Mind tricks

Although we measure everything carefully in kg, it’s amazing how different everything feels from day to day, or even minute to minute. It’s always a competition between what you expect and what really happens. For instance, you look at large 10 kg plate and you think it might be difficult to move it. And then you pick it up and it feels light. Then you grab the next 10 kg plate, which has a smaller diameter and suddenly it feels like a brick. And it almost hurts. Does density really messes up with our minds?

Lately there haven’t been many interesting issues. Last time I was able to complete the Tabata training. I was slightly slower (only 7-8 squats per set) and my wrist hurt like hell, but I didn’t stop.

Today the front squats went smoothly and I even managed to do proper push ups. OK, sets of 4 instead of 5, but this is a major step forward.

Then I got to experience the trap bar for the first time and I can say that is one weird exercise. First of all, you have to make sure everything is aligned and your hands are in the right place, otherwise you end up rotating the bar instead of lifting it. Then, you have to maintain your back straight and balance the bar, or you’ll start kicking your butt and back.  And falling with that thing is not pretty. Anyway, minor details. The real problem is that somehow the grip feels very uncomfortable, even painful. The movement itself is something between a deadlift and a squat so it challenges all your muscles.

So all well and up to this point I was feeling rather confident. Which made me think I could try the barbell complex with a 20 kg bar. A proper bar, not the light one+weights, as I did before. What can I say… it’s been an epic disaster. After two sets I wanted to quit weight club, sit in the corner and cry. The guys didn’t let me walk away (thank you!!). I had to finish the sets although I was failing every two reps. By the end of it I couldn’t even lift the bar off the floor. Matt picked it up and rested it on my shoulders so I could finish the squats. I’ve thought about the difference between the two bars and the only reasonable explanation I could come up with was the grip. The light bar is thinner and feels more comfortable. With the olympic one I have problems from the very beginning, whilst doing the rows. My arms hurt after this exercise and the rest is just a struggle to ignore the pain. Normally, the only problem should be the overhead press, but this is not the case. However, the light bar feels too light so next time I’ll use it with a little bit of extra weight.

I will have bruises from today’s session starting with my clavicle, all across my chest and arms. Since I’m visiting my parents this weekend, a lot of explaining will be required.

My left deltoid hurts and I’m not sure if it’s from training or the vaccine I had yesterday. I’d go with both.

Weak leg is weak…

It’s incredible how much difference there is between the left and the right side of my body. I was aware of it, but I can almost quantify it now. Split squats, dumbbell rows, snatches make the left part struggle while the right leg and arm are quite comfortable with the same weight. The muscles are visibly larger on one side and I’m almost sure there’s also more fat stored. It’s ridiculous if I think of it.

For a while I thought that whole body exercises will help me even this difference. I soon began to realise that no matter what exercise, I involuntarily use the stronger muscles more. They function better, they can sustain more weight. On some exercises, such as pull ups, I have to focus on the weak muscles to activate them properly. When I started doing pull ups I always ended up with a terrible pain in my right shoulder. I wasn’t aware of the problem until Matt pointed it out. I wasn’t using my left shoulder almost at all.

Splits squats today, quite heavy (30 kg), but only 8 reps per set. Piece of cake, only 2/3 of a real set. 😉 I did a light warm up which helped. Weak leg couldn’t balance very well, so I took off my shoes. Weak leg still couldn’t balance very well.

72.5 kg sumo deadlift. Boom!

The proof

I know somebody is expecting photos.

Not the greatest capture, but good enough considering how hungry I was.

Yes, I post a lot of photos of fried eggs. Why do you ask?

Yes, I have that for dinner quite often. And breakfast, if there’s no Tabata in my schedule. I wouldn’t like wasting them.

 

Tabata survivor

Every morning I ask myself and the guys in the gym why we are doing this. Seriously, we train almost every day now. We’re part of the gym setting. I’m sure people are surprised when they arrive in the morning and we’re not there.

I find it difficult to force myself to max effort on all reps during a Tabata cycle. I wonder why… Still, I try to keep it over 120 rpm and today I reached 130-150 several times. I think there’s definitely some improvement there.

I’m practicing one legged pistol squats now.

I think we’ll have them in our next schedule. It really hurts after interval training, but it seems to be more fun than the split squats. In fairness, I don’t think I’d be able to do pistol squats if it weren’t for the gruesome split squat sessions.

I want bacon.

Getting stronger

Today’s workout – not bad…

  • 5x 52.5 kg front squat
  • 5x 62.5 kg Romanian deadlift
  • 20 kg barbell complex (OK, I cheated a bit; I used the light bar, so 10+2×5 kg plates; for some reason this feels easier than the proper bar)
  • tried normal push-ups; I managed to do 2 or 3 in a row, not more (fine, I cheated here too, since I didn’t touch the floor, but it’s better than nothing)

We had an extensive debate on who cheats more in the gym. Either way, I did not win.

Oh, and Tabata tomorrow!!

Tabata fail! :(

Yesterday I didn’t imagine that today’s post will have such a title. This morning I didn’t imagine it either. 2 minutes into the exercise, I was convinced I could do it. I kept the pace (about 9-10 front squats/20 s) up until the last minute. And then my body and will collapsed. I couldn’t keep my elbows high, my left arm was not responding at all. The barbell was slowly, but surely, sliding off my sweaty shoulders. I did about 4-5 reps and racked the bar even before I was allowed to. Then I thought there’s only one more set and things should get better, but I was so miserably wrong. All the problems were still there and even worse. I think I did one rep. 😦

I’ve learned some things, though, and acknowledging these will, hopefully, improve my performance on the next attempt. First of all, I never realised how long it takes me to set everything into place – I mean bar on my shoulders, feet aligned next to the box, etc. In this exercise you have to be super fast and precise. And I’m not, so the load wasn’t resting properly on my arms and I almost dropped it by the end. Also, I usually improvise a box (small box+light plate) which is normally fine, given that I can adjust it after each set. There’s no time for that in Tabata! There’s barely any time to breathe. I’ll use a different box next time, this was very annoying.

Other things worth mentioning:

  • I’m still alive
  • 30 kg bench press is still heavy
  • 35 kg bench press is even worse, but not impossible anymore 😉
  • deadlifts with bands are still great, especially after 2 warm-ups
  • apparently I walk like a cowboy…