Programming, Training

First Week of New Program/ Feb 20-26

Behind on Training Logs, so here’s a update for the week of February 20-26. This was my first week attempting to develop my own training program. Week 2 felt much better after some fine-tuning, and I’m looking forward to starting Week 3 tomorrow.

Mon Feb 20

  • Seated Barbell Military Press
    • 60 kg x 5 (3)
    • 65 kg x 5 (2)
  • Z Press
    • 50 kg x 4
    • 40 kg x 8 (2)
  • Superset Hammer Curls/EZ Bar French Press
  • Face Pulls
    • 20 x 3
  • Shoulder Flys
    • 12 kg x 12 (3)

Tue Feb 21

  • Front Squat
    • 40 kg x 5
    • 60 kg x 3
    • 80 kg x 3
    • 85 kg x 3 (3)
  • High Bar Back Squat
    • 90 kg x 8
    • 80 kg x 8
    • 60 kg x 8
  • Split Leg Squats
    • BW x 10
  • Superset Ab Roller Crunches/Hip Thrusters
    • 10/20 x 3
  • Back Crunches
    • 15 x 3

Struggling with squat depth, and I’ve started filming my lifts in order to police my form a little more rigorously. I have been stretching every night to try and open up my hip flexibility, and it is helping. Slowly but surely.

Thu Feb 23

  • Incline Bench
    • 40 kg x 5
    • 60 kg x 5
    • 70 kg x 8 (5)
  • Inverted Rows
    • 12 x 3
  • Lat Pulldowns
    • 15 x 3
  • Superset Hammer Curls/Tricep Ext.
    • 15/15 x 2
  • Plank 1 min x 2

Sat Feb 25

  • Farmers Walk (weight per hand, 25 m course, 2 lengths)
    • 57.5 kg x 2
    • 67.5 kg x 2
    • 77.5 x 2
      • dropset: 57.5 kg x 2
  • Farmers Pickups
    • 87.5 kg
    • 87.5 kg + 10 second hold
  • Log Press (32.5 kg log)
    • 52.5 kg x 3 (2)
    • 62.5 kg x 2
    • 72.5 kg x 1
    • 82.5 kg x 1
    • 72.5 kg x 1 (3)
  • Floor Press
    • 50 kg x 10
    • 80 kg x 5

Weighed in at 110 kg for my event day, which is a little more than I’d like to be. So I am focusing on incorporating more cardio into my active recovery, as well as increasing the intensity and volume of my training session. But besides being a little heavier, everything is feeling good.

Sat Feb 26

  • Conventional Deadlift (15 kg light bar)
    • 65 kg x5
    • 115 kg x 3 (5)
    • 120 kg x 1 (5)
  • Snatch Grip
    • 95 kg x 3 (4)
  • Stiff Leg
    • 65 kg x 5 (2)

Meant to do my deadlifts after I finished with Event training, but I was absolutely gassed, so I went back and did them the day after.

Recovery, Thoughts

Recovery Focus: Sleep

To me, training consists of 3 parts: training, recovery, and nutrition. All are equally important, and one cannot outpace the other two, if you want to progress in your training.

This will be the first post in a series of articles on Recovery. I am going to focus on Sleep.

At the outset of this post, I’d just like to say that I have no background in exercise science, nor any formal coaching experience. As a result, all of my knowledge about the more technical aspects of training and recovery come from research or personal experience. This post will be largely anecdotal, but I hope I can at least provide a frame work to approach your own rest and recovery.

Recovery can take many forms, and there are many ways you can improve your recovery, either physically or mentally. Primarily, recovery takes the form of sleep, and I don’t believe anything will hurt your recovery more than failing to get sufficient sleep.

Personally, if I get less than 7-7.5 hours of sleep the night after a workout, I feel truly wretched the next day.

Ensuring you get enough sleep is the most basic way to help boost your physical and mental recovery.

