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Full Workout Logs

Starting 5/25/07
Basic Cycle; Weeks 6-9 of 9

by Gary F. Zeolla

These workout logs are continued from Full Workout Logs: Starting 4/8/07: Basic Cycle; Weeks 1-5 of 9.


Next contest:
IPA PA States, September 22, in New Castle, PA.
114s or 123s, master (45-49), raw division.

For details on this routine, see Training Routine Format - Basic Cycle.

Warm-ups are in brackets. All weights are in pounds. Format: pounds/reps.
Workout time includes set-up, warm-up, lifting, stretching, and clean-up.


Week Six

Squats – getting very frustrated

Week 6 of 9
Friday – 5/25/07

Squats: [55/15, 145/8, 195/6], 235/6, 255/6, 235/6
Pause Squats: 145/6
Low Squats: 145/6, 165/6, 185/6
Jump Squats: [45/6] 75/6x2
Twisting Sit-ups (reps to each side): 12, 12
Stretching: ~10 minutes
Workout Time: 1:35

It was going to get too confusing counting the weeks differently for squats than for benches and deadlifts. But on squats, I’ll be sticking with sets of 5-6 reps to the end of this cycle, while on benches and deadlifts I’ll be dropping the reps. With all the changes and problems, I’ll wait until my next routine to try lower reps on squats.

That said, a long and frustrating workout. I took videos for every set of every exercise, including warm-ups, and reviewed them during the workout. And they all looked terrible. Even my assistance work was all terrible. I tried a couple of different exercises for my main assistance, and neither looked good on video. As many have pointed out, I am not sitting back enough and most of all I am leaning forward too much. So I tried different alterations to see if something would help.

First, I moved my stance back in to about 16-17”, which is where it was before my last contest. I think that helped some, but not much. Then I tried doing a set with my deadlift/ wrestling shoes thinking that maybe the heels on my squat shoes were making it hard to sit back. But that made things worse.

Then I tried a higher bar placement. I used a higher placement when I first started powerlifting again, but lowered it after IPA Nationals in November 2003. But I had a hard time finding the spot where I had the bar before, so nothing felt comfortable. And even at that, it didn’t seem to help.

The most frustrating part of all is that it “feels” like I am keeping my back straight and going deep enough, but when I look a the videos, it’s not even close. So my whole body perception is off.

In any case, the set below I think was my first set with 235, and it was probably the best.

Video 1

Now, by way of comparison, I found another pic of me squatting from college, and it might be instructive. Compare it with a pic from my contest last September.

Pic 1

Pic 2

These pics show me when I am set up but before I started squatting. And I can notice three important differences even at that point. First, my hand grip in college was much closer than it is now. So I will try moving it in some. One problem though, with lifting raw, it would be best if I do not wear wrist wraps, and that could be problematic.

Second, in the college pic, I am perfectly straight, while in the contest pic, I am already leaning forward some. This could be because of the third difference; the bar placement is higher in the college pic.

The pic from college that I posted before showed the near bottom of the lift, and I was not leaning forward near as much and was sitting back better, so my form was much better in college than it is now. So I think it will help to try to imitate the above three points now.

But most off all, I need to think of something that will force me to sit back more and stay more upright. I didn’t use the box for this workout, but I might next time. If I position myself in front of the box rather than straddle as I did last week, that will force me to sit back to actually sit on the box. I also think I will stick with front squats for my main assistance exercise as they force me to stay upright. That will at least strengthen the involved muscles.

Any other suggestions would be more than appreciated!
______________________________________

Memorial Day Benches, Week 6 of 9
Monday – 5/28/07

Benches: [55/15, 95/10, 125/6, 150/3] 167/4, 167/4
DB Benches: [35s/6, 50s/3] 60s/4, 60s/4
Clap Push-ups: 8 x 2
Lat. Pulldowns (“V” grip): [50/8, 80/5] 95/8, 95/8
Curl Bar Curls: [40/8] 55/8, 55/10
Stretching: ~10 minutes
Workout Time: 1:14

I have not worn a belt for my workouts in a couple of months, but they are allowed in all raw feds and divisions. So I did a little belt experiment on benches. For the first work set I did not wear a belt but for the second I did. I wanted to see if the belt made any difference. Ironically, my back cramped up on the set with the belt but not the one with it. And I really didn’t notice any benefit from the belt, so I don’t think it’s worth the bother.

