Upper-Body Power Day
Not having a set work schedule is just not conducive to my extremely specific, and somewhat contradictory, pattern of living. For example, I generally am in a much better mood if I wake before 10:00 a.m. but I am also more productive later in the evening – some of my best lifting sessions have started at 8:00 a.m. and some of my best writing has taken place after 2:00 a.m. Conversely, I sometimes have phenomenal sessions after working the closer and the poem that won me that Academy of American Poets award from my alma mater was written after waking up 6:00 a.m.
The reason I’m including these random facts about myself is that, this morning, I didn’t get out of bed until 11:00 a.m. and, while that meant I got in a solid eight and a half hours of sleep, it also put me in a horrid mood right up until I loaded the plates for my first set of bent over rows (which, in turn, did little to really alleviate my bad mood – it just simply turned it into concern for my lower back but more on that in a bit). I know I need to sleep big to get big but I also coined the axiom: the amount of hours in the day is directly proportional to the amount of peanut butter in my kitchen -- never enough. So, when I wake up two and half hours later than I planned, I get cranky.
Pair that with the fact that when I walked into my gym, there was a line for the rack, meaning I’d be even further “behind” for the day, well, let’s just say I wasn’t a pleasant person to be around until about 2:00 p.m.
However, while I was waiting, a simple conclusion came to me: since my work schedule comes out every Thursday, I’m going to sit down with my hours and map-out my week so that I can maximize my efforts on all fronts of my life – in the gym, on the page, and in my head. It sounds relatively silly but since I know the patterns of my gym’s “regulars” and I know what does or doesn’t make training optimal, I think this will help alleviate the rushed and unorganized feeling my life has come to embody recently. /tangent
Now, onto the work out. First, the negative(s).
01.) As I mentioned, rows felt decidedly wrong today, particularly in my lower back. After my session, I decided to look back over my log to confirm what I’d already known: this has been the case for quite some time and I’ve been somewhat ignoring it. No more. I didn’t add any weight, I dropped reps, and, probably foolishly, played with grip-widths to see if this had anything to do with it – definitely not the case. I’m going to take tomorrow’s rest day to really evaluate what I want to do about it (deload, sub, or cut the lift).
02.) I hate not having a spotter.
Now, the positive(s).
01.) Following PHAT even more closely and putting an emphasis on bodyweight exercises on upper-body power day was a great idea. I really have to push myself with dips and pull-ups because, like I’ve said many times, I’m extremely week in my upper-half and the feeling I get from these is great. And with the addition of rack chins, I definitely am understanding the hype surrounding these types of exercises.
02.) My standing shoulder press. I know that five pound increase seems pretty insignificant but I cannot articulate how much stronger I felt on this lift today. My first three sets were not a struggle. At. All. I was even tempted to go for 60lbs after the first set of 55 but chose not to – if I keep following my program the way I am, I have no doubt in my mind that I’ll be able to get 0.5xBW in the next couple of weeks.
03.) I felt pretty smashed after today’s session even though I cut out a lot of assistance lifts (no long pulls, no dumbbell rows, no skull-crushers) and I think it’s because of the increase in both my bench and OHP.
Verdict: Pleased with the session overall, now just to address the issue with rows and my weight – I’ve “stagnated” at 121.5 pounds precisely.OutworkAssisted dips
2x10: 90lbsNotes: Started with these while waiting for the rack. Definitely not ideal for my big lifts or for these as I could have done them with 80, or maybe even 70, but I didn’t want to blow my compounds.
Bent over barbell rows
4x80Notes: Like I said in the intro, these most certainly felt off today. I don’t know if it’s from the heavy leg day yesterday (though I don’t think it is) or if my form is off but I’m either going to deload, sub these, or scrap them altogether for a while. Not sure yet.
Barbell bench press
3x80Notes: I stopped the set of 60s because I realized that’s what I should have started with and I didn’t want to blow my working sets any more than I already did by starting with dips. However, the 2x3x80 would have been 2x5x80 if I actually had a spotter.
Standing barbell overhead press
2x55Notes: These seriously felt incredible today. Well, incredible for me. No complaints whatsoever.
2x10: 90lbsNotes: Need to put serious work into these (and dips).
2x10Notes: Since this was my first time doing these, I took it easy to get a feel for them: did the first set with the bar set at shoulder height when standing upright, performed the second set with it at chest height when standing upright. Will be continuously lowering the bar as I feel comfortable with to work toward doing them weighted and with feet on a bench.
Tricep pushdowns with rope attachment
6x100Notes: Now we’re talking. The 100s were killer and I won’t be bumping weight on them until I can 2x15 for those.
Strict curls with EZ-bar
1x70Notes: These are a lot harder than I gave them initial credit. The last rep was testing the waters for hypertrophy day.
Seated dumbbell shoulder press
6x20Notes: I could have easily gotten 10 reps on the first set but I left some in the tank so I could do all three sets. These went up extremely easily even after all my other lifts. It’s nice to actually feel my shoulders getting stronger.
Berry protein shake and cinnamon, apple, and pomegranate oatmeal. (I don’t like pomegranate so I offered up the fruit on top in exchange for the coffeeshop letting me use their microwave. Barter and trade rules.)
Snacks: Not pictured but I think they'll deserve their own post anyway.
Total: 62/134/217 (37) ~1962
Notes: Fat’s a little higher than normal but I’ve also been taking in sub 0.5g per pound of body weight on most days so I don’t mind the slight bump. I’m not worried about not hitting 2,000 today since my fucking food scale broke so there’s a chance I’m over on some things, under on others. Will be picking up a new one either tomorrow or by the weekend.
More importantly, I’m not sure how I feel about my target macros anymore but I won’t be altering them for a while. Why?
Because I just decided today that I’m going to do a pre-WO meal for the next two weeks - one week with fast-release carbs followed by one week with slow-release to do a comparison – and, if this really does affect my sessions positively, I’ll be less-inclined to decrease my CHO/re-up my protein and fat like I’ve been considering.
If anybody's interested, I’m going to be documenting this slow vs. fast carb experiment in a series of video-logs which will largely consist of me sitting on my ass, eating, first, bowls of sugary cereals, pop-tarts, waffles, then a week later, oatmeal concoctions, rice cakes, and whole grain toast, while running my mouth about IIFYM, veganism, and the food industry (especially since I know I run the risk of getting some flack for actually buying products from companies I don’t necessarily want to support for the sake of trying to dispel some myths surrounding veganism and nutrition, both together and independently, while also seeing if the hype surrounding Pop-Tarts is deserved). I had planned on just posting them on my tumblr but, if people want, I could throw them up on here as well, especially since I plan on videoing all my power days from here on out, if not to post, at least for my own reference.