I am a restless sleeper. I usually wake up 2-3 times during the night, and I have great difficulty falling asleep in the first place. I struggled with sleep for a long time, and when preparing for my first Strongman contest, my sleep suffered, and, as a result, my recovery suffered.

There are a few key practices I had adopted  that have helped improve the quality and ease of my sleep.

  1. Blue Light Filter – firstly, I try to shut down the major electronics and take some time to switch off before bed. Usually 20-30 minutes before bed I’ll shut off the laptop and TV. These are the major sources of blue light, which keeps me very stimulated and using my laptop until bed make sit hard to fall asleep. Secondly, I downloaded a blue light filter for my phone. The one I use is called Twilight, and it programs itself to the daylight hours, and gradually decreases the amount of blue light your phone screen gives off as night falls. This has been a huge help in falling asleep, and has the added bonus of not scorching your eyes if you check your phone in the middle of the night.
  2. Caffeine – I’m a bit of a coffee hound. I used to drink quite a bit, but my sensitivity to caffeine remained fairly high. To help sleep, I avoid any caffeine after 5 pm. This one is purely personal, as my sensitivity to caffeine is fairly high. No afternoon coffee = better sleep.
  3. Stretching Before Bed – Every night, I devote 15-20 minutes to a simple circuit of basic yoga poses and stretches. While daily stretching is a key part of active recovery, this has the added benefit of helping me unwind from the day. When I lay down to sleep after my stretching routine, I spend far less time tossing and turning to get comfortable.

These three, very small things, have helped me improve the quality of my sleep. I feel much better rested in the morning, even if I get fewer hours of shut eye. I hope this can help you, even in some small way, improve your recovery.

Cheers,

The Bear.

New PR, Training

New PR Today! Training Going Well

Hit a new Log Press PR today! My previous best log press was 155 lbs. Today, after warming up with some light yoke press, I managed to hit 160 lbs for a triple! This was a huge lift for me, since I’ve struggled to improve my log press for quite some time now.

I feel very encouraged, and it seems like my training is really paying off. Feeling stronger every week.

Here are my training reports for the week:

Tuesday Dec 20, 2016

DB Chest Press

  • 20 kg x 15
  • 26 kg x 12 (2)

DB Z-Press

  • 9 kg x 15, 12, 10

Z-Press, Barbell, Bench-Straddle

  • 40 kg x 8 (2)

Bench Press

  • 20 kg x 10
  • 40 kg x 8
  • 60 kg x 10
  • 70 kg x 5
  • 80 kg x 5
  • 90 kg x 3
  • 95 kg x 1
  • 90 kg x 3 (4)

Upright Barbell Rows

  • 30 kg x 15 (2)

Finished with Hammer Curls and a Shoulder Fly Dropset. I was feeling very worn out from my weekend event training, and it took me a long time to loosen up and find my rhythm. But in the end, I was able to hit 90 kg for four triples, and it felt quite easy. Hoping to build up to 100 kg triples soon. Spending more time on the basics this year, building up my strength foundation.

Thursday Dec 22, 2016

Low Bar Back Squats

  • 20 kg x 15
  • 40 kg x 12
  • 60 kg x 10
  • 70 kg x 5
  • 90 kg x 5
  • 100 kg x 5
  • 120 kg x 2
  • 125 kg x 1

High Bar Back Squats

  • 100 kg x 3
  • 110 kg x 3 (3)

Front Squats

  • 50 kg x 5
  • 70 kg x 3 (2)

Stiff Leg Deadlifts

  • 50 kg x 8 (3)

Plenty of volume on Thursday, really focusing on getting deep in my squats. My lower body power has always been a weak point for me, especially my squat. But it’s feeling a lot more solid now, and I’m hoping to hit a 150 kg squat soon.

Saturday Dec 24

Axle Deadlifts

  • 50 kg x 8
  • 70 kg x 8
  • 100 kg x 5
  • 110 kg x 3
  • 100 kg x 5

Yoke Walk, 20 m, drop and turn and halfway.