But I was wondering how many here use a belt on benches? I know for those wearing a shirt it is supposed to help hold it down, but with an open back shirt with Velcro at the bottom like I wear if I use a shirt, do you think it is even necessary then?

The video below are for posting on my Web site. The first is of my first set of DB benches. I wanted to demonstrate my “alternating arms” method of doing DB benches and the use of “Power Hooks.”

Video 1

The next video is to demonstrate speed “clap” push-ups.

Video 2
____________________________________
 

Squats figured out, I hope!

Today is my deadlift day, but squats have really had me worried. So I spent some time this morning trying to figure out my problem. First, I took the ” board off of my box, so it is now 10.5” high. That should ensure that if I squat to the box I am hitting below parallel.

Second, with my last squat workout post, I posted a pic of me squatting in college and one of me squatting at my last contest. The biggest difference I noticed was my grip was much closer in college than in the contest pic. Specifically, in the college pic, my forearms are perpendicular to the bar while my current grip has my arms at about a 45 degree angle. So I tried moving in my grip.

I had been wrapping my ring fingers around the rings of my Texas Power Bar, but now I tried using my bench grip—one thumb length out from the start of the knurling. And this got my arms into the perpendicular position (which is why I use it for benches). It’s a difference of almost 3” on each side.

The closer grip then forces me to hold the bar higher on my back. In fact, the bar just automatically falls into the “sweet spot” on my back that I had problems finding in my last workout. The closer grip and resultant higher bar placement forces me to keep my back more erect.

I knew I was doing something “fundamentally” wrong, but I didn’t think it would be something as simple as hand placement. But I think this will make a big difference.

Third, I tried placing my feet a couple of inches in front of the box rather than straddling it. This forces me to sit back more to actually hit the box.

Fourth, I experimented with differing stances. In the first video below, I am doing two reps each with a stance of 16”, 17” and 19”. I think my form looks best at 17”, and that felt the best as well. So I think I will stick with that stance. The second video is six reps with the 17” stance. As can be seen, I am sitting back rather well and keeping my back reasonably straight on most of the reps, but I really need to practice to make this second nature. And the depth looks more than good enough on all of the reps.

For both of these videos, I had 145 on the bar. That was enough to get a feel of the lifts. I’ll try heavier weights with my regular squat workout on Monday.

Video 1

Video 2

On an important note, I did notice that I could sit back better if I actually sat on the box than going touch ‘n go. This probably means that sitting back would be a lot easier with a suit on, especially a canvas suit. I’ve heard it said that if you’re good at box squatting you’d probably do well with a canvas suit. And it goes without saying that gear would make hitting depth a lot easier.

But as I posted previously, I already decided to go raw for a while, and I hate to keep changing my mind. But if I do decide to go back to using gear, a canvas suit might be the way to go.

In any case, I really hope I got things figured out. I will find out for sure on Monday.
____________________________________

Deadlifts/ Minor knee injury
Week 6 of 9
Wednesday – 5/30/07

Deadlifts: [55/15, 145/10, 235/5, 305/3] 340/4, 340/4
SLDLs: [165/6, 235/3] 265/4, 265/4
Jump Deadlifts: [45/6] 80/6, 80/6
Crunch/ Reverse Crunch Combo: 15/27, 15/20
Stretching: ~ 10 minutes
Workout Time: 1:16

My right knee bothered me some on my two DL work sets, but not enough for me to stop the workout. It’s hurting some now, but not too much. So, I think it will be okay, but it does have me rethinking going raw. If I was going to compete with gear, it would have been with this phase of my cycle that I would have added in sleeve type knee wraps on DLs. They don’t help the lift any, but they do provide support to the knee, probably enough that the knee wouldn’t be bothering me. So I’m not sure what I will do right now.

