This Sh*t is Hard, and Sometimes I Suck

So. Lots of lifting and moving has gone on since last I posted, and I’ve been remiss in documenting the former on this blog. Apologies to the ten of you who read it–I will now return to documentation and discussion with zeal and high levels of disdain for such things as crossfit (not worth capitalizing) and guys who stare at me like I’m an alien in the gym.

Today’s work was rough. Bench is my weakest lift, and I had a higher-volume day that I’ve had before at a somewhat higher weight for said volume. I was supposed to do the last two of my five sets of bench at 105 pounds, first for five reps and then for as many reps as possible (the assumption being I can do more than five at this point). Did I do five reps on that fourth set? No. Did I do five reps on the fifth set? Freaking no. It’s a crappy feeling to fall short one the expectations one has for a given workout, and I haven’t had it happen this badly since I failed at 155 squat doubles months ago (have been able to manage those since, by the way).

Four reps. Here’s me on that fifth set, demonstrating my ability to fall short:

So this is the part where I should write something reflective and thoughtful about every lifting session not going perfectly, that I’m just coming off a meet, etc. etc.; I’m going to save that for some point in time at which I feel like being positive-er, and that time is not now. It’s fine, but today’s lifting work was extremely discouraging. I know that SO much about my bench is very weak. My arm length makes the amount of distance I have to move the weight during bench press pretty high, especially compared to those who do not have long humeri. I’m going to have to train around this issue and overcome it. That’s obviously not going to happen overnight, and I must be content to sit through a long trajectory of workout sessions to see improvement. Here’s something I’m better at than bench: pull-ups. I have started doing weighted pull-ups, tucking a dumbbell between my legs and then performing the lift. It’s fun and I look forward to improving/strengthening with these.

I’m just going to stop with this blog post here. I have spent the last 48 hours either cleaning the apartment I just moved out of/moving final crap or working out. I’m tired. Screw all of it–including my humeri.

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My Freaking Nemesis and What To Eat

Two things today:

1. I kind of suck at bent-over supinated-grip rows and have decided that, for the moment, they are my nemesis. Here’s me doing 115 for 11. Watch my face REALLY closely at the end of this set and you can just read the “god damnit” in it.

That said, I’m getting back into more regular training intensity as the week goes on. Today felt quite good and I was relatively strong at most lifts.

2. I get asked about dieting/nutrition/how to lose weight/what I eat a lot. If not a lot, at least a moderate amount, and probably way more than the average individual gets asked these questions. I thought I’d copy and paste what I feel to be the most basic response to all nutrition-related queries in my blog. If you disagree with this, I welcome your comments/input:

I suggest you stop looking for shortcuts in fad diets. Go old school. Brown rice, chicken, fish, vegetables (starches don’t really count here), olive oil, greek yogurt or cottage cheese, nuts (not salted and definitely not sweetened), egg whites. There you go.

Here’s the deal–it’s boring. Eating this way is boring, it’s ridiculously easy, and I suspect both of these elements of a cutting/low body fat percentage maintenance diet are the reason people look for something else–they get bored AND they think eating optimally is probably this massively complex endeavor so one of these crazyass diets MUST hold the answer, because there’s no way they’re ever going to figure the complexity out. Give yourself more credit than that. If you want to shed weight and/or be really lean, you’re going to have to suffer through a boring diet. Have cheat meals once in a while and deal with it. You can’t really have it both ways, honestly. This species’ metabolism isn’t wired that way.

So there you go, public service announcement regarding diet. Get over Whole30, paleo, atkins, whatever the hell. If you want a really lean body with high amounts of muscle, eat like a damned bodybuilder and be done with it. I get appreciably sick of the endless fads and debate on the subject.

And I will add that I do not find what I eat from day to day boring. I like it, therefore I’m happy to eat it. And I have occassional “cheat” meals (I often do so not to cheat but to get in a calorie surplus, which my body seems to like to train under periodically).

Going Not-All-Out: In the Wake of a Meet

I’m holding myself back. This entire week, I’m operating under a mindset that’s typically antithetical to the manner in which I think of my training. While normally I would approach a workout session with what amounts to something like a “balls out” mentality, in the week following a meet, this isn’t an incredibly good idea. As some of you may know, it’s typical to take most of the week prior to a meet off from lifting. I did a light workout on the Tuesday and Wednesday before this past Saturday, but for about seven days, that was it. My body has gotten relatively used to the three days on, one day off workout schedule, and the extra time to recover from months straight of training certainly gave me a boost on meet day. The problem with training near-daily, steadily, week after week, month after month, and then giving it a week’s break and pushing for multiple PRs after that week’s break is that your body gets a little out of whack. Not only are you worn out from your efforts on meet day, you haven’t trained for days on end and your body has settled into the luxury of this fact to the extent that you feel it once you get back in and start doing work again.

So I’m holding myself back and going at things at 75-85%. Most things. The upper body accessory work (say, pull-ups, flat dumbbell bench) is perhaps a bit higher than that. I did my first squat workout since the meet yesterday and did 130 x 5 for five sets–on the last set I pushed out seven reps. The 75% of my one rep max that is 130 pounds felt good: the right weight to get my body used to working in higher volume again.

So I’ve got another few days of taking it easier, and then it’s back to roughing myself up as much as possible. Hopefully more than has been possible, as I’d like to improve most of my lifts by a good ten-fifteen pounds (more or less, depending on the lift) by the next meet, which I will need to work diligently to do.

Of course, closely tied to my workout efforts are my eating efforts, and even though I don’t have to weigh in again for months, it’s important that I watch my diet closely the next few months. Eating slightly more right now in order to promote lean mass growth is crucial, but I don’t want to go to the point where I load on body fat and have to struggle to take it off closer to the next meet. It’s far, far easier to maintain a lifestyle as a lifter in which one eats at a caloric surplus and just focuses on getting stronger; it’s goddamned sizably more difficult to work to increase strength while functioning on a diet that offers little to no surplus. As incendiary as the following assertion may be, powerlifters who attempt to stay closer to the weight at which they are required to be for lower weight classes are slightly more likely to earn my respect than those who don’t worry about it and just flop into whatever weight class their nutritional regimen, or lack thereof, lands them in. Do many incredible powerlifters do this? Yes, and I’m not saying this makes their totals or records any less impressive. But having to both diet AND train simultaneously for this sport at almost all times takes some serious freaking discipline. I have that discipline, almost to a detrimental extent–I did not need to weigh in at 111 WITH clothes on at this past meet’s weigh-in. Making weight deserves an entire blog of its own, but my goal to continue to compete and eventually excel in the 114 pound class means that I don’t have a large margin of error as far as my weight goes year-round.

On the plus side, this usually means I can see my abs to some degree, and hell, because they’re a bi-product of powerlifting, I might post Ab Update Pictures relatively soon. Because they’re kind of cool/constantly evolving and because I’m a jerk. I lift with a bunch of bros surrounding me–perhaps small chunks of their bravado have sunken in. Perhaps I’m the female Situation. And hi Dad, I know you’re reading this: The Situation is a reference to Jersey Shore, which I think I’m going to have to explain to you on the phone at some point.