Moving On Up: New Bench PR

Just benched 125 lb today, with a weigh-in of 111 even this morning. It was damned fun. And a rather intense storm was going on outside the gym during this event, which I take as a good omen for the meet. Actually, I don’t believe in omens, but I like storms, so what the heck. I’ll throw that in today’s blog for the hell of it.

Squatting tomorrow; I had been having a bit of trouble with a hamstring I stupidly tweaked during glute-ham raises but I did a squat and deadlift session with it feeling gimpy a few days ago and it held up fine. I was worried about doing so but have been learning that I have to feel out how to train smart around pain, that small strains periodically happen when one is pushing oneself to a higher physical level, and that the rule “if it doesn’t hurt, do it” is probably the smartest one to follow when it comes to judging whether one should lift with a certain ache or not. Squatting did not hurt the hamstring in the slightest, nor did deadlifting, and I did multiple sets of 215 x 3 that day. You don’t progress by being unduly afraid of injury–if you listen to your body/intuition when something gets taxed to the point of strained muscle fibers, you can still train. In the case of my hamstring, I plan on not doing too many hamstring-specific lifts in the final rounds of lifting before the meet on the 14th; the (mostly) rest week I take before the meet will give it time to further heal too. That said, I can’t feel anything wrong in my hamstring at this point and even ran up part of a hill on the way home from the gym without thinking when I started to get poured on. It’s typically not a good idea to get overzealous if one is coming off of tweaking a certain portion of one’s body, but my intuition says this issue is resolving nicely. And I worried ridiculous amount over it for nothing. Again, learning to be done here. I’ve got a magnet on my refrigerator that says “worry is like a rocking chair; it will give you something to do, but it won’t get you anywhere.” Apparently I don’t spend enough time staring at my refrigerator door.

First Competition, 2.5 Weeks Out

I just got my receipt for my entry fee for the NASA Grand Nationals taking place July 14th. Translation: Oh. Shit. This is happening.  I weigh in the night before at 7 pm, so staying overnight in Des Moines will be a necessity. Oooooh, a hotel stay! Given how rarely I escape my little city and its university-dominated economy, I am excited about this. The fact that I’m excited about going to Des Moines, Iowa is a sad state of affairs indeed. Oh, Iowa…it’s been an experience marked mostly by banal farmscapes, slow drivers, and incomprehensibly bad snow management.

This meet is really about getting psychologically adjusted to the experience of competing in powerlifting more than it is about my numbers and total. I’ve only been training for it since April–hardly enough time to build the kind of strength I’m probably capable of. There is another meet in October that I hope to enter; between now and then, my training may progress significantly. That’s what I’m hoping for at this point, anyway.

So, there you have it, an incredibly short entry to report that there’s no going back now. I have managed to officialize my status as competitive athlete, and plan to further legitimize my claim to said title in the coming months. If I had been informed that this would be my future physical reality/identity five years ago, I imagine I would have been incredulous. I mean, hell, this is the amount of muscle we were working with around that point in time:

I used to really like this dress. Someone should have put a bolt on the door of the closet that housed my dresses back then, ugh.

So, onward. Rows, Chin-ups, pull-ups, facepulls, other stuff today. Couldn’t have done any of THAT back in 2007 or 2008.

Visuals, Visuals, Gorilla Arms

First! Pictures of the cheat meal I had a few evenings ago. Small, crappy pictures, but worth posting/discussing in brief anyway:

I ate half an order of onion rings (split with Kyle; thank you, Kyle, for so valiantly agreeing to stomach some of these), a large piece of salmon and black been succotash (with some kind of green sauce, observe the picture there), and cake and ice cream. And then I completely passed out when we got home. I don’t know what it is about these monthly extravagant cheat meals, but basically, I eat them and FALL ASLEEP. They are drugs, these Epic Cheat Meals.

Today it’s back to the normal diet. Basically, I periodically go out for a huge meal like the above and feel very little guilt about doing so. You know why? Because these meals are periodic–like once a month. Once I have one, I feel rather satisfied for a while. No need for onion rings for another few weeks, I think.

Yesterday’s workout involved my continual efforts and learning how to bench press correctly. My proportionately very long arms–particularly my long humeri–are a disadvantage in bench, and you can see me attempt to compensate for my problematic leverage if you watch me perform a set:

So I don’t usually do this while benching, but for some reason I decided to mess around on that fifth rep there. I have NO idea what I was doing. Kyle and I discuss this ridiculous move at the end of the video–ie, he makes fun of me and I laugh. Yeah, yeah. Having long arms means bench isn’t as efficient a movement for me as it might be for others with a shorter reach. As a reminder, I’m 62″ tall with a 68″ reach–I do not have short arms. I’m still trying to figure out how to make the benching movement as efficient as possible based on grip width, elbow position, setting up on the bench correctly (this is a big one), and other variables. I’ll get there.