In any case, for this workout, I did the same as for my bench workout earlier this week. I did a “belt experiment” of not wearing my belt on my first work set but then wearing it on the second. On benches, I concluded that the belt wasn’t worth the bother. But on DLs, the belt definitely made a difference. So even if I go raw, I will definitely wear a belt on DLs.

The following videos are of my second set of DLs and my first sets of SLDLs, jump DLs, and my specialty ab exercise of combing crunches and reverse crunches.

Video 1

Video 2

Video 3

Video 4

Form questions

I had a question for those who watched my DL video. Am I rounding my back too much? When I first posted it, I was afraid I was. But after reviewing some DL videos on YouTube, it looks like my form is similar to other conv. stance powerlifters. A video by a personal trainer showed a very straight back. But he was using all of 135. For all the contest videos where guys had real weight on the bar, a rounded back like seen in my video seemed the norm.

The main exception was for those using a sumo stance. And that is what I was thinking, that I probably used a straighter back when I used a sumo stance, but it was the switch to conv. stance that has caused my back to round some. Does that make sense?

Same question on the SLDL; is my back too rounded? For comparison, in the video of jump DLs, my back is straight. But the weights there are very light.

Am I correct that it would be very difficult to keep a straight back with near-maximal weights on conv. DLs? Or should I be concerned about my form?

Note: The responses I received was that my form was just fine.
______________________________________

Bench Assistance, Week 6 of 9
Friday – 6/1/07

Standing Overhead Press: [DBs: 10s/15, BB: 45/10, 65/6, 80/3] 95/4, 95/4
DB Incline Bench: [30s/8, 45s/3] 52s/4, 52s/4
DB Rows (underhand grip): [30s/8, 40s/3], 47s/5, 50s/4
Reverse BB Curls: [45/8] 52/10, 52/10
Rotator Cuff (2 exercises): [7.5/10] 12/12, 12/12
Stretching: ~10 minutes
Workout Time: 1:19

A few videos of various exercises to post on my Web site:

Overhead Presses

DB Incline Benches

DB Rows, Underhand Grip

BB Reverse Curls


Week Seven

Squats, Week 7 of 9

Monday – 6/4/07

Squats: [55/15, 145/8] 195/4, 195/4, 215/6, 235/6, 255/3, 253/6

Sting Ray (front) Squats: [75/6, 115/6] 135/6, 135/6

Speed RB Squats: skipped

Bicycle Abs (reps to each side): 25, 25

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:26

As I posted previously, I think I got squats figured out. The main issue was moving my grip in, which forces me to hold the bar higher and thus keep my back straighter. I once again took videos and reviewed every set, and things look about as good as I am going to get them. It looks the same from the bar on up. On the front squats, I had somewhat of a straighter back, but my low back cramped up on me. So I think the angle I’m using on regular squats will have to do.

The first set with 235 felt very good, but when I went up to 255, I felt like I was loosing my form, so I stopped it at 3 reps. I then did 235 again. That gives me two good sets with 235 to be my starting point. It’s a little depressing having my squat be done by about 70 pounds. But hopefully, I can gradually increase from the 235.

I used a box for all of my sets, except the last. I felt worrying about hitting the box was too distracting. I’ll just depend on videos to let me know that I am hitting depth. The video below is of my last set. I hit the weights on the side of my power rack on the first rep and had to reset. Usually, I take those weights off, but just didn’t bother this workout.

Video

As for my right knee, it bothered me some, but not too much. I skipped the speed squats, however, so as not to push it. This minor injury does have me rethinking going raw. And my form would be better with gear, so I have to make a decision again in that regard.

____________________________________

Benches/ Change of plans

Week 7 of 9

Wednesday – 6/6/07

Benches:

Gear: Frantz double-ply poly shirt, APT wrist wraps.

