Monthly Archives: November 2014

Events Saturday: Monster News

GOOD THINGS are coming to Genesis Bentley. The custom-built Monster dumbbell which has been in production for nearly 6 months is, I am told today, due to arrive by the end of the year. I’ve written about this dumbbell in the past; it’s intended for Asha to use, so is a little lighter than the stock dumbbell this eastern-states manufacturer usually makes. It should be around 30-35 kilos, unloaded. And it can be loaded with 8 inch plates, up to I’m not sure how heavy. I’m really looking forward to using it myself, since my failed attempts to construct a serviceable one from the 10 kilo plates in the poser room and an Olympic dumbbell handle, a pair of which I brought in to test out with my Fat Gripz. It didn’t go as planned.

The hole in my neck has not healed up completely; I noticed after my squat session it had opened up again, and since I’ve finished the course of antibiotics and it’s acting like it might want to get infected, I thought it best not to do Yoke today. Instead I caught up on the pulling I should have done on Thursday.

I am going to continue using Axle over barbell more frequently, if not all the time, and pulling from the floor. Today, everything felt great. I just hope I can hit volume with it next week, when I try 4 x 4 @ 240.

Deadlifts w/Axle, from the floor
70 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5
170 kgs x 3
220 kgs x 3
270 kgs x 3 TPR w/belt

Overhand BB rows
100 kgs x 8
110 kgs x 6
120 kgs x 5
125 kgs x 8

DB front raises
left: 20 kgs x 10, 17.5 kgs x 10, 15 kgs x 10
right: 20 kgs x 10, 17.5 kgs x 10, 15 kgs x 10

Press Wednesday: a Quarter Pain a Third of a Brain & Half Asleep

THE BATTERIES are running down and it’s starting to show. I’m needing more caffeine in the afternoon to stay awake and focussed. I was contemplating skipping tonight, but I’ve done way too much of that lately. As exhausted as I felt (and evidently was, based on my efforts under the bar), I made it in and did some work.

Something I have to probably drop is the dumbbell side raises. They aggravate my injured shoulder significantly. The pain is similar to what I used to experience when I attempted dips again, some time after the surgery. I will either have to stick to very light weights (which, after a certain point, will become pointless), or scrap it for something else.

My knees were still a little angry from my unintentionally heavy squats on Monday, so I stuck to strict pressing only with the log. My forearms have also been bugging me, but nothing serious. I couldn’t tell at first if it was tendon strain or just some timely DOMS. I also experienced a gym brain moment, and loaded a 10 on one side of the bar for skull-crushers, and a 15 on the other. I swear I held it above my head and stared it, uncomprehendingly, for way too long.

Based on how I’m feeling now, it’s 50/50 whether or not I pull tomorrow night, or leave it for events training on the weekend, and use the axle. I’m contemplating pulling from the floor with it, too. Avoid screwing around, wasting time and resources building shit out of bumper plates.

Log press (strict)
65 kgs x 5
75 kgs x 5
85 kgs x 5
95 kgs x 5

Bench press
100 kgs x 3
130 kgs x 3
150 kgs x 2
100 kgs x 10

55 kgs x 10
55 kgs x 8
50 kgs x 9

DB side raises
left: 12.5 kgs x 2s x 10r
right: 12.5 kgs x 2s x 10r
left: 10 kgs x 10
right: 10 kgs x 10

Squat Monday: Orthotics FTW & Surprise PR

AS I SAID: it’s been a long time since I squatted on a Monday. It’s been a fair while since I squatted anything you might call heavy… and it’s been even longer since I’ve been able to do it with no pain. That’s why tonight’s effort is worth a technical PR.

I used my SBD knee sleeves for everything from 120 onwards, and only belted up for the final set. My equipment served me well… and so did my orthotics. I was surprised by this, as on previous occasions I had worn them they’d felt nothing but weird and wrong. Now, under a loaded bar, they seemed to actually be useful. They seemed to distribute more tension across both quads. They also forced me to use my toes differently to how I have been. I don’t know how much of this is engineered and how much is placebo but I’ll definitely stick with them for squats going forward: they all felt deep and strong.