  • 94 kg x 1
  • 134 kg x 1
  • 174 kg x 1
  • 215 kg x 2
  • 174 kg x 2

Yoke Press

  • 54 kg x 5
  • 64 kg x 4 (3)

Log Push Press (Clean once)

  • 50 kg x 5
  • 60 kg x 3
  • 70 kg x 3

Incline Log Bench

  • 80 kg x 2
  • 70 kg x 5 (3)

Log Cleans

  • 90 kg x 1
  • 80 kg x 2

Today felt extremely good. Took a while to loosen everything up, but after the Axle Deadlifts everything felt light. The 70 kg triple on the Log was an enormous success, and it felt fairly easy. I will definitely be hitting my goal of a 100 kg log soon. That’s all for now, I’m feeling stronger every day, and I can’t wait for my next chance to compete.

Cheers,

The Bear.

Thoughts, Training

Weekly Training Update, December 17-18.

It’s been a good week for training. I had two solid upper body sessions at Contender Boxing Club during the week, and a great lower body and event day at Formosa Fitness on Saturday. Everything is feeling pretty good. And to top it all off, I found a new training partner, which will be a huge help.

I did some deadlifting on Saturday, since Formosa was running another certification class, and I could only use the open area for 3 quick sets of Farmers Walk. I was quite nervous about how my deadlift would be, since I haven’t actually deadlifted in nearly 4 months. But, while far from my all time best, I managed 150kg for a clean, beltless single. I’m quite happy with that, since I used to struggle quite a bit locking out anything heavier than 140 kg, and 150 went up smoothly. This means my lower body training, focusing on my glutes, is paying off. I have always suffered from a weak ass, and I’m really focusing on fixing that.

Here are my workout reports for the week:

Tuesday, December 13th

Bench Press

  • 40 kg x 15
  • 50 kg x 15
  • 60 kg x 15
  • 70 kg x 8
  • 80 kg x 8
  • 90 kg x 5
  • 95 kg x 3 (3)

Seated Z-Press (straddling bench, no back support)

  • 35 kg x 8
  • 40 kg x 8
  • 45 kg x 5
  • 50 kg x 5
  • 55 kg x 2.5 (very nearly a 3-rep PR!)

I finished this workout with a Pump Out, supersetting three variations of bicep curls, lat pulldowns, and chest and shoulder flys.

Thursday, December 15th – Upper Body

Warmup

Incline Bench Press

  • 40 kg x 15
  • 50 kg x 15
  • 60 kg x 8
  • 50 kg x 8 (3)

Dumbbell 1-Arm Rows

  • 15 kg x 15
  • 18 kg x 15 (2)

Standing Military Press (Strict)

  • 30 kg x 15
  • 35 kg x 12
  • 30 kg x 12 (2) – Wide Grip
  • 30 kg x 8(2) – Narrow Grip

Upright Rows

  • 35 kg x 15 (2)

Close-Grip Bench Press

  • 30 kg x 15
  • 40 kg x 12
  • 40 kg x 8

Saturday, December 17

Straight Bar Deadlift

  • 50 kg x 10
  • 60 kg x 10
  • 95 kg x 8
  • 115 kg x 6
  • 132 kg x 3
  • 150 kg x 1
  • 140 kg x 3 (3)

Farmers Walk, 20m, Drop and Turn at Halfway

  • 47.5 kg x 2
  • 57.5 kg x 1
  • 77.5 kg x 1

High Bar Squat

  • 60 kg x 8
  • 80 kg x 5

Paused Front Squat

  • 60 kg x 3 (3)

Zercher Squat

  • 55 kg x 6
  • 75 kg x 3
  • 85 kg x 3

Log Press, Strict (Clean Once)

  • 30 kg log x 10
  • 50 kg x 5
  • 55 kg x 5
  • 60 kg x 3(2)

Log Clean

  • 70 kg x 3
  • 75 kg x 3
  • 80 kg x 2

Flat Log Bench Press

  • 80 kg x 5 (2)

When I tried to squat, my chest was still very tight from all the chest work during the week, and I couldn’t get comfortable under the bar, so I elected to move to Front and Zercher squats. Overall I’m quite happy with this weeks training. Now it’s time for a couple days rest, and I’ll be back at it on Tuesday.