[55/15, 95/10, 125/6, add shirt and wraps, 165/3] 180/4, 180/4

Reverse Band Benches (#3, light bands): [145/6, 190/3] 210/4, 210/4

Speed RB Benches: [125/6] 140/6, 140/6

Lat. Pulldowns (wide grip): [55/8, 80/4] 95/7, 95/7

DB Curls: [22s/8] 27s/8, 27s/8

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:41

After much thought and prayer, I feel I have no choice but to go back to using gear. It’s looking like my 40-something body will no hold up to lifting raw. So to ease back into using gear, for this workout I used my Frantz shirt, which is my least effective bench shirt.

That can be seen in that I only used 15 pounds more for the same reps as I did last week lifting raw. What would be really nice is if I could get a shirt that adds as much as I get out of the reverse bands, where I got 30 pounds more than with the shirt, 45 more than lifting raw. I have the RBs set so that there is no tension at the top. So I know I can lockout that much.

In any case, this was the first time using a shirt since February. And there are some form issues I might need to change with lifting with a shirt. I used the same grip on my warm-ups and first work set as I have been, but I moved it out a little bit on the second work set. I might try moving it out a little more. I also will try bringing my feet in a little more. I also probably should pause the reps a little better when wearing a shirt. Any other suggestions are appreciated. The video below is of my second work set.

Video

______________________________________

Deadlifts, Week 7 of 9

Friday – 6/8/07

Deadlifts:

Gear: Crain power belt, APT knee sleeves, drug store wrist wraps.

[55/15, 145/10, 205/6, add gear: 265/3, 325/1] 360/2, 365/2

Chain DLs (set-up weighs 90 pounds): [175/5, 235/3] 260/3, 260/3

Speed Chain DLs: 145/6, 145/6

Dip Bar Leg Raises: 19, 16

Stretching: ~ 10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:37

This was my first workout using my new APT knee sleeves. They definitely support better than the drug store knee sleeves I was using. My right knee bothered me some on my warm-ups without the wraps, but once I added the knee sleeves, it felt fine. So I was right about needing to go back to using gear.

One thing about the knee sleeves though, they are rather long, 22.5 cm. There is no mention in the IPA rulebook about the length of knee sleeves, but it does mention that knee wraps cannot touch your socks. So I’ll have to fold the top of my socks down. I remember I always had to do that in college since I usually wore knee-high socks. Also, the APF rulebook specifies that knee sleeves can only be 20 cm long. So if I ever enter another APF contest, I will have to have them cut down. But despite those caveats, they are good wraps. If anyone is interested, they can be purchased at: APT.

That said, this workout went well, but my deadlift is still down from where it was before. So I’m not sure if the “basic cycle” I’m following is working very well. But I’ll see how things go the next couple of weeks.

Also, after doing benches with a shirt followed by reverse band benches on Wednesday and DLs with a belt and wraps followed by chain DLs here, it is obviously going to be too much doing the powerlifts with gear and band and chain work on the same day, especially once I add a suit. In the past I’ve done them on alternative weeks. So I might go back to such a routine at the end of this one.

The video below is my second work set of DLs.

Video

____________________________________

Bench Assistance, Week 7 of 9

Monday – 6/11/07

Incline Bench: [45/15, 75/10, 100/6, 125/3] 145/4, 145/4

DB Presses: [10s/8, 25s/3] 35s/4, 37s/4

DB Rows (elbows out): [35/8, 50/3], 62/4, 62/4

Reverse DB Curls: [20s/8] 27s/8, 27s/8

Rotator Cuff (2 exercises) [7.5/10] 12/10, 12/10

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:20

When I was planning on competing raw, I was pausing all of my benches and bench assistance work. But now that I am planning on using a shirt, I will still pause all benches done with a shirt or with chains and bands, but raw benches and all other bench assistance work will be done touch ‘n go. This can be seen in the following video of inclines. I know it looks like I was arching for these, but I really wasn’t trying to do so.

Incline Benches

A couple of more videos to post on my site. In the first, you can really notice the problem with my right shoulder, that I messed up in a bicycle accident eight years ago. I was really struggling to lock out the weight. But that is why I am doing overhead presses, along with DB work in general, to try to strengthen my shoulder and work on the muscular imbalance between my right and left shoulders. That’s also why I always do the right arm first in exercises like the following, since it is best to do the weaker arm first when you are more rested.