After I’d rested, I actually felt like repping out something a little lighter, and dropped it back to 160. But I underestimated how beaten I was from the previous triple, and racked it after the first rep. My squat endurance has greatly diminished and this was, after all, my first serious squat session in months. Next week I’ll get some more reps happening.

Back to pressing on Wednesdays, and I’m looking forward to it. That’s something that hasn’t seemed to diminish; my bench strength. Overhead still sucks, but with the delt isolations I’m incorporating into my pull and press routines, that should improve. I know I’ve said that before… my OHP strength has been my biggest weakness, when my knees are behaving themselves. Previous routines have yielded small improvements, and I may have to accept that I will never have a strong overhead press. But benching is fun.

Squats w/axle
20 kgs x 8
70 kgs x 8
120 kgs x 5
160 kgs x 3
180 kgs x 3
*210 kgs x 3 w/belt PR

Overhand BB bent-over rows
100 kgs x 10
110 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 6

20 kgs x 20
20 kgs x 15
20 kgs x 11

*Upon further consultation with Gabor, for my final set I made a serious misload. I thought I was working up to 190, but he says my money set was 210 kilograms. Here’s what I do remember: I loaded 2 reds p/side for 120, added a blue for 160, then added greens for 180. I thought about putting the 5s on top of that, but then decided to swap out the lighter plates for more reds, making it 3 reds p/side… I don’t remember past that. So, if Gabor’s recollection can be trusted, and I loaded blues on top instead of greens… then I just hit what has to be a new personal record at that weight. This makes (before the first time my knees busted) 200 x 8 cambered bar, 230 x 2 cambered bar (the second time my knees busted), and now 210 x 3 axle/straight bar.

I hope he’s right.

The Death of Strongman Genesis Chapter

It’s about time I laid all this out.

The events I’m going to relive here for the sake of posterity are disheartening. Here is the first point I need to make, and it’s something I’ve stated and re-stated, not in my defence but deference: I am not a personal trainer. Yeah, because that means something. But I digress…

I wanted to build something at my gym and, for a little while there, it was happening: a ragtag bunch of fellas and one woman (my first trainee) were showing up each week and doing the program I set for them. And they were getting stronger. Ashleigh was always a free spirit and has since found several other exploits to occupy her time and energy. The guys joked around and shirked some sessions, but the majority were pretty devoted to the goal: they wanted to get actually strong. They wanted to compete. And they knew it would be some months before they were strong enough to do it.

dickheadThe day after the State Finals, word got back to me of a problem with my group. There was a sleazy element which was becoming an issue for some female gym-goers. While I had not witnessed the behaviour discussed first hand, I was aware of the puerile nicknames that a couple in the group had given each other, and the casual misogyny displayed by the same pair. So when more bad news was presented to me, I was forced to act.

Here is the second point I need to make, and it’s the most important one: while I am not a PT, I am a member of WA Strongman. That means a lot to me, and the reputation of WA Strongman means a lot to a whole bunch of people, including me. It is a business and a professional organisation, with a public face.

Some months earlier I had created a private group chat on Facebook for myself and my handful of aspiring strong/wo/men to communicate with each other. I used this private forum to send a non-specific warning to all members that the behaviour I had been informed about had to stop. The reaction to my stern diplomacy I can best describe as petulant. No names were mentioned, yet the suspects all but outed themselves by telling me to ‘get fucked’, et cetera, and leaving the group. It was a pathetic end to what might have been a fantastic new chapter of Strongman in this state. I was, briefly, in discussion with Genesis’ management regarding sponsorship for a fledgling  team in 2015. But when they learned of the sleazy behaviour they washed their hands of the whole affair.

This, combined with my sleep apnoea and old-lady knees, proved to be more than I could deal with. I quit training for nearly four weeks, as I’ve mentioned. During the time I took off, trying to gather my wits and deal with my own shit, for the most part, I was contacted by one of the belligerent ex-members of the group (which disintegrated in my absence) accusing me of using his newly-created ‘Strongman’ email account and making a fake Gumtree advert with his contact details… my motivation for doing this? To mildly inconvenience him. He’d apparently decided I was responsible for this because the Gumtree advert used better english than he did himself. Oh, and I was the only person, according to him, that he’d given the password for this email account to.*

I was almost bewildered… I first tried to explain to this special person that Gumtree scams were a common thing, and I really didn’t give enough of a shit about him to waste my time thinking of ways to mildly inconvenience him… but he persisted. Soon I got mad. I told him he was now harassing me; that he was an idiot (I used worse language) and he should’t approach me at the gym in future. While he continued his semiliterate protests and accusations, I blocked him on the social network.

