row w/ Angles90 Grips:
10/10x135
2x12/12x160

A1 | Machine Preacher Curl - Plate Loaded:
2x12x75

A2 | Alternating DB Curl:
2x8/8x30s

Dips:
2x25xBW

B1 | Lying Crossover Band Triceps Extension:
2x15x2 Minis

B2 | Lying Crossover Band Rear Delt Fly:
2x20x2 Minis

Happy New Year. I didn’t sleep well over the last two nights due to c h e m i c a l s, so I wasn’t sure how this would go and didn’t want to push into a potential injury. Still got an extra 5 lbs per DB on the 3x12 over last week, but otherwise it was pretty similar to last week in volume and intensity.

Focused - Week 22 - Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
3x3x495 - 1" blocks
3x3x495 - Normal

Squat w/ Belt:
3x5x315
2x5x315 - Paused

A1 | TRX Pistol Box Squat:
3x10/10

A2 | Single Leg KB Swing:
3x10/10x60

A3 | Staggered Lateral KB Swing:
3x10/10x40

A4 | Staggered KB Core Rotation:
3x10/10x20

The last 3 exercises were copying this post from Vernon Griffith to try some harder single leg variations and to start challenging myself in the frontal plane and see if that helps my hip issues.

Deadlift was okay as long as I braced hard. Back pain was low but still there. Same for squats.

Focused - Week 23 - Day 1

Paused Bench:
4x2x345
5x345 - Failed 6th, video here, notes below

Bent Over Barbell Row:
5x10x225

Weighted Push-Ups:
2x20xBW+45
15xBW+45

A1 | Lat Pulldown - Wide Neutral Grip:
12x120
12x160
12x190
12x210

A2 | Triceps Pushdown - Slow Eccentric:
2x10x135
10x110

Cable Crossover Lateral Raise:
12x35
2x12x50

Cable Crossover Rear Delt Fly:
3x20x35

Cable Curls - Reverse+Normal Grips:
2x15+10x80

Lying KB Shoulder Thing That I Don’t Have a Name For:
3x8x40 - Just a stability exercise

I haven’t failed a lift in a long-ass time, but here was one on that 6th rep. If I had stopped at 5, I would have called it RPE 8, because I was thinking mid-set that I may just go for 7. Then I hit a very sudden wall. I’m thinking this was some technical issue since the previous 5 reps felt great. Slightly early elbow flare maybe. Regardless, I’m happy that it moved so easily until then.

Did bent over rows to test my back a bit and start getting into that position more often. No issues.

Focused - Week 23 - Day 2

3 Ct Eccentric SSB Squat w/ Belt:
3x450 - 20 lb PR over 2 weeks ago, video here
3x4x390

RDL w/ Belt/Straps:
2x10x405

Squat Press:
2x12x540+2 Dbl Light
20x450 - Paused

Attempted Zercher Good Mornings:
Absolute trash do not recommend

Staggered Lateral KB Swing:
2x10/10x45

Nordic Hamstring Curl w/ Band Assistance:
4x6xBW-Mini

Taking this day off last week and adding in some of the frontal plane movements seems to have improved my back pain significantly. Still a little extension intolerance during bench, but no QL splinting now, even following this 3RM squat with the SSB, which had me pretty squished on the third rep.

I’ve never done Nordic hamstring curls for anything other than a one-off situation to try it out. I’m going to dedicate a few waves to them and see if I notice any improvements in strength/stability anywhere. Would love to be able to hit even a single controlled rep with no band assistance.

Focused - Week 23 - Day 3

Low Incline Feet Up DB Bench:
3x12x120s - Relative PR

HS Iso-Row:
10x360
10x360 + 8x270 + 10x180 - Drop set

A1 | Alternating DB Curl:
2x10/10x30s

A2 | Machine Preacher Curl - Plate Loaded:
12x80
8x80 + 4x80 + 8x55 + 8x55 + 8x55 - Cluster drop set, 30 sec between each

Dips:
30xBW
25xBW

B1 | Lying Crossover Band Triceps Extension:
2x20x2 Minis

B2 | Lying Crossover Band Rear Delt Fly:
2x20x2 Minis

Good day here. I decided to go with the low incline, but feet up to make it a little harder at least. Closest PR that I know of was the same low incline with 125s for 2x10. So arguably a PR or an equivalent today.

Focused - Week 23 - Day 4

Sumo w/ Belt/Straps:
4x3x495
10x495 - RPE…6?

Paused Squat w/ Belt:
5x5x365

A1 | TRX Pistol Box Squat:
3x10/10

A2 | KB Single Leg Deadlift:
3x12/12x70

A3 | Staggered Lateral KB Swing:
3x12/12x45

A4 | Staggered KB Core Rotation:
3x12/12x25

Nordic Hamstring Curl w/ Band Assistance:
3x5xBW-Mini

495 was feeling very good and weightless basically. Again, primarily needed to focus on bracing and there was no back pain. Some soreness again today, following this from yesterday, but not really pain. I decided to cap my pseudo-AMRAP at 10 regardless of how it felt and it was basically accelerating in speed and ease as I got to reps 6-7. Maybe had 15 in me, which would have been a match PR, so I know I’m at least good for pulling 495 no problem.

Squats felt solid too, with good control and nearly minimal hip pain. Going to continue focusing on the single leg movements to keep helping there.

Recap Wave 6: Not the best wave when it comes to deadlift, but the back pain is improving just slightly slower than I had thought. I can’t complain about squats since I hit 450 for a PR triple on the SSB slow eccentrics. PRs are 485x2 and 445x3 with a normal tempo and the significantly more comfortable EliteFTS SSB, so that was honestly great and I hope to continue that trend. Bench went well this wave too, getting me back to near PR levels with over 80% of my all-time 1RM. Just gotta get and keep the back healthy and keep being smart and I’ll actually hit some meaningful PRs in the coming months, I believe.

Focused - Week 24 - Deload aka Extension Intolerance

Paused Bench:
2x5x315
8x315 @ RPE 8

A1 | Overhead Press:
3x8x135

A2 | Push Press:
3x8x135

A3 | Bent Over Row:
16x135
2x8x225

Well this was dumb. Bench felt great. Did an AMRAP capped at RPE 8 which continued to suggest near PR levels (315x11) and then I wanted to do a somewhat easy remainder of the workout by doing some circuit things. But I didn’t consider my low back pain like I should have and it solidified the idea that my extension intolerance is what caused this pain. The overhead press and push press was just forcing that extension moment over and over and my QL spasm/splinting went yeeee and ended my workout suddenly.

Now, so what? I was trending up very well and handled it probably better than I have ever handled pain or an injury in the gym. This isn’t a soft tissue injury. It’s literally my brain responding to a position that I’m not conditioned for in some way. I’m not letting fear or pain keep me from moving. It will just suck for another few weeks. This is where actual discipline is needed.