DB Overhead Presses

DB Rows, elbows out

 


Week Eight

Squats, Week 8 of 9

Wednesday – 6/13/07

Squats: [55/15, 145/8, 185/6, 220/3], 245/6, 255/5

Reverse Band Squats (#4, average bands): [195/6, 235/6] 275/6, 295/4, 315/6

Speed RB Squats: 195/6 x 2

Twisting Sit-ups (reps to each side): 2.5/8, 2.5/6

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:45

This was my last workout lifting raw for squats. Starting with my next workout, I will gradually add in gear and drop the reps. Being gradual about it will make it easier to get used to the gear again and to condition my body to handle the heavier weights the gear enables.

That said, I moved my feet in a little, to 16”. And with that change, I had no problems hitting depth. That can be seen in the following video. But I’m still not sitting back and staying as straight as I’d like. But maybe once I add in gear I will be able to do better in that regard.

Video 1

I started doing RB squats again to condition my body to handling heavier weights, but I ran into some problems on my second work set. First, my music cut out on me. Second, the bands slipped on one side. As a result, I got buried on the fifth rep.

Video 2

It took me a while to figure out what happened. I had the bands looped around the bar outside of the inside collars. Previously, I had them set so that there was virtually no tension at the top. But the “virtually” is important. There was just enough tension to keep the bands in place. But with moving my bar placement higher on my back, there was now no tension at the top, and so the bands slipped. So I reversed how I choked them on the top of my power rack. This puts a slightly greater angle and thus tension to the bands.

The first pic below is how I initially had them set up. The second is the new set up. It’s a subtle difference, but just enough to keep the bands tense enough to stay in place.

Pic 1

Pic 2

In any case, once I got things figured out, I re-set the bar for another set. But I figured with the shorter tension, I’d be able to handle a little more weight, but it ended up being almost too heavy! This was by far the most weight I have had on my back in weeks, and it felt like a ton. But I fought through all of the planned reps, and I sunk all them more than good enough. But unfortunately, the video did not come out, so you will have to take my word on that!

______________________________________

Benches, Week 8 of 9

Friday – 6/15/07

Benches (gear: Crain “Combo” shirt, APT 24” Black Mamba wrist wraps):

[55/15, 95/10, 130/6, add gear: 175/3] 195/4, 210/3

DB Benches: [35s/6, 50s/3] 65s/3, 65s/4

Clap Push-ups: 9 x 2

Lat. Pulldowns (“V” grip): [50/8, 80/4] 95/8, 95/8

Curl Bar Curls: [40/8] 55/10, 60/8

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:29

For this workout, I switched to the same shirt I wore at my last contest. This was the first time I wore this shirt in four months, and I ended up tripling just five pounds less than I benched at that contest. However, reviewing the video, I am really shaky coming up on all three reps, and I didn’t pause enough and might have come back down on the last rep. But still, not bad for only the second time wearing a shirt in months.

My second work set on benches and a couple of other videos for posting on my site:

Benches

Lat Pulldowns - V Grip

Curl Bar Curls

____________________________________

Deadlifts, Week 8 of 9

Monday – 6/18/07

Deadlifts

(Gear: Crain power belt, Frantz double-ply poly DL suit, APT knee sleeves, drug store wrist wraps, Nike wrestling shoes)

[55/15, 145/10, 210/6, add suit and knee sleeves: 275/3, add belt and wrist wraps: 335/1] 375/2, 375/2

SLDLs: [175/6, 245/3] 275/3, 275/3

Jump Deadlifts: [55/6] 85/6, 85/6

Crunch/ Reverse Crunch Combo: 15/30, 15/30

Stretching: ~ 10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:32

A good workout. Everything went as planned. Video is of my second work set.