The other members of the group were good people and I remain friends with them. I am still hopeful in the new year they will return to training and enter the novice comp in January. Tweedle-dumb and Tweedle-dumber are still circulating in the gym. One is pretending to know what he’s doing and the other is apparently asking everyone, including gym staff, where he can buy steroids.

So that’s that, really. I’m back to training more or less by myself, which suits me fine. I will use the time wisely and focus on my own training and development. And here is my third and final point: Genesis chapter died because a minority of members tarnished the reputation of WA Strongman and weren’t prepared to step correct. I will never turn away someone who genuinely wants to learn from me, or train with me, unless I have a real, real good reason for it.

*I looked up my archives and found the password: it was Strongman2014. Real cryptic.

Press Thursday, & the Finer Points of Spotting

MIXING days up coz there’s no reason why not. Tonight I did some predictably dissatisfying work with the log before moving on to bench. I wanted to bench conventional rather than attempt the board press, just to feel everything out. When I do begin board pressing again, I may end up switching back to Wednesdays, just so there’s more people around to assist. It’s not really achievable when training solo.

All the same, I had some doubts about my strength levels and thought it best to recruit the assistance of the first random gym-goer I saw in front of me as I loaded up 140. I didn’t get his name but if I see him again I’ll ask for it. I’ll also offer him some help with his unfortunate bent-over row form. He followed the few initial instructions I gave him well, but when it came time for me to, you know, press the bar… he wouldn’t let go of it. He wasn’t helping, but he wasn’t about to let go and back away so I could perform the movement correctly. My bad, I guess, for not providing this instruction too.

I’m going to squat Monday, for the first time in a long time. And I’ll be wearing my new orthotics when I do.

Log clean-press (strict)
65 kgs x 3
75 kgs x 3
85 kgs x 3
95 kgs x 3
105 kgs x 2, fail
95 kgs x 1, fail

Bench press
100 kgs x 5
130 kgs x 5
140 kgs x 5

50 kgs x 3s x 10r

DB side raises
left: 15 kgs x 8
right: 15 kgs x 8
left: 12.5 kgs x 8
right: 12.5 kgs x 8
left: 10 kgs x 10
right: 10 kgs x 10

3 1/2 Weeks Off

AND I finally feel like I have the energy to train again. The past few weeks have been harrowing and I’ve felt close to madness from sleep deprivation. It’s only thanks to allotting at least 10 hours of sleep every night over virtually all other activities for nearly a month that I feel as good as I do. Almost falling asleep at my desk in the afternoons has become a more and more common occurrence, and after work I am sapped. I took my sleeping pills maybe 20 minutes ago, and I should actually be in bed now. So let’s get on with this.

It’s wednesday, and I decided to deadlift. With one of the new Awesome As axles. Only I decided not to fuck around with height adjustments and just pull from the floor. Whether axle or barbell, it will only make me stronger.

I also topped out at 240, which (if I hadn’t abandoned my routine) would have been my money sets for a total of 5 x 5, four weeks ago. Thanks to the time off I knew I wasn’t going to hit that volume today. But 3 x 3 I felt was satisfactory – and all without a belt.

Deadlifts w/Axle
70 kgs x 5
120 kgs x 5 no straps
170 kgs x 1 no straps, 3
220 kgs x 1
240 kgs x 3 x 3

Hack Squats
80 kgs x 10
100 kgs x 8 – some twinge in right knee, but nothing eventuated
120 kgs x 10 PR

Bent-over BB rows (underhand)
100 kgs x 10
120 kgs x 8 – slipped on the 8th rep, again no straps used for these

DB front raises
left: 17.5 kgs x 10
right: 17.5 kgs x 10
left: 17.5 kgs x 8
right: 17.5 kgs x 8

I felt the quiet sting as the cuts in my shins opened up again, just a little, and it made me smile. I was back.