Cheers,

The Bear.

 

Update

Down and Out for the Weekend

Came down with a nasty head cold and I’ve been down and out all weekend. No training for me. But I’m feeling on the mend, and should be back at it again tomorrow. In lieu of a training update, I thought I’d share some of the difficulties I’ve faced in adjusting to life in Taiwan.

The main problem has been the language barrier, which impacts my main concern for training: getting enough food. I don’t have a kitchen in my apartment, and eating out seems to be the norm here, but it’s very difficult to eat properly without being able to prepare my own meals. The biggest struggles I’ve encountered have been: 1. everything is sweetened, and 2. restaurant food and take-away is very sodium-rich.

Number one is a huge problem because getting enough protein is difficult enough when I can’t speak Chinese to order food, but is made doubly hard when every milk, yogurt and soy product is crammed with sugar or fortified with fiber. I’ve been slowly adjusting, have found some easy alternatives to my previous diet of home-cooked chicken and vegetables. I now rely more on skim and soy milk to provide the bulk of my non-meal protein. I wasn’t able to pack any of my supplements or equipment when I came here, and I’m now getting a much larger proportion of my daily protein from solid food, as opposed to protein shakes.

Number two is less of a problem, but still annoying. All the food is quite salty (for my own taste, anyway) and I’m drinking a lot more water as a result. But many buildings and areas of Taiwan have antiquated plumbing so while the water is clean, the old pipes make tap water non-potable. So any drinking water must be bought bottled, or else boiled. I have a small boiler pot and I keep my supply up, but it’s an extra hassle that can be quite frustrating at times. Drinking bottled water is not very expensive, but seems like a needless expense. Granted, coming from Kamloops, with one of the best water filtration plants in North America, I suppose I got spoiled.

That’s all for now, hope you’re all training hard. I’ll post more later this week. I found a small boxing gym near my house, and signed up for a gym membership. I’m now planning to do 2-3 sessions there during the week, for general strength, and then make the trip to Formosa for strongman training on the weekends.

Cheers,

The Bear.

New PR, Training

Starting Strongman Program: Week 3

Week 3 of my Starting Strongman Training Program draws to a close, and I enter my first de-load week. It’s shaping up to be a much-needed break from the intensity, as well as good timing for me to get settled into a new job.

So far this program has done an excellent job in challenging me to push myself, and my limits. It’s hit my weak points, particularly my abs, upper back, and glutes, quite hard. But I am enjoying myself immensely. The supersets of Hammer Curls, DB Shrugs and Tricep Pulldowns that finish my Thursday workouts always leave me with a terrific pump.

Last week called for a new 5RM on my overhead event. I hit 165×5 on the axle quite comfortably. My previous best was 155×1, since I did not have access to an axle before. My strength is slowly and steadily increasing, and the strength I’m building in my core and back make all my overhead pressing feel far more stable and secure. I can’t wait to see what I can do at the end of these 12 weeks.

Cheers,

The Bear

Competition, Recovery, Thoughts, Training, Update

Stones and Strength Wrap-Up & Looking Ahead

I competed in Stones and Strength this past Saturday in Squamish. I had a terrific time and I was able to improve on some weak points and try out some new events. It was another last-place finish for me, but I learned quite a bit and I’m already looking forward to competing again.

There are a few contests in September that I’m considering entering, so that gives me plenty of time to prepare. Taking the time now to just put my head down and get my program back on track is what’s most important. I’m still enjoying my training, and I’m feeling stronger and fitter than I ever have.

I’m not sure where I’ll take this blog, since my Year of Power has technically ended. But as long as I love this sport and enjoy my training, I’ll try and keep this blog updated.

I’d love to hear and suggestions or comments. Thank you all for following me on my journey, and I hope we can move forward in strength together.

Cheers,

The Bear