Video

______________________________________

Bench Assistance, Week 8 of 9

Wednesday – 6/20/07

Standing Overhead Press: [DBs: 10s/15, BB: 45/10, 65/6, 85/3] 100/4, 100/3

DB Incline Bench: [30s/8, 45s/3] 55s/4, 55s/4

DB Rows (underhand grip): [30s/8, 45s/3], 52s/4, 52s/4

Reverse BB Curls: [45/8] 55/10, 55/10

Rotator Cuff (2 exercises): [7.5/10] 12/12, 12/12

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:18

 

 


Week Nine

Squats, Week 9 of 9

Friday – 6/22/07

Squats

(Gear: Crain: squat shoes, power belt; Titan: THP 2.0 meter wraps; APT: 24” Black mamba wrist wraps)

[55/15, 145/10, 195/6, add belt & wraps: 245/3] 275/5, 275/5

Sting Ray (front) Squats: [85/6, 125/6] 145/5, 145/5

Jump Squats: [45/6] 75/6, 75/6

Bicycle Abs (reps to each side): 30, 25

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:30

____________________________________

Benches with new shirt

Wednesday – 6/27/07

Benches:

Gear: Inzer Double Phenom, open back shirt, APT wrist wraps.

[45/15, 95/10, 130/6, add shirt and wraps, 180/3] 200/4, 205/2, 210/3, 215/1

Lat. Pulldowns (wide grip): [55/8, 80/4] 95/8, 95/8

DB Curls: [22s/8] 27s/10, 27s/9

Stretching: ~10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:33

This was my first workout with my new Double Phenom, and it went okay, but not great. On my first work set, I was not able to touch, and it didn’t feel quite right. But I did four reps trying to touch and to find the groove. On the second set, the first rep touched and felt good, but I was too high on the bench and hit the racks, so I had to re-set. That really blew my concentration, and when I did the next rep, I couldn’t touch and was out of the groove, so I stopped there.

The first two reps on the third set felt really good. I touched and hit the groove. But my foot slipped out on the third rep. I still got it, but was really unbalanced. For the last set, I moved my feet in more, and that rep felt good. I probably could have doubled it, but frankly, I was getting too tired at that point, so I quit after one rep.

But I will say, I was a little disappointed with the shirt. With as tight as it is, I thought it would do a little bit more. I’ve benched this much before with other gear I’ve used that didn’t fit as tight. But the material is not as thick as I thought it would be, and the fit just doesn’t feel right. So I’m not sure right now if I will keep it or not. But I need to decide quickly.

I tried taking a video on one of my sets, but the batteries died, and I didn’t feel like bothering to get another set during my workout. So no vids of this one.

______________________________________

Deadlifts, Week 9 of 9

Friday – 6/29/07

Deadlifts:

Gear: Crain power belt, Frantz double-ply poly DL suit, APT knee sleeves and wrist bands, Nike Wrestling shoes.

[55/15, 145/10, add suit and knee bands: 235/6, add belt and wrist bands: 295/3] 325/5, 345/4, 365/3, 385/1

Dip Bar Leg Raises: 20, 14

Stretching: ~ 10 minutes

Workout Time: 1:17

I am counting this as the last workout of my current routine, but in reality, this will be the format for my next routine. I just didn’t feel like changing the numbering.

This workout went better than as planned. I planned on starting with a set of five and ending with a single. But things were going so well, I tried a seconded rep on the final set. I would have gotten it too if I hadn’t blown my form and gotten the bar too far in front (see video). But still, this gives me a good starting point to build from to peak for my contest.

Video

On a gear note, I like having some wrist support on DLs, so I had been wearing drug store wrist wraps. But for this workout, I got some APT wrist bands. They have two styles, light/ medium and medium/ heavy. I wasn’t sure which to get, so I got one of each.

The former I could not pull tight enough on my small wrists, but the latter fit very snug and definitely supported better than the wraps I had been using. So I’ll wear these on DLs from now on. I might also wear them on squats and save my 24” APT Black Mamba wrist wraps for benches where I really need the support.


These workout logs are continued at: Full Workout Logs: Starting 7/2/07: In-Season - Weeks 1-4 of 8.



Full Workout Logs: Starting 5/25/07: Basic Cycle - Weeks 6-9 of 9. Copyright 2007 by Gary F. Zeolla.

Powerlifting and Strength Training
Powerlifting and Strength Training: Full Workout